Title: Pinky Promise 6: Precious One (1/2)
Disclaimer: In my dreams I can own anything... otherwise they belong to each other
Summary: They made a promise. But as time goes by will they be able to keep it?
A/N: The time spent separately showed them they could live without each other in a case of need.... ~ Some jumps in time line and white spots that will be filled in later chapters (so don't worry)
Pinky Promise 1: Seishun Amigo
Pinky Promise 2: Real Face
Pinky Promise 3: Special Happiness
Pinky Promise 4: She Said...
Pinky Promise 5: Care
6. Precious One
Sometime, sometimes loneliness overwhelms my heart
I don't want to be all alone, it's so bittersweet
End of February 2007, KAT-TUN in New York
Kame shivered dipping his hands into a mass of snow. He took some of the chilly substance then scattered it throwing it above his head, never forgetting to smile for the camera though even a slightest happiness was actually the very last one of all the feelings he felt at the moment.
But none of those could have looked good on the photoshoots that were supposed to be cheerful and carefree and in all-American-style. So he just did what everyone around him was expecting from him, putting on the mask that seemed to become his face more than the real one during those few last months. Kame almost couldn’t remember the last moment when he actually hadn’t needed the mask. It seemed to be so long ago…
Kame chafed his frozen hands and sighed. He turned around and looked at the camera over his shoulder smiling, even sticking out the tip of his tongue. The photographer nodded at him satisfied, signalizing thumbs up, and kept taking more and more photos as Kame was stepping back and forth along the snowy sidewalk.
Time had started to resemble eternity long ago.
With that thought Kame forgot about being photoed and a shadow of sadness crossed over his face. He even closed his eyes and tried to convince himself the tingling of them was caused by the crisp air not the fact that he was in New York once again, with all those memories falling down on him with every step he made, or because Jin was sitting on the bench only a few meters away from him chatting with Maru.
Kame was more than shocked when Jin showed up in the hotel yesterday as he wasn’t expecting to see the older one anyway.
The photographer asked Kame to move over the street to the nearest block as he wanted to take a set of photos in front of the brick background. Kame followed without a word because it was none of his business after all, all he had to do was to smile and move the way he was said to. Along the way he felt Jin was watching him and that mere fact sent a frisson down his spine.
Kame unknowingly clenched his fists as he tried hard not to think about what exactly was Maru saying to Jin. Did Jin ask about him? Did he want to know how Kame had been the whole time? And if he did, what Maru answered? How much of Kame’s new life had Jin learnt by now?
Shaking Kame snuggled deeper into his jacket and rubbed his palms against each other to warm himself up a little as the cold breeze found its way to his almost numb body.
But his quivering hands and livid lips were his tiniest problem. What he was seriously afraid was his exposed neck. If he got cold through, their planned concert tour would be in a serious danger. Not to mention the recording of their second album. And the last thing Kame wanted was to plant his friends and the band that were relying on him…
He waved at the photographer to wait a second and then turned to Koki who was standing near.
“Oi, Koki, could you please bring me my scarf?” Kame asked whetting his neck and trying not to inhale too much of the cold air. “Forgot it in the car…”
“What’s it, Kame-chan?” The rapper came closer to Kame to hear clearly.
“My scarf,” Kame emphasized, raising his voice, “forgot it in the car and the wind is a bit cutting today.”
Koki quickly nodded, and saluting “roger,” rushed to the car parking round the block. He knew well how cautious Kame could be about his health. And with all the concerts coming up his dread was only increasing. Not to mention Kame had complained to Koki about his vocal cords even before they left Japan.
Kame stayed still for a moment looking after Koki and a smile slowly stole into his face. That was Koki, always caring and always being here for him, helping him.
In many ways the friendship with Koki was reminding Kame the friendship with Jin so many years ago when they still had been Juniors. Natural and uncomplicated friendship without pretence and without hidden senses. Yet Kame knew for sure nothing could be compared to what he used to have with Jin.
