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Title: Wish Upon a Wishing Stone
Pairing: Akame
Word count: 33.7K
Rating: PG-13
Genre/Warnings: Fluff/Humour/Angst
Notes: This fic was originally written for debrogliewave (♥) during the 2011 round of the kizuna_exchange, which I enjoyed thoroughly, and was beta-ed by krysyuy. ♥ (first posted here)

Summary: A single wish and memories of a broken bond insert themselves into the present, more tangible and annoying than ever.




"Kaaaaazu."

The sun glared down on them, a thick blanket of heat against his back and Jin had to squint to see the boy walking ahead of him.

"Kaaaaazu. I said I was sorry."

When Kazuya continued to trudge along without response, Jin rolled his eyes. This was just like him; Kazuya was so moody. So maybe his idea to go to Okinawa wasn't the best, but it's not like Jin knew that Takki was secretly evil and liked to see his juniors suffer. And gyoza wasn't that bad, really... Jin huffed and brushed back his hair. The sweat lining his forehead dampened his bangs to a dark brown. A few more minutes of sullenly following behind Kazuya, who was still not talking to him, and Jin let out a frustrated scream, mustering all his energy to propel him forward and walk in pace with the other boy. Somehow he managed not to trip over the ridiculously clunky shoes Takki had made them wear.

"You scream like a girl," Kazuya said once Jin caught up to him. Jin gaped at him in offense even though he'd heard that many times before. Whenever he let his guard down, Pi would poke at his collarbones and giggle 'girly Jin! girly Jin!' at his resulting scream. Jin didn't find it amusing. His collarbones were really sensitive and should be taken seriously.

"Yeah, well. You talk like a mouse," Jin shot back, and it was true. Kazuya's voice always got high and squeaky when he got excited. The other juniors found it hilarious and teased him for it (and okay, so did Jin), but he secretly found it pretty cute. He had told Pi that once, when his friend was poking fun at Kazuya's fuzzy eyebrows -for some reason, he and Kazuya didn't get along well and Jin was selfish enough to be happy about it; he didn't like sharing, especially not his friends, especially not Kazu- and Jin felt it was his duty to come to Kazuya's defense. In return, Pi had given him a weird look and called him 'Bakanishi'. Jin wondered if Kazuya would do the same if he told him, too.

When Kazuya's bony little shoulders stiffened and curled in at the same time, Jin groaned inwardly. Great. Kazuya was so touchy sometimes. Jin glanced at the younger boy as they walked and with the way Kazuya's spiky haired head was bowed down, staring at the ground as he walked with his hands tucked in the pockets of his shorts, Jin thought he looked like an angry porcupine. All prickly and defensive.

"You can't be maaaad," Jin whined loudly. "You said I screamed like a girl. We're even."

"I have to wear these stupid, itchy stockings because of you," was Kazuya's grumbly reply as he momentarily paused to scratch his stocking clad ankle with his other foot. The clunky black shoes looked extra clunky on him; Jin was surprised when he first discovered that he and Kazuya shared the same shoe size, given that Kazuya's body was so puny compared to his. But Jin was two years older than the other boy, after all. (He had tried to make Kazuya call him senpai once, but Kazuya had laughed at his face and it had never stuck. Jin was just grateful that he hadn't adopted Pi's habit of calling him Bakanishi, at the very least. Pi would probably throttle Kazuya for being a copycat if he did.)

"That was Takki's idea!" Jin yelled and nudged Kazuya so he almost tripped. "And I already said I was sorry. I'm not saying it again."

"We should have stuck to my idea and gone to Hokkaido," Kazuya said accusingly.

Jin gave an exaggerated sigh that was more of a hybrid moan and groan. "I knooooow. You're right and I'm wrong - and sweaty and tired. Let's just find some place to rest until the camera guys get here."

Kazuya shrugged his shoulder and Jin, taking it at as a yes, turned the corner of the street in the small Okinawan town they were loitering in while the camera guys had their lunch break. The street they entered now was just as packed and lined with stalls advertising things like clay pots, beaded necklaces -Jin had to tug Kazuya away from that particular stall- and sketches of landscapes and the Okinawan sea.

"There are so many pretty girls here," Kazuya said in wonder as they explored further down the street and Jin tsked in annoyance. He'd been saying that since they arrived on the bus. Personally, Jin had seen better. Kazuya could do better. But he didn't say so because the street was crowded and Jin may be Bakanishi, but he knew better than to insult a swarm of girls when he was surrounded.

Jin was about to pick up his pace so that they could leave faster when Kazuya tugged him back with a sharp pull at his T-shirt. Normally Jin would have snapped at him to be careful with the fabric, but his own treacherous scribble of 'support Imai Tsubasa' had ruined the shirt beyond saving.

"What?" Jin asked and followed Kazuya's gaze to a cheap looking stall that held a display of smooth round stones the size of coins. Underneath the display was a sign: 'Wishing Stones' it said in neat, elegant strokes that made up for the fact that the sign was written on a large, crinkled piece of cardboard.

Jin met Kazuya's look of squinty delight with disbelief.

"Are you serious? Don't tell me you believe in this, Kazu," he said and Kazuya merely rolled his eyes and dragged him to the stall.

"They're cheap and it's just for fun, Jin. Don't be boring," Kazuya giggled and Jin abruptly bristled.

"I'm not boring! You're boring."

He pouted as Kazuya laughed his brilliant display of wit off and leaned down to examine the stones; now that he was closer, Jin could see that there were designs carved onto them, unique to each stone; animals and flowers and kanji, but Jin knew Kazuya was searching for a skull. He found it an extreme insult that lifeless bits of rocks were more fascinating to Kazuya than he was, and was about to say so when an old man sprung up from behind the stall and scared the crap out of him. Jin stumbled back with a burst of screams and managed to slap Kazuya with one of his flailing arms in the process.

He didn't regret it, though, not when Kazuya was laughing at him so hard it looked like he was having a seizure.

"You scream... like a girl," he wheezed, slapping at his thighs and using the stall to support his weight so he didn't topple over. His face was scrunched up like a ball of crumpled paper, the scribbly ink bleeding into the slant of his brows and the thin line of his disappearing eyes, and it was hard to distinguish whether he was laughing or crying. All the manic stomping made it clear though.

"Shut up! Don't make me bring up the roller coasters," Jin snapped in warning and watched in satisfaction as Kazuya finally came down from his high. Watching Kazuya lose it was always entertaining, but not when it was at Jin's expense.

A rough cough broke between them.

"You young lads have a wish...?" the old man asked with a toothy smile. He wore a long shirt that should have been sent to the laundry long ago and several scarves that draped his neck in drab colours of grey and dull blue. In shocking contrast, on his head sat a hat speckled with pieces of glass that reflected the sweltering rays of the sun and nearly blinded Jin when he glanced at it; he had never seen something so dazzling and sparkly, which spoke volumes considering that Jin was a Johnnys Jr. and wore sequins and tinsel almost everyday.

