acchikocchi: (booored)
[personal profile] acchikocchi

(one | two | three | four | five)

Jin spent the entire train ride to work the next morning deep in thought.

He came to a decision two stops before his station. Their debut was the next day and they were about to shoulder their heaviest workload yet. Right now, he needed to concentrate. He needed to act normally. So he wouldn't let himself think about this, this fixation with Yamapi until after things had calmed down. Then he’d deal with it.

He flung open the door to the consulting room with a little more force than necessary. Terada was studying his planner thoughtfully; Yamapi was leaning back in his chair, absorbed in trying to balance it on two legs. He looked up as Jin came in and waved. Jin had to stop himself from gulping.

Normal, Jin reminded himself sternly, shrugging off his jacket and taking a seat.

Terada closed his planner and pinched the bridge of his nose tightly, closing his eyes, before he greeted Jin. He looked – worried. "Good morning, Akanishi-kun," he said. "There's been a change in plans."

Jin and Yamapi exchanged a glance.

Terada pushed his glasses up. “Obviously, tomorrow is – "

" – the CD release,” Jin cut in promptly. He and Yamapi shared a grin.

Terada barely smiled. "Exactly. With that in mind – that is to say, I received a call from upper management this morning and – in other words, there might - well." He didn't look at them, busying himself with rearranging his papers. "It shouldn’t be anything worry about, I'm sure."

"What?" Jin asked with a growing sense of dread.

Terada cleared his throat. "You both have a new appointment this morning. With Johnny."

Jin felt the bottom drop out of his stomach.

Akanishi-kun, management called. Johnny wants to talk to you.

It was a minute before the sound of Yamapi's voice saying "Jin?" registered. Jin blinked and schooled his expression to attentiveness; it took him a couple tries before he managed to say, "Sorry, what?"

Yamapi was frowning at him. Jin shook his head and gave him a small smile, trying to infuse it with as much sincerity as possible. Yamapi did not look convinced.

Terada coughed, recapturing their attention. "They didn't mention what exactly the meeting is about," he continued with a glance at Jin. "You should be at his office at eleven sharp. That's all I know."

"You don't really think..." Yamapi trailed off.

"No," Terada said vehemently. "No, I don't. That would be ridiculous. It's much too late for something like that. It's – no," he repeated, but Jin could still hear the faintest tinge of anxiety in his voice.

Not even Johnny would go this far to show Jin his place. There was no way. There just couldn't be.

"What should we do until then?" Yamapi asked more quietly.

Terada gave a short laugh. "Distract yourselves, if you can."

Jin stood up so abruptly his chair clattered. He could feel Yamapi's eyes on him. "I'm going out for a while," he said brusquely, and went out the door.

"We'll be back later," he heard Yamapi say to their manager as he headed blindly down the hallway, then Yamapi was saying, "Jin, wait," and there were footsteps coming quickly down the hall after him. Mechanically, Jin stopped and waited.

"Hey," Yamapi said when he caught up with Jin. "Don't - don't - "

"He can't do this," Jin interrupted. "He can't do this to me."

"It's just a meeting," Yamapi said, putting a hand on Jin's shoulder and giving him a little shake. “It doesn't mean anything. The debut is tomorrow, remember?"

"I know!" Jin burst out, shaking Pi's hand off. "I know," he repeated more quietly. "I know it's tomorrow. That's worse. It's never too late for him."

"It's not – he's not going to do anything," Yamapi said forcefully. "He's not."

Jin didn't say anything.

Yamapi let out a deep breath. "Come on," he said. "Let's just get out of here."

Later, Jin had only the vaguest impression of how the next two hours passed. They went to a family restaurant nearby, sat in a corner booth, and didn't speak except to order a snack that Jin didn't touch. Instead he stared at the tabletop, stomach churning, because if he looked at Yamapi he would remember that they were both going to be punished and it was because of him.

He refused to look at his watch, too, but that didn't stop the inevitable. Eventually Yamapi broke the silence. "Time to go," he said lightly.

Jin nodded silently and they went back to the jimusho.

Johnny was gazing out the windows across the skyline when they arrived, just like the morning Jin had returned. He swiveled around as the door opened and regarded them steadily, gaze flicking from Jin to Yamapi and back. Jin focused all his concentration on controlling his expression as they both said, "Good morning," and bowed.

Johnny beamed at them. "Good morning, boys. I hear everyone's very excited about your release."

