Summary: Through the journey of a lifetime, what began as the best friendship in the world, evolved into something much more.
Author's Note: This was written for team present as part of je_ficgames. Prompt was V6's Voyager (translation here). It is 8,303 words of crazy fail (surprisingly not my longest fic!) I still don't like it one bit, but here you go. Thanks to tinyangl, grunhilda, trivialaffair, ryogrande and quinnsan, plus all of my flist, for listenting to me bitch about this. And, of course, thanks to my wonderful, wonderful betas quiraikotsu and lizzfan for your amazing help. ILU all. ♥
I also amuse myself that Jin didn't know about Pi going to QoP con as proved by the dvd, and haha, that's how I wrote it in here. XD Psychic? XD
I’m on my way now.
Yamapi reads the text and sends a quick reply. Okay. How’d the concert go?
Perfect. Had girls fainting at my feet. You know how it goes.
Yamapi shakes his head, an amused smile at his lips. Oh, I’m sure. Kame probably had more, huh?
There’s a long moment before the next reply comes.
You are no longer my friend.
I’ll pay for dinner. Hurry your ass up.
Hah! I knew you liked my ass.
Yamapi rolls his eyes and sends back That doesn’t even deserve a reply, then puts his phone away. He tips his hat down over his eyes and puts on his sunglasses, leaning by the far end of the station, waiting for Jin. He’s almost falling asleep when someone kicks him hard in the shin.
“Wake up,” says what is undoubtedly Jin’s voice, amused and irritated all at once.
Yamapi peers his eyes open and says, “I am awake.” Then he grins and asks, “Made anyone faint on your way here?”
Jin laughs. “No, but those girls might be close.” He glances at the group of highschool girls across the street. The girls see Jin’s gaze and call out his name, and he waves, smiling. They start chattering loudly and Jin chuckles, leading the way down the street.
“You’re in a good mood,” Yamapi observes, somewhere between surprised and amused. Jin waving to his fans outside of work was, well, uncommon.
Jin shrugs, then catches Yamapi’s gaze and winks. “Because I’m with you,” he singsongs and Yamapi punches his shoulder, grinning. Jin just laughs, throws an arm over Yamapi’s shoulders and says, “Come on, I’m hungry!”
Yamapi has heard things about him, the new kid, the one everyone says has a loud mouth and a pretty face. The one who got to stay by pure luck, the one who is already giving choreographers headaches, and playing pranks on other juniors.
Yamapi doesn’t really care to meet him, he has his own friends, and from what he’s heard, the new kid sounds cocky and annoying. But it’s inevitable that they meet, maybe even fate, when the new kid is in the dance room when Yamapi has practice with 4TOPS.
“I’m Akanishi Jin!” he immediately exclaims, bouncing a bit on his feet.
“I’m—” Yamapi starts, to be polite, but politeness is apparently unknown to the newcomer as he quickly interjects, “I know who you are. Everyone does.”
Akanishi glares petulantly. “But I’m going to be more famous than you.”
Yamapi kind of hates him.
Yamapi curls up on the edge of Jin’s couch and focuses on the sounds of Jin’s mom in the kitchen making them dinner.
Jin says nothing for a whole five minutes, which is a pretty big feat for the normally talkative boy. They are eighteen years old, but Jin still sometimes has the mentality of a grade-schooler, but in times like this, Yamapi greatly likes that about his best friend. His childness makes it possible for Yamapi to forget, even for a moment, how to be the adults they’ve already become.
“Pi,” Jin whines, because he’s bored, because he can’t sit there without talking for an extended amout of time. “Pi.”
He nudges Yamapi’s foot with a toe, but when Yamapi doesn’t answer, pouts and aims for his head instead. Yamapi ducks in time and turns to Jin with sad eyes that make Jin immediately sense something is wrong. Jin is nothing if not a little slow, but that is something Yamapi loved about him too.
“Pi? What’s wrong?”
Yamapi wraps arms around his legs, pulling them close to his chest and breathes, “I’m debuting.”
Silence follows and Yamapi braces himself for Jin’s inevitable outburst.
“T-That’s great!” he says, sincere, but Yamapi can hear the underlying jealousy. “What’re you so upset about then?” He claps Yamapi on the back, perhaps a bit harder than necessary, and gives a geniune, supportive smile. “This is good, right? Are you still going to be called 4TOPS?”
Yamapi shakes his head.
“Good. That was a lame name anyway.”
Yamapi chuckles despite himself. “As if KAT-TUN is any better.”
Jin pretends to look scandalized and they both laugh together for a few moments. But it doesn’t last long enough and Yamapi rests his chin on his knees and sighs.
“I’m not debuting with 4TOPS. We’ve disbanded. Johnny made a new group.”
Jin’s eyes widen and he, too, curls up into an identical ball beside Yamapi and when Yamapi puts his head on Jin’s shoulder, Jin doesn’t knock him off.
“Who else is in it?”
“Those three boys from KKKitty, plus three other juniors I don’t really know. And then Uchi-kun and Ryo-chan.”
“Hey! At least you’ll have Ryo-chan!” Jin exclaims.
Yamapi nods slightly. “I’m leader, too. But I don’t know any of them.”
“Ryo-chan would beat you over the head if he heard you say that.”
“Ryo-chan can’t even reach my head.”
Jin snorts and Yamapi allows himself a smile. “But you’re debuting, Pi. It’s okay if you don’t really know your group yet. You’re the leader, you’ll figure something out.”