Jin didn't like the man. Not because he was strange, which he clearly was, but because the amusement lining the many creases of face seemed to be directed at Jin. Jin didn't think he was particularly all that funny.

"Yes, I do!" Kazuya answered with a returning smile and Jin snorted because of course Kazuya would instantly warm up to a crazy old man. Of course. "I'd like to buy one of your... wishing stones? Please."

The old man suddenly leaned forward and squinted at Kazuya's face. When Kazuya didn't move back like any sane person would, Jin pulled him back because someone had to protect him from a crazy old stranger who could... who could... spit on his face like a llama and give him some sort of horrible disease. Or bite his nose off. Or something.

"What's your name, lad?" the man asked once Kazuya had shoved Jin aside. Jin stood horrified as Kazuya answered the man right away with a chirpy, "Kamenashi Kazuya!"

The man eyed Kazuya slowly and Jin wondered why Kazuya wasn't shouting 'pervert! pervert!' like a sensible person.

"Kamenashi, eh...?" the man mumbled like the creepy pervert that he was and abruptly ducked down, rustling with something underneath the stall's display bench. Jin thought it was the perfect opportunity to escape.

"Let's go before he pops back up," Jin whispered and grabbed at Kazuya's knobby wrist, trying to tug him away. Kazuya didn't budge.

"Stop being an idiot," Kazuya hissed and yanked his hand back. "He can hear you."

"He knows your name."

Kazuya gave him a look. A look that made Jin feel about as tall as a grain of rice. "Jin, I'm a Johnnys. Soon enough everyone will know my name," he said, pride and hope lacing his voice. Jin blinked. He had a point there.

"That's not the point," Jin whined. "He's trying to con you out of your mon-"

Jin broke off into a wheeze as Kazuya jabbed him in the stomach with his pointy little elbow just as the old man popped back up. He smiled the same annoying toothy smile and held out his hand in a fist, tilting his head at Kazuya. Kazuya brought his own hand forward and a black, polished stone dropped into the dip of his small palm. Jin could see the pattern of a turtle shell etched onto the surface in small, precise lines.

"Kame," the man explained simply and Jin watched Kazuya's face light up in pure glee. He was too easily impressed; Jin could carve a turtle shell onto a stupid rock, too, if Kazuya wanted. The man continued to speak, his voice whispery and soft like a gentle breeze. "Hold this in your palm and make a wish, any wish, and throw it into the Okinawan sea with all your might. When it returns to the shore... your wish will come true..."

For a brief moment, Jin was swept up by the lilting words, his imagination like a leaf on the sidewalk, picked up and carried away by a sudden gust of wind. It was Kazuya's voice that broke him out of the trance.

"And if it doesn't return?" Kazuya asked, rubbing the wishing stone with his thumb.

"Then you can buy another stone and wish again!" the old man laughed happily and Jin shot Kazuya a pointed look. The crazy guy was definitely trying to wheedle Kazuya out of his money.

With a polite "thank you," Kazuya bought the wishing stone anyway.

"Hey, Jin," he began as they walked away from the stall and left the crazy old man with the dazzling hat behind. "Let's go to the sea."

-

Jin eagerly inhaled the salty scent of the sea breeze as they walked along the beach, the water lapping at the shore just a few feet away. He was tempted to whip off the clunky shoes and stockings and bury his feet in the warm sand, or maybe dip them into the sea. Instead, he dropped into a crouch, his body falling into a big, boneless heap of sweaty sixteen year old. The heat hanging in the air and the walk through town had completely drained him. Silently, Jin cursed Takki for ruining everything good in the universe.

"This feels so good!"

Jin snorted and looked up from his crouch. Kazuya was standing facing the sea, eyes closed and arms spread wide as if trying to catch the wind in his twiggy arms. He was smiling all big and dopey like and Jin ducked his head down quickly because, damnit, that smile was infectious. Jin wasn't in the mood to be happy, even though everything around him was fighting against it.

"Can you throw the stupid rock into the sea already? I'm getting sunburn," he whined as he grabbed a fistful of sand and watched the grains drain from his hand and be swept away by the wind; he blinked furiously when a few got in his eyes. Everything was against him today. Stupid Takki.

"I'm thinking of a wish," Kazuya said slowly and Jin rolled his eyes because, really, how hard was it to wish for a hot girlfriend, loads of money and worldwide fame? Kazuya always made the most obvious things complicated - which was beside the point because it wasn't as if the wish would actually come true, anyway. Jin was about to remind Kazuya of that when a pair of small hands suddenly grabbed at his arms and pulled him upright. Jin squawked and just barely caught his balance when Kazuya released him.

"What are you doing?!"

Kazuya, the little twerp, grinned in the face of his righteous indignation and made a move for Jin's hand. Jin quickly pulled it away. Who knew what evil things Kazuya had in mind.

"Just give me your hand," Kazuya laughed and reached for it again, this time actually managing to grab it because all the heat wasn't making Kazuya sluggish at all. So unfair. Before Jin could muster the energy to pull back, Kazuya dropped the wishing stone into his hand and smiled up at him.

"What?" Jin asked dumbly and Kazuya giggled. Like a girl.

"You make the wish."

"But it's yours. You bought it." Jin tried to shove the stone back but Kazuya stepped away.

"For you," Kazuya chirped. "I bought it for you. You dream big, Jin. I figured you might need some help."

Jin gaped. Kazuya was squinting up at him, eyes now just a pair of slits, and a wide grin splitting his face. He was kind of pretty, in a weird, broken way. Unique, Jin thought proudly. Jin fake coughed and turned the polished stone around in his fist. It was smooth and warm, carrying the heat of Kazuya's hand.

"You sure?" he asked. "You wanted Hokkaido. I'm the one who brought us here..."

"I like Okinawa," Kazuya interrupted swiftly and Jin gaped at him again.

"Liar!" he shouted accusingly and Kazuya laughed in reply, walking towards the waves.

"Make a wish!" he called back at Jin, kicking lightly at the water.

Jin watched him frolic around, water splashing around his ankles and soaking his stockings. Kazuya had a naturally small build, narrow shoulders and gangly arms, but against the backdrop of the shifting sea, so wide and blue and endless, he looked even smaller. Jin watched his spiky head tilt up towards the sky and wondered how Kazuya would take on the world, because he would; Kazuya might be small, but he was a fighter. They both were. They'd fight together.

Always.

Jin gripped the wishing stone tight in his hand, suddenly believing, and sent it flying up into the blue of the sky - and then down into the blue of the sea.

He grinned when he heard Kazuya's shout of surprise.

"What did you wish for?" Kazuya called to him.

"Not telling," Jin shouted back, finally giving in to a smile.