Jin hated this, he hated, hated, hated it –

"Well, we're pretty excited about it," Yamapi said.

Johnny laughed genially. "Of course you are," he said. "And everything's going well so far? Akanishi-kun?"

"Very well," Jin forced himself to say. He couldn't manage anything else.

Johnny nodded, apparently satisfied. "How's Terada-kun working out? Are you getting along well?"

Jin was momentarily distracted from his helpless fury by the awful thought that maybe they weren't the target of the meeting, after all. The same idea apparently occurred to Yamapi, because he hastened to answer. "He's great! He works really hard for us and we get along well, and – " He floundered.

"He keeps us focused," Jin added in a burst of inspiration; out of the corner of his eye, he could see Yamapi nodding furiously. So what if it was a little white lie, Jin wasn't going to give that old man a morsel of what he wanted.

Johnny chuckled. "Good, good. So you should have no problems after tomorrow, then." When they both shook their heads, he glanced at his watch. "In that case, I supposed I've kept you long enough. Have a good day and give your manager my regards."

Jin and Yamapi exchanged a look of bewilderment.

"Um – " Yamapi started and looked at Johnny; Johnny merely regarded him inquisitively. "Um, what exactly are we...?"

Johnny raised an eyebrow. "'What are you...?'"

Yamapi cleared his throat. "Why did you want to see us?"

"Oh," said Johnny in feigned understanding. "Of course." He chuckled. "I just wanted to check in with you boys before the big day," he said. "See how you were feeling, how things are going. I don't get as much contact with my stars anymore."

Was he actually saying -

"And of course," he continued smoothly, "you seem to be getting along well – enjoying yourselves, even - so I wanted to remind you of the stakes." He was looking directly at Jin. "Remember, this isn't permanent yet. You need to do very well."

Jin clenched his jaw so hard his teeth hurt.

"We're working hard, so there's nothing to worry about," Yamapi said firmly. "We'll definitely keep it up."

Johnny nodded in apparent satisfaction and transferred his sharp-eyed gaze to Jin. "Akanishi-kun?"

It was an effort to speak. "I'll do my best," Jin ground out.

"Then that's all." Johnny waved a hand dismissively. "Good luck."

"Excuse us," Jin and Yamapi both murmured, bowing, and left the office.

Jin made it all the way out to the hallway before he punched the wall.

It hurt, of course. He cursed steadily and viciously, cradling the hand against his chest, and slumped against the wall.

"Fuck." His voice shook. "That bastard."

"Hey." Yamapi was gripping his shoulders. "Hey."

"I get it," Jin spat. "I get who has the fucking power. Is he happy? God damn it, he knew what I was going to think, that sick, manipulative - "

"Jin," Yamapi interrupted. "It's okay. We're okay."

Jin looked at Yamapi blankly. Yamapi gave Jin a little shake. "We're okay. All right?"

Slowly, the meaning of his words sunk in. They were still debuting. They were safe for now.

Jin took a deep, shaky breath. "Can we go home?" he said.

Terada, nearly limp with relief, told them to leave without even mentioning their taping session the next day. They walked to the station and boarded the train in silence, and Jin leaned against the side of the car and thought.

First Kamenashi, now this. He really was nothing but problems lately, but Pi didn't even seem to mind. He never seemed to mind.

Jin glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. Yamapi's eyes were closed and his head drooped, bobbing with the jolt of the train. Jin's heart gave a painful little twist.

He couldn't figure out how to bring it up as they got off at the next station, walked the two blocks to the apartment building, and took the elevator up to Yamapi's floor. So instead he said, sing-song, "Sorry for intruding," as he toed off his shoes and stepped up into the apartment.

Yamapi laughed, cuffing Jin lightly. "Bakanishi. It's a little late to be saying that, isn't it?"

Something in Jin's chest lightened. He grinned back. "My mother raised me to be polite."

"Your poor mother had her hands full raising you to use chopsticks correctly," Yamapi retorted as he opened the refrigerator and tossed Jin a soda.

"Yeah? Well, your mother told me she could barely get you to wear clothes for years." Jin opened the soda and flopped down on the couch.

Yamapi rolled his eyes. "Oh please, Akanishi, like you were any better. I've seen your baby pictures, remember?"

"Hey," Jin said warningly, "I thought we agreed we weren't going to talk about that ever again.”

Yamapi took a gulp of his own soda and sat down next to Jin. "We also said we weren't ever going to talk about the video of my fourth grade school festival. That lasted a long time." He crossed his arms over his chest and looked at Jin accusingly.