“But I—” wanted to debut with 4TOPS. He can’t say those words out loud, knows he’s being selfish wanting something that he can’t have. He doesn’t call the shots, he knows how much of his life Johnny holds over his head. He just has to suck it up and take it. And, besides, Jin is right. He’s debuting. He’s wanted this for so many years and now it’s finally happening. He should be glad he’s getting the chance at all.
Jin says nothing to him for awhile and Yamapi is glad. Glad that Jin knows him well enough to just sit back and not bother him. Glad that their friendship is strong enough to overcome things like who gets to debut first. He was a little worried that Jin would’ve taken the information much harder than he had. But instead, Jin lets him sit there, with his head on his shoulder, lets him spill every little worry and frustration that has filled his veins since he first heard the news the previous week, lets him wallow in his undeserved self-pity.
Because that’s what best friends do. And Yamapi’s glad all over again that Jin is his best friend.
“Ahh,” Jin suddenly says, stretching his arms over his head and consequently elbowing Yamapi in the head. Yamapi groans but Jin seems unconcerned. “I wish I could’ve been in a group with you and Ryo-chan. That would’ve been a blast.”
Yamapi laughs. “We’d never get anything done. We’d goof off too much.”
“Yeah, but the fans would love us anyway.” Jin grins.
Yamapi smiles as well, but it’s a little forced. He, too, would love to debut with Jin. Not with this group of eight other boys he barely knows.
Jin puts a hand on his shoulder, squeezes comfortingly. “You okay?” he asks.
Yamapi sighs. “Our group is called NewS.”
Jin blinks and then bursts out into such uncontrollable laughter that he falls off the couch. Yamapi can’t help but laugh along with him, grinning so much his face hurts and he clutches his sides in pain, and it’s not until Jin’s mother has to come and yell at them that they finally stop, with tears in their eyes and hearts swelling with warmth.
Yamapi collapses on the couch as soon as he reaches it, presses his head into the cushion and says nothing though he hears Jin sigh from somewhere behind him. Then he hears Jin’s feet on the floor as he heads to the kitchen, returning a moment later and nudging something cold against Yamapi’s shoulder.
“Pi,” he says, in that voice Yamapi knows means he’s really worried.
Yamapi pushes himself onto his side, takes the beer and nods at Jin. Jin pops the tab on his and drinks, but Yamapi just turns the can around and around in his hands, staring off into nothing.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Jin says eventually.
Yamapi shakes his head. “No.”
Yamapi stares at him. “That’s not what you’re supposed to say. You’re supposed to keep asking me, make me talk about it. That’s what you always do.”
“Well. I know this meant a lot to you. I don’t want to make you talk if you don’t want it,” Jin replies, surprised. “Do you want to talk about it, then?”
Yamapi looks away. “No,” he says, stubbornly.
“Fine,” Jin snaps, and he looks away too.
Their silence lasts only a few minutes until Yamapi’s phone goes off. Yamapi ignores it, lets it ring on and on in the silent apartment until it finally stops. Three seconds later Jin’s phone goes off. Jin checks the ID and says, “It’s Ryo.”
“I know,” Yamapi answers. “Don’t—”
But Jin’s already answering and Yamapi sulks in the corner of the couch.
“Yeah, I’m with him. No, he won’t say. Okay, I got it. Don’t worry, it’s fine, he’ll say it’s fine too, so don’t worry about it, Ryo. Okay, bye.”
He hangs up and turns to Yamapi. “Ryo says to eat.” Jin gets to his feet. “Do you want anything in particular?”
Yamapi shakes his head.
“Okay. I’ll see what you have.” He puts a hand on Ymapai’s shoulder as he passes, and Yamapi can still feel the warmth of his touch even hours later when they’re sitting eating.
Yamapi pokes around at his food and Jin frowns. “Eat,” he says. “You need to eat. Don’t let this get to you that much. “
“I am eating,” Yamapi insists.
“Don’t fuck with me. Or I’ll tell Ryo he should come down here and shove the food down your throat himself.”
Yamapi glares at him and Jin puts his plate down on the floor beside him.
“Look, even if you don’t want to talk about it, I’m saying this anyway. You didn’t graduate on time, so what? It’s not like they’re making you stay another year, it’s not like you haven’t tried.” When Yamapi doesn’t say anything Jin sighs and continues. “Fuck, everyone in Japan knows how much you work. It’s a miracle you even got this far and were only just a few credits short. You should be proud of yourself.”
“Koyama graduated on time.”
“Koyama’s not you,” Jin says. “No offense to him, but there’s a great deal difference in the workload he has outside of school and the workload you have outside of school.”
Yamapi sighs and replies, “I know that, but—”
“But nothing,” Jin interrupts. He reaches for Yamapi’s shoulder, forces him to turn and face him. “What’s bothering you about this so much? Are you upset you let people down, or something?”
“No, that’s not it,” Yamapi says, hanging his head and staring at his hands. “I-I feel like I let myself down. I really wanted to graduate on time.”
Jin moves closer to the couch, tilting his head to catch Yamapi’s gaze. “This is really bothering you, isn’t it?”
Yamapi rolls his eyes. “No, moron, I’m so happy right now.”
Jin grins. “If you’re cracking jokes you’re okay,” he says as if he’d been inspecting Yamapi’s sanity the entire time. He moves up to sit beside Yamapi on the couch and says, “You’ll be able to graduate in the fall, right? It’s not like you still have an entire year.”
“But nothing!” Jin exclaims, smacks Yamapi’s knee playfully. “You can do this. You’ll graduate this fall. Stop being so depressed. Everyone understands.”
Yamapi stares at him, at the sheer belief and trust and confidence Jin displays in his gaze, takes it all in and knows there’s no way he can make Jin change his mind. He sighs and lets a small smile curve onto his lips. “Okay. I get it, I get it.”
