The phone was ringing, but Jack was not moving. He simply refused. Nine o’ clock in the morning was an ungodly time of day. Let the phone ring. He, Jack, didn’t give a damn.
His roommate, however, had other ideas. “Wake up, Jackie, it’s time for making money.”
“Ah, shit,” Jack mumbled into his pillow. His hand crept out from under the blankets to grasp the phone. “What?” he said into it.
“Ah, good morning, sunshine.” It was Toby, his agent. “Up till our usual hour last night?”
“Have you got a job for me or what?” Jack growled.
“Ahahah. Indeed I do. It’s only one day, but it’s for some rock band prepping for a world tour. Down at Bruckman Auditorium.”
“Some rock band?”
“They asked us to keep their name a secret. The lead singer’s apparently a little paranoid.”
“Ugh,” Jack sighed. “I don’t need that.”
“You got some great moonlighting gig I don’t know about?”
Jack didn’t have a snide remark for that one. He really didn’t have a great moonlighting gig. In fact, this gig wasn’t especially great either, and the rent was due.
“They want you down there by ten,” Toby said. “Business casual.”
“Ugh,” Jack said, so as to indicate the affirmative, and rolled over onto the floor.
At ten o’ clock and three minutes, Jack parked his black Vespa outside of Bruckman Auditorium and raced for the door. It took him another five minutes and a helpful pamphlet to find the right room, by which time, he was pretty well certain he’d be receiving yet another reprimand from Toby on The Dangers of Tardiness. Luckily, the band didn’t seem to be in any big rush.
As he peeked the door open and slipped through, his clients for the day were all huddled around a table on the far end of the room, pointing at something and laughing. One of them didn’t seem to be laughing quite as hard as the others, but his blush was making up for it.
Jack stood against the far wall, unable to believe his luck. This was SATORI, a Japanese rock band that counted him, Jack, among its biggest fans. The blusher was the band’s rhythm guitarist, Jun Kurosaki, upon whom Jack had been nursing a high-school crush, practically since high school.
“Sumimasen,” he started. Excuse me. “Okuremashite, moushiwake arimasen.” I’m terribly sorry for my tardiness.
They all looked up from the table, and Satoshi, the lead singer, came over to greet him. “Don’t worry about it,” he said, in near-perfect English. “You’re the translator, right?”
Jack nodded hesitantly. “Yes. Jack Finamon. If you’ll pardon me, you speak English very well.”
Satoshi flashed his signature infectious grin. “Don’t worry, you and I are the only ones in the room who do. T-boy only knows swear words, and Jun-kun doesn’t understand a word of it. Usually I translate for them, but today’s a surprise.”
Satoshi led them back to the table where he made introductions. Jack took the opportunity to investigate the cause of the earlier laughter, which turned out to be a series of photos apparently taken during Jun’s recent birthday celebrations. Each photo depicted Jun in the exaggerated embrace of a different scantily-clad beefcake. Jun’s face was beet red in all of them, but his smile was genuine.
“Alright then,” Satoshi continued, this time in Japanese. “Let’s get started.”
The morning was spent meeting nearly every person who worked at the auditorium. Satoshi insisted. His criteria seemed to be if they were in charge of anything, anything at all, they were eligible. Jack had never imagined that operating a pneumatic lift could take more than one person, but here at Bruckman Auditorium, they apparently had three. Satoshi insisted on talking to them all.
They ate lunch at the small cafe nestled in one corner of the building, where Jack himself became the target of Satoshi’s seemingly never ending curiosity.
How did he learn Japanese? From his great-grandmother. Why be an interpreter? He liked the people and the lack of routine. How long had he been at it? Almost five years now.
Throughout the interrogation, Jack couldn’t help but notice that Jun was watching him. He’d look over to find dark eyes and thin lips and then Jun would blush ever so slightly and look down at his meal. The fish sandwich, Jack also noticed, he wasn’t eating much of.
Satoshi’s questions never seemed to stop – Where did he grow up? Here in Boston. Were his parents still living? Mom, yes, dad, no. What did he like to do in his spare time? Mostly sleep, but some fan translation stuff, too. – and Jack was forced to take advantage of his client’s momentary pause for breath in order to speak to Jun.
“Is it not good? I’m sure they’d exchange it for you if it’s not to your liking.”
“Jun-kun here thinks he’s on a diet,” T-boy said, his first words of the day. “Thinks he’s getting a little flabby.”
Satoshi shot him a look as Jun blushed. “Taka,” he warned. Taka shrugged an apology, and Satoshi turned to Jun. “You really should eat something though, kid. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
“I think I saw a salad up there, would you like that instead?”
Jun hesitated, but the look of relief on his face was answer enough. “I don’t want to waste the sandwich,” he said.
“I’ll eat it,” T-boy volunteered.
“You will?” A smile spread across Jun’s face, and Jack felt a warm spot growing in his stomach.
“Well then,” he said standing up more quickly than was strictly necessary. “I’ll go get the salad.” And with that, he all but ran for the lunch counter.
