Pairing: Akame, Nakanishi, Kameda, Kokame, and so many many other KAT-TUN combinations.
Warnings: I'll apologise ahead of time for going all soap-opera, but after being a JE addict, I'm an angst addict.
Disclaimer: If I owned them, and this fic was true, then you'd have read it sooner I'm sure. lol. No seriously, KAT-TUN isn't mine and nor am I going to get money for being such an angst-whore
Summary: In desperation, each member of KAT-TUN silently makes his effort to repair the problem they're all afraid to talk about, but too often desire rides higher than necessity. "there is an unspeakable moment where the distance between them seems to disappear and the little delusions Koki’s been feeding on all this time become solid and tangible.."
Notes: If there's any type of mini-Japanese phrases that I've used that happen to be a mystery to you, feel free to comment and I'll specify their meaning. When I was writing, some of the dialogue packed more punch when it had more of the flavour of their speech patterns.
Chapter 3 Cont'd
6 am and after drinking a quart of panax, Koki’s head feels like it’s in overdrive, and he knows his eyes must be wide with heavy dark circles. He slips on his bigger reflective sunglasses-- though the sun is far from making an appearance in such a slate-grey sky, but then again it is only 6 am. His vision only gets darker as he steps around the back of the studio building to enter by way of the underground car park.
Amidst the rush of ADs’, camera crew, and staff, Ueda is already standing outside the bus, a jacket about three sizes too big wrapped around his thin frame. He has his arms folded and even when Koki comes within a metre, he doesn’t look up.
“Osu!” Koki murmurs by way of greeting and Ueda jumps, startled, unfolding his arms and blinking at Koki for a moment as if he doesn’t quite recognise him.
In all their eight years, the one member Koki never managed to connect properly with was Ueda. His demeanour was too sharp, and still too soft. His stamina for life seemed alarming, rushed and lasting, but to Koki, he also exuded a troublesome beauty, in all the ways that couldn’t be grasped. When Koki speaks to him, testing out formats and signals, Ueda becomes that boy in folk tales you know never exists. Talking to Ueda has always been like scraping a paintbrush against the sand of a desert. The surface seems to waver for a few moments before a special breeze erases any hope he has of being effective.
Ueda reflects what Koki considers his place in this world.
Still, deep down, Koki knows he only thinks of the other boy on this level purely because he was never let in. He’d see Ueda across the room, muttering to Jin about something; he’d watch with some incredulity as both would break into raucous, breathless laughter. He’d spot Yuichi listening attentively as Ueda gestured listlessly, explaining something of what seemed great importance. Even times when Ueda thought he was alone with Taguchi, he’d catch their quietest member- head thrown back and eyes shut- howling with laughter at something that Koki wouldn’t find funny in a hundred years. He’d even heard once from Kame that he and Ueda had long since settled their endless spat and he’d watch with some distress at Kame hanging comfortably around Ueda’s shoulders or leaning amiably on Ueda’s back.
He didn’t so much feel left out of Ueda’s world as he felt bitter at the fact that he didn’t quite know how to go about socialising with the boy on a level beyond camera smiles, remarks, and laughs. He just wishes those glittering serious eyes would stop looking through him like that.
“Is something wrong?”
The query is soft-spoken, touches of mocking in the tone, and Koki realises he’s been gazing at Ueda for a moment too long, but he didn’t come to be known for being a quick thinker for nothing. “No…you looked tired. You weren’t with someone last night, were you?”
A part of him is curious about whether Ueda did one-night stands. If Koki’s memory serves him correctly, the last time Ueda was dating some girl, he nearly eloped with her.
A listless pale smile stretches the corner of the boy’s lips. “Of course I was.” He says it simply, folding his arms again and looking off at something. “But that wouldn’t exhaust me at all.”
Koki has accepted the fact that he doesn’t understand Ueda well, but one thing he has established from the get-go is that the boxer member enjoys lying just as much as he enjoys air-boxing. It is something that comes packaged with the enigma standing in front of him. Koki won’t get why it’s happening, but he certainly will know when. “There you go again.” He calls, half-laughing. “Lying this early in the morning isn’t fair.”
Dark, shining eyes settle on him for the strangest pause Koki has ever experienced. “Sou dayo ne…” is all that Ueda murmurs and the wavering rift between them somehow thickens. Some less prideful part of Koki wants to salvage this, but the abruptly bleak atmosphere is saved by one of the makeup staff coming forward briskly with a sheen treatment for Ueda’s hair.
He perches on the van’s skirt to maybe tap out a lyric on his phone, to wait for Kame…who at this point in time, is late.