Jin cheers, throwing his hands up in the air in victory, before suddenly turning and flopping over so he’s resting his head on Yamapi’s knee. Yamapi’s eyes go wide but he doesn’t move, not when Jin seems so obviously comfortable. Instead, he tries not to thread his fingers into Jin’s hair, so reach out and see if it’s really as soft as it looks, spilling over the rough patch of his jeans.
“What would you do without me, Pi?” Jin is saying and Yamapi focuses his attention back onto him. “You’d be a whiny, depressing person.”
Yamapi nudges him, but he’s grinning. “Smartass,” he says, forcing himself not to think about being without Jin.
The silence that hangs in the room is deafening and eight boys sit staring at the floor, a million different emotions running through their veins as the words they’ve dreaded to hear weighs down upon them.
“From now, until further notice, NewS is suspended. Uchi-kun will continue to be on suspension, and Kusano-kun will join him. The two of you will no longer be involved with any activities with the group. NewS will perform their spring concert tour as planned with just the six of you, and then will be formally suspended,” Johnny says, voice hard and authoritative.
Yamapi clenches his eyes tightly, hands curling into fists as he wishes over and over and over that this wasn’t happening. Not now, not when he they were finally starting to become more and more like a group, finally starting to get the hang of things, finally starting to become friends.
He casts a glance at the others, all still staring down at the floor. Kusano is huddled between Shige and Koyama, the two of them acting like some kind of shield against the blow. Likewise, Ryo has an arm around Uchi’s shoulders, squeezing him tightly as Uchi tries not to cry. Massu and Tegoshi hover behind them, not knowing what to do, who to comfort.
Yamapi glances up at Johnny, the old man was staring at him, and Yamapi knows that, as leader, he needs to be the one to speak up first. He doesn’t know what to say, how to say it, not sure if he can so much as open his mouth to say anything at all. His mind swims with too many thoughts; resent at Uchi and Kusano for messing up, yet anger at himself for not being a good enough leader to prevent it. Anger, frustration, depression, all of it eats him up and Yamapi doesn’t think he’s strong enough for something like this.
But he’s leader, so he clears his throat, stands shakily on his feet and says, “We understand.”
He can feel seven pairs of eyes on his back, can almost hear Ryo’s thoughts screaming at him; no, no, no, do something, Pi, do something!. But Yamapi only stands his ground, JE’s poster boy, and says, “Thank you.” He bows and squeezes his eyes tight to stem the flow of tears.
No one blames Uchi or Kusano. No one can find the heart to, even if they thought about it. With Uchi’s eyes red-rimmed, hiding close behind Ryo, who glares at everyone as if daring them to say something, and Kusano, who normally can’t stop talking, is more quiet than any one of them, none of them can find anything to say at all.
“W-We’ll overcome this,” Yamapi says, eventually, after a long time picking at his brain and trying to find the right words to say.
“Of course we will,” Ryo snaps.
“Don’t fight!” Tegoshi pleads, sniffling, and tugging on Ryo’s sleeve. “Now’s not the time to fight.”
Ryo scowls and looks away. Yamapi sighs and runs a hand through his hair. No one says anything for a long time until Uchi whimpers, “I’m sorry, everyone. I’m sorry.”
Kusano immediately follows suit before anyone can refute the statement, and adds, “Don’t bother saying it’s not our fault. It is, and we’re both sorry.”
“We’ll overcome this,” Yamapi says again, louder and more confident, because right now that is what he believes most strongly in. They are NewS, they will overcome this.
The others look at him and nod slowly, forcing weak smiles and wiping eyes. Yamapi gives them the best smile he can and says, “Otsukaresama,” like he’ll see them all tomorrow.
He’s the first to leave, quickly heading out of the jimusho which feels more and more like it’s suffocating him and heading straight for the station. He pulls out his phone on the train and calls the first person he can think of.
Jin answers with a tired, “Wha?” but when Yamapi breathes, “NewS is suspended,” he immediately demands, “Come over right now.”
“I’m already on my way,” Yamapi says and Jin doesn’t ask any more questions about it, instead launches into a story he read in the paper, and puts Yamapi into a false sense of security that Yamapi greatly welcomes. Jin’s voice is all he needs to feel a hundred times better, and he does nothing but listen on the ride there.
Jin’s waiting outside for him, puts an arm around Yamapi’s shoulder and leads him inside, asks softly if he wants anything to eat, to drink. Yamapi shakes his head and Jin understands, steers him to his bedroom. Yamapi borrows a pair of sweatpants and a shirt that’s too large for him, but he finds that he likes it, likes the smell of Jin’s detergent tickling his senses.
Yamapi curls up in Jin’s bed and Jin slides in beside him, grips his hand and says nothing, his thumb draws circles on the inside of his wrist and even when Yamapi starts sniffling, Jin doesn’t make a bad joke or tease him about it. Instead, he moves a bit closer and with a soft soothing tone says that everything will be all right.
And when Jin says it, Yamapi believes it. Because it’s Jin and that’s enough for him.
“I saw your billboard when I was heading home today. You looked so creepy. Do you know that?”
“Fuck off,” Yamapi says, but he’s grinning. “It’s a bigger board than you’ll ever be on.”
“And your song is still lame,” Jin continues. “Will your performance be any better?”
Yamapi closes his mouth and says nothing, clenches his fingers tighter around his cell phone.
“Pi? Jin says a beat later, concern in his voice. When Yamapi still doesn’t respond, Jin teases, “You’re not nervous, are you?”
“What, of course I’m not!” Yamapi replies instinctively.