An unexpected touch as something warm and soft wrapped around his shoulders and neck made Kame return to reality. He shook his head to ditch the memory of those words that meant so much to him and lowered his eyes. There entwined around his neck he saw a black and white striped scarf that he was pretty sure wasn’t his. And his eyes widened and shot up as he realized where he had seen it before.
Standing right in front of him Jin gave him a quick gentle smile. “You can take this. It goes well with your jacket so don’t worry.”
Kame gulped. It actually wasn’t that he hadn’t talked to Jin since they had met yesterday. Of course he had. They had greeted, in a very civilized and impersonal way though, and spent more than four hours sitting at the table together with the rest of their band mates discussing Jin’s possible return to KAT-TUN and many other things, in even more civilized and impersonal way.
“I’ve just sent Koki –”
“Yeah,” Jin nodded but it didn’t seem he minded that obvious fact anywise, “but it’s cold and you need to finish this and get out of here before your throat gets sore. And with this you don’t have to wait for Koki and go back to work right away.”
Not able to utter a word Kame was just standing there staring at Jin and searching through the latter’s face without having any idea what exactly he was trying to find. An explanation, maybe. A promise that Jin would really go back to Japan soon, that his words yesterday hadn’t been only all gas and gaiters, supposedly. An answer for what was going to happen next, indubitably.
Kame gulped again feeling Jin put his hands on his shoulders and turned him around then slightly pushed him forward. “You’ll be good, Kame.”
Listlessly aiming back to the waiting photographer Kame looked back over his shoulder and seeing Jin returned to Maru he tightly handled the scarf and took a deep breath inhaling its scent. He wrinkled his nose as the very first smell that hit his nose was a strange whiff of strong cigarettes but two steps after Kame breathed in again finally finding the well-known essence of Jin. He even closed his eyes for a moment letting his cells be intoxicated.
His head was giving him all the reasonable arguments against his silly behavior at the moment but his head was the last prompter he wanted to listen to. If Jin was included, Kame’s head could have never overplayed his heart. For a while during the past months Kame thought it had changed, convincing himself he actually didn’t need Jin, that he could have a life on his own, a good life, but seeing Jin again yesterday Kame realized he might have been lying to himself all the time…
“Shall we continue, Kamenashi-kun?” a male voice ripped Kame out of his numbness. He quickly looked up arranging the scarf on his chest pretending it had belonged there from the beginning. The photographer smiled. “It looks good. We should take the whole set of photos with this scarf.”
Kame sighed. “If you think so.” He made his way to the wall and leaned against it, looking into the camera and stretching his lips into a wide smile once again. This time it was curiously easier to pretend happiness, as the scarf was tickling his nape with every move Kame did. At an unguarded moment Kame peeked to the bench where Jin and Maru were sitting and for the very first time since he had come to New York again two days ago Kame felt the city wasn’t as big and nightmarish as he might have thought…
“Kame! Kame-chan!” Koki was shouting, waving a crumpled fabric above his head. “Found it!”
Kame bit his lip. He knew he should return the scarf he was wearing to Jin and take his own one Koki brought him. But he didn’t want to do it.
He thanked Koki but letting his fingers toy with the velvety shawl around his neck Kame apologized the rapper he had sent him to the car in vain actually. “It would be better if we finished the shooting with this one,” Kame explained turning his guilty look away from his friend. “Gomen ne, Koki…”
“Um, okay,” Koki nodded not thinking too much about what was going on or why Kame changed his mind.
And with the last look in Jin’s direction Kame returned to his work. Jin was right, after all. He needed to finish it as soon as possible and hide himself somewhere, with a cup of hot tea for the best. He caught a sight of Maru standing up then the beat-boxer patted Jin’s shoulder and left the other on the bench alone. Through the distance between them Kame couldn’t see clearly but he could swear Jin sighed heavily hiding his face into his palms.
“You guys seem…content.” It took a moment before Jin chose the word that couldn’t in any case cause an awkward moment. Or at least couldn’t aggravate the tension that was more than obvious, nevertheless. “Without me.”