-

tomatoes
pineapples
fish
tablecloth

Something was missing. Ryoko picked at her lip in agitation, trying to remember what she had forgotten to add on her list. She would probably remember once she arrived at the town. Turning down the path, she smiled at the view of the sea. Maybe once she was done with the shopping, she could relax at the beach before she went home.

A sharp yelp broke through her thoughts.

Further down the path walked two young boys -teenagers, Ryoko thought, reminded of her son- shoving at each other as they laughed loud and free, one short and the other tall. Ryoko watched the shorter one of the boys reach a hand up towards somewhere near the other's neck, inciting a shriek and playful slap in return. Ryoko smiled as she listened to the tall boy's loud wails. She didn't know who Takki was, but she felt sorry for the poor boys; he sounded like a person to be avoided.

Ryoko glanced back down at her shopping list, thinking she would remember if she kept re-reading it.

tomatoes
pineapples
fish
tablecloth

tomatoes
pineapples
fish
tablecloth

Still nothing. Ryoko sighed in frustration. The tall boy had stopped wailing now. Ryoko looked down the road to find out why - and stopped in her tracks.

The boys were gone.

Ryoko glanced down at the beach and the open fields all around. There was no one in sight. No giggling laughs or shrieks. She continued looking, more startled by the disappearance than she would have liked to admit, when a revelation struck her.

Thread!

So that's what was missing. She needed to buy a spool of red thread to mend her sundress. Giving a final look around, Ryoko shook her head with a laugh. All these years in Okinawa but the heat still made her hallucinate at times. "You're getting old," Ryoko said to herself and continued her walk to town, happy now that she remembered the thread.

She walked past the beach and the sea continued to lick the shore, the waves depositing sticks and seashells along the sand.

Sticks, seashells and stones.

-


2011

Eminem's raps suddenly filled the quiet of the bedroom and Jin scrambled to find his phone, tangling himself up in the bed sheets and nearly falling off his bed. He found it lying a few feet away from the foot of the bed, and not willing to leave the warm cocoon of the blankets, tried to reach it without getting up. But mornings were not his forté and a night after hanging out with the troop, drinking and clubbing and celebrating the success of Eternal, did not help his coordination. Jin yelped when his knee slipped and then shouted a loud swear as he landed on the wooden floorboards in a heap of blankets and messy hair. Whoever had broken his celebratory sleep-in day was going to pay.

"What?" he growled into his cell, not caring who was on the other end.

"It's me."

"Who?" he asked. "It's too early to play these guessing games."

"Nakamaru. Your old bandmate, remember? The one with the big nose." And indeed it was; Jin had been listening to that long-suffering sigh for years. "And it's past lunch, Akanishi. Get out of bed and get over here."

Normally, Jin would have scoffed and chewed Maru's ear out for disturbing his sleep, but there was an urgency in his voice that had Jin blinking his eyes wide awake. It was the same kind Maru had used to plead out of bungee jumping a few years ago. Something was up.

"Why? And where are you, anyways?"

"At the Jimusho," Maru answered quickly and Jin could tell he was whispering into the phone. He could also pick out the voices of kids, probably juniors, yelling around in the back. "There's something you need to see."

"See what? Is everyone there right now?" he asked, brushing away the bangs tickling his face. He didn't need to clarify who he was talking about. Other than Nakamaru, Jin hadn't met up with the other members of KAT-TUN since he had left the group. He wasn't sure if he wanted to see them now, not when he was sure the others didn't want to either. "If this is your ploy of getting us to meet-"

"It's not," Maru interrupted. "Akanishi. No, Jin. Just come. I can't say anything more over the phone since orders are to keep it hush-hush. So just come, okay? Quickly. Please."

And with that, Maru ended the call.

With a large arm stretch, Jin rose and pulled out a change of clothes, grumbling all the while. Today was supposed to be his free day; no work, no friends, no partying. Just him, a pair of sweats, some snacks and his bed. The sustenance of life. Not bothering to untangle the mess that was his hair, Jin pulled on the hoodie of his sweater instead and left his apartment for the jimusho. He valued his off days, but Maru was his friend and Jin was never one to let his friends down. Not if he could help it.

Of course, he'd have Maru treat him at some expensive restaurant later to make up for it.

-

A few heads turned his way as Jin walked down the hall and made his way to KAT-TUN's dressing room, their manager having informed him of their monthly magazine shoot. Jin bowed his head awkwardly and moved faster. He regretted it once he reached the dressing room door and stood there not knowing what to do. His ex-group members were behind that door. Junno and Ueda he could trust not to throw him out in a fit of rage, Jin knew. Koki on the other hand...

He chose not to think about Kamenashi at all because that always made Jin's stomach coil up. He chose not to think about why, either.

Right then, Jin thought, and wiped his suddenly clammy palms on his worn, baggy jeans... before turning away from the door and getting ready to walk away. Not going to happen. If Maru needed to show him something, then he would have to show him later and not in the company of people who would find great pleasure in kicking him in the groin.

His plan to escape failed in just a few seconds when the door opened behind him and a hand reached out and yanked him inside.

"It's about time you got here," Maru snapped. "What were you doing standing out there?"

Jin yanked himself away from Maru's grip, his hoodie falling off his head, and was about snap back at him for manhandling him through the door when he surveyed the room and froze.

Koki and Ueda were sitting on separate couches that lined the walls and Junno sat at the dressing table. They were all looking at Jin expectantly, but it wasn't their eyes that had him frozen to the spot. It was the two pair of eyes -one pair round, the other narrow; both nervous- in the center of the room that had him questioning if someone had slipped something into one of his drinks last night. Something that made him hallucinate and see gawky, younger versions of himself and Kamenashi standing in the middle of KAT-TUN's dressing room.

"I'm dreaming," Jin said aloud.

"You're having a nightmare," Junno corrected cheerily.

"Shut up, Taguchi."

Jin agreed with Koki. He felt like he was about to hurl. Maybe that would be good, actually. It would get the drug out of his system and then the teenage images of himself and Kamenashi would disappear, stay in the past like the good little memories they were.

Jin grabbed at Maru's arm in desperation. "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

Ueda answered for him. "We're all seeing it, Akanishi. They've been here for over an hour now. You're not dreaming."

Jin looked at Maru for confirmation because maybe this was KAT-TUN's giant ploy against him, to make him look crazy and send him to an asylum where he would be shoved into a padded cell and spend all eternity singing Paparats at the top of his lungs. When Maru nodded, Jin didn't know whether to feel relieved or not. So no one had drugged him and he wasn't going crazy (unless they were all collectively hallucinating, but the chance of that was pretty low, Jin thought) but now he had to deal with the reality of a mini version of himself and Kamenashi who were both staring at him in awe.

"What?" Jin asked, suddenly self-conscious. As a Johnnys, he was used to being appraised by most people, but not himself. He was scared of how his younger self would rank Jin as he was now, going on twenty-seven.

"A-are you me...?" his young counterpart asked. "He called you Akanishi. Are you Akanishi Jin?"