“You are. You so are.” Jin sounds surprised. “I didn’t think you ever got nervous.”
“I’m not inhuman, moron,” Yamapi says. “It’s just that. It’s me, by myself this time.”
“You’ve sung solos before, what’s the big deal now?”
“I don’t know, Jin, I don’t know.” Yamapi sighs and looks around the empty dressing room, misses the usual racket that came with being part of a large group.
“You’ll knock them all out of the water, Pi,” Jin reassures. “Just don’t, you know, forget your lines or knock over the mic stand or something. Because that would be so embarrassing.”
Yamapi rolls his eyes. “Thanks, Jin,” he says just when the door to the dressing room opens and he’s called for standby. “Fuck,” he mutters and Jin laughs.
“Pi, listen to me,” he says. “You’ll be fine. This is just another stop in the voyage of your life and—”
“Jin, shut up.”
“Fine,” he snaps, but then pauses and adds, “Good luck.”
Yamapi can’t help but smile and responds, “I’ll knock them out of the water?”
“And they’ll be flapping around like dying fish.”
Yamapi laughs soundly, feels about ten thousand times better than he had five minutes ago. “Jin, I—” he starts, but finds he doesn’t really know what to say.
“Shut up, you sap,” Jin interjects, already knows what Yamapi means and not needing to hear it. “Go and perform. Remember, I’ve got Ryo recording it, so if you fuck up, we’ll have it forever and ever to remind you.”
And before Yamapi can yell at him, Jin cackles with amusement and hangs up. Yamapi jumps when there’s a knock on the door and he puts his phone away, follows the staff member out to the set. He clenches his fist, shuts his eyes, thinks about flapping fish and video tapes and Jin, Jin, Jin, and heads out into the spotlight.
“Think of it as going on a voyage!” Jin tells Yamapi the next morning.
Yamapi groans and tries to pull the covers back over his head, but Jin’s already awake and already pulling the covers away. “A what?” Yamapi grumbles.
“A voyage!” Jin replies. “Like, you’ve just lost two members at sea!”
“But that makes it sound like they died!” Yamapi exclaims and Jin’s eyes widen like he’s only just realized that himself.
“Oh, right, uhm.” He purses his lips and looks upward thoughtfully before snapping his fingers and saying, “It can still be a voyage and you just forgot them when you changed ports!”
“But that makes it sound like it’s all my fault!”
“Hey, I’m trying here! I’ve been up for a few hours watching you sleep and thinking this up!” Jin pouts.
Yamapi kicks him. “You creep. Don’t watch me sleep.”
“Aw, but you’re cute,” Jin teases and Yamapi pushes him off the bed.
“What I meant,” Jin says, popping up from under the covers. “Is that you shouldn’t let it get you down. You have to keep sailing! It’s a voyage!”
Yamapi stares at him. “You sound like a greeting card. Stop scaring me.”
Jin punches his arm. “I just don’t want you to keep moaning about this. You guys will be fine. I believe that.”
Yamapi looks away, embarrassed but happy, and mumbles a quiet, “Thanks, Jin.”
Jin grins. “Come on, I’ll race you to breakfast.”
And he’s out the door before Yamapi can even blink. Yamapi shakes his head and shouts after, “What are you, five?” but he runs after him anyway.
“I am going on a voyage,” Jin tells Yamapi.
They’re lying on the floor of Jin’s living room, cool autumn breeze whistling through the open balcony door, the curtain fluttering about noisily. The television is on, but both of them have grown bored of the show and the remote is lost somewhere too far for them to reach.
“What,” Yamapi mumbles against the floor, his eyes closed, feeling oddly content.
“I’m going on a voyage,” Jin says again.
“Oh really? Where to?” Yamapi smiles, plays along.
“America,” Jin replies. “To L.A. To study English.”
Yamapi opens his eyes, sees the honesty and seriousness in Jin’s gaze and sits up quickly.
“What?” he exclaims, suddenly feeling as though he’s been submerged in cold water. “You’re really going to America?”
Jin sits up as well, crossing his legs and holding onto his ankles, rocks back and forth a little and nods. “Yeah. I-I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and I’ve even talked to management. They…They agree with me.”
Yamapi stares at him, unsure what to say, unsure what exactly he was feeling with this sudden information.
Jin grins and flops onto his back on the floor. “Isn’t it cool? America, Pi! Real college life. It’ll be so amazing.”
“But, Jin, you just debuted!” Yamapi says. “What. What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking that I don’t want to be tied down by this company. That I want to go to America, to study something I want, to do something I want, not what Johnny wants or KAT-TUN wants,” Jin answers easily with no hesitation. “I want to break free. Go on a voyage, Pi. It’s like the next step of my life.”
“Jin, you don’t even know English. How’re you going to survive?”
“You should come with me,” Jin says instead, props himself up on his elbows and grins. “It’d be awesome, Pi. No work, just partying, girls--American girls. How cool would that be?”
“Oh, yeah, because I can just pack up and leave.” Yamapi smiles despite himself and nudges Jin’s foot.
A silence falls over them and they both go back to lying on the floor, sinking into a comfortable atmosphere. They stay like that for a long while, no words exchanged, and melt into each other’s presence. Jin starts to hum something slow, probably Western, Yamapi thinks, and the smooth melodic tune puts Yamapi into a much welcomed lull, lets him digest everything Jin just told him.
He knows, probably better than anyone, how much Jin likes English and how much he wants to go to America. But the mere thought of Jin actually leaving, of Jin being away, Yamapi wasn’t sure why it made feel him so uneasy.