Maru sitting on the bench by his side shrugged his shoulders, eyes nailing a phantom spot on the ground. He could picture, more or less, how it must have been difficult for Jin to only watch from afar everything what had happened after his leaving, all those mixed up feelings of the zest of the group’s success and regret of not being a part of that. Of course Maru could picture that, since among all of them it had always been Jin above all craving for KAT-TUN making it all big and worldwide. And when it finally seemed this dream could become true Jin wasn’t there to participate in it. “We are doing good. Preparing for the album, TV show… concert tour…” He slowly nodded as if his head was only then proceeding the whole fuss they were living in lately. Only then Maru turned to Jin. “But as I said yesterday, you still have a place in KAT-TUN, Jin. We are not good because we chose it if you remember, we had to be good because there was no other option.”
“I’m sorry for that. Really, I told you I am. For leaving you guys in the lurch.”
“And I’m glad to hear that. But I’m not the one who needs to be told so.”
They both looked up and saw Kame was making grimaces for the camera, showing peace symbol with his fingers and sticking out his tongue, throwing snow above his head and laughing.
“We all owe him a lot, Jin. Since it was Kame, only Kame and no one else who had buoyed the band up most of the time, no matter how broken he was in the beginning… He had drowned himself in the work and I swear there were moments we all were seriously afraid he would have collapsed.”
“He seems he is doing well now,” Jin tried his voice didn’t sound like his throat was all constricted but his words went out as a wheeze anyway.
He was sure Maru wasn’t exaggerating. He could imagine Kame needed to fasten his thoughts and attention to something and work could have seemed like a perfect solution. And Jin felt like slapping himself since it was his fault, he left without any explanation… it was him who put Kame under all that pressure.
“Yeah…he… I think he finally found his balance, kind of…”
Kame shouted at Koki asking him to bring him a scarf.
“After your leaving, I think he was lost a bit, more than that actually. And I don’t want to talk here about the suspicious way you left, Jin, without any warnings just telling us you were going to America, no explanation, nothing. If you asked me I would tell you it was pretty unfair, you know. To the group, to us, your friends…”
Kame was standing motionlessly and watching Koki.
Jin was watching Kame.
“And especially to Kame,” Maru continued and he had to nudge Jin since the other didn’t seem to pay any attention. “As far as I remember you two were inseparable, kinda a single unit within the group… And there were times I was a bit worried about how much he was dependent on you and not to mention the thing –”
Jin stood up and not minding Maru’s words, as if the older one even wasn’t there, he left the bench going to Kame, unwinding the scarf he had around his neck. At that moment Jin wasn’t completely sure what he was doing or why he was doing it. It was an instinctive behavior, the urgent feeling of a need to protect the younger one. Something that seemed like an inborn reflex… and then there was something more, too. Jin had overheard the brief conversation Kame had had with Koki and he knew the rapper was on his way to get Kame’s scarf from the car… but Jin didn’t like the idea that it was Koki now who was taking care of Kame… he didn’t like the idea that actually anyone else was taking care of Kame. Of his Kame.
Jin stepped closer and slowly, carefully put the scarf around Kame’s neck, biting his lower lip as he was all nervous of the younger one’s reaction. Yesterday Kame was distant and more than restrained when they met, he didn’t even look at him and was silent for most of the time when all six of them were sitting and talking about the future of the group.
Jin managed his lips to curl into a gentle smile though inside he was stiffened and his heart was beating like crazy. Being so close after all those months when they were living on the opposite sides of the world was something Jin couldn’t have prepared himself for even if he had tried. Until that very moment when his hand, more accidentally than wittingly, grazed Kame’s shoulder while putting the scarf there, Jin couldn’t have imagined what it would be like to be with the younger one again.
And he held his breath as everything, every single mazy and confusing feeling from before, came back to him.
Jin quickly withdrew his hand as if he got burned. He cleared his throat looking anywhere but Kame. “You can take this. It goes well with your jacket so don’t worry.”