Jin couldn't suppress a snicker at the memory. "Fine, whatever," he said, grinning, "I was adorable, anyway."

"Yeah, it's a shame how things changed," Yamapi agreed. He barely had a moment to hastily put down his drink before Jin tackled him with a yelp.

Jin knew he had the upper hand - Yamapi was trapped against the arm of the couch and he was more ticklish than Jin – and by his frantic, giggling struggles, Yamapi knew it, too. Grinning widely, Jin leaned in and went straight for Yamapi's sides –

His fingertips met warm skin and he was suddenly and sharply aware of the few meager inches of space between them.

"Jin?" Yamapi said in puzzlement as Jin jerked back abruptly.

"Be right back," Jin said, strangled, and escaped to the bathroom, where he closed his eyes and rubbed his hands over his face.

He was in so much trouble.

After administering a light slap to each side of his face, staring his reflection in the eye and declaring sternly that he wasn't supposed to think about it yet, Jin felt confident enough to return to the living room. Yamapi had moved down to lounge on the floor and didn't comment other than to ask him if he was all right; feeling slightly guilty, Jin stretched out on the couch and they lapsed into comfortable silence as the television buzzed in the background.

It was less than an hour before the restlessness set in.

"Hey," Jin said, kicking at Yamapi's leg. "What are we going to do now?"

"Watch it," Yamapi said half-heartedly. "What do you mean?"

"What are we going to do until tomorrow?" Jin prompted.

Yamapi propped himself up on one elbow and considered. "Go to sleep now and wake up debuted?" he offered after a minute.

"I wish," Jin said longingly. Just one more day, and then – a thought made him nudge Yamapi with his foot again. "Hey, I've been wondering, when do you think they'll let us have a concert?"

Yamapi thought about it for a minute. "Maybe next summer?" he said. "Or even spring. Probably after we release an album, anyway." He laughed at Jin's crestfallen face. "There's still the Countdown Concert,” he said consolingly, patting Jin's arm. "Maybe one of the others like that."

"That's a long way away," Jin said wistfully.

"Yeah," Yamapi agreed, and they sighed in unison.

Then Yamapi sat up with an air of resolve. "All right, we need something to distract us," he declared.

Jin had a few ideas, actually –

No, he reminded himself. No, no, no.

"Like what?" was what he said instead.

Yamapi gazed at Jin in deep concentration for a long moment. "I don't know," he finally said. "Call Ryo."

Ryo didn't answer, and neither did Shirota or any of their handful of mutual friends. "Work?" Jin offered; Yamapi shrugged and said, "Your turn."

But neither of them could think of anything further. Jin flopped back against the pillows, frustrated. Between the debut and Yamapi, he was going to go crazy if he had to stay trapped with his own thoughts all day. He had to get out, somewhere where he could just stop thinking and –

Jin sat up.“Hey,” he said, a grin spreading over his face. "Want to go to Disneyland?"

They stayed until closing, to make up for getting there mid-afternoon. Jin circled all of the roller coasters on their little map and made sure they didn't skip any; Yamapi made them go on that freaky haunted house ride so he could laugh his head off at Jin shrieking like a little girl. They went on the waterfall ride twice, and the picture waiting at the bottom the second time showed them clutching at each other in the front seat, mouths open in identical yells.

They also hit the shops, of course, although the only thing either of them bought were a pair of mouse ears. Jin carefully positioned his at a casually stylish angle, and after intense scrutiny Yamapi adjusted his to match. Then they posed and took pictures of each other with Jin's camera until a smiling middle-aged lady offered to take one of them together.

Jin was sure they looked so cool.

They were only approached three times over the whole day, which Jin thought wasn't bad for a crowd that size. Most importantly, Jin barely had a chance to think about the CD release, even despite the radio ad for TAY*J playing in one of the stores. All in all, he counted the idea a success.

"It's simple," he said as they watched the fireworks display from on top of one of the picnic tables. "I'm a genius."

"You occasionally have a good idea," Yamapi corrected him. "You are so far from genius I wouldn't know where to start."

"It was my idea to be friends," Jin countered as a shower of red and gold burst over them. "Are you saying that wasn't brilliant?"

Yamapi laughed disbelievingly. "You told me to remember your name because you'd be the most popular idol ever someday," he said, elbowing Jin in the side. "How is that friends?"

"I knew you'd want to get to know me while you still could, obviously," Jin said. "Come on, wasn't that unbelievably nice?"