“Ohayo~” comes the call fifteen minutes later echoed by several voices in return. Koki turns to see Kame-chan hopping out of his jeep. As usual, Koki feels the warmth trigger deep within him and before he can even summon up a quick remark, he’s smiling as Kame approaches, accepting and shrugging into the costume staff’s coat. While it seems Ueda and he had arrived normal as anything, bows administered in all the right directions, Kame-chan automatically rules the prep area. He is abruptly crowded up by ADs and the rest of the staff as the director gives him the basic script run-down. Amidst all that, Koki can see the darkened swell beneath the boy’s eyes.
“He was drinking last night,” he murmurs, forgetting himself.
“As if he doesn’t do that every night.” Ueda’s counter is soft, unassuming as well, from behind him and Koki has barely noticed him step forward. “It’s a part of who he is.”
Such a matter-of-fact statement arks up his back with level irritation behind it; he can’t help it. “You can’t possibly know who he is,” he snaps. He doesn’t want to see that serious stare; he doesn’t want to think, really, right now.
Kame wriggles out of the director’s hold without difficulty and makes his way to the van. Once he stands before them, he meets Koki’s gaze and offers a cheerful smile, raising his arms in a careless stretch. “Yamamoto-san says there’s going to be four different places we’re visiting today. If nothing comes up we might be finished filming by noon.”
Koki opens his mouth to call up a plan for the afternoon, but Ueda is suddenly quick to speak.
Koki looks at him side-long. Ueda’s discipline is usually lax regarding anyone but himself. Though his tone speaks differently, his expression is disarmingly neutral. Koki knows this is the makings of an argument, but what he doesn’t get is why Ueda seems to be fishing around for one.
Kame smile grows even wider as he reaches forward and grasps Koki’s sleeve, pulling him. “I hear the okite sensei’s really pretty this time. If we finish at noon, we can ask her for drinks, ne?”
Koki allows himself to be led away, and even though he doesn’t look, he can feel Ueda’s rage raking up the back of him. All the bitter salt in his mouth from this morning fades into sympathy. When they reach the other end of the van, he leans over to Kame, keeping his voice low. “That was pretty bad. Ueda and Taguchi are miles different in the way they take that kind of thing. He’ll need an apology.”
It’s one of those rare moments where Kame wears his on-camera mask alone with him. “Ueda’s an adult. He doesn’t need you.”
A hateful type of bile rises in Koki’s gut. It’s an old ambiguity of whether the puzzle is that Kame needs him more than Ueda does or if Kame means to aim a grotesque form of sarcasm at him. It’s only hateful because it actually hurts him.
Home-gardening okite and the sky never does clear up, and Koki feels that it suits the mood just fine. Kame was right: the okite sensei is pretty, but older. Not quite up Koki’s alley; he likes them young, angular, maybe just a little mean.
They are outside in the backyard of some woman’s massive house. The AD announces a break in filming so they can assess the proximity of the nearest gardening tools store. Something to do with the tape and whether it can be done in one continuous reel. Koki’s uninterested as he leans against the cement building, watching…just watching.
Kame laughs at something the okite supporter says and Koki feels a shudder come upon him. It’s quite cold, and he thinks he’s been grinding his teeth. “AD-san, how long?”he calls out.
“We have about seven minutes, and then we’ll pick up filming again.”
He gestures that he’s going for a smoke.
The smoke in his mouth feels sickly, but the sharp edges of his nerves soften as he breathes deep. Today is heavier than usual, and all the twisted feelings inside him are becoming harder to ignore. In all the deep truths he’s sort of afraid to admit to himself, he’s jealous of a memory, of memories. The more and more he sees Kame, the more he tries to pretend that Akanishi doesn’t exist. Perhaps it’s a little selfish of him, not considering the situation. He feels that if he disregards it all, then maybe Kame will forget it ever happened as well.
He doesn’t like to be thought of as a coward, and the idea he slowly feels rising at the back of his mind is hope, and maybe a ripping of self-restraint. It isn’t like anything he’s felt before, but he knows that the secret lies he keeps telling himself will turn into sores if he isn’t honest with himself, and isn’t honest with Kame-chan.
As the paper curls back under the burn, Koki inhales again. He’ll tell him, and he’ll tell him today.
When he reaches the film site, Kame isn’t there. The okite sensei is seated on a bench nearby on her phone and the okite supporter is talking to the make-up staff. Koki scans the area once more and notices that Ueda is also absent.
He finds them near the garage between two hybrid vehicles. If he had timed himself, he’d have known it took about a minute to find them, but it seems even seconds mean nothing as Koki’s triturated nerves begin to shudder when, as he rounds the house, he sees them from a distance
Ueda’s back is to him just over the hood of one car, has his fingers wrapped around Kame’s shoulders; he’s muttering something quick and low. Kame looks exhausted, perhaps a little pitiful. Koki steps back and crouches in the effort to hear, but the chatter from behind him drowns the whispering, feathery voice that is Ueda’s. He hears Kame, though.