“I’ve just sent Koki –”
Of course! How could have he forgotten about Koki since from what he had picked up until then it seemed more than obvious that Koki was literally everywhere. Careful and attentive Koki whose pinning reproaching eyes Jin had felt the whole afternoon yesterday. Koki who had scolded him for things that weren’t true though they surely had to seem like that from without. Jin couldn’t be angry at him for that… Koki’s upbraiding was something Jin had been waiting for… and if it wasn’t Koki someone else would say it instead. Words weren’t the worst part. Jin needed to take a deep breath. He had never forgotten it was Koki who was conforming Kame back then when the news about his leaving became official. The picture of Koki’s hand placed on Kame’s shoulder was haunting Jin every damn second he was conscious turning the time of his stay in L.A. into a hell.
“Yeah,” Jin nodded trying hard there was no hint of incitement in his voice, “but it’s cold and you need to finish this and get out of here before your throat gets sore. And with this you don’t have to wait for Koki and go back to work right away.”
Jin shivered feeling and seeing Kame’s look at him. It almost seemed Kame was searching his face for something and Jin, too scared to move and too mazy, didn’t move and stayed still giving the latter a chance to find whatever he was looking for, but above all the affirmation that he was going back as soon as possible, ready not to ever leave him again.
When the gaze started to cause goose bumps to appear on Jin’s skin the boy smiled and putting his hands on Kame’s shoulders maneuvered the other one to turn around. “You’ll be good, Kame,” Jin assured the latter and pushed him slightly forward.
Only when Kame made a few steps Jin could take a breath again and his heart quieted down. Sighing he chopped around and walked back to the bench, sure that Maru would have remarks on his sudden leave a moment ago.
“You had better stop this, Jin,” the older one said the moment Jin came close enough.
Jin shook his head. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I just –”
“You weren’t here and you didn’t see what Kame had to go through when you left.” Maru slowly stood up looking down at Jin. “I don’t know what happened between you two. And from what I saw the night back then something is telling me I don’t even want to… But let’s make clear one thing, Jin, don’t promise him what you can’t grant. And stop acting like nothing has happened! He is not a child anymore, he has his own life now, the life that cost him a lot, more than you can imagine. The life you are not a part of and he is happy. Don’t ruin it, please.”
Jin felt a hand on his shoulder slightly patting it. He wanted to say something to defend himself, to explain Maru the last thing he wanted was to hurt Kame in any way but his words snarled up on their way out of his throat. Because nothing had changed, he still couldn’t talk about it. He had to follow the original story.
And then he was all alone.
Jin closed his eyes and hid his face into his palms sighing. Maru was right, Kame moved on, he surely had a new life now. Everybody had. It was only Jin whose life seemed to stop at the certain spot in Johnny-san’s office a long time ago…
The ground becomes firm after the rain.
He used to think so. It was giving him a hope. The end of the rain was something he was looking forward to.
But what if the storm would never pass away?
Beginning of November 2006, NTV Best Artist 2006
The wound of Jin’s absence was still fresh. Bleeding and hurting, squashing his guts every time when someone said Jin’s name. When someone asked about him, utter a remark about his unexpected leaving or a speculation about the reasons of it. When someone expressed a doubt Jin would ever come back.
Kame felt like screaming every damn time anyone infirmed that Jin was still a part of the group. Very important part, actually. It had been only a month since Jin had left and everybody was acting like he had never existed.
But not Kame.
There were nights when he suddenly woke up, drops of sweat on his forehead and his body shaking and he didn’t need anyone to tell him so to know he was crying out from his sleep, too. That was when he was missing his best friend. When all he wanted to do was calling him just to hear his voice. But he never found the courage to really pick up the phone and dial the number. He only curled himself up like a cat and closed his eyes trying to fall asleep. And thanks to the tiredness of all day work it usually worked in this case, and if it didn’t there was always a chance to cry himself to sleep. But then there were another nights with another kind of dreams. Nights when the cause for waking up wasn’t the despair of his best friend not being with him but the arousal as he unconsciously started touching himself, hands caressing his belly even sliding down into his pants stroking the awakening length, as he was mumbling Jin’s name from his sleep. Then he was ashamed and confused and deep down inside disappointed in the first place. After how it had felt with Jin his own hand no way could be enough.
