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12 June 2011 @ 11:26 am
je_otherworlds From a Gold-Gilded Book (part II)  
Title: From a Gold-Gilded Book
Groups/Pairings: Jin/Tegoshi, KAT-TUN, Yamapi, and some Juniors.
Rating: M
Warnings: Death, violence, swearing.
Summary: Once upon a time there was a DJ called Jin Akanishi who witnessed a murder.


The spaghetti tangle of tubes that spat out from his body in all directions disturbed him. A background humming noise echoed in his mind and reminded him of vibrating armchairs that melted your consciousness into happier moments of sunshine. Jin longed for an endless stretch of summers spent on a desert island but knew, from the very millisecond of regaining consciousness, that the image of him building straw huts from scratch and romping alongside crabs as they scuttled towards the sea was a distant one and left behind was only a nurse who was fiddling with the IV drips (all four of them) and scribbling furiously onto a clipboard. She glanced at him and then turned back to her work.

"You're awake, Mister Akanishi," she said. It was impossible to tell whether her statement required some kind of confirmation, although granting the nurse actual confirmation would only prove her right.

"Now, you're to stay in hospital overnight for observation and if we can get your electrolyte balance back into order, the doctor will be able to discharge you as soon as tomorrow afternoon."

He tried to clamber into a seating position but his stomach shrieked in such fuming protest that he gave up and grunted instead, and found the inside of his mouth was incredibly dry. "Water?" he rasped.

"We can't give you anything until we're certain that your stomach has overcome the trauma," said the nurse, pointing at the Nil By Mouth tag plastered to the wall at the head of the bed. "Is there anything else? No? Well, there's the call bell -- press it if you need anything."

"Thanks," muttered Jin as the nurse bustled away.

A preliminary survey of the room told him that he was not alone. There were other people in the room with him. Other sick people, probably with horrible contagious diseases and necrotic flesh dropping off by the fistful. Fuck, this was humiliating.

He heaved in a deep breath and stuttered into a coughing fit. The room smelt like staleness -- not quite disinfectant but definitely not normal. Perhaps like a vast empty corridor where brutal murders had once taken place. Particles of dead people had undoubtedly already started burrowing deep into his lungs. When lunch time came around, the stench transformed into the back of an aeroplane when flight attendants were heating up pre-packaged food: it looked like food but definitely didn't smell like real food made by humans. Jin's stomach gurgled unhappily so he slept to stamp down the disappointment.

Sometime between afternoon tea and dinner, he woke up and found a strange man by his bedside.

"Hello, I'm Tegoshi," said the man. "Do you mind if I call you Jin?"

Jin fumbled for the remote control to the bed and tilted up the mattress, easing him into a sitting position. It was pointless though: without his glasses, he could really only make out a brassy-haired blurry shape in sombre coloured clothing. "Er, that's my name, yes," he croaked.

"Oh, well. That's good. I just wanted to make sure that you're all right," said the man. Jin could vaguely make out a smile. "Your friends have been taking turns sitting with you – it's that guy's turn, the one you were with at the club? He looked pretty exhausted though since he's been here since morning, so I managed to convince him to grab something to eat. I can't imagine the cafeteria food's anything special though."

"Oh," said Jin. "Do you know where my glasses are?"

"Sorry! Here – I didn't think…" the man reached out and picked up a black blob from the bedside table.

"Thanks," Jin muttered, hastily cramming them onto his face. He felt a thousand times better now that he could make out distinct features: a room with plywood furniture and grey-blue curtains, walls decorated with stacked boxes of latex gloves and signs about clinical markers, and a young man about his age sitting stiffly in a chair too low for him. "Um, are you a doctor?"

The man looked startled. "N-No. I was there when the incident happened, at the nightclub. You do remember what happened?"

"You!" Jin jabbed his finger in the man's direction, and hurriedly jerked his arm back when he noticed the IV drip still embedded in it. "You were trying to rob me. What the hell kind of a guy robs a dying man?"

"I was rolling you onto your back!" the man snapped. "I performed CPR on you until the ambulance arrived, you ungrateful…"

Jin's mouth formed a silent 'o'. He cleared his throat, ignoring the hot redness that was creeping up his neck. "Sorry. Thanks."

Through the door trouped in Koki, Ueda and Nakamaru, who upon seeing that he was awake, immediately zoomed in to Jin's bedside.

Nakamaru drew the curtains around the bed. "Jin, thank God. The nurses mentioned that you were awake earlier but you've been asleep for so long. How are you feeling? Do you want some water?"

"I'm not allowed any."

The man named Tegoshi stood up, and Jin noticed for the first time that he was holding a furry helmet shaped and coloured like a raccoon. "I'd better get going," said the man.

