“So…,” Jin faltered, his grip weakened as he shook his head, “…you told me about your… state of mind,” he sugarcoated, “just when I’d figured out that I liked you - what was I going to do with that?”
But the younger didn’t lose face. Unimpressed, he hitched a brow, “tell me, that you liked me, obviously,” he replied.
Groan. “Kazuya, it wasn’t that easy-.”
“No, but I’m sure turning me into a nobody was much easier, huh-?” His voice hitched in a way that wasn’t completely unknown to the elder when he said that, eyes rising with a subliminal accusation that they both understood.
Jin cocked his brow, hands dropping away as he leaned back and tilted his head. “We’re fighting about that now?” He asked quietly, lowering his voice purposefully.
Kazuya huffed haughtily, folding his arms and turning away.
“Goddamn, you really do hold grudges forever,” Jin muttered to himself before leaning in and cocking his head to the side so that he could look the younger in the eye, “I apologized," he reminded, "for being an asshole, Kazu. I said I made a mistake, I should've never treated you the way I did-."
And the younger made a face, “that day?” he wrinkled his nose. “At the airport? I fucking came to you, dumbass - how was that an apology-?”
“That night,” Jin corrected with a slight frown, "the one after-," - and it struck a chord. He wasn’t a woman, so he didn’t blush prettily at the memory - rather, Kazuya watched Jin for a moment before slowly looking away.
"I wasn't talking about that night..."
"Yeah, but I am-."
“That night never happened,” Kazuya muttered, turning further away, arms coming up protectively around himself, "why're you bringing that up now?" he muttered sullenly to himself, "I wasn't even -."
"Because that's when I apologized to you-!"
"It didn't happen."
“Oh my God, please,” Jin shut his eyes, straightening his back and stretching the cricks out of his neck as he shut his eyes, “don’t do this right now, you know how hard that was for me-,” - how hard it had been for him to board his flight to LA for the second time, fly to London for the layover, then abruptly switch flights to come straight back to Japan, anger the absolute shit out of their boss, and head straight to Kazuya’s condo to confess to him - all while he’d still been a relationship with Meisa.
A story indeed.
A story they both knew.
A story for another day.
“It didn’t happen,” Kazuya insisted
And the elder twitched. “Oh, but that day at the airport did?” He snapped back, “don’t start with this shit again, Kazuya,” he snarled, “you know as well as I do-.”
“That never happened,” annoyed hazel eyes were immediately back on his, “you never took that flight back, and whatever you said to me was a fucking lie-.”
“It was not,” Jin breathed, eyes widening - because what he’d said that night; what he’d said back then - he’d said in hopeless desperation and in all sincerity. “I meant everything I said that night, even the apology-!”
“You were confused the way you always fucking are,” Kazuya preached stonily, eyes shutting as he dropped his head back, leaning it against the glass door behind him, “you were high, frightened at the prospect of a new life-.”
“That’s a lie,” Jin’s voice rose slowly, angrily.
“- At all the responsibility Ossan had suddenly given you-.”
“Kazu, that’s bullshit and you know it.”
“Worried about the first steady girlfriend you’d had in years-.”
“- About committing-.”
“And you said what you did back then because I was your last way out of a wonderful life with Kuroki-.”
Fucking IDIOT - Jin berated himself violently, and Kazuya blinked abruptly, a sudden frown worrying at his brow as he studied empty space for a moment before he looked up.
“Loved -,” he started, words halted and frown digging deep, “ ‘loved’ - Jin you never said anything about-.”
“Well I did,” he snapped back despite the chaos in his head, “I did love you and you know that’s what I meant to say that night-.”
“I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU WERE TRYING TO SAY THAT NIGHT, YOU SHOWED THE FUCK UP AT MY DOORSTEP AT TWO IN THE MORNING, JIN!” Kazuya exploded, slamming his palms into the man’s chest and sending him reeling back, “how was I supposed to know that you were in LOVE WITH ME?!”
“What…,” Jin shook his head helplessly, rocking back with the force used against him, “- what? Was I supposed to…?” he grimaced, “my girlfriend was visiting you, was sitting in your fucking house when you let me in - she SAW me kissing you that night-.”