Little Jin was staring at him with round, big eyes. Next to him, Little Kamenashi was doing the same. Jin looked at his spiky hair and thick eyebrows, his narrow eyes and gangly limbs. He then looked at his younger self's soft features and brown, short-cropped hair.

And then he looked at what they were wearing.

Memories of a long ago trip to Okinawa flooded him, carrying him away with the feeling of happiness as he dunked Kamenashi's head in a pool and laughed as Kamenashi splashed him back, with the smell of sea salt and sweat as they trailed across a beach, with the sound of the wind as it rattled a clumsy made tent near the shore...

Maru nudged him in the side and Jin swam back up to the present. Something was squeezing at his chest and he had to take a couple of swallows before he could respond.

"Yeah, I'm you. Akanishi Jin. Only bigger now."

And then he turned to Maru again.

"Where's Kamenashi?"

-

Jin sat opposite Taguchi at the table, his mind far from blank and going numb from everything KAT-TUN had just told him in the past few minutes. Wishing stones. Wishing Stones. Jin blinked dazedly at the table top, still not quite grasping how all this had come about. But that was far from the problem. Regardless of whether he understood it or not, Little Jin and Little Kamenashi were here now, eleven year old memories come back to haunt him. And now they had to deal with them.

"When is he getting here?" Jin asked the table and Taguchi took it upon himself to answer.

"He had a field shooting. Maru called him a while ago so he should be here anytime now."

Jin gave him a weak nod. Kamenashi would be here soon. As much as he hated to admit it, Jin was relieved. He and Kamenashi were far from being on good terms but Kamenashi was still Kamenashi. He would know what to do about this. Kamenashi had connections; maybe he had a shaman friend who could make their past selves disappear. Jin wouldn't put it past him. Kamenashi had always been eager to befriend odd people, from grandmothers he had met at the supermarket to fashion designers and race horse instructors. It used to annoy Jin more than a little, that Kamenashi couldn't have normal friends like Pi and Ryo.

Whatever they had to do to send their younger selves back had to be discrete, though. After the two had materialized -out of thin air! Koki had said emphatically as Ueda nodded right alongside him- Maru had went straight to Johnny's office. Apparently Maru's words alone were enough to convince the old man of the situation, Nakamaru not being the type to spread false information, and Maru had returned with the orders to call Jin and Kamenashi and keep their little replicates hidden from everyone - including everyone in the agency that had not already seen them. "No one is to see or hear about this," were Johnny's steely words.

Jin slumped down on the table, resting his forehead on his folded arms. What was taking Kamenashi so long? The day was not lost just yet; Jin still had time to run back home and snuggle into his bed and continue the laze fest he had promised himself. There was a loud giggle and Jin lifted his headed towards it, peering at Little Jin and Little Kamenashi as they cooed over something Koki was showing them on his cell phone.

"This is Sakura," Jin heard Koki tell them.

"Cuuuute!" Little Kamenashi giggled, using that same baby voice Jin had heard so many times in the past. He bet the Kamenashi of the present still used it now, too; he probably smothered his niece with it along with his kisses. (Jin had watched Kamenashi's appearance on Hanamaru Market purely by accident. He had turned on the tv and there Kamenashi was, talking about chu-chu-nii and sleeping naked and making Jin feel something he wasn't supposed to. But at least it had prepared him for his own appearance on the show, for when the interviewer casually mentioned Kamenashi and his sleeping habit. Jin doubted he could have kept his poker face otherwise.)

"I bought this dress for her just a week ago," Koki said, changing to another picture and inducing more 'awws' and giggles.

Jin snorted.

"You'd think he was talking about his daughter," he said to Taguchi who had now pulled out his handheld game console and replied with an absent nod as his fingers flew over the buttons, executing some killer combo. Jin huffed and looked back at Koki, suddenly feeling grumpy.

"And this is Momo. Cute, right?"

Jin watched with narrowed eyes as Little Kamenashi leaned closer to look at the photo, nodding furiously in agreement. He had now almost fully crawled into Koki's lap. Jin pushed back from the table with great force, the legs of his chair screeching against the floor. Ignoring Taguchi's complaint, Jin pulled out his phone and called out, "Hey, Kamenashi-"

Little Kamenashi's head swiveled towards him questioningly and Jin cringed inwardly. 'Kamenashi' sounded so wrong. This spiky haired fourteen-year-old, if Jin remembered correctly, with ungroomed eyebrows and a nervous smile wasn't Kamenashi yet. At least not the one Jin was familiar with.

"Kazu," he said instead and was surprised by how naturally the name came out. He hadn't called Kamenashi that for in a long time. "Want to see my dog? He's cuter."

"I can't believe you, Akanishi," Koki scoffed at him but Jin ignored it, bending forward to show Kazu and Little Akanishi his cell phone display, smiling as they uncoiled from Koki and came to him.

"What's his name?" Little Akanishi asked, squinting.

"Pin. He's cuter, right?"

"You never grow up, do you, Akanishi?" Koki asked from the couch, his cell phone now back in his pocket and eyes surveying Jin with a look of disgust. "You really have only gotten bigger."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Jin replied.

And then grinned victoriously as Kazu exclaimed, "Uwah! So cute!"

-

"So we're famous now, right? Me and Kazu?"

Little Jin was looking at him with big, hopeful eyes and Jin shrugged. Jin wondered if he was really this talkative as a teenager because his younger self had been quizzing him non-stop for the past fifteen minutes: am I married? do I have kids? what's Reio doing? did I go to America? why's my hair so messy?

"What's KAT-TUN?"

Little Jin was staring at a poster hung on the wall near the mirrors, advertising KAT-TUN's Ultimate Wheels single. Jin winced and turned to Maru pleadingly.

"It's the name of our group," Maru sighed. He was leaning against the wall, his hand plucking at the cuff of his collared shirt. "Kazuya is part of it."

Jin watched Kazu perk up at the sound of his name, looking eagerly up at Maru to hear something more. Little Jin wasn't looking too happy though and Jin knew what he was about to say before he opened his mouth.

"What about me? I'm part of it, too, right?"

The room fell silent. Awkward glances were thrown everywhere and Jin couldn't bring himself to meet anyone's eyes, least of all his own.

A sharp knock on the door saved them all.

Maru hastily moved to unlock the door and the silence returned when Kamenashi took three steps into the room and stiffened. He looked as if he'd walked into an invisible wall and Jin felt satisfaction watching him gape at their replicates in disbelief. He wondered if Kamenashi was doubting reality the way Jin did. Kamenashi recovered his bearings in just a few moments though, and Jin pouted. Kamenashi, always composed, the perfect idol blah blah.

"This is why you called me here?" Kamenashi asked Maru slowly, his eyes not straying from Little Jin and Kazu who were staring back.

Maru nodded quickly. "Johnny said to get you and Jin here. Nobody's supposed to find out about them."