"No, stay," said Jin suddenly. His housemates might have become the closest things to friends in his entire life, for which he was eternally grateful, but that didn't stop the longing he had to be able to talk to someone who wasn't prone to interrupting conversations with "By the way, is that your sock on the washing line? It's been out there for like, two weeks." Seeing Tegoshi skulking uncomfortably behind his housemates made Jin realize that fuck, he had a really deprived social life. "I mean, thanks for coming. I don't really remember much about what happened so…"

"I can drop by tomorrow and fill you in, if you like," said Tegoshi hesitantly.

Jin nodded, finally twitching his lips into an awkward smile. "I'd like that."

Tegoshi smiled in return and exited the room, swinging the helmet a little.

"What the hell, Koki?" Nakamaru immediately started as soon as Tegoshi was gone, a deep frown line creasing his forehead. "None of us have a clue who that guy is! For all we know, he could've been trying to kill Jin that night. You said yourself that he just came out of nowhere!"

"He seemed all right," Koki muttered, looking away.

"Huh, 'all right' like partying all night with Jin was also 'all right,' was it?"

Jin tch'd in annoyance. "Leave it," he said tiredly. "It was my fault; I dragged him along with me. It was stupid, I know. And to be fair, Koki did warn me about the drink having a bad aura but I didn't listen to him at the time." (Nakamaru discretely rolled his eyes.) "I mean, really – no offense – but who would? It's …" Jin sighed, feeling exhausted. "I'm sorry for all the trouble I've been causing for you guys. Your lives were normal and fine before I turned up and I've really fucked everything up. I- I totally understand if you'd rather I found somewhere else to live."

"That's the last thing we want," said Ueda quietly. "We just care about you, that's all. And I'm sorry if we've been a bit … overboard with protection but it's only because we want to ensure your safety."

"I know that but then you've got to give me some space too. Hell, maybe it's time I went to the police again about all this because I really can't just loiter around the house all day for the rest of my life. I can't be afraid of going out to different places and meeting new people. And for the record, I trust Koki's judgement on this one. If he says Tegoshi's all right, then I'm willing to take his word for it."

***


Tegoshi came back the next day, wearing garishly bright coloured clothes with words like Smile! and Be happy! and Live life! adorning the sleeves.

It took Jin more than twenty minutes to find the courage to ask what the fuck was up with the clothes and furry helmet from before.

"Oh, this?" Tegoshi asks, staring down at his aggressively magenta-coloured pants. "I didn't have time to get changed after work. I know it's degrading, doing costume shows for young children, but whatever it takes, I'm going to be an actor." He looked at Jin, his usual placid mask replaced by an attractive intensity that simmered in his gaze. "I don't care if it takes me a life-time but I'm going to end up on Broadway. Musicals are my life."

Jin suddenly wished he had the same passion about something.

***


Parking at the hospital was a nightmare. Taguchi had driven up to the boom gates only to be told that it was now staff only and he had to find off-street parking, which was an impossibility anyway. One o'clock in the afternoon seemed like an absurd time for people to suddenly decide to visit the infirmed. He was left to drive around the streets aimlessly while Kamenashi went to fetch Jin, who was still deep in conversation with Tegoshi about whether or not dance tracks had a place on stage. The doctors had glanced at Jin's chart, nodded when Jin complained about the television being broken, and then collectively decided that he was ready for discharge.

"You must be tired," said Tegoshi to Kamenashi, noting the way the latter failed to adequately disguise his yawn.

"Just the jetlag," replied Kamenashi, smiling. "It wasn't much of a conference anyway. Nobody was able to agree on any of the emissions targets set by the Danish and the hotel got the orders mixed up and served everyone abalone as a starter. Many people were scarred for life."

Jin laughed, curled up on the metal seats outside of the hospital. The pick-up/drop-off zone was occupied by demonstrators from the nurses' trade union so he didn't know how Taguchi was going to make it up the driveway. Secretly, he was grateful for the impediment anyway; he didn't want to hear the dreaded Well, I'd better be heading off.

"Well," Tegoshi began. "I'd—"

"Hey, there he is!" Jin pointed at the battered old '92 Corolla lumbering up the long driveway to reception. At the halfway point, Taguchi stuck his head out the car window and honked at the throng of demonstrators jabbing their protest signs at him. A camera crew hurried over and filmed Taguchi's increasingly red face as he tried to drive past the people with little success.

Sighing, Kamenashi went to help him.

"Hey, Tegoshi?" said Jin, when Kamenashi had reached the car and was gesticulating wildly at the protesters about the importance of granting the vehicle passage. Tegoshi turned to look at him, his motorcycle keys already out of his pocket and snug in his hand. "Uh, I want to say thanks – again. Not only for that night but also, you know, coming to keep me company. I want to make it up to you so, if you're free – maybe we could go for a drink sometime?"