“YEAH, WELL YOU NEVER ACTUALLY SAID ANYTHING ABOUT LOVE-!”
“WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO SAY?!” Jin finally yelled back, “MEISA INTERRUPTED AND I WAS FUCKING HER AND KISSING YOU-!”
“WHY THE FUCK WERE YOU DATING HER THEN?!”
“BECAUSE SHE WAS YOUR REPLACEMENT - ohhhhhshit,” Jin immediately spun away the minute he said it, heels of his palms digging deep into his eye sockets, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit - I was not. Supposed… to say that…-.”
Jin froze. He blinked - then realized he’d partially blinded himself. “What?” he turned all the same, eyes still clearing of spotty blackness.
Kazuya looked somewhere off to the side, eyes wandering. He looked guilty as hell. “About the replacement part,” he mumbled, “I know… about that part… at least, um-,” he glanced at the floorboards and wiggled his toes, “Meisa… told me…,” he trailed off awkwardly, fingers folded behind his back and drumming tunelessly into the glass behind him. “The love part though, I didn’t know about that, really-,” he started again while Jin tried to make sense of all this, but he didn’t get far.
“Wait, what?” the man demanded, “Meisa. Told you, that she was your replacement?” he tried to get it straight in his head.
“Yeah,” Kazuya nodded, turned back down to his feet, “said she was my stand-in.”
“Sta…,” Jin gawked, blinking fast, jaw dropping despite any effort of his at keeping face. “O…,” - he’d meant to say something, but stopped because… what?
He turned away, lifted his hands to card them through his hair, fingers digging in that pleasant sort of massage-like way into his scalp as he worked on setting his head straight before he finally mutter. “Okay,” he turned back around, “okay.”
“We’re close,” Kazuya tried offering an explanation, “like in a best friend’s sort of way-.”
“The bitch is in love you,” Jin wrinkled his nose, “like, literally.”
“Uuumm-,” the younger pointed at him, “that too. But-.”
“- But not your type.”
Jin rolled his eyes, turning away and shaking his head because this was weird. “She told you that?” he asked again, just to make sure he hadn’t heard wrong, as he turned back.
And Kazuya shrugged. “She isn’t stupid,” he tried.
“I know that,” Jin gave him a look, “I just didn’t think she knew about… you,” he gestured to nothing in particular.
And the younger shrugged again. “Well, she did,” he muttered the obvious, turning off again to stare at something that wasn’t Jin for a while as they settled into an awkward silen- “you loved me?” - he broke it before it could happen.
"We aren't talking about how I was an asshole to you anymore?" Jin asked back instead.
"You were in love with me?" Kazuya insisted insufferably.
"Because if we are, can we talk about Yamapi again?" Jin continued as well, "don't make that face," he added when the younger pulled something between rampant interest and curiosity.
Kazuya kept at it anyway, "You were-?"
"Ugh," and the elder rolled his eyes.
"-In love with-?"
“I don’t know, I guess?” He finally replied.
Kazuya’s brow ticked, “as in you don’t love me anymore?”
Jin glanced skeptically at him, sized him up and cocked a brow.
The latter shook his head, “why?” he asked, near wondrously.
“Why do I hate you-?” Jin started.
“The hell did you fall in love with about me?” Kazuya grimaced, “I am literally the worst person ever and I have the shittiest personality - I mean, like…,” he paused, stared incredulously at the elder, “do you even know me-?”
“First,” Jin interrupted, lifting a finger towards him, “Ryo has the shittiest personality ever, and Yamapi is the worst piece of shit I’ve ever known - so don’t try selling that to me; and two,” he dropped his arm, and shrugged again. “Have you met you? You’re sexy as holy fuck.”
“Yeah, so are you, but I’m not head over heels,” - when he got a scowl for his jab, Kazuya continued with a tiny frown, “lust doesn’t mean love.”
“Deep,” Jin deadpanned.
Kazuya gave him a look.
A look that stayed until the elder groaned, “I don’t know, for God’s sake Kazu - I was young and stupid-.”
“2010 - you were 26.”
“Call that mature, do you?” Jin sighed, and it the younger’s turn to shrug.
A calm settled this time; an easy silence with.