Yamapi can’t remember not knowing Jin, and the thought of Jin being elsewhere, some place Yamapi can’t just ride the train to, felt unnatural. Even when they’ve fought in the past, they weren’t separated; Yamapi would still show up at Jin’s house and eat dinner with his family. They’ve been together for so long that anything remotely different was unfathomable.
Jin suddenly stops humming and the silence reverberates in Yamapi’s ears, but he doesn’t look over at him, finds that he can’t quite yet. Yamapi hears Jin get to his feet and walk out of the room only to return a few moments later. Yamapi yelps when something cold lands on his back and he fumbles to grab the beer can before it falls.
“Thanks,” he says.
Jin grins, clinks their cans together and says, “Cheers,” in English.
Yamapi taks a sip and stares down at the can as he asks, “When are you going?”
“For how long?”
“Don’t know.” Jin pauses. “Maybe I’ll never come back.”
Yamapi punches him, hard. “That’s not funny.”
“Aw,” Jin singsongs, eyes bright. “Are you going to miss me, Pi?”
Yamapi glares and looks away. Jin’s grin widens and he scoots over, presses his cheek against Yamapi’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, I won’t replace you with some crazy cool American.”
Yamapi shoves him off, but feels inexplicably relieved. “I still think you’re being stupid going now.”
Jin shrugs. “Better now than never.”
“Have you told KAT-TUN?”
“No. I wanted you to be first.”
Yamapi doesn’t know if he should feel honored or not. Choosing not to say anything at all, he takes another sip of his beer and silence hangs over them again.
Jin finishes his drink, pokes Yamapi’s side. “Pi?” he says, quiet and subdued. “Pi?”
Yamapi sighs. “You’re leaving me all alone,” he says, surprised by his own words. “NewS is suspended and now you’re leaving, too.”
Jin’s eyes widen for a moment before he frowns. “Don’t be selfish.”
“You’re being selfish, too, aren’t you? Right after debuting, you decide to leave the group.”
“You’ll have Ryo-chan.”
“Ryo is—” not you. Yamapi shakes his head. “Never mind. Forget I said anything.”
Yamapi grins, shoves Jin playfully, says, “L.A., huh? Are you sure you’re not going there just to party?”
Jin stares at him long and hard before relenting and dropping the matter. He shoves Yamapi back and grins. “We’ll make this next month the best, okay? The two of us, best friends, together all the time!”
He throws an arm around Yamapi’s shoulders and leans in close, sighing dreamily.
Yamapi rests his head against Jin’s and says, “We’ll give off the wrong idea. People will start to think we’re dating.”
Jin presses closer. “I think we’d be so cute together.”
Yamapi laughs and shoves him, but he can’t help but think that it doesn’t sound like such a terrible idea.
Yamapi can hear the sounds of the final encore ending, applause and screams finally calming down as fans gather their things and make their way out of the Dome, chattering excitedly. He puts his phone into his pocket and stretches a little in his seat. When the door opens and all of KAT-TUN tumble through, grinning and laughing, Yamapi gets to his feet but is almost instantly tackled back onto the couch by Jin, who starts punching every part of him he can reach.
“Hey! Jin! Ouch, that hurts, bastard,” Yamapi exclaims, squirming away.
Jin yelps when Koki pulls him off Yamapi and onto the floor.
“Leave him alone, Jin,” he says, rolling his eyes.
“Koki, you shouldn’t get in the way of their lover’s quarrel,” Ueda remarks and Jin glares at him while Yamapi looks amused.
“Are we having a lover’s quarrel?” he asks Jin.
Jin shifts his glare to Yamapi. “You jerk. You didn’t tell me you were coming today.”
“Really?” Kame says. “He told me.”
“And me,” Koki adds.
Jin gapes. “What? Why didn’t you tell me!”
Yamapi kicks his shin. “It was supposed to be a surprise, idiot. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”
“But you told them.”
“So they’d know to let me up at some point.” Yamapi rolls his eyes. “Figures you’d be pissed by my keeping a secret.”
Jin crosses his arms over his chest and pouts. “You figure right.”
Yamapi shakes his head. “Get dressed, moron. I’m hungry. I’ll buy you food or something.”
Jin glares. “You can’t buy me off with food.”
“Fine,” Yamapi says, getting up and moving around the couch to drop an arm over Kame’s shoulders. “Shuuji-kun will go with me, right?”
“Sure.” Kame smirks.
Jin’s jaw drops and Yamapi cheers. “I’ll wait outside for you.”
Kame nods and Yamapi leaves the room, Jin glaring at his back as he leaves.
It’s barely two seconds later when Jin stomps out, still in his costume. Yamapi laughs at him and Jin just grabs his arm, pulling him into an empty hallway behind racks of clothes.
“Okay, seriously, what’s with you?” Ryo demands, setting his drink down and staring at Yamapi.
“Huh?” Yamapi says blankly, finally tearing his gaze away from the window to look at Ryo.
“You’ve been like this all day. Are you okay?” Ryo’s voice changes instantly from irritataion to concern and Yamapi tries to smiles, but it’s forced and only lasts a brief moment. He sighs and stares at his lap and when Ryo leans over and squeezes his shoulder, he knows that Ryo understands everything.
“He’ll be back soon, Pi,” Ryo says.
A pause. Then, “We should have a welcome back party,” Ryo suggests, then pauses again. “I mean, unless you’d rather it just be the two of you, because—”
Yamapi’s eyes widen and he meets Ryo’s gaze, shaking his head. “What? No, no, Ryo. We aren’t like that.”
Ryo looks surprised and amused at the same time. Arching an eyebrow, he says, “Really?”
Yamapi flails a little, fidgeting and nodding, “Yes, really.”
Yamapi gapes. “W-Why? What do you mean?”