At Jin's mention, Kamenashi surveyed the room and his eyes landed on Jin momentarily before they once again fixed on to Little Jin and Kazu. Jin didn't know what it was about that split-second glance that made him want to lean back in his chair and disappear.

Kamenashi fell silent and Jin could tell the moment when the other recognized what their tiny versions were wearing by the grimace that appeared. There was a loud gasp and Jin, for a second, thought it came from Kamenashi but that was impossible. It was too high-pitched; almost girly.

Not girly at all, Jin thought when he discovered that the sound came from Little Jin who was standing with a slack-jaw, head whipping back and forth between Kazu and Kamenashi. Jin could see the puzzle pieces coming together in his wide eyes, could understand the shock. It was surreal even to Jin, Jin who had seen the entire transformation up close and center.

Little Jin lifted a wavering arm, pointing at Kamenashi.

"Y-you're Kazu, aren't you...?" he asked and Jin saw Kazu, who was looking on in confusion at Little Jin's odd behaviour, stiffen and turn to gape at Kamenashi... and then gape down at himself and back again, amazement splashed across his features. From cheap shorts and clunky shoes to vintage jeans that showed too much skin in the name of fashion. Jin preferred the first. Little Jin, however, couldn't stop staring. Jin could understand that, too, but he would never admit it.

"Are you really me?" Kazu asked, voice dripping with astonishment.

Kamenashi stared right back at him as he answered, "You can call me Kame. Everyone does."

-

Jin had never been so ashamed of himself.

"So how did you two get here?" Kamenashi asked and Jin wanted to smack some sense into himself when Little Jin blushed -freaking blushed- and stuttered out an explanation. Ueda was grinning at him and Jin wanted to smack him too, only Ueda would probably retaliate and knock Jin out in one swing.

"I-it was the wishing stone. Kazu bought it."

Kamenashi turned to Kazu. "What did you wish for?"

Kazu turned to Little Jin. "What did you wish for?"

"Of course it was Akanishi," Koki muttered under his breath, loud enough for Jin to hear and Jin threw him a glare.

All eyes now trained on him, Little Jin looked at the floor and fiddled with the hem of his T-shirt.

"I just... I just wanted to see how me and Kazu grew up to be. If we became stars or not..."

Me and Kazu, Jin thought with a dull ache that grew sharper as he saw Kazu look up at Little Jin with a shy smile, the same one he had smiled when Jin had called him 'sukibito'.

Well, at least they were both stars now.

"So what are we going to do now?" Taguchi asked.

"We have to send them back, of course," Kamenashi said. "Everyone must be worrying over their disappearance."

Jin thought of his family, his mother's worried face coming to mind. He didn't notice the nervous glances Little Jin and Kazu gave each other, or their whispering.

"How?" he asked, voicing everyone's thoughts. Old reflexes kicking in, Jin automatically looked at Kamenashi for the answer. He didn't feel so bad for it when he realized everyone was doing the same.

"Don't you have a shaman friend?" Jin tried and promptly closed his mouth when everyone shot him a look. "Just trying to help," he mumbled.

Kamenashi stood frowning for a few more minutes in what Jin recognized as his thinking face, his eyebrows and lips pinching together in deep thought. His eyebrows smoothed out soon after and Jin knew a plan had been spun.

"You said you bought the stone," Kamenashi said, looking at Kazu. "Do you remember where?"

Little Jin interrupted before Kazu could answer.

"No!" he said loudly and then toned his voice down when Maru shh-ed him. "I mean, our minds are a little fuzzy right now. Warping through time is confusing, you know? Right, Kazu?"

From where he sat, Jin could see Little Jin nudge Kazu with his elbow.

"Y-yeah," Kazu said, looking at Little Jin before directing his gaze to Kamenashi who was watching them with his eyebrows quirked. "Maybe we'll remember after a few days. After we get some rest and... adjust?"

"Right! Adjust!" Little Jin parroted, bobbing his head.

"You guys are so transparent," Koki said with a grin and Jin grudgingly had to agree.

Little Jin swiveled around and shouted, "We don't remember!"

And Jin groaned, recognizing the fierce stubbornness that went along with that pout. He knew himself well enough to know that nothing was about to budge Little Jin into telling them what they wanted to hear. Not unless Little Jin got what he wanted first. Apparently, KAT-TUN knew him well enough too, for they all they fell back into a collective groan - all but Kamenashi who released a long sigh instead. Jin knew he should have been slightly insulted by the response, but he was more pleased by the fact that his old group members hadn't erased all existence of Jin from their minds, that they still remembered him.

"So what are we going to do now?" Maru asked.

"What can we do? We'll have to watch over them a couple of days until they..." Kamenashi glanced at Little Jin and Kazu who blinked back stubbornly. "...adjust. They can stay over at Akanishi's until they remember."

"What?!" Jin snapped, springing up from his chair. "I'm not babysitting them!"

"You can't watch over yourself?" Kamenashi shot at him. "It's not fair to ask the others to look after you."

Jin reared back, stung. There was more to Kamenashi's words than just that single accusation. And Jin was over this. All of this. He had only come here to check up on Maru and now that he had, he was ready to leave. So much for a reunion.

"I could say the same to you," Jin shot back. "You're the one who bought the stupid stone anyway."

"You're the one who made the wish."

"Uh, you guys," Maru interrupted and Jin turned to follow his glance. Little Jin and Kazu were looking up at them, traces of hurt apparent on their young faces. Jin felt a flash of guilt as he looked into Kazu's downcast features, his small mouth tilted and fuzzy brows curling in.

"He bought the wishing stone for me," Little Jin piped up with a frown. "And it's not stupid. It worked."

Jin couldn't argue with that.

"Alright then," Kame sighed. "I'll take care of myself and you take care of y-"

"We're sticking together!"

Jin turned to see Little Jin and Kazu standing with their feet spread wide and their tightly clasped hands hanging between them like an impenetrable fence, daring anyone to tear it down.

"I guess we can take turns, then," Jin said slowly, hating himself for it but not being able to pull the two apart; if he knew himself, and Jin liked to think that he did, then they would have to drag Little Jin away kicking and screaming if they tried. Jin remembered how possessive he was about Kazu and surprisingly, it didn't embarrass him as much as it should have.

"Okay," Kamenashi agreed. "You take the first turn."

Little Jin and Kazu let out a cheer and Jin silently bid farewell to his bed as twin manic smiles grinned up at him.

-

"Er, yeah. So this is where I live," Jin said and surveyed his apartment for anything out of place. Everything looked fairly clean though and Jin sent a silent thank you to his mother for dropping by the day before. He didn't know why he was so nervous about showing his living space to two teenagers, but he was. First impressions mattered this time around. Jin didn't want Kazu or Little Jin to see him as a slob. He wanted to live up to their expectations, be the star they traveled through time to see.

"Coooooool!"