“You were sweet…,” the elder mumbled five minutes into it, eyes fixed on the sky. Kazuya eyed him.
“I don’t know…,” he shrugged, “with the juniors…,” Jin tilted his head, “with little kids - your nephews, your niece…,” his head dropped, a stupid smile curled over his lips - one he refused to show, “you were so sweet with them, so… yourself - you never acted like that with us anymore, you know?”
Kazuya didn’t answer him.
Jin didn’t bother turning to look at him.
“Then again, I guess we were all a pain in your ass back then, dragging you through all our scandals like that…,” he fidgeted for a while, smiling nostalgically at some long lost memory. “You used to sing to them - the way we used to together before Ossan put us in studios and autotuned the shit out us,” he studied his hands, “you used to do that glittery shit with them, arts and crafty things - remember?” he finally turned this time, eyes finding glass, then sinking to see that Kazuya had slid down against the patio door and was sitting curled up on the deck floor.
Again, he didn’t answer.
Again, Jin went on-, “I fell in love with you because you were sweet, you piece a shit -,” he concluded before nostalgia drowned him out of reality, “you were damn awful with us during my last years with KAT-TUN, but you were the sweetest thing on earth when Kouji’s twins showed up - it was cute, you can’t blame me for falling in love with that.”
“Hn,” Kazuya winced, shutting his eyes. “Why… exactly,” his head swayed in something that made him look like he was having a dizzy spell as he pressed his palm to his sinus, “…didn’t you tell me?”
“Hmh~,” Jin chuckled mirthlessly, “ ‘tell you’ ? What ‘tell you’ -.”
And the man sighed. Looking around for a second he shook his own head, “I don’t know,” he raised his hands out, “if I’d told you I’d loved you, would you have loved me back?”
Kazuya blinked, his eyes roved on the floor before they lifted slowly. He said nothing, but a resounding ’no’ rang loud and clear in the air.
Jin smiled sadly, “thought as much,” he shrugged.
Kazuya didn’t know how to love like a lover; he hadn’t been taught how to love - love like friendly love and familial love, sure; but not a lover’s love. No.
Because a lover’s love opened up chances of his having loyal boyfriends, loyal boyfriends that would disapprove of his sleeping around with rich family clients, loyal boyfriends that could bring down The Kamenashi prostitution act - so God forbid Kazuya knowing how to truly love like a lover.
They both knew that. Yamapi knew that; anyone who knew about the Kamenashi secret knew that.
Trying to find true love with the Kamenashi black sheep wasn’t a thing of existence. All potential lovers were killed, it was a miracle Ueda’s father had gotten away with little more than lost vision in one eye to answer for trying to get anywhere with Kazuya’s father.
Hopeless from the start; anyone involved in the same way knew better than to try.
Jin as well.
“Think I’m that dense, do you?” he huffed, back to staring at the wispy clouds. “No one works for you Kazuya, you have flings and flings only.”
“If you’re blaming me for something-.”
“I’m not,” Jin glanced at him. “Just stating facts,” he finished.
And the younger turned up to him. His mouth opened, some fresh retort prepped and ready on the tip of his tongue, but inaudible as it never left his mouth. Instead, he looked down - then off to the side.
“What were we fighting about again?” he mumbled.
“Everything,” Jin muttered back. “Mostly Yamapi,” he clarified to the irritated scowl Kazuya sent his way.
“Tsk,” - was all he was deigned with.
So Jin just stared, insistently.
“Is there any chance,” Kazuya started after a minute, “that you’ll drop this and pretend Pi’s perfectly normal-?”
“What’ll make you drop this?”
“Telling me about him,” Jin cocked his brow, “the truth, that is.”
Kazuya turned away. His fingers fiddling about in front of him as he thoughtfully gazed off into the sunset. “I can’t…,” he started after a long moment, turning back to stare at his fidgeting hands propped over his knees, “I…,” he tilted his head, “Yamapi’s thing… it’s not mine to tell-.”
“You said you were holding it over him-?” Jin started frowning.
“I know what I said - but I’m not that fucked up,” the singer tsk’ed gently as he abruptly lifted a hand back to muss up his bedhead, “I was threatening him with it - something to keep him shut up about 2012-,” he shrugged aimlessly, “not like I was going to go through with it…”
Jin’s eyes widened.