"Definitely unbelievable," Yamapi said, grinning, over a series of staccato bangs from above. Jin made a face at him.

"But this was a great idea," he insisted, undeterred.

"Well," Yamapi said. "If I had to say one way or the other." Jin smiled in satisfaction as the show's finale exploded in bursts of glittering color and deafening sound overhead.

"Think you'll be able to sleep tonight?" Yamapi asked with a teasing grin on the way back. "Because if not you might as well just stay over now instead of waking me up later."

Remembering the last time he'd slept over, Jin hesitated.

Yamapi's eyebrows shot up. "You don't have to or anything," he said, with a laugh that was just the littlest bit forced.

"No, I will," Jin said hastily, inwardly berating himself. "I – yeah. I will."

Yamapi nodded and they didn't say anything else the rest of the way. Instead, Jin mentally kicked himself over and over. He shouldn't even have had to think about what he usually would have done. (He firmly ignored the little voice whispering, but why would you have done it?)

But the awkwardness melted away as soon as they were back at Yamapi's apartment. Yamapi found something for them to watch and Jin curled up on his customary end of the couch and remembered with a little shiver that there were only a few hours left before the stores opened and they'd officially debuted. He sighed contentedly.

Yamapi made an inquisitive noise as he joined Jin.

"Just a little while longer," Jin said, fully aware that he was grinning like a little kid.

Yamapi grinned back and punched him lightly in the arm. "TAY*J is the best, remember?" he said.

"The best," Jin echoed happily. Now if he could just manage not to stay up in excitement all night.

But to Jin's surprise, even the anticipation of the impending debut was no match for the exhausting tension of the morning plus the long afternoon and by the time the movie (something about giant killer cockroaches) was over, Jin and Yamapi were both yawning.

"Can I borrow something?" Jin asked sleepily, shuffling into the bedroom behind Yamapi,

"You're actually asking this time?" Yamapi said, but yawned and opened the closet. After a little rummaging, he emerged with a t-shirt and sweatpants, which he tossed at Jin.

"Thanks," Jin said, about to pull his shirt off, and then stopped with both hands on the hem.

They both hesitated.

"I'm – I'm going to go take a quick shower," Yamapi said. "Go ahead and go to sleep."

"Okay," Jin muttered, willing himself not to flush as the full impact of the situation finally sank in. He changed quickly and climbed into bed. Maybe if he was lucky he'd be asleep before Yamapi came back.

A minute later, however, the water started running and Jin's imagination leapt into overdrive. Vivid images of water-slick skin and damp lips swam before his eyes and he groaned, rolling over and burying his face in the pillow. Christ, he had to get a grip on himself. He bit down on his lip and, for once, thought very hard about the debut.

The water stopped after only a few minutes, and Jin had a moment to compose himself before Yamapi slipped back into the room.

"Jin?" he whispered.

"Yeah?" Jin said, keeping his voice low.

It was silent except for the sounds of Yamapi moving softly around the room. "Nothing," he said after a minute. "Wondering if you were still awake."

The covers moved as Yamapi slid in next to him. Jin swallowed.

"Night," Yamapi said quietly

"Night," Jin whispered into the darkness, not trusting himself to look at Pi.

It turned out to be a long time before he fell asleep after all.

Jin woke suddenly at a loud bang! right in his ear and jerked upright, thrashing ineffectually among the sheets. "Huh? What?" he gasped, looking around wildly.

Yamapi was sitting cross-legged next to him. He took the party horn from his mouth and grinned.

"Happy debut day," he said.

Jin whooped and tackled him. They went tumbling over in a giggling heap only to bounce up almost immediately, talking rapidly over each other.

" – we're number one in all the online stores, I checked – "

" – probably someone buying a copy right this minute – "

" – when do they post the Oricon rankings, anyway – "

" – I bet we get a special display - "

" – taping's not 'til noon – "

" – I really want to see it in the stores – "

They both stopped short and looked at each other.

"Tower," they said in unison, and scrambled for their clothes.

"Ready?" Yamapi murmured in Jin's ear half an hour later, as they eyed the massive Shibuya Tower Records across the street.

Jin pulled the hat down low over his eyes. "Ready," he said.

They bumped their fists together solemnly, crossed the street, and approached the record store quickly, trying to appear as inconspicuous as possible. Jin's shoulders prickled as they walked through the door – it felt unnervingly like walking into a trap – but nothing happened, and as soon as they were inside they ducked behind a tall magazine rack in the corner.