Little Jin and Kazu stumbled through the door and looked around the apartment in awe, the sequins and sparkles they wore throwing patterns on the wall as Jin turned on the lights. They had sent Maru to grab some junior outfits to disguise Little Jin and Kazu and smuggle them out of the building. Jin winced at Maru's choice. He remembered dancing to 'She Said' in those same red feathered pants and glittery jacket, which thanks to JE's three R policy -reuse, reuse, reuse- were now almost a decade old. Jin had thought he'd left those horrendous costumes behind once he had left the group to go solo.

"You can take those off now. Kamenashi said he'll get some clothes for you tomorrow."

Jin was thankful for that. Those 'Imai Tsubasa' shirts irked him and he was certain they irked Kamenashi too, judging by how the other's face had soured when he had seen them. Too many unwanted memories.

"Why do you call your Kazu 'Kamenashi'?" Little Jin asked, throwing off the red sequined jacket, and Jin nearly choked on his spit at the possessive. It was a good thing Kamenashi wasn't here to hear that... or maybe not; Jin would have loved to see him bristle. "It sounds weird. Right, Kazu?"

Kazu, who was removing his own jacket, bent down to pick up Little Jin's and laid it gently on the back of the couch with a soft pat. He shrugged without meeting either of their eyes.

"See, Kazu doesn't like it either."

"Jin!"

"What?" Jin responded at the same time as Little Jin and Kazu looked at him in confusion.

"Sorry, I meant Jin. My Jin," and then Kazu added with a flustered glance at Little Jin, "I mean, the one from my time."

There was no need to clarify further, though. Little Jin was grinning wide and proud and Jin knew he was pleased. Jin felt sort of insane for feeling a twinge of something that felt similar to jealousy. He refused to be jealous of a sixteen-year-old, least of all himself.

"Sh-should I call you Akanishi?" Kazu asked and Jin wondered how he looked in Kazu's eyes to make him so suddenly shy.

"Ewww," Little Jin said just as Jin cringed and answered, "No. That sounds kinda... odd. Just call me Big Jin."

Kazu and Little Jin beamed at him and Jin tentatively smiled back.

Maybe this babysitting thing wouldn't be as bad as he thought.

-

Jin was making a call for some take-out food -he had only stocked on snacks and while he was sure Little Jin and Kazu would not complain, they were already too skinny for Jin's liking, Kazu especially- when he heard Little Jin's loud shout of 'uwah!'.

"Kazu! Look at this! Isn't she hot?"

Jin nearly dropped his phone. He fumbled with it and once he'd finally caught it, placed it on the kitchen counter and marched to his room.

"Out," he said as sternly as he could manage and Little Jin and Kazu jumped where they stood, staring at the poster of a half naked girl that hung on his bedroom wall. He'd have to work on his stern face, he thought when Little Jin and Kazu ignored him.

"I bet that's my girlfriend," Little Jin said. "Foreigners love me, right?"

Little Jin turned to him for confirmation and Jin had to wonder if he was really that cocky when he was younger, but then he noticed Kazu standing silently with a small frown, face wrinkled and unhappy, and Jin shouted "No!" before the frown could become permanent.

"I don't know her. It's just a picture," he shrugged and ignored the pout on his little self's face in favor of the relieved look passing over Kazu's. "And this is my bedroom. It's forbidden territory. No coming in here without my permission."

There was whining and pleading but Jin managed to finally herd them out of the room.

"Your room is so boring anyway," Little Jin complained and Jin shoved him in the back. He couldn't expect a child to appreciate the simplicity of his interior decor. It was mature and refined and not at all boring. And okay, so maybe his mom had done more cleaning up than Jin would have liked, but he had a comfy, king-sized bed and that was all that mattered.

"Why don't you go back to your own time, grow up and make it cooler?"

"But we don't remember how to get back yet, right Kazu?"

"Right, we need more time," Kazu answered and sat down gingerly on the edge of the couch. Little Jin sprawled down right next to him, though there was ample space left along the sofa. "What do you do now? I mean, for work."

"Yeah, what do I do? I'm famous, right?"

Jin shuffled his feet awkwardly. Somehow, with two pairs of eyes from the past watching him, he felt like he was being interviewed.

"I sing. I'm a solo artist." Before they could ask anything, Jin quickly added, "I had a tour in America recently."

That caught Little Jin's attention.

"America?!" Little Jin shouted, leaning forward eagerly and jostling Kazu. Jin winced at the volume. "That's so awesome! Where did you go? How long? Was it fun - wait, of course it was!"

Jin grinned at the enthusiasm. America had always been his dream. He remembered obsessively watching Western movies, not understanding a thing but making up the dialogue in his mind whenever Kazu and Pi asked what was going on; they had figured out Jin's fibbing when he had used the lines 'you smell like foot sweat' and 'I'm pregnant' too many times. He remembered harassing Jimmy Mackey to teach him more English words and how Jimmy had laughed at his stilted accent. Jin had always been enamoured by the American culture, awed by how different it was to his own. And now, looking into Little Jin's ecstatic face, he was proud that he could make his childhood dream come true.

"Yeah, it was fun," Jin grinned and Little Jin beamed back. Kazu's face was blank, though, and Jin suddenly felt something prickle at his chest. "Do you want to hear some of my songs?" he asked without thinking and then sighed in relief as Kazu's face brightened in curiosity.

At Little Jin's shout of 'yes!' Jin went to grab his iPad. Ryo had scathingly called him a narcissist when he had discovered a playlist called JIN AKANISHI that repeated all of Jin's songs on loop, but Ryo was just jealous. Being a midget his entire life had, understandably, made him bitter.

"I released a new single a few months ago, actually," he said as he sat down and Little Jin and Kazu crowded around him like they had done previously in KAT-TUN's dressing room.


"A-aqu-a-nee-sha? What's that?" Little Jin asked, pointing at the screen and Jin sputtered. Stupid Ryo had changed the playlist name to AQUANEESHA.

Cheeks heating, Jin shrugged and mumbled something about evil midgets and short man syndrome. "Here," he said and handed the headphones to Little Jin who immediately passed an earbud to Kazu. "Just stick it in your ear."

Jin watched, suddenly shy and incredibly nervous, as the two listened. His fans loved the song, of course, but the opinions of the two teenagers standing before him now, listening to his song with mute, wide eyes, meant more to him than anything.

"Wow, that was good. More than good," Little Jin said in awe as the song was coming to an end, his voice hollow with shock. He turned to look at Kazu. "That was awesome, right?! I'm going to grow up to be awesome--Kazu? Are you crying?"

Jin peered at Kazu in surprise. He had been too nervous to notice before, but now that he looked closer, he could see Kazu's lashes glisten in the light of the screen, his eyes suspiciously glassy and wet.

"N-no I'm not," Kazu hissed and swatted at Little Jin's shoulder, but Jin could hear the little sniffle he was trying to hide underneath, could see how rapidly he we was blinking. Jin wanted to envelope him in a giant hug.