Ryo sighs, like he’s talking to a child who doesn’t understand multiplication. He leans on his elbows on the table and says, “If you think there’s absolutely nothing between you, you two are dumber than I thought.”
“Pi,” Ryo says, seriously. “You miss him. You do, not just because you’re best friends forever or any of that shit, but because you love him.”
Yamapi’s eyes widen again. “No, I-I don’t. He’s just my friend.”
Ryo sighs. “Would you be this upset if it were me in L.A. right now?”
Yamapi opens his mouth to say, yes, of course, but the words don’t come out. He closes his mouth, hands balling into fists in his lap, and looks away. As much as it was frightening to admit it, he didn't think he’d be this upset if Ryo was gone instead of Jin. Because Jin would be there, he’d be able to see him and talk to him without worrying about time differences, would be able to show up at his place at two in the morning for no reason. Jin would be across from him drinking coffee then, and he would smile and tease and everything would be right with the world.
Yamapi looks back up and Ryo’s smiling. “Sorry,” he tells him.
Ryo laughs. “Please,” he says. “I think it’d be weird for you to be that depressed over me.”
Yamapi grins. “Besides, you’d only want Shige to be, wouldn’t you?”
Ryo kicks him. “Shut up.”
Yamapi’s grin widens, but falters from Ryo’s sudden serious look.
“You okay? Really?” Ryo asks.
“I’m better now. Really. Thanks, Ryo.”
“Yeah, whatever,” he says, embarrassed. “Obviously you two couldn’t do this on your own.”
Yamapi hides his face in his hands. “Was it that obvious? I-I didn’t even realize—”
Ryo laughs and cuts him off with, “Does anything feel different between you two? This is how you two normally are. Hardly anything’s changed other than realizing what your feelings actually are. You’ve probably loved him forever but never put a word to it before.” Ryo smiles. “It’s natural you two love each other this way, after knowing each other for so long.”
Yamapi gives him a curious look. “Then why didn’t you fall for one of us?”
“Oh god. I’d die before falling for one of you morons.”
Yamapi grins sneakily. “So that’s why you went for Shige, huh?”
Ryo’s glare is lethal. “Don’t make me hit you.”
Yamapi laughs, feeling better than he has in days, weeks, in months. He smiles gratefully at Ryo, who gets all embarrassed again, taking his drink and looking pointedly away. Yamapi sighs contently and stares out the window again, thinks about himself, thinks about Jin, thinks about them. He wonders what Jin will say if he just vaguely told him he loved someone. He can almost hear Jin’s eager voice at insisting he needs to know who it is, can almost imagine the spark in his eyes and his lips curving into a grin, can picture Jin tackling him to the ground when Yamapi won’t tell him, can almost feel Jin’s warmth on his skin, can count his eyelashes and watch his pupils dilate. He thinks of kissing him then, when they’re lying on the floor in a mess of limbs, of brushing Jin’s bangs from his face and pressing their mouths together. He wonders what Jin tastes like, wonders what Jin would do.
He feels Ryo nudge his shin, startling him back to reality. Ryo smiles at him and says, “Are you going to tell him?”
Yamapi shrugs. “Maybe someday.”
“He might already know,” Ryo replies and Yamapi’s eyes widen.
“What? Have you talked to him?”
Ryo scoffs. “No, the bastard never calls me.”
“Would you pick up even if he did?” Yamapi teases.
Ryo grins wickedly. “No,” he says, and gets to his feet. “Are you going to be okay?”
Yamapi nods, standing as well and pulling on his coat. “If I need to have another heart-to-heart, I’ll make sure to call you.”
Ryo rolls his eyes, but he looks pleased. “Then I’ll see you later, okay?”
“Sure,” Yamapi replies as they head out into the winter cold. The wind nips at his cheeks and he rubs his hands together before shoving them into his pockets. “Thanks, Ryo, really.”
Ryo punches his shoulder playfully. “Whatever,” he says, but Yamapi knows better, and with a wave he heads down the street to his car. Yamapi watches until he disappears around the corner before turning and going the opposite direction.
Yamapi fumbles around in bed, grasping blindly for his ringing phone, and pulls it to his ear to mumble a sleepy, “Hello?”
“Pi!” Jin exclaims. “I heard, I heard!”
Yamapi immediately sits up at the sound of Jin’s voice and rubs his eyes. “What?” he says. “Jin, do you know what time it is?” Yamapi squints at the alarm clock. “Jin, it’s fucking three in a morning. What do you want?”
“Do you want me to call later?” Jin asks, slightly disappointed.
Yamapi’s eyes widen. “No!” he almost shouts. “No, no. It’s fine. I—” I’ve wanted to talk to you, he wants to say, but can’t find the courage. “What do you want?” he asks instead.
“I heard!” Jin exclaims. “About NewS. That you guys are back!”
Yamapi shakes his head, but smiles, the excitement in Jin’s voice contagious. “Yeah. We’re back.”
“Didn’t I tell you! You’d overcome this. It was just that one stop in your voyage and now you guys can keep sailing on forever!”
“But it’s just the six of us.”
A beat. Then Jin says, “It won’t be long until the other two are back,” and Yamapi believes him.
“Thanks, Jin,” he says.
“Well, that’s all,” Jin says slowly. “I, uhm, just wanted to congratulate you. But you should go back to sleep.”
Yamapi stares at the clock, knows he has to be out the door in four hours, knows he has NewS rehearsals and photoshoots and a billion of things to do, but also knows that he can’t find himself to care. Right now, with Jin on the other end of the line, Yamapi can’t care about anything else.