Tegoshi was silent for a moment, then nervously toyed with the keys. They tinkered and clattered noisily. "As in a date?" he said slowly, his eyebrows knitting together.

"What? No. I mean, you're a guy," Jin laughed hurriedly, wondering why it was that his first thought had, in fact, been Yes. He was becoming far too embarrassingly thankful.

Shrugging, Tegoshi replied, "I can dress up like a woman if you want. I have loads of old stage costumes."

"Look," Jin started, faltered then hissed out a breath through his teeth. He looked over Tegoshi's shoulder and saw the white car creeping forward inch by inch, with Taguchi prattling away to the news reporter about traffic rights of way and Kamenashi attempting to hide in the backseat. "I can't really explain it but I really shouldn't be out in public for a while. It's not good for … my health."

Not missing a beat, Tegoshi finally stared Jin straight in the eyes and said, "You could come over my place and I'll cook. It's just me and a friend living there; it'll be nice and quiet." He glanced at the crowd of demonstrators, who were beginning to climb onto the hood of the car with Kamenashi frantically trying to call them down. "Without distractions."

The car horn blasted through the chanting of the crowd. Taguchi's face was barely visible through the swarm of people and signs. "Jin! Get in!" he hollered. Kamenashi opened the passenger side door for him from the inside of the car, and signalled frenetically.

"Just a quiet night, right?" Jin asked quickly. "No crazy party antics?"

"None whatsoever," Tegoshi promised.

"Deal."


***


Everything that had been somersaulting wildly in the air was finally tumbling into their allocated slots. The fakes were waiting good-naturedly at the back of the van, ready to be dispatched under the guise of being new flat-screen monitors to adorn the main exhibition foyer. After a tiny pinch of false starts with the bought employees, there were no more complaints coming from the front line. The suited man hadn't had to brandish his knife for quite some time.

The only real hiccup was the police sniffing out his suburban refuge with guns ablazing and dogs snapping their sharpened teeth at a nondescript array of clean but worn furniture dating from the 50s. At least his three-week old 3D television had been salvaged, he thought with a faint smile, staring into the screen fondly.

The evening news was predictable: the on-going war in the Middle East, complete with gunfire sound effects and jerky video footage of soldiers ducking while columns of dust flared above; police corruption charges to lead to a national inquiry, with the police commissioner pushing his way out of the station while surrounded by a team of uniformed police; a car crash on the interstate highway leading to the death of a holiday-making family, the cars still spitting acrid smoke; the building momentum of a state-wide industrial action for lower patient ratios in hospital and members of the public caught up in the local demonstration; a red-carpet film premier with all the celebrity elite in attendance and looking fabulous…

He stopped. Picking up the slim remote control, he rewound the footage back a news item and paused the screen.

Roughly dragged into an old white Corolla was clearly Jin Akanishi. Alive.

***


"Shouldn't you go with some kind of a gift?"

Never in his wildest dreams had Jin ever considered Nakamaru the intimidating type, and yet planted before the front door with spider-thin arms wrapped taut across his wiry body the other man had thrust forth a glare of such awe-inspiring proportions that Jin found himself quite subdued.

"It's not a date," Jin rushed in one breath, rapidly smoothing down the front of his best (and only) dress shirt regardless.

"Sure," said Nakamaru, with exasperation hounding every irritated twitch of his hair. The other man's capabilities clearly failed to score beyond a five out of ten when it came to commanding compliance and yet the stubborn jut of Nakamaru's lower jaw compelled Jin to acquiesce.

"Fine, I'll bring something," Jin grumbled, turned around and was startled to see the rest of his housemates standing in a row at the base of the stairs. Ueda had nestled in his arms a dusty bottle of wine with a label written entirely in French, and he held it out for Jin as he approached with light steps. Jin accepted it graciously. "But don't drink too much, right?"

Ueda shrugged, "It's time you enjoyed yourself; I'm not your mother."

"Come on, kiddo," said Koki, throwing on a feather-tufted cape around his shoulders and shoving Nakamaru out of the way. "It's time to get you to the ball. If you think we're going to let you bicycle twelve kilometres and ruin your clothes, you're going to need to get checked back into the clinic." He jerked his thumb at Taguchi, who jangled the car keys with an ecstatic grin.

Jin chuckled and pulled on his bomber jacket. "Guys, you really don't need to."

"No, we don't," said Kamenashi. "But we want to. So let's go."

The six of them piled into the old Corolla with Taguchi and Jin up the front, and the remaining four of them jammed in the back like a tin of sardines. Nakamaru, who had lost the paper-scissors-rock game, was crouched in the foothold on Ueda's side. Koki and Kamenashi bickered the entire way until Koki threatened to put a curse on Kamenashi. Taguchi exclaimed that he wanted to see the curse too. Koki slapped the curse on Taguchi instead, who chortled so hard that he started coughing, which turned into a hacking fit and Jin had to lurch across to steady the steering wheel to stop the car from careening off the road as Taguchi wheezed with tears of laughter.