The afternoon’s schedule did little to improve Jack’s lot, being mostly taken up with watching the band discuss which props were to go where when and how, and listening to the three of them poke fun at each other like brothers. Most of the ribbing centered on Jun’s advanced years – the beefcake pictures had apparently been from his thirtieth birthday party, held the previous week – but Jun got in a couple of good jibes himself, calling upon Satoshi’s rampant control issues and T-boy’s complete lack of social grace for assistance. By the end of the day, Jack was ready to declare his undying love for the adorable young man from the top of the nearest building.
After their last stop on the auditorium tour, Satoshi turned to Jack. “Thanks for being such a sport today,” he said, in English. “I know you probably didn’t feel too useful, but,” he hesitated. “Actually, I have a couple of favors to ask you. If you don’t want to, please don’t feel like you have to.”
“O…kay,” Jack said, curious but wary.
“Jun-kun likes to paint, but with our schedule, he hardly has any time to.” Satoshi shrugged. “He brings his sketch book with him everywhere, but we just never have time for sightseeing. I was wondering if you knew any good places to take him.”
“And if you would take him there.”
“Oh.” Jack’s mind reeled.
“I have more stuff to take care of here, and Taka’s not much for that kind of stuff, but it’s Jun-kun’s birthday, and he really deserves to take it easy.”
Jack found himself unable to speak. Alone? With Jun-kun? The mere thought, and he could hardly breathe.
“If you don’t want to…”
“Oh no no no no,” Jack quickly protested. “I’m sure I can find somewhere. What kind of things does he like?”
“Nature mostly, but at this point, I think just about anything will do.” Satoshi thought for a moment. “He likes the sky.” When Jack responded with a thoughtful look, Satoshi continued with a devilish smile. “Come on, let’s break the news to him.”
“So,” Jack said, a nervous wreck in the driver’s seat. “Do you want to eat first, or shall we get right on with the painting?”
Jun had been blushing ever since Satoshi told him the evening’s plans. “Whichever…”
“Are you hungry? What kind of stuff can you eat?”
Jun shrugged. “Really whatever I want. It’s just a self-imposed diet.”
“Ah.” Jack thought a moment. “I read somewhere that you like spicy food, is that right?”
Jun nodded, his blush deepening.
“Well then, I’ve got just the place.”
Caliente was a restaurant famous, infamous some would say, for its spicy dishes, but what Jack really liked about it was it’s decor. The entire interior had been done up to look like a Mexican garden, complete with murals, trellises, and mild humidity. The waiters and waitresses were all dressed in variations on traditional Mexican dress, and the tables were tiled in vibrant colors.
Jun took one step into the circle of bright natural light that shone down from a cut-out in the ceiling, his mouth agape and his eyes wide. “Yabai~” he said. Awesome.
They were seated in a cozy little booth with a window. Jun’s gaze roamed all over the restaurant, his eyes twirling around like ballerinas. Jack’s eyes, on the other hand, were fairly glued still.
Jun was gorgeous. His black hair was wiry and riddled with greys, his face was thin and he had perfectly square jaws. He didn’t look more than twenty-five. Just my type! Jack thought.
After their waiter took their drink order, Jun whipped a small black sketchbook out of his coat pocket and began scribbling away. Watching from across the table, Jack was amazed at how accurately Jun was able to catch the atmosphere of the room with only a few quick lines. By the time their drinks had arrived, Jun had gone through several pages, each filled with tiny representations of their surroundings.
“You’re really good,” Jack said as the waiter left.
Jun’s blush returned. “Thank you,” he said, his voice so quiet as to be barely audible.
Unable to keep himself from smiling, Jack asked another question mostly in the hope of keeping Jun distracted.
“Where’d you learn to do that? Did you teach yourself?”
“I’ve always liked to sketch. I just look at stuff and draw it. When I was in high school, I took a few drawing classes, but mostly they were boring, so…” Jun trailed off, shrugging. “Sorry,” he mumbled, apparently embarrassed at having shown such enthusiasm.
Jack didn’t bother hiding his smile this time. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s figure out what we’re going to eat before that waiter comes back.”
Using the width of the table as an excuse, Jack scooted his chair around close to Jun’s, and the two of them poured over the menu. Jack had been to Caliente enough times to know exactly what he wanted, but Jun didn’t seem to be able to make up his mind. When the waiter came to take their order, Jun thought for a moment and then ordered whatever the waiter thought was the hottest thing on the menu.
When their dinner came, Jun dug into his plate with surprising voracity, and almost instantly, his face was red and his eyes were watering.
The laughter the two exchanged when Jun grabbed for his drink seemed to erase the tension, and the rest of the meal went wonderfully. They exchanged tales of traveling in their respective countries, mostly of the places they’d eaten while there, and Jun began to tell stories of the crazy things he and the rest of the band had done.
“Once, for my birthday, we were right in the middle of recording an album, and right in the middle of a song, the whole staff pops through the door with my birthday cake, only they’re all naked.”
Jack burst out laughing. “What!”
Jun rolled his eyes. He was blushing, just with the memory of it. “We were almost done with the album, and no one had slept in like three weeks. I was sitting there thinking to myself, they’ve finally cracked under all the pressure.”