“No,” he says. “No, it-it’s okay. How are you? We haven’t talked for awhile, are you okay?
“I—” Jin starts but quiets down, can’t seem to find the words to express everything he wants to say. He’s happy, he’s having fun, he’s learning things he never thought he would, and yet, he’s lonely and depressed and so many different things he never thought he could feel at one time. “Pi, I—” he tries again, but still the words don’t come out.
But Yamapi knows, they’re not best friends for nothing, after all. He smiles, leans his head against the wall and closes his eyes. “Yeah, Jin,” he says. “I miss you, too.”
It doesn’t exactly go how Yamapi had envisioned it in the coffee shop with Ryo all those months ago. There’s no tackling each other to the ground, no teasing, no elbows in each other’s ribs.
Instead, they’re playing video games on the floor of Jin’s living room. It’s late May, and the streetlights shine in through the windows, and they’re laughing and shouting and Jin’s nudging Yamapi’s feet with his whenever Yamapi races past him, and Yamapi elbows Jin in the side when Jin catches up. Then Jin wins, throwing his hands up into the air with a triumphant shout, before collapsing upon Yamapi’s lap in a fit of giggles.
Yamapi freezes and Jin stares up at him which those shining eyes Yamapi had envisioned, with that smile on his face that makes Yamapi’s heart stop and his breath get caught in his throat. And Yamapi can’t help it, pushes Jin’s bangs out of his face, leaning down close and he can count the eyelashes there, can see Jin’s pupils dilate, and when Yamapi kisses him, finally, he doesn’t even care what Jin does because right now, it feels like he just won.
Yamapi’s shoved against the wall a bit more roughly than he would have liked, but then Jin’s mouth is on his and nothing else really matters. He grabs Jin’s hips, feels feathers and sequins beneath his fingers, and pulls Jin flush against him, smirking when Jin does nothing to stop his moan.
Jin moves back a moment later, licking his lips slowly, and says, “Tell Kame you’re not going.”
“But what if I want to go eat with him?”
“I think I know what you want more,” he replies, grinds his hips against Yamapi’s. “Tell him no.”
Yamapi rolls his eyes. “He already knows, idiot.”
“Good,” Jin says before leaning back in and kissing Yamapi again. It’s slower than before, less frustrated and when he pulls back, he smiles at Yamapi, steps back to give Yamapi space.
Yamapi meets Jin’s tired, yet still elated from post-contert high, gaze and says, “You know, it’s hard to keep a secret from you.”
Jin laughs and punches his arm. “Which is why you should’ve told me in the first place then.”
“Nah, it was worth it just to see your face,” Yamapi says, grinning. “Over fifty thousand people saw you make that wonderful shell-shocked look tonight. Doesn’t that make you feel so good?”
Jin glares. “It makes me feel like punching you in the face.”
Yamapi kicks him. “Go get changed or I really will go out with Kame,” and Jin turns to leave, only stopping when he reaches the door and turns back.
“I’m glad you came, Pi,” he says.
Yamapi smiles. “I know,” he returns.
Ryo asks him about the girls. Shirota asks about everything else since Ryo’s already asking about the girls. Jin smiles tiredly, rubs the back of his neck and tells them everything and anything he can. Yamapi knows it all, there isn’t one thing Jin left out about his voyage in L.A., and they spent hours talking that morning on the phone.
Therefore, Yamapi sits back and watches Ryo and Shirota pester Jin, watches Jin start to get more and more enthusiastic until he’s practically jumping in his seat and waving his hands in large gestures to emphasize his points. Ryo laughs at him and Shirota looks amused and Yamapi smiles because he’s missed seeing this kind of excited Jin more than he could ever express in words.
Jin catches his eye then, frowns and glares a little. “What’re you looking at?” he demands and Yamapi shrugs, gets to his feet and asks instead, “Who wants another beer?”
His apartment is trashed by three in the morning and Shirota returns home while Ryo snores loudly on the couch. Jin is still awake, jetlag, he says, and Yamapi is tired, but can’t sleep, doesn’t want to sleep, not yet, not now. Jin is here and Yamapi can’t even think about going to bed. But they are laying in Yamapi’s bed anyway, like they used to when they were younger, like they’ve done on rare occasions, like Yamapi has thought about for the past six months, thought of the feeling of emptiness in the pit of his belly he really can’t explain. That emptiness which filled itself up the second he saw Jin that night.
“You’re hogging the blankets,” Jin grumbles, tugs on the sheets and takes most of it for himself.
Yamapi pulls back and, of course, Jin has to tug back again, the two of them quickly fighting over the sheets until Yamapi sits up and pulls so hard that Jin looses his grip and falls off the bed. Yamapi laughs when Jin erradicates himself from the blankets, his hair in his face and a pout on his lips.
“Your hair is getting long,” Yamapi says, reaches over to push the strands out of Jin’s face, and stopping aruptly when realizing what he was doing.
Jin doesn’t seem to mind though and slides back under the covers, fingering his hair. “Bet they’re going to make me cut it tomorrow before the press conference.”
“Hm, probably,” Yamapi agrees, settling against the pillows and staring up at the ceiling, trying not to concentrate on the way Jin’s hip is all too close to his, or the way he can feel the heat flow from the other’s body.
Jin rolls over, lying on his stomach, and looks right at Yamapi, who forces the lump down the lump in his throat. He doesn’t say anything, but Yamapi can tell he wants to only doesn’t know how. So Yamapi takes the initiative and asks, “You okay?”
Jin nods once. “It’s weird,” he says after a moment.
Yamapi sits up and finally turns to look at him, asks, “Did…Did you not want to?”