Finally they pulled up outside the townhouse and stared at it for a good minute in silence.

"Nakamaru, I can't feel my legs," Ueda finally mumbled.

"Hey, Jin?" Koki leaned forward through the gap between the front two seats. He pulled off one of the many rings that adorned his fingers and presented it to Jin; the band was silver with slivers of peridot sunk in. "This will protect you," he said solemnly and Jin, equally solemnly, slipped it onto his own finger.

"Thanks," said Jin. "I- I really mean it."

Nakamaru rolled his eyes. "Get out, you're in my seat."

Jin climbed out of the car, tripping a little on the curb and strode up to the front door with Ueda's bottle of wine in hand. He turned around and shooed his housemates, who were all pressed up against the window and leering. Kamenashi gave him the thumbs up and winked. Jin flipped him the bird. At last, Taguchi drove off.

The house looked quite ordinary, small on the outside and most likely also small on the inside. There were a few half-hearted attempts at growing potted plants in the front yard and an unsuccessful battle campaign against the weeds that were climbing across the footpath. Jin pressed the doorbell, which buzzed at him in a jovial sort of way as though they were already fast friends. He could hear footsteps inside the house, and through the warped glass of the front door there was a blurred shape that hovered at the entrance for an extra beat before the door opened.

"Hello, sorry I'm late," said Jin without checking his watch. For all he knew, it was far before the designated time, although judging from the way Tegoshi was already dressed (jeans, a band t-shirt, a plaid shirt and a stiff jacket) it was probably close enough. "This is for you," he said awkwardly, shoving the wine into Tegoshi's hands. "It came highly recommended."

"Thank you," replied Tegoshi, ushering Jin into the house. "Did you want something to drink?"

The interior of the house was a cross between a fairytale and a suburban horror film. Masks were strewn along the hallways, which had photographs of various people dressed up in fantastical costumes. All sorts of stuff lay across the floor in lackadaisical attempts at order; old scripts with pieces of dialogue highlighted and tight, squashed writing wedged in between the lines; cardboard cut-outs from pieces of scenery that had branches stuck on for added realism; a zillion pairs of shoes ranging from ordinary sports shoes to red glitter-studded stiletto boots.

Jin followed Tegoshi into the dining room, which had clearly been hastily rearranged to make for more space. The square table top was lustrous with polish but the legs remained dull and covered by a thin membrane of dust, with a few fingerprints grabbing at the sides. The dining merged into the living room, where Jin could see the top of Tegoshi's friend's head jutting up from the sofa where he was watching television in the dark.

"Hey," said Jin, wondering if this other guy knew that a date was supposed to be happening three metres away.

"Hey," replied the friend, who continued to watch the History Channel exclusive on the hidden treasures of South America while chomping on a bag of crisps. "Is this the part where I wish you kids good luck and conveniently don't come back until five in the morning? Or am I allowed to join in on the fun?"

Tegoshi came up behind Jin with a glass of red wine and pressed it into Jin's hand. "This is my friend Yamapi," he said in a stage-whisper, his lips moved into an ironic smile. "I guess I owed him a couple of favours."

"Right, that's my cue," said the friend cheerfully, switching off the television and standing up, stretching his arms high above his head. He turned around, the feeble light from the dining room spilling to half his face. "Oh, hey."

Jin took one look at him and then glanced down at the glass of wine in his hand. Without pausing for thought, he splashed the wine into Tegoshi's face and raced out of the dining room, heart pounding as he rounded the corner and slipped into the hallway, where the masks that lined the walls sneered at his ignorance.

"Jin!" Tegoshi shouted, chasing after him. "Jin, wait, just wait a minute—"

Jin crashed through the hallway, tripping over the discarded costumes that lay in chaotic bundles on the floor. He fell, banged his knee on a can of paint and went tumbling across the floor.

The friend (assassin with a gun! Jin thought desperately) also piled into the hallway with Tegoshi. "Hang on, DJ Jak! I'm not going to hurt you!"

"Oh my God, you've both been—in this together…" Jin gasped, clawing his way onto his feet and stumbling to the front door. He scrabbled at the lock, his fingers trembling too much to properly work the chain and wasting precious time. Tegoshi caught up to him, curling a hot hand around his arm. He didn't look particularly strong but the grip was unrelenting, and there was fury in his eyes.

"What's going on?" he demanded, his face still dripping with red wine. In the dimness of the unlit hallway, it looked almost like blood.

The assassin jumped onto Jin and dragged him away from the door, his arms practically twice the size of Jin's up close. Who knew the guy was ripped under that flimsy t-shirt? He easily tossed Jin back down the hallway and stalked over, his figure looming. Scrambling back on his hands, Jin edged away as far as he could before the assassin snatched his wrists and pinned him onto the floor.