“I don’t think we have any obligation to each other. I know I never said that to you.”
Koki, feeling foolish, bends to his knees, crawling forward at a distance he can catch Ueda’s would-be calm words.
“Stop it. Don’t begin acting like I’m asking you for something out of need. I know more than you how little this means. For the sake of everything, but you, I worry….”
“Listen first! We aren’t playing any games. I didn’t bring it up, but I don’t want to be your punching bag as a consequence.”
Koki starts a little as Kame groans from struggling, but Ueda, unsurprisingly strong, holds him in place without a budge. “I said let go.” Kame’s voice is seething, hate-filled. “Dammit, you’re gonna pay for this.”
“I don’t care that it’s wrong anymore! I am done feeling sorry for you!” Ueda shoves him once against the car and Koki stands up, riveted yet confused.
Ueda turns to go, but Kame catches at his upper arm roughly. Ueda tries to shake himself free. “There’s no way you’re going to make me believe any of it was out of pity…the things you did…”
“Well, you’re good at deluding yourself, aren’t you?” Ueda snaps. “As if I didn’t hear you cry-“
The sound of the slap is startling, and Koki feels as if he hears it even before he sees Kame’s hand swipe across Ueda’s face. However, Koki’s movement forward triggers something in Kame’s line of sight and their eyes meet. Ueda stumbles back against one car, falling as Kame’s narrow gaze strips hot trails on Koki. Ueda looks up. His caramel hair is in his eyes as he raises his sleeve to his cheek, and his usually blank, glittering stare is fiery and nearly grey with something horrific. Koki looks at the ground as Ueda walks up and brushes past him.
The older boy’s footsteps die away and Koki clenches his fists as he dares to look up at Kame, still standing between the cars. He sees Kame struggle to put on his mask, that special actor’s look, but it comes out knife-life and fades just as fast.
As Kame doubles over, his hand over his mouth, Koki doesn’t need to think and rushes forward. All his drug-induced exhaustion and empty confusion vanish as his arms wrap around the smaller boy. He feels the brush of cheek against his jaw as Kame allows himself to be enveloped, and he sighs as the other boy breathes slowly, carefully trying to swallow the sobs. He is holding himself together even in this moment where everything could shatter, where even his erratic heartbeats are glass-made. Koki’s jacket tightens as Kame’s fingers curl around their lapels and they both drop to their knees. Koki opens his eyes against the pain, looks down at the boy against his chest. No tears; no sobs; just a frantic blank stare.
“Mitta?” Kame’s query is a whisper, and Koki feels that breath warm against his own shuddering body.
“I didn’t see what… what were you…why the argument? Did you try to apologise like I said?”
Kame raises his head, looking silently at Koki, his angular features twisted in that same frantic calm. “You didn’t-“ he starts to say.
With some bravery, Koki traces his hand up the side of Kame’s ear into his hair. “Kame-chan,” he murmurs back. “Just tell me what’s hurting you. I can deal with it.”
Kame’s chocolate brown gaze wanders over Koki’s face, searching for lies, for gratuities. He tries to smile, but the corners of his mouth still turn down. “Koki,” he says simply. “I don’t think I can…”
Koki is beside himself to be quick on whatever uptake he needs to grasp, but he can feel that Kame is on a whole new wavelength. “W-we can tell AD-san that you’re not feeling well…we can-“
Kame expels a series of curse words as he lowers his head again, pressing closer; Koki feels a little braver and leans his forehead against his; for the rarest moment, his lips hover just over the bridge of Kame’s nose, but he doesn’t dare. Even as Kame shifts beside him, his leg fitting snugly over his, Koki doesn’t move. He bites the edge of his own tongue as he fights to keep his hands steady.
Then abruptly, like sand, Kame’s touch slips from his arms and pulls away. The younger boy uses the car behind him to push himself upright. There’s a pause as Koki trains his gaze fixedly on his own empty hands, and he hears Kame take in a deep breath. Suddenly, KAT-TUN’s little actor has his voice steady and clear, traces of humour that clearly never existed lacing the edges of his tone. Koki swallows and looks up. Kame is holding his hand out to help him up.
“I’m so sorry, Koki. That wasn’t fair,” he sighs, smiles only. “We have to finish this shoot or the producer will have something to say to all three of us.”
Koki allows himself to be pulled up, and there is an unspeakable moment where the distance between them seems to disappear and the little delusions Koki’s been feeding on all this time become solid and tangible. He doesn’t move, and silently, painfully he begins to think about what it means to be a coward.