That Kazuya had just casually confessed that something besides his ‘relationship’ with Kei happened in that godforsaken year was a step up from the usual bullshit scheme; Jin was instantly all ears.
He leaned forward, eyes wide with the hope that he’d get something if nothing at all - “I’m not cruel enough to put him through something like that, Yamapi’s done nothing to deserve that-.”
“He’s killed people-.”
Kazuya glared pointedly. Jin rolled his eyes and shut up.
“How much do you know?” the younger continued, like what had just been said had never been put out into the air.
Jin shook his head, “how much of what?”
“How much of me,” Kazuya returned, “of him, of Kei - of this,” he gestured to the entirety of everything around them; reality, “how much do you know?”
“How much did Tetsuyama tell you?” the man rephrased.
“I already told you,” Jin started.
“Go into detail,” Kazuya turned aside, pressed the heel of his palm into his forehead, “if you give me whatever you know, I can figure out how much I can give you back.”
“How much Tatsuya will let me know?” Jin grinned, but without the mirth.
Kazuya eyed him, head tilted against his wrist. “You really want to go there now?” he prompted quietly.
And the elder rolled his eyes, “will you ever let me go there…?” he muttered back to himself as he flung his arms out to his sides and turned away, shifted a deck chair with a hard kick and dropped down into it.
“You,” he stated at he got comfy. “You and Kei aren’t together,” sober hazel eyes found his once more, “you never were,” he waited then.
And Kazuya raised his chin, adjusting his head against his pillowing arm. “T…True,” he returned quietly.
Jin’s eyes widened at the confirmation. But he didn’t let it get to him.
Instead, he sat up, brought his hands together between his legs and leaned forward. “You were sold to Kei,” he continued, voice lowering out of instinct.
Kazuya nodded haltingly.
Time seemed to slow then. “At an auction,” Jin nearly whispered.
Kazuya hesitated. But he nodded, slowly.
He was turning pale, Jin noted. Nothing else. Just that he was turning a slow, soft and snowy ashen - a bad memory, he realized in a minute - strong as he acted, the experience he’d had, had traumatized him to a point so severe it showed through whatever facade he had up and going; he supposed this was where Kazuya’s 2012 severe depression rumors had risen from.
Jin sat back, watched him emotionlessly and fiddled with his fingers.
“They really sold you?” he asked quietly after a moment, after having registered it, “The Royal Family, they really…?” He trailed off.
“Like silk at a bazaar,” Kazuya murmured back, the fingers he had brushing over his mouth marring his already soft words. “$6.25 trillion per gram,” he murmured distantly.
Jin blinked. It took him a moment to realize that they’d sold his ex-best friend the exact same way people at the farmer’s market determined prices for fruits by the pound.
“Apparently…,” Kazuya continued softly, staring off into a distant nightmare, “I’m worth 9000 trillion American dollars…”
“W-huh --,” Jin sputtered. “Why?” He wheezed finally.
Silence. Kazuya watched him meaningfully, fingers pressing slowly into his own lips; deeper and deeper.
He wasn’t supposed to know - Jin got the message - Tatsuya didn’t want him to know just yet.
“Hm,” he cleared his throat, and looked back at his hands. “Your father,” he started slowly after some time, “Yuzan,” he turned up.
“What about him?”
“What happened to him?” Jin curled in his lower lip and bit lightly, “you started crying when Ossan’s daughter-in-law brought it up that day, what happened to hi-.”
And for a moment, it caught Jin off guard. He jolted, breath halting. What?! He wanted to scream, but knew better than to - because, Kazuya had answered too fast. The sudden, pointless bitterness that hit the younger in the form of an uncalled for scowl, told Jin that Kazuya knew he’d screwed his bullshit up as well.
So, swallowing dryly, he turned back to staring at his feet.
He knotted his fingers together, then pulled them apart. “That’s a lie,” he called out quietly as he stared at a wandering ant on the patio.
“It might not be,” Kazuya replied.
“But it is,” Jin retorted.
“Tells you what you need to know either way, doesn’t it?” - that this was information Jin wasn’t entitled to knowing about either.