"Get off, get off," Jin chanted under his breath, writhing underneath the weight. Managing to yank one of his hands free, he lashed out and caught the assassin on the side of his face, drawing blood where the edge of the ring sliced into flesh.

"Shut the fuck up," shouted the assassin, with his eyes dark and swiping the blood away with the back of his wrist. He caught hold of Jin's free hand and nailed it to the floor again. "He doesn't know. He doesn't know anything."

Jin stopped struggling for a moment, panting wildly, and the assassin loosened his grip just a fraction. Tegoshi brushed his wet fringe away from his face, annoyance writ clearly on his face, and sidled up alongside them. "What don't I know?"

"He doesn't know about me," repeated the assassin. "Just let me explain. I'm not going to do anything. I've got out."

Jin hitched in a sharp breath. "Then get off me and back away. Right back."

"What is going on?" said Tegoshi, shaking from the effort of trying to stay calm. "Yamapi, get the hell away from him and you, Jin, you – I don't know what you're playing at but you'd better start explaining too."

"He tried to kill me!" roared Jin. He climbed to his feet and shoved Yamapi hard in the chest. "Your fucking friend is caught up in all sorts of crazy illegal shit and two months ago, his boss ordered a hit out on me and ever since I've had fucking maniacs trying to kill me."

"Tegoshi," said Yamapi. "I got sucked in; thought I could make a stack load of easy money and things got out of control. My landlord didn't kick me out because I accidentally set fire to the kitchen. It was…" At a furious glare from Jin, he continued. "I was sent to kill Jin, but when I got there and was about to pull the trigger, I realized that I owed him big time from before and I just couldn't. I thought I could get away with it, as long as Jin disappeared but my boss found out anyway."

Tegoshi took an unsteady breath. "Hence you turning up two months ago at one o'clock in the morning bashed to pieces, looking for a place to stay."

Yamapi nodded, quickly looking at Jin. "He's after the paintings. Trois Verités Simples. The Belgian exhibition ends in three days, at the same time that the main foyer is getting a revamp to prepare for the Peruvian gold display. He's got men on the inside working on security. I don't know all the details but the gist of the plan is to go in as electricians fitting new flat-screened TVs, make a switch with the bought gallery employees, take the paintings out along with the leftover rubbish and cardboard boxes the TVs came in, and temporarily slot in the fakes that he's had ordered in from Greece. There are already buyers lined up for the paintings, and a boat ready to make a touch-and-go dock to smuggle them out."

Clutching at his head, Tegoshi groaned. All of this was crazy. He looked at Jin, who barely reacted with anything other than a self-righteous I knew it! seared into a smirk. "Why haven't you told the police this?"

Jin laughed harshly. "He's a hired gun. Who knows what other sorts of fucked up things he's done? You think he's really going to hand himself in?" Fixing Yamapi with a hard appraisal, Jin scoffed. "You're just trying to save your own skin. You think this makes up for everything?"

"I told the police, you dense bastard!" Yamapi snarled. "I went to the fucking police and the cops I talked to were all bent. They knew. They've known this entire time and they couldn't give a fuck about anything other than the big fat packets of money slipped between their dry-cleaning every week. What a shame that they only managed to find his hideout the day after he'd moved out, right? They said that no-one would believe me, that they'd make sure that no-one would believe me and flashed a couple of arrest warrants in my face. My boss had warned them that I'd come and given them everything needed to lock me up, everything but the goddamned prison key." Shivering, Yamapi muttered under his breath, "It's a fucking miracle that you're still alive."

For a long moment, none of them said anything. The clock in the hallway ticked viciously into the silence.

Tegoshi sighed. "How am I even friends with such fucked up people?"

"You dress up as a magical dragon for a living and get paid extra to utter the catchphrase 'Let me smoke it over a couple of knights.' And your audience isn't even old enough to recognize how messed up that is."

"You kill people for a living," Jin retorted.

Yamapi spluttered. "Not anymore! I just landed the role of Whistler in the stage production of the Animals of Farthing Wood."

"Shut up, the two of you."

Jin and Yamapi paused to throw dark looks to one another before turning their attention to Tegoshi, who was now staring at the ceiling. "Well, I have two options. One, I toss the both of you out on your backsides and hope to never see you again, but then I'll never get back the money you still owe me from college and it's too depressing eating a romantic meal alone. Therefore, two, we work out a way to catch this bastard and bundle him off to a different police station in front of a massive horde of reporters, and I work out exactly how useful you both are to me at some later date when all of this starts to make more sense."

"I vote two," said Jin in a small voice.

The gesture was so brief that it could have been a trick of the light, but Tegoshi seemed to give a barely discernible nod.