"Okay," Yamapi said quietly. "Domestic pop is on the other side of this floor, so it should be just past the elevators over there. Plan of attack?"

"Duck and cover," Jin answered promptly.

"Avoid at all cost?"

"Interaction with civilians."

"Worst case scenario?"

"Retreat with minimum casualties."

"Very good, soldier," Yamapi said gruffly, and then they both ruined the effect by bursting into muffled laughter.

One of the employees circulating the store gave them a suspicious look. Jin supposed it did look pretty shady – a couple of teenage boys with hats and dark glasses huddling together and whispering secretively. They'd better get going before one of the employees approached them.

"Okay, time to move out," Yamapi whispered, echoing Jin's thoughts. "On my mark: ready... go!"

They emerged from behind the rack, Pi first, and darted across an open stretch of floor to the Western music section, where they ducked low and kept moving, almost bent in half as they scurried between the rows of CDs before reaching the relative safety of the escalators and straightening up.

Yamapi stopped short. Jin ran straight into his back with a grunt. "Watch it!" he whispered. "I - what?" he said as Yamapi reached back without turning around and batted at his arm.

"There it is," Yamapi breathed.

"What?" Jin perched his chin on Yamapi's shoulder and followed his gaze to see a huge poster of TAY*J, all black and silver, hanging from the ceiling and underneath a huge display piled high with –

- their single.

Jin had the ridiculous urge to pinch himself to make sure he didn't wake up. Instead he stood in blissful silence, soaking up the sight.

Then he noticed the crowd. A mass of customers – mostly women, of all ages and appearances – thronged the display, snatching up the black-and-silver CD cases left and right. One girl hugged her CD to her chest rapturously; another was walking away with three copies in her hands. As Jin watched, a red-shirted employee came pushing through with a box in his arms; no sooner had he begun restocking the display than the new copies started to disappear.

Jin thought it was the best thing he had ever seen.

"Looks nice, doesn't it?" Yamapi said in satisfaction, after a minute.

"Nice?" Jin said disbelievingly. "Are you kidding? It's – it's – " Words failed him.

Yamapi reached over and ruffled his hair. "Come on," he said, "if we hang around too long they'll notice us. We'd better go."

But Jin wasn't ready to leave yet. Actually, what he wanted -

"I want to buy one," Jin said.

Yamapi laughed. Then he apparently realized Jin wasn't kidding, because he said, "Wait, what? You know you can get a free copy if you want, right?"

"It's not the same," Jin insisted. "Come on, it'll just be a minute."

"Yeah, there's no way that will draw attention to you," Yamapi said, rolling his eyes. "I don't think – Jin? Jin!"

But Jin was already strolling casually toward CD racks, concentrating as hard as he possibly could on exuding normal, normal, normal. He bypassed the display and went to the very end of the rows, slipping in past the Z's and circling indirectly around to the T's, where he palmed one of the three or four copies of their single in the regular racks and then walked back to Yamapi.

The crowd around the special display never even noticed.

"See?" Jin said smugly. "Nothing to it."

"I think I almost had a heart attack," Yamapi hissed. "Come on, let's get out of here before there's a riot."

Jin thought the cashier might have recognized him, but she rang up the CD without batting an eye and didn't say anything other than "Your change is 3,950 yen, sir." Behind him, Yamapi was tapping his foot impatiently, and while she tore off the receipt and took out a little plastic bag, he leaned over and said in a low voice, right in Jin's ear, "Hurry up, will you?"

"Relax," Jin said, ignoring the shiver that ran down his spine, as he took his bag from the cashier. "Look, I'm done, okay?" They began making their way to the front of the story. "Besides," he added, "no one's noticed us yet, anyway."

They were almost to the doors when they heard the shrill cry of "Look! It's TAY*J!"

Jin barely had time to register the sound in horror before Yamapi was grabbing his wrist and yanking him out the door. They pelted down the sidewalk as fast as they could go, dodging obstacles and zigzagging around bunches of surprised pedestrians, until they reached the train station, where they hurtled straight onto the first train they saw just before the doors closed. They collapsed onto the seats, panting, as the train pulled out, and only then did Jin dare to look back the way they'd came. There was no sign of anyone following them.

"Don't say it," Jin gasped, still out of breath, as Yamapi opened his mouth. "Don't even – think – about it."

"Too late," Yamapi retorted. "I told you so."