"Yes you are!" Little Jin laughed back. "You are such a crybaby."

Jin nearly kicked himself. "No he isn't. Kazu's cool," Jin said and smiled as Kazu gave him a thankful look. He ignored the glare Little Jin was sending his way.

"I know that! I only make friends with cool people," Little Jin replied and then looked expectantly at Kazu, grinning when Kazu looked back. "What's this song called, anyway?"

"Eternal."

"I love it," Kazu said with a smile and Jin thought it was the best compliment he'd ever received. A moment later, Kazu's head tilted in confusion. "Love... Juice?"

"What?!" Jin squawked. He looked down at his iPad and realized it had now jumped to Love Juice. Swearing under his breath, Jin quickly hit pause. Little Jin was grinning at him, lopsided and wide and Jin blanched thinking about how much he had understood.

"Why'd you stop it?" he whined.

"What's Love Juice mean?"

Kazu blinked at them innocently and Jin wanted to die. Before he could say anything to change the topic, though, Little Jin leaned in and quickly whispered something into Kazu's ear. Kazu now stared at him, face red and eyes wide, as if he was some lecherous pervert.

"It's not what you think!" Jin said hastily. "I meant spit!"

A chorus of ewws and that's gross followed.

Jin didn't even know why he was bothering to explain. Kazu may act all innocent, but Jin knew him. He'd been stealing his older brothers' porn magazines and sharing them with Jin since they were twelve.

"But you're really good at English!" Little Jin said suddenly, eyeing Jin with pride. "You think you can teach me some? Pleeaase?"

"I have a couple more English songs...."

Twin heads nodded eagerly at him and Jin deleted Hey Girl and Ha Ha before he set AQUANEESHA to play.

-

"Ye-ye-ye-yellow go-go-gold! You better wear it like a CROWN!"

Kame quirked his brows at him as Little Jin's wailings from the living room echoed throughout the apartment.

"Having a fun time?"

"They wanted to listen to my songs," Jin replied defensively. "Not my fault they're so catchy."

"Uh-huh," Kame said and Jin swore he could hear mockery in his voice. "I bought them some clothes like I promised."

Kame lifted the bulky, brand name shopping bag he was carrying and Jin rolled his eyes.

"Don't tell me you bought them a thousand dollar pair of vintage jeans, Kame." Kame blinked at him, clearly surprised. It made sense, Jin supposed; he had been calling him Kamenashi for ages, after all. Jin shrugged an explanation, trying not to make it sound like a big deal even though it kind of was. Between them, at least. "They don't like it when I call you Kamenashi."

Kame looked at him for a moment, probably trying to figure out whether Jin was making it up or not, and then finally nodded.

"Alright," Kame said simply and then followed Jin into the living room where Little Jin and Kazu were playing around with his iPad, still fascinated by it even a day after.

"Your technology is so cool!" Little Jin said as he looked up and then froze as he spotted Kame over his shoulder. "Are we going with you now?" he asked eagerly, forgetting all about the 'cool technology' and jumping to stand. The stars in his eyes as he looked at Kame were as obvious as they were disgusting.

"Akanishi and I are taking turns, so yeah. Today's my day."

"Akanishi?" Little Jin repeated, his nose wrinkling in distaste. "Why do you call him that? It sounds like you're talking to my dad. And you guys are friends, right? Like me and Kazu."

Inside, Jin cackled. He turned to watch Kame flounder under Little Jin's and Kazu's expectant gazes.

"Well, I can't call him Jin. That would be too confusing. What would I call you, then?"

Freaking perfect Kamenashi, Jin thought sourly as Kame smiled down at them, completely unfazed. Or at least looking like it.

"You can call me Little Jin since we're calling big me, Big Jin!"

"Big Jin?" Kame snorted and Jin whispered at him to shut up. "Okay then, Little Jin and-"

"Kazu," both Jins piped up.

"Kazu," Kame nodded and then handed Kazu the shopping bag. "I bought some clothes for you two, so get changed and we'll head to my place."

The two teens were heading in the bathroom to change when Little Jin paused and turned back, pointing at Jin.

"Big Jin," he swung his arm to point at Kame, "Big Kazu-"

"Kame," Kame interrupted and Little Jin pouted but obediently headed to change.

"How come he listens to you?!" Jin whined as soon as the bathroom door clicked shut. And then something struck him. "Hey, wait. Shouldn't they be taking turns to change?"

-

"Something's wrong," Jin frowned, his voice muffled as he pulled on the new shirt Kame had bought for him. It smelled clean, the store scent still clinging to it and felt soft against his skin. Much better than his stupid Okinawa shirt. He pulled his head through and then looked at Kazu who was trying to string a belt through the loops of his new jeans. Jin nudged at his elbow and grabbed the belt from him.

"Are you listening? I said, something is wrong," he repeated as he turned Kazu around and strung the belt through the loops at the back. Those were the hardest to reach.

"Thanks," Kazu grinned back and then his face went stony. "I know. Why are we acting so weird? It's like we're not friends or something. And you went to America without me."

"Hey! You don't even like America."

Which was half-true. The only reason Kazu would want to go to America was to watch a Giants or some other baseball game. He liked Europe, cities like London and Paris a lot more, though Jin didn't know why. America was so much better.

Kazu shrugged. "What do you think it is, then? They mentioned me in KAT-TUN. Maybe it's because of that."

"Nah, Kame seems pretty cool," Jin answered. "I still can't believe you grew up to be so... y'know."

Kazu's shirt hit him in the face. "Hey!" Jin shouted and his voice echoed in the bathroom.

"You're so loud," Kazu giggled, completely unrepentant. He pulled on his own shirt -Jin grinned at the large skull drawn on the front; Kazu must have kept his fondness for them even as he got older- and then collected their older clothes, folding them neatly into the shopping bag.

When they had both changed, Jin turned to Kazu.

"We're not leaving until we find out," he said seriously and Kazu nodded.

-

Jin mussed his hair in frustration as he tried to find a word that rhymed with 'bro'. All that came to mind was 'hoe' and he couldn't use that; it was already part of the main chorus. Hanging around with his foreign buddies had taught him a lot, but Jin still needed to work on expanding his vocabulary. Sighing in frustration, Jin pushed away the bag of chips he'd been snacking on and licked the seasoning off his fingers. He wiped them off on his jeans -they needed washing soon, anyway- and pulled out his phone.

"Yo! Wassup man?" Josh answered. That's what Jin liked about him. No fake small talk and Josh was always willing to help.

"Hey, I'm working on some lyrics for the new song. I need something that rhymes with bro."

"How about hoe? That always works."

Jin sighed. "Already used it. I need something else."

"Damn." The line was silent for a few moments before Josh spoke up again. "I got it! Blow should do it. Like 'get down and give me a blow' or something?"

Blow. Bro. Jin tossed the two words around. They rhymed and flowed together nicely, but...