"Great!" beamed Yamapi. "Is there is enough pasta for three?"

***


Whimsical pipe music streamed from the living room window to Tegoshi's backyard through a pair of ancient sound speakers, and intertwined with the gaudy sizzling of meat on the barbeque. Koki had wrapped up his hair in a beaded turban and was flipping cuts of lamb with a spatula, while Taguchi had struck up a fast friendship with a set designer and they were busy arranging the salad into something that vaguely resembled Happy Birthday Tegoshi! A sizable number of guests had turned up for the event, and they all flocked around the backyard with drinks in hand and an eye on the food. Ueda had caught a baby rabbit with his bare hands and found himself at the centre of a flock of delighted women, who cooed over both the rabbit and everything Ueda said.

Tegoshi had barricaded himself in the kitchen, surrounded by an assortment of dishes from exotic locales and intent on preventing Jin from surreptitiously shovelling vast amounts of it into his guts. "It's for the guests," he growled.

"I'm a guest," Jin replied, popping another vol-au-vent into his mouth.

"You're beginning to become a nuisance," said Tegoshi, pulling loaf after crusty loaf of bread from the oven. Jin moaned and immediately zeroed in on them, tearing off a searing hot piece and shoving it into his mouth. Tegoshi jostled him out of the way and rushed to check on the soup. "Go and find something useful to do. Or, you know, actually talk to the rest of the people here."

Jin shrugged, looking out the window to where Kamenashi had finally relented to Tegoshi's endless wheedling to bring his octopus to the party ("But not as a gimmick!" "Of course not, I just thought it would be a good opportunity for you to educate some people about the impact of global warming.") and Nakamaru was determined to stay on the exact opposite side of the yard from the slimy creature.

"There's no one here that I want to talk to. And I see my housemates every single day so if we spend any more time together, it'd be unhealthy."

Sighing, Tegoshi stirred the seafood concoction. He wondered if Kamenashi would place him under citizen's arrest for plunging innocent prawns to their delicious, creamy fate. "Still no word from Yamapi?" he asked quietly. Jin didn't reply. "Yesterday was a total shambles."

Beetroot red in the face, Jin and Tegoshi had had to sheepishly placate a dozen news reporters who had turned up with expectations of an escaped criminal gang leader. Instead the reporters found two guys standing in the cold, dribbling excuses like "Just a little longer, he should be here any minute now" while muttering between them whether or not their plan to lure out the suited man was going to work.

The plan hadn't worked. Neither of them wanted to admit it but sending Yamapi back to the lion's den was quite possibly the most reckless thing they'd ever done, even if Yamapi had left willingly with a grin.

Jin stoically munched on.

"Hey, the barbeque's ready," said Nakamaru, sticking his head through the window. "You'd better hurry if you want any. Koki's snagged a troughful for himself."

Tegoshi took the saucepan off the heat and joined Jin beside the window. "We'll be out in a sec," he smiled at Nakamaru, who waggled his eyebrows and scarpered before Jin could call him out on that disgustingly self-satisfied grin. "Come on, it's my party and I'll be the only one crying if I want to."

"We totally fucked up," Jin murmured.

Giving Jin a shove towards the backdoor, Tegoshi mumbled under his breath, "Yeah, maybe."

What had been a glorious afternoon melted freely into a slightly chilly but clear evening. Some of Tegoshi's actor friends had commenced a round of theatresports in the living room using the motley props abandoned in the hallway, and everyone else had retired indoors to cheer on the impromptu teams. The barbeque was slowly cooling down (it would need a vigorous scrub in the morning, undoubtedly at a time when all the guests had long departed) and the octopus had liberated itself from the tank and was roaming across the backyard, engulfing discarded pieces of homemade cabanossi.

Jin stood by the pool, watching the sky darken with half a profiterole for company. He didn't react when he felt Tegoshi creep up behind him but silently finished off the cream puff before sucking the chocolate off his fingers.

"You've been quiet all evening." Resting his chin against Jin's shoulder, Tegoshi whispered, "He'll be back." He slipped a hand inside Jin's shirt and left it there, palm resting hot against Jin's stomach.

Reaching up, Jin ran his fingers along Tegoshi's cheek and nodded. He turned his head a fraction and Tegoshi kissed him, slowly.

The backdoor flung open, crashing against the wall and rebounding back with a clatter. There stood the suited man, a cigarette in one hand and gleaming knife in the other.

"Jin Akanishi," said the man in a carelessly soft voice, the corners of his lips stretched in a smile. His fingers went to his mouth and he took a languid drag of the cigarette; his hand slipped down to gently adjust his tie before coming up again to peel the cigarette away. He blew out leisurely, a wisp of grey-blue smoke trailing from between his lips and curling in the air in loose, indolent circles. "It's about time we had a little chat, don't you think? Yamapi has gone through so much effort to make sure you're exactly where I want you."