Shaking his head to ditch the thoughts away Kame tried to focus on what he was doing right now. His quivering hand was guiding a black marker over the fingers of the other hand leaving simple letters on the pale skin there.
Because he wanted to believe Jin would see it.
Kame was so bent on what he was doing he didn’t hear the door opened and someone entered the dressing room. He didn’t notice Koki slowly approached him giving him suspicious looks all the way there. The rapper stayed silent for a moment waiting for Kame to finish the last character of the word LOVE that was meant to be written onto Kame’s pinky.
But as soon as Kame started to script another word, starting with the letter J, Koki ostentatiously cleared his throat.
“Koki –” Kame blushed in instant being caught like this.
Koki beckoned to Kame’s hand narrowing his eyes. “Just making sure you are aware this is a national television and everybody will be watching the show tonight. And everybody will see you and your thumping gesture of your much-more-than-member-ai feelings towards the unnamed not present sixth member.” There was an apparent hint of sarcasm in Koki’s voice that made Kame frown and clench his fist. And at the same time the younger one knew exactly how pathetic his behavior must have looked like and that Koki was right indeed. But this second feeling no way could beat the first one, the need of being as close to Jin as possible…
“Koki, please,” Kame begged feeling the already well-known despair slowly growing inside him, “I need to do this. I need to know he is still here with us and I need him to know it, too.”
There was something in Kame’s voice that was making Koki’s heart sore. He slowly nodded but didn’t let the boy add another character to his pinky finger, anyway, taking the felt pen away from his hand. “I know, Kame-chan,” Koki whispered, soothing the latter’s obvious pain with his hand caressing Kame’s back and shoulders, “I really do. And I promise we’ll think up something how to let Jin know we don’t forget about him, ne?” He looked up into the mirror in front of them to meet Kame’s teary eyes.
“Really?” Kame blinked trying to smile a little.
Koki put the marker on the table. “Really. But it has to all of us, not only you since we don’t want more speculations about you and Jin than the public has already conceived, right? You have to be cautious. Now more than any other time.”
“You think it’s wrong?” Kame asked after a while lowering his eyes to the letters on his fingers. “You saw… us… back then. Do you think it’s wrong?”
“Well, you two were always close… I’ve just never imagined it could be this kind of closeness.” Koki shrugged his shoulders. The course of the conversation wasn’t exactly the one he would have chosen if he had had a word in it, but no matter what Kame was his friend and Jin was as well, sort of… And that was something their make out session in the alley couldn’t have changed. Moreover, from the very beginning Koki felt a covert need to protect and ward the youngest member of the group but until Jin’s leaving there hadn’t been much Koki could have actually done. But now, with no Akanishi Jin around, Koki dubbed himself as the one who would take care of Kame instead of the latter.
Hearing that Kame let out a sigh of relief. “So you are not angry at me?”
“Of course not, Kame-chan!” Koki blurted out. “How could something like that have ever occurred to you?”
Kame bit his lip, nervous of talking to anyone about him and Jin and about the whole situation that was ravening him from inside as he had to deal with it all alone. But it seemed talking it out with Koki was easier than trying to do the same with someone else.
The door opened again and Yamapi’s dark-haired head peeped into the room. The two boys turned around and Yamapi waved then did the old motion from Nobuta-times with his fingers, as he had always been doing with Kame being around. “Kon,” Pi chuckled winking at Kame then giving Koki a suspicious yet friendly look. “Hope I haven’t interrupted something important, guys. But it’s time.”
“We are going,” Koki assured him giving Kame an inquiring side-glance.
Kame stood up and hiding his hand behind his back stepped forward towards Yamapi leaving Koki behind. Because no matter how reassuring was talking to Koki, being with Yamapi was evoking the atmosphere of being with Jin. And that was exactly what Kame wanted. What he needed.
Yamapi placed his arm around Kame’s shoulders. “We are going for a drink after the show ends. Are you in, Kame?” the older boy asked though the question was needless. He knew Kame would agree.
And to confirm his thoughts Kame just simply nodded.