Jin looks horrified. “No! God, no, I did. I did want to come back. I wanted to come back so badly.”
Yamapi sighs with relief, but smiles and teases, “Missed me that much?”
Jin meets his gaze and for a moment Yamapi forgets to breathe. Then Jin says, “You wish,” and everything is back to normal again, but Yamapi can feel his heart beating ten times as fast.
Yamapi lays back down, turning his back to Jin, and closes his eyes. “I’m going to sleep,” he says, not wanting to think about what just happened.
Jin squirms beside him for a moment, but doesn’t say anything for quite awhile and Yamapi is almost asleep when Jin pokes his shoulder with a finger.
“Pi?” he says and Yamapi can feel his breath on the back of his neck. “Pi?”
Yamapi just grunts, but it’s enough for Jin who says, “I’m glad I’m home.”
Yamapi says nothing for a few long moments, then turns around, grabs Jin’s hand and squeezes. “Me, too,” he says with so much conviction he can tell Jin is surprised.
But Yamapi isn’t, not at all. He has been waiting so long for this day.
Sunlight gleams into his eyes and the rustling of sheets has him waking up, squinting into the brightness that seems to radiate around the room.
“Where are you going?” Yamapi asks when he finds Jin rolling out of bed.
Jin turns to him, his hair tousled and the light from between the blinds trailing along the slope of his back. His eyes are bright and all of Yamapi’s dreaded thoughts that Jin was leaving vanish with that look in his eyes. Jin smiles then, leans in and kisses Yamapi on the mouth.
“Good morning,” he says against Yamapi’s lips.
“Come back inside,” Yamapi replies.
Jin shakes his head, patting his stomach. He pouts and says, “It’s eating me. I need food.”
Yamapi laughs. “Figures,” he says and stretches his limbs, sighing contently as he feels his body wake up. He meets Jin’s gaze and asks before he loses his nerve, “Is this—”
Jin’s laugh cuts him off. “We wouldn’t have done what we did if it wasn’t.”
Yamapi bites his lip. “I just didn’t expect it to, well, go so perfectly.”
“What, did you think I was going to punch you or something?” Jin teases, shifting closer to Yamapi. The sheets rustle again, tickles Yamapi’s stomach.
Sheepishly, Yamapi nods. “Honestly, yes.”
Jin chuckles. “If I were to punch you for anything, it’d be for taking so damn long.”
Yamapi gapes at him wordlessly and Jin smiles at the look on his face. He lowers his face and kisses him again, sighing happily when he pulls back. “It’s not really different, is it?” Jin says. “Anything between us?”
Yamapi shakes his head and smiles. “I guess not.”
Jin traces his thumb along Yamapi’s jaw. “It was like the next step.”
Yamapi groans and shoves him. “You say anything about the “voyage of my life,” we’re through.”
Jin laughs, his head thrown back as he sinks into the the mattress, pulling Yamapi close to him and Yamapi’s laughing, too, because it’s just too contagious. He catches Jin’s gaze then and kisses him, threads his fingers through Jin’s hair, feels his skin tingling with something that he can only describe as the best feeling in the world.
Hours later they are sitting with the ends of their jeans rolled up to their knees and the waves of the oceans spilling over their toes. The wind plays with their hair, caresses their cheeks, and the sand is cool under their palms.
Yamapi glances at Jin who’s lying beside him and smiles to himself, shifts his gaze away quickly when Jin turns to him.
“What’re you smiling about? Creep,” Jin demands.
“Nothing,” Yamapi answers and squirms when Jin trails a wet foot up Yamapi’s leg.
“Tell me.” Jin glares.
“Fine, stop molesting me,” Yamapi says and Jin stops. Yamapi grins. “You only had to ask, Jin, if that’s what you wanted.”
Jin shoves him playfully and laughs.
Yamapi sighs and settles back against the sand, rests his head in his palms and stares up at the darkening sky.
Jin pokes his side and Yamapi smiles again.
“This is nice. That’s all I was thinking. That this is nice.”
Jin stares at him for a moment then shakes his head. “You are such a sap. Why’re we friends again?”
Yamapi kicks him and Jin laughs, getting to his feet and walking into the water. Yamapi leans up on his elbows and watches Jin kicking at the waves, arms thrown wide as he begins to belt out lines from KAT-TUN’s Gold. Yamapi shakes his head, grinning, then full-out laughs when Jin trips and falls flat on his face in the water.
Spluttering, Jin emerges with sopping hair in his face and a loud laugh that the wind carries away into the distance. He waves for Yamapi to come help him up and Yamapi sighs and heads over, but Jin grins mischeviously when he grabs his hand and pulls him down. This immediately results into a wrestling match, the waves splashing around them as Jin aims punches into Yamapi’s stomach and Yamapi retaliates by touching Jin’s collarbone, laughing when Jin shrieks into the night sky.
“Come on,” Yamapi says, standing. “We’ll catch a cold.” He gets to his feet and heads back up the beach when Jin suddenly calls after him.
“What do you think we’d be doing if we never joined Johnny’s?”
Yamapi turns around, sees the serious expression on Jin’s face. Raising a brow, he asks, “What brought this on?”
Jin just shrugs. “I think all this talk about how big the world is had me thinking,” he answers simply. “So, what do you think we’d be doing?”
Yamapi sighs and shakes his head. “I don’t want to think about that,” he replies.
“How come?” Jin walks up the beach to him, stands a foot away.
“Because,” Yamapi closes the space between them, meets Jin’s gaze and brushes his wet bangs from his face. He leans in to press a small kiss to Jin’s lips, then pulls back and smiles. “Because,” he continues, “if we never joined Johnny’s, then we never would have met.”