He looked amused when Yamapi crept out from behind him, a contrite expression smudged across his face. "I think he deserves some praise." Reaching out with his knife, he ran the tip in an idle line along Yamapi's face, curving around the cheekbones and dipping across his lips. It left a faint red mark. Yamapi closed his eyes and pressed his lips against the cold blade, then parted them slightly to lick at the edge. A drop of blood rambled along the side.

"I told you I could do it," Yamapi whispered, moving back a step and carefully brushing his hair out of his eyes with the tips of his fingers.

"Of course you could," the suited man replied, his voice thick with honeyed praise. He strode forward slowly, tilting his head to the side in mocked confusion. "Mister Akanishi, you've managed to cheat death a remarkable number of times for someone who is, quite clearly, an unremarkable person. Tell me your secret and I might let you live."

Ignoring Tegoshi, who had clutched onto his arm to try and pull him back, Jin turned to face the suited man squarely and also took a step forward. His eyes were hard, defiant. "Must be the universe giving a thumbs up to dance music."

The suited man's placid smile widened. "I don't enjoy being mocked. I really, really don't."

Like the flash of headlights from the wrong side of the road, the suited man leapt forward with his knife raised. He slashed, missed, then sliced again. Jin, panting on the wet slippery ground, snarled. The suited man struck again, the reflected light from the blade whisking a dazzling arc in the air and caught the edge of Jin's sleeve, ripping it apart.

He plunged forward again like a sprung arrow, eyes locked and teeth bared, and the knife steady in both hands.

One step closer, seemingly with lapse of balance.

Then the other foot landed and slipped.

Eyes wide in shock, the suited man pitched toward the ground. With his hands still locked fast around the handle of the knife, he was unable to support his fall.

He slammed hard onto the tiles, his head cracking against the edge of the swimming pool for a split second before momentum propelled him over the edge. Water splashed up on all sides around him, dark murky-coloured beads spraying across the air.

The water slapped back down.

Everybody watched as Kamenashi's octopus swiftly lurched away, dragging its injured limb.

The water shimmered crimson under the veranda lamps, slowly lapping over the still figure that drifted face-down in the shallow end. Trails of bloodied water collected into the drains, leaving glossy streaks across the pavement like silk fragments from a spider's web.

Jamming his hands into his pockets, Yamapi hissed in a breath and shared a startled look with Jin. He sniffed and tittered uneasily.

"Well, that wasn't supposed to happen."

In the distance, the sound of police sirens winding their twisted way through the suburban streets had begun.

***


Six buttery, thick-cut slices of freshly-fried French toast sat merrily in the middle of a cheerful ceramic plate, on the second rack from the top inside the gas-powered oven that had been turned down to the minimum heat (which was just above 60ºC). Next to the oven lay a sifter and next to the sifter was a petite, blue-lattice patterned ceramic bowl filled to the brim with fine icing powder. Excessive sugar consumption had clearly failed to be defined as an actual problem in this household.

The kitchen itself was gorgeous: spotless from top to bottom, everything stacked neatly where it ought to be, and the countertops smelling of generic lemon disinfectant.

It was late morning, perhaps reclining closer to lunch than to breakfast, and the sun had almost completed its languorous ascent high into the air. Streaks of light fanned into the squat house and glittered across every surface, lending it the appearance of gold dust particles settling on a treasured doll's house.

The occupants of the house were either tucked away safely in bed or sprawled out across the three-seater couch in the living room, and as a result of such an unconscious state of being, were utterly unconscious to the feverish commotion drumming on the front lawn. To them, the drone of zealous voices and flurry of activity beyond the windows were little more than an additional crest of the wave lapping against the shore, or the murmurs of appreciation from an enthusiastic stage-goer, or the whistling between the trees of an infinite evergreen forest in their dreamscapes. It didn't matter that news reporters were breathlessly pressing the broken doorbell over and over. What did matter was that the house was warm and smelled like the inside of a bakery, and there was little reason to rise into the land of the living now with police statements a thing of the past and criminal indictments something that happened, decidedly, only to other people.

At a time that suited them best, the inhabitants would eventually wake from their slumber and blunder into the kitchen to find the little note that read:

Thought you guys could do with a lie-in. Breakfast is in the oven.

And scrawled down the bottom but scratched out several times, was written:

The octopus will be fine.