Jin frowned slightly. He bit irritably at the edge of his lip and murmured, “you aren’t making this easy for me…”
Kazuya tossed his hair back, stretching his neck as he leaned further back against the patio door. “It’s not supposed to be,” he answered easily, “why do you think we’ve been lying to you in the first place?”
“You realize you just admitted to bullshitting in the first place?” Jin slowly cocked a brow.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Kazuya wrinkled his nose back, doing this sort of sarcastic head tilt thing, “I thought we were on the same page here, or do you still want me to pretend I’m not lying when I so obviously am-?”
“Okay, okay – Jesus, calm down,” the elder made a face back, and immediately knew he’d said the wrong thing when Kazuya all but emanated irritated fury for another minute before turning to the skies and breathing deep.
“Not worth it,” Jin heard him mutter to himself, “not fucking worth it, Kazu.”
He rolled his eyes. “Drama queen,” he murmured under his breath and knew he was caught when the younger gave him a dirty look.
“Are we done here?” He retorted, “if we’ve started with the name-calling?”
“No.” Jin frowned.
Up, went his judgmental brow, “anything you ask after this point is off-limits-.”
“What’s wrong with Yamapi?” Jin interrupted, persistent as ever, though Kazuya had already said he was a righteous enough human being to not throw their mutual best friend under the bus.
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
“Why’s he gone crazy?”
“He never went crazy, he’s always been crazy,” Kazuya made a face, “just like me.”
“No, he was never this weird when we were younger-.”
“He was good at hiding it.”
Jin’s brow tweaked, “I would’ve known.”
Kazuya eyed him. He let a meaningful silence settle as he watched the elder for a moment before he opened his mouth, “guess you don’t know him as well as you thought then,” he replied quietly.
And it hit hard. Jin cringed, “Kazuya...,” he chided.
The younger tapped his fingers against the edges of his lips. “Am I lying?” he asked back. “You never even suspected anything was wrong with him until now, did you?”
“Yeah, but-,” Jin looked away before he could dig himself a deeper grave. Kazuya was right, and he knew it.
So he quieted. Lip caught between his teeth, he thought of what to say. “Can he… be cured?”
“Hm, doubt it,” Kazuya hummed.
“Wha- why not-?!”
“Yamapi’s issues are central to the person he’s become,” he glanced up, “if you take that away from him, it’d probably be counterproductive –.”
Jin breathed in deep. “You’d be taking away his core. He’d lose whatever sanity he has left.” Kazuya finished quietly.
And Jin’s brow drew in worriedly, “how could you know that for sure-?”
“I’m speaking from experience,” Kazuya tilted his head, “what’s insane to you, is sane to us – killing keeps him sane, Jin,” he glanced away, eyes wandering to soaring seagull, “sex does the same for me,” he glanced back, “at this point, even a psychologist will tell you it’s best to leave him be – we’ve been like this for too long,” he fluffed his hair, looking down, “we’re addicted, it’s gotten to the point where we can’t live without it. We wouldn’t just suffer withdrawals like normal addicts because we don’t have normal addictions to begin with.”
Kazuya turned back up and watched on as Jin stared into the endless skies.
“How did I miss this…?” He asked no one in particular, “how could I have…? When it’s so serious…?”
No one answered. Kazuya was staring at the ocean now as Jin turned slowly to glance at him.
“How much am I allowed to know about him?” He prompted after a moment.
And the younger spared him nothing, eyes following the breaking waves. “You’re cooperating now then?” He asked back.
Instead of blowing gasket, Jin took a breath – calmed his head, and leveled a slight scowl with the latter. “Were you assholes going to give me anything if I didn’t?”
“We weren’t going to give you anything either way,” Kazuya shrugged brazenly, and the elder groaned, head turning back as he rolled his eyes.
They didn’t speak for a while after that – Kazuya spaced out, Jin just as equally absent.
“When…,” Kazuya blinked a few times, slipping out of his trance as he glanced at his bandmate.
“When exactly…,” Jin frowned at something in the sky, “…did it start?”
“What ‘start’?” Kazuya sniffed, “it didn’t start, Jin – he was born like that-.”