“Heheheh. Naked, huh?”
Jack shook his head and went to spear another bite of his dinner, but dropped his fork en route, which bounced right off the plate and directly onto his shirt before diving for his pants.
There was a split second of silence before Jun let out his own burst of laughter, his hands flying up to his mouth in an attempt to stifle the sound.
Jack looked up from his lap with a wry grin on his face. “Oh you think that’s funny, do you?”
Jun’s only answer was more giggling, so Jack picked up his fork and speared a chuck of chicken off of Jun’s plate and held it thrust it towards him, threateningly. “Maybe we’ll get you dirty, too,” he said.
Jun’s smile was replaced with a look of mock fear for just a moment before the two of them collapsed into giggles again.
“I think it’s time to stop drinking now,” Jack said.
“Hey, mine’s non-alcoholic,” Jun protested.
“Then maybe it’s time for you to start?”
Jun smiled and raised his eyebrows suggestively.
A pleasant silence descended on the table for a few minutes before Jack asked, “So can we stop at my place and change my clothes before we go sight-seeing?”
Jack’s apartment was empty when he and Jun arrived. “The Roommate must’ve gone out,” Jack said, heading for his bedroom. “Have a seat,” he called back. “Make yourself at home.”
Jack threw his dirty shirt in the hamper and contemplated his closet. He wanted something sexy, but not overtly so, attractive, but not blatant. “Maybe brown?” he wondered aloud.
“I like brown,” said a voice from behind him.
Jack whirled around and was so shocked to find Jun’s figure in the doorway that he forgot to cover himself for a moment.
“I’m sorry,” Jun said. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I saw you staring at me today.”
Jack felt his cheeks flush. “Eh… Sorry.”
Jun shook his head. “It’s okay. I was staring, too.” His eyes shifted around the room. “I don’t know what type you are, really, but… I like you.”
“Oh,” Jack said, his eyebrows raising as he worked out the future direction of the conversation.
“I thought we could, you know, /not/ sight-see.”
“Did you now.”
When Jack awoke, it was three in the morning. He rolled over, wondered why the bed was cold, wondered why the bed shouldn’t be cold, and then sat bolt upright, his sheets in a messy pile at his waist.
“Oh my God,” he said to the empty room. “Oh my God.”
He turned on his bedside lamp and rubbed his eyes. There was a post-it on his door.
‘Thanks for the wonderful night. Dinner was great, and you were incredible! -Jun’
Jack let a little moan escape his lips. It had been incredible. Brief thoughts of showing up unannounced at Jun’s hotel and running off with him floated through Jack’s mind, but his stamped them out. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he told himself.
Throwing some pants on, he headed for the restroom. On the way back past the living room, he noticed the TV on. Harry, The Roommate, was still awake. He looked over as Jack flopped down on the other end of the couch.
“Hey there,” he said, suggestively.
“Ugh,” replied Jack.
“Yeah, Jun looked pretty exhausted.”
Jack’s eyes flew open. “You saw him?”
“He asked me where the post-its were. It’s a good thing I understand Japanese.” Harry grinned. “How was he?”
“Ugh. Perfect. In every possible way.” Jack sighed. “And I’m never going to see him again.”
“I don’t know,” Harry said. “He looked pretty satisfied.”
“He lives in Japan.”
“When are they going back?”
“Oh. Did they hire you for tomorrow too, then, or…?”
The TV flickered in the dark room, but Jack couldn’t pay attention. All he could think about was Jun. After a few minutes, he gave up and went back to his bedroom, where he tried, but did not succeed, in getting back to sleep.
Jack waited until ten o’ clock before admitting to himself that they really weren’t going to call him back into work. Harry went off to his regular job, and Jack moped about. He tried breakfast, but wasn’t terribly interested. Around noon, he got sick of hearing himself sigh and managed to get some sleep. When Harry came home at quarter to six, Jack was sprawled out on his stomach on the couch, a can of beer open but untouched on the floor in front of him.
“Oh man,” Harry said. “You’ve got it bad.”
“Yes,” Jack answered. “And I’m getting sick of it already. You think his security people would kill me if I just ran up and kidnapped him?”
“I should think the legions of fangirls would present the greater challenge.”
Jack sighed for what felt like the eight-hundred-millionth time that day and rolled over onto his back. “Yeah, probably,” he said, and then, “What’s that?”
Harry was holding a small envelope. “I don’t know,” he said. “It’s got your name on it. Kind of heavy, too. Wonder who it’s from.”
He tossed it over to Jack, who held it up to the lamp and squinted. He could almost make out familiar shapes. “A… 15… Backstage… Oh my God.”
“Backstage? What?” Harry leaned over as Jack ripped into the envelope. Inside were two small rectangles of cardboard and two laminated squares of paper. “Are those tickets?” he asked.
Jack couldn’t answer. The note included with the tickets and backstage passes to Satoshi’s first international concert had blown his mind.
‘Jack- You really were incredible. I’d love to see you again. Maybe we could keep our clothes on this time? -Jun’