"They didn't see me when I was buying it," Jin said defensively, as his breathing evened out. "They saw us when we were leaving."

"And we would have already been gone if we'd left when we originally planned, probably already safely on our way to – oh shit," Yamapi said, looking at his watch. "We have to be at the office in half an hour. Utawara, remember? What's the next station?"

The train turned out to be the express line to Narita Airport, an hour away. They pulled into the next stop – Tokyo Station, fortunately, the last stop before the airport itself - with just enough time for Jin and Yamapi to jump off the train and dash straight across the platform to another heading in the opposite direction, and by some miracle of timing and a good deal of running they stumbled into the jimusho building just as Terada was pulling out his cell phone.

He looked them over slowly, taking in their windblown hair and wheezing breaths, and was quiet for a minute.

"I don't want to know, do I," he said finally. It wasn't a question.

They looked at each other and said, in unison, "No." Terada did his best to conceal a wince.

"Let's just get going," he suggested. They nodded and trailed meekly after him out to where a car was waiting.

They weren't even late, although it was close. Ichihara was there again; she came over to congratulate them both softly and vanished before Jin could say anything more than a quick thank you. Even Matsumoto came over before the show started and congratulated both of them, although he then proceed to joke around with Yamapi and pretend Jin wasn't there. Jin was fine with that - it was a little creepy when he and Matsumoto actually got along well.

They had another taping session to attend right afterwards, this time for Utaban with Nakai-senpai. They accepted more congratulations and talked about their single; Nakai talked about how he and Kimura Takuya should have tried forming a duo and then made them play a demented game where they had to use straws to blow little boats across a tub of water. Jin won, despite Yamapi's immediate protestations of cheating, and was awarded a very nice set of speakers. When he tried to figure out where he'd put them, however, he realized he was thinking of Yamapi's apartment.

Terada was waiting for them backstage. He cleared his throat a little uncomfortably. "I realized I forgot to mention something earlier," he said.

Jin shared a quick look with Yamapi. There was no way he could have found out about their morning activities, was there?

Then he realized that Terada was actually smiling. "Congratulations, boys," he said.

Jin had six missed calls and the phone started ringing again before they were even back in the car. His parents called, Shirota called, Nakamaru and Ueda and Koki called. Ryo called and said, "I saw the line at HMV. There has to be something wrong with those girls." Jin thought that maybe he would get tired of saying thank you, thank you, I'm really excited, but each congratulatory message brought a fresh thrill of elation. On the train back to Yamapi's apartment, a group of high schoolers at the other end of the car were chattering excitedly about the single. Jin and Yamapi looked at each other, safely hidden from sight by a sea of salarymen, and shared a grin.

They stopped and bought a cake and a bottle of champagne on the way to the apartment building. ("We have to have champagne," Pi had insisted. "It's our debut.") Toma called Yamapi while they were still in the hall; Jin took the keys from Yamapi's hand and unlocked the door, ignoring the little twinge of irritation he felt.

They ate the entire cake for dinner, filling up on leftovers, and then broke out the champagne. Jin opened the bottle and sprayed not only the table but also Yamapi. For a dizzying moment, Jin imagined licking champagne from the curve of Yamapi's neck, then came to his senses in time to defend himself from Pi's retaliation.

By the time the nine o'clock entertainment news reports came on, three quarters of the bottle was gone and they were flat on their backs in the living room, giggling at everything.

"Shhh," Jin said when their segment started, putting an exaggerated finger to his lips and looking at Yamapi with wide eyes. "I know those guys."

Yamapi squinted at the screen. "I don't," he said, and they both burst into giggles again.

The bottle was finished before the news was. Jin closed his eyes and drifted in and out of consciousness, peripherally aware of the television blaring in the background and Yamapi's even breathing next to him.

Around eleven-thirty, he came fully awake, already feeling the beginnings of a headache coming on. He pushed himself up with a groan and staggered to the kitchen, where he poured himself a brimming glass of water.

He returned to the living room and switched off the television. In the silence, he could hear the little breathy snuffling sounds Yamapi sometimes made when he was sleeping especially heavily.

They'd debuted now. He was running out of excuses.

He found his jacket and quietly let himself out the door. There was still just enough time to catch the last train back to his apartment.

As he waited at the platform, shivering a little in the night air, his cell phone beeped, signaling a new text message. The screen read 11:59; Jin didn’t recognize the phone number. Curious, he pressed 'accept'.



continued here

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