“He wasn’t.” Jin narrowed his eyes at him from over his shoulder, and the younger sheepishly glanced down as he continued, “don’t try to pull that bullshit on me, Kazuya – if there’s one thing I know, Yamapi was normal until he was at least three – no baby goes around cutting people up-.”
“Alright,” Kazuya frowned at him, fingers curling – knuckles rapping gently into the wood of the deck as he looked down.
Jin watched, eyes wandering to those hands as he followed the tuneless beat.
Kazuya was nervous.
His brow ticked with interest – this was making him nervous, the subject of Yamapi was getting to him.
Jin eyes flickered back up, eyes finding Kazuya’s own.
The younger paused, taking a deep breath – “his sanity…,” he rubbed rings into the deck now, nail scraping lightly against the varnished planks, “- he lost it when he seven, when he was still Aoki.”
“Seven,” Jin repeated back, and sat up, leaning forward in his patio chair, eyes widening. “What happened when he was seven?” He demanded.
But Kazuya went silent. His mouth snapped shut and turned ever so slightly down as he pursed his lips.
“Tsk,” Jin hissed through gritted teeth, struggling with his own spotty memory as he tried to retrieve what he could from 23 years ago – safe to say, nothing of significance came to mind. “Kazuya, you didn’t even know him then, why is it wrong for me to know something you should’ve never even known about in the first place?”
The younger turned down, hands now coming together in his lap where laced them together tightly and stared at nothing in particular.
“Really?” Jin frowned at him when he stayed silent with no answer to give for another minute, “I’m just going to stay an outsider forever, is that it?”
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
“It is when it’s my best friend!”
“It’s better if you don’t know!” Kazuya yelled back desperately, “God, why can’t you just drop this?!-.”
“Because I’m trying to understand!!”
They paused for a moment, staring each other down heatedly until the younger grimaced.
“Don’t,” he whispered, “don’t try to understand – Jin, please,” he pleaded, “you’ll ruin yourself and him before you get anywhere so just-.”
“Leave it? Leave it be?” The elder huffed incredulously, “the fact that he’s committed genocide – leave it be-?!” He flinched, shifting back in his seat when Kazuya suddenly slammed his palms into the deck.
“He did that,” he snapped as he lifted his head, brow pinched – eyes black, “for me. He committed genocide for me, get that through your dense fucking skull, Jin.”
He’d said that earlier, when Tatsuya had intervened.
Jin’s brow rose slightly as he noted the ferocious defense. He tilted his head curiously, unfazed by the bitterness. “Why.” He stated simply, “what for? To what end?”
And Kazuya’s hand curled into a slow fist. Carefully he tapped it against the floor of their deck, softly – like he was struggling to pull punches as he gritted his teeth, and locked his jaw. “To protect me,” he said into his chest, head bowed, “he killed those people to protect me.”
Kazuya refused to lift his head. He gaped for a moment, words on the tip of his tongue and Jin leaned forward when he saw his chance.
“Who was he protecting you from? Kazuya, tell me – give me a reason, let me make sense of his madness,” he urged, “something, anything – convince me he’s not a monster-.”
“He’s not-!” The younger jumped, seemingly having surprised himself with that outburst as he blinked, fingers rising to tap curiously at his lips - slightly stunned. “He… he’s not,” he cleared his throat when he got over it, lowering his voice, “that night-,” he paused suddenly, fingers now cramping up near his thigh as his mouth stayed open but silent.
Wheels were turning very rapidly in his head; Jin could see it – to speak or not to speak, Kazuya was ultimately worried about what Tatsuya would, no doubt, have to say about this when he found out.
“Tell me,” he breathed, and the younger flinched – eyes widening as he stared blankly at Jin for a moment before suddenly looking down.
“Wh-?” The elder started, and Kazuya abruptly shifted, crumpled piteously on the deck in one minute, back on his feet in the next.
He was leaving.
The window of opportunity was closing-! Jin’s heart leaped into his mouth, and he jumped with it – “no, wait-! Kaz- whoa!” He yelped, flailing frantically when the younger suddenly flung his phone at him.
“The fuck-?!” He yelped high and loud when he just barely managed to catch the thing, “you could’ve broken i-!”
“Read it,” Kazuya interrupted.