----- end -----
 
 
 
katmillia on August 14th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
TEGOSHI SAVED HIS LIFE aksdjfkadjkfdfkjdsfa okay I went to bad places with the CPR, I realize that's not supposed to be sexy. But. You know. IT TOTALLY IS, OKAY. ♥

His housemates might have become the closest things to friends in his entire life, for which he was eternally grateful, but that didn't stop the longing he had to be able to talk to someone who wasn't prone to interrupting conversations with "By the way, is that your sock on the washing line? It's been out there for like, two weeks."
I AM CRYING. THERE ARE TEARS ON MY FACE. TEARS. TEARS EVERYWHERE. WHY IS THIS THE MOST BRILLIANT AND HILARIOUS THING I EVER- I DONT' EVEN KNOW. I LOVE YOU. PLEASE LET ME WORSHIP YOU. wait are you embarrassed yet shit I haven't gotten past this line yet

It took Jin more than twenty minutes to find the courage to ask what the fuck was up with the clothes and furry helmet from before
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH AND THEN THIS asjdflkdsjkfdsjfa whyyyyyyyyy you are so amazing T_________________T

JUNNO DRIVING THROUGH PROTESTERS I love everything about this. And oh god, Kame talking about his conferences and how people were scarred for life, I can't even.

Oh god oh god someone found Jin, oh god. AAAAAAH RECORDINGS YOU MOCK ME

THEY TAKE HIM TO HIS DATE AAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA ♥ ♥

"This will protect you," he said solemnly and Jin, equally solemnly, slipped it onto his own finger.

"Thanks," said Jin. "I- I really mean it."

KOKI I'M DYING ILU

OH MY GOD PI

askdjfskjfkajkjds

OH SHIT HOLY SHIT PI'S AT TEGOSHI'S HOUSE

My landlord didn't kick me out because I accidentally set fire to the kitchen.
In the middle of this huge thing and I'm giggling because this mental image is just too good BUT THEN I GET ALL CONCERNED AGAIN AAAAAH JIN

Tegoshi sighed. "How am I even friends with such fucked up people?"

"You dress up as a magical dragon for a living and get paid extra to utter the catchphrase 'Let me smoke it over a couple of knights.' And your audience isn't even old enough to recognize how messed up that is."

I LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU T___________________T

AAAAAAAAAAAH PI o______________________________O WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT PI PI PI PI PI PI GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH akjsfdkjadjfkdsfjdskfdasj incoherent anxious flailing

OH MY GOD KAME'S OCTOPUS

SEE NOW I AM DYING

THIS TOTALLY ISN'T GOING TO FIT IN ONE COMMENT SHIT LMAO LMAO OH MY GOD THIS IS SO AMAZING ♥

Okay, so this? This was so magical. I love, love, love everything about this. I love how there's so much woven into this, the meta about them and their history. Tegoshi being the worst actor ever. Sending Pi back into the lion's den. The octopus will be fine crying crying crying how did you do this. Look at me word-vomming all over your beautiful story. I REGRET NOTHING, YOU MUST KNOW MY LOVE. Okay. Seriously. I'm done now. Except that I'm reccing this to everyone on the PLANET. ♥ ♥
the train on platform 4hurstville on August 17th, 2011 07:18 am (UTC)
aksdjhasd your comment has reduced me to a flibbly-flobbly pile of goo xD ahahhaa, it's the sweetest comment I've ever received and you've made me sosososo incredibly happy like you have no idea ♥ Seriously, I can't stop grinning. Firstly, thank you so much for reading! I know you were lured here by the Jin/Tegoshi, so I'm sorry that the pairing didn't really come into play until the second half and it wasn't like, super shippy or anything but I hope everything else made up for it, rofl xD

Secondly, thanks for your squee-inducing comments! ♥♥♥ It's comments like yours that totally motivate me to write and you've been really generous with your words. (lol, ok, this is a bit sad but I'm kinda glad at least one person out there thinks my jokes are funny, rofl -sadsadsad- Sometimes I think I'm being hilarious and then it turns out that it's all just ridiculous so, yeah, hahaha. Like, the part I like the most in this entire fic is that throwaway line about the marine wildlife conservationists accidentally being served abalone, idek. So cruel xD)

But most important, THANKS AGAIN! :D I can never thank you enough for the massive, cheesy-loser grin that's on my face, ahahaha. I'm so glad you liked it! ♥
katmillia on August 17th, 2011 07:23 am (UTC)
OKAY I AM REALLY GLAD YOU AREN'T LIKE omg who the fuck is this loser word-voming all over my beloved masterpiece like a flailing loser head CAUSE I JUST REALLY NEEDED TO SHOW MY APPRECIATION TO YOU and also try and get you to write more because there is nothing I love more than well-written and hilarious fanfic. akjsdfkajsfkjdsfkjdks so basically yeah, you should write some more, and also work in some more awesome one-liners WHY ARE THE THROWAWAY LINES ALWAYS THE BEST my god i have my problem too, not even lying, it pains me sometimes that i use my best material on one line i swear most people skip OKAY ANYWAY i'm back voming again I'M SORRY I JUST REALLY LOVED IT LMAO ♥ ♥