"Don't you think that's a little... too much?" he asked, plucking at the fabric of his jeans and remembering how Kazu had looked at him like he was a huge pervert.

"Dude, you're the one who came up with Love Juice. And your fans love that, don't they?"

"That's not what it meant!" Jin squawked. Everyone thought the worst of Love Juice, thought Jin was some experienced playboy like Hugh Hefner, but Jin didn't have a big, fluffy bathrobe and didn't lie. He really was talking about saliva. Which sounded gross, hence Love Juice.

"Whatever you say, Aquaneesha," Josh laughed. "You can't think of anything better, right? So just use it. Anyway, are you coming out tonight? The club we're going to has a free drinks night today. We're going to get so stoned!"

Jin grinned. That's just what he needed, a night out with the boys to let loose and have some fun. With all his babysitting-days and the prep work for his first solo album taking over his non-babysitting days, Jin hadn't left the apartment for anything besides work or chores. He surveyed the mess around his living space, unwashed dishes, crumbs and crumpled balls of rejected lyrics strewn about. He'd have to clean up before he left, before Kame came by with the kids tomorrow and made a scathing remark about his lifestyle.

Not that he cared what Kame thought, really. Jin huffed and kicked the bag of chips off the table just to prove it. As he watched the chips spill across the floor, he realized it had been a stupid move; he'd be the one sweeping them up in the end.

"You there, man?"

"Y-yeah, still here." Jin forced a laugh. "Had a sudden idea and was writing down some more lyrics is all. But I'm definitely coming out tonight! I miss partying with you guys."

"Sweet! I'll see you then, Aquaneesha."

As Jin ended the call, he wondered if mentioning Aquaneesha was a mistake. He had come up with it after watching The Little Mermaid -he was a Disney fan and proud of it- and felt that the story was similar to his own life. Not the part where the girl fell in love with a prince, but the whole mermaid scenario could apply to him. Land and water. His Japanese roots and his love for America. Akanishi, offstage and Aquaneesha, onstage. He had thought it sounded cool at the time, but after hearing Little Jin say it... it sounded kind of weird. Jin shrugged. He blamed that on his stilted teenage accent.

His phone rang again and he frowned as he read the display. Kamenashi. They had exchanged phone numbers just recently, the first time after years. Considering the situation, it had seemed the Right Thing To Do. Jin regretted it now, though. Kame only called for serious matters and Jin didn't think that today would be the day when he asked to get some coffee and hang out a bit. Jin snorted at the thought of the two of them sitting at a café table, glaring at each other over steaming cups of cappaccinos as fangirls rapidly snapped pictures around them and squealed 'AkaKame lives!'.

"What did Little Jin do now?"

"Nothing. He's much better behaved than you are," Kame answered and Jin winced, just imagining how much of a fool Little Jin was making of himself. Just a few days in and it was clear that he was smitten, carrying around an idol-like adoration for Kame like a lovestruck fan. It was sickening. Jin had made sure to spoil Kazu in return and that always worked to bring Little Jin running back to his side.

"What is it then?"

"My manager called. There's been some rescheduling and I need to go to work soon."

"So? Just go," Jin said simply, not understanding why Kame was bothering him with this piece of news.

"Jin--sorry, Akanishi-"

"Jin's alright," he interrupted. "You have to call me that in front of the kids anyway, so might as well get used to it."

The truth was, though, that Jin hated being called Akanishi by Kame. It always sounded like a curse. Like a big, 'SCREW YOU'. It might sound insane, but Jin knew Kame -he would never not know Kame; new facts about his life like where he liked to eat and the people he hung around were still a mystery, but Kame was still Kame even if for the past few years he had been Kamenashi- and Kame was subtle like that. And Jin would never admit this to anyone, but hearing Kazu calling his teenage self Jin in that sweet, chiding way he always used with him when they were young made Jin miss it a whole lot more. Hearing the Kazu of the present calling him Akanishi sounded like a slap to the face in comparison.

"Alright, then. Jin," Kame corrected. "I can't leave them here all alone. Someone needs to be here to watch over them."

"Why?" Jin said more forcefully than he had meant to. He finally understood where this was all heading and he wasn't pleased. "They're teenagers. They're old enough to look after themselves."

"Johnny's orders. And I'm not leaving them alone in my apartment, Jin."

If Kame was using his name to soften him up, it was not working.

"Well get someone else to babysit them. I'm going out tonight."

"Jin," Kame sighed impatiently and Jin blinked at how familiar it sounded, "nobody else can know about them. And we already decided to keep this between us. It's not worth disturbing the others for this."

"What we decided," Jin hissed, now thoroughly angered, "was that we'd take turns. I had my day, now you have yours. And it's not worth disturbing me, either."

"And of course it's always about you and what you want, Akanishi. You haven't changed at all." Jin recoiled at the use of his surname. Back to the start again. "I should be done around ten. That should give you enough time to go clubbing and get your picture taken by the paparazzi. Get over here and watch over them until then."

The line beeped signaling that Kame had hung up and Jin stared at his phone in rage. The nerve of him. Acting all high and mighty and beckoning Jin as if he had nothing important to do besides running to his side when called. He'd show him, Jin thought rebelliously and sank back into the couch with his lyrics. Kame was not his boss.

Twenty minutes later, he found himself in his car, already half way to Kame's apartment.

Freaking Kamenashi.

-

Jin glanced at the clock. A quarter to eleven. He had sent Kame five texts within the hour and had gotten no response.

He pulled out his cell again and this time dialed.

"Hey man, I can't come out tonight."

"What? Jin, dude, you said you'd come. Stop being a workaholic and get your ass here!"

Jin balled his hand into a fist. "Sorry, Josh. I want to be there but something came up. I'll see you guys later, 'k?"

He ended the call.

Little Jin and Kazu were rolling around with Ran and Jelly. They had whined about not being able to see his dog but Jin had explained that Pin was at his family's house and finally distracted them with explaining how Ran and Jelly were named after women's underclothes. To Jin's displeasure, they had taken it better than Love Juice. Had found it ingenius even, which was so unfair. Love Juice was ingenius, too.

"Are you okay?" Little Jin asked, noticing Jin's clenched fist and his murderous glare at the door. "Kame was supposed to be here by now, wasn't he?"

Jin nodded. Freaking Kamenashi.

"Please don't be mad at me--I mean Kame," Kazu said meekly and Jin turned to look at him. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor, Ran slumped in his lap as he scratched behind her ear. They had bought that dog together. Jin still remembered how Kame had cooed at all the puppies in the shop, poking his tiny finger through the cages to stroke their fur, how they had both had wanted to take every single one home.

Little Jin and Kazu were looking at him worriedly and he squirmed under their gazes. He didn't want to upset them, but he couldn't exactly not be mad at Kame. Especially not after the other had snapped at him for being inconsiderate. The giant hypocrite.

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