“How do you feel about nudity?” The redhead cracked her gum while she waited for Dean to answer.
“Uh, this is art modeling right?” He shot her his most flirty wink. “Kinda goes with the territory.”
“Yeah, whatever,” she sighed, sliding a clipboard over the countertop.
Dean thought she might have even rolled her eyes. Duly rebuffed, he took the pen she wiggled in front of his face and began to fill out the form.
“When you’re finished, stack your clipboard here,” she pointed. “And there’s a robe for you in the dressing room there. Au naturel for test shots, please.”
She spun out of the waiting area, a whirlwind of bright hair and dark boots and more confidence than Dean had in his little toe.
Oh, he was confident enough about his looks, or he wouldn’t be here. But he had never quite mastered that ease of self he envied in other people, people like his childhood friend Jo or his brother Sam, or some random secretary in an artsy downtown loft photography studio.
The release was simple enough, although he grinned at the ballsy description of the proposed showing he would be modeling for: An intimate study of the male human body at the moment of climax.
He shifted in his seat and glanced around at the other men dutifully waiting in their bathrobes. There were some handsome guys here, totally male model types, and he would bet his last ten bucks none of them had motor oil wedged so far under their fingernails it would likely never scrub clean. An intimate study… He wondered how he was going to measure up against them in this crazy male anatomy sliding scale. Would they be graded on a curve? One dark haired guy met his gaze and winked and Dean flushed; well, okay then. A friendly one.
Although, he realized with a rush of embarrassment, each and every guy in the room had just read and signed the exact same document.
So they were all thinking the same thing.
About his junk.
Fuck, he swore to himself. But the job paid five hundred bucks a week for the whole semester, a veritable fortune for an adult student like Dean, and dammit, he could really use a break right now. He was burning the candle at both ends between his classes in the morning, work at the auto shop in the afternoon, and tending bar at the Roadhouse when he could spare the time.
At some point in the next two years he’d like to sleep more than three hours straight.
“Mr. Winchester? Robe?” The girl was back and frowning at him like she might cut him from auditioning on principal.
“Yeah, give me five minutes.” Dean tossed the signed paperwork on her desk and strode past the other robe-clad men to the dressing room.
To get naked.
God help him.
Well this isn’t awkward at all, Dean thought, rocking back on his bare heels.
The participants faced a blank white wall, a line of handsome naked men covered in plush white terry cloth. When their shoulder was tapped, they turned and opened their robe.
The click and whir of a Polaroid camera gave Dean all the makings of a good old-fashioned panic attack.
He jumped when his shoulder was tapped. He knew his face was flaming even though he had been art modeling for a couple of semesters now. It was the whole set up; the other people in the room, the competitive edge, the dark haired man that paced an array of photography equipment against the far wall.
The redhead snapped the photo and waved it in her hand a few times before passing it over her shoulder to her assistant. When Dean didn’t close his robe she grinned. “You can wrap it back up, Mr. Winchester.”
Dean flushed even redder and snatched the fronts of his robe together before spinning back around.
“Okay, you may all return to the waiting area to get dressed. We’ll call you,” she chirped.
Dean scrubbed his mouth a few times, impatient to grab his clothes and get the hell out of there; no way in fuck was he getting this job, he had peeked at the guy standing next to him. Impressive. That was all he was saying.
Being last in line, Dean was also last in the dressing room.
When he finally emerged, the redhead was waiting, tapping her foot impatiently at the door.
“Oh good, you’re still here. Congratulations. Can you start tonight?”
“What do you mean you got a job?” Sam asked with a laugh. “Dean you already have like four jobs.”
“Two, smart ass, and this one pays well enough I can drop one of the others.”
“Sure. You’re going to voluntarily give up money. Cash money.”
“Shut up, Sam.”
“What time will you be home?”
Dean and Sam shared an apartment; being the older brother at twenty-seven, Dean had lived on his own for almost ten years. Sam was just starting his second year of graduate school and was on track to make twice Dean’s yearly earnings the minute he graduated.
Life sucked that way, but Dean wouldn’t do it any different, even if he could. He and Sam were close, and he would miss the dumb fuck when he finally got a life and moved out. Their little apartment on Rochester street would be depressingly empty.
“I dunno, maybe late? I’m, uh, training.” He hoped his blush wasn’t audible.
“Yeah okay, have fun on that stripper pole then. Bring home the big tips!”
“Asshole,” Dean muttered, hanging up without saying goodbye. He rolled his eyes. Little brothers.
He hoped Sam never found out how close he was to the truth.
Dean jumped. “Dean.” He cleared his throat nervously.
Charlie, the redhead, grinned. “Dean. Ready to get naked and get snappin’?”
Dean laughed at her exaggerated leer. It was kind of endearing, and immensely calming. “That’s what I’m here for, right?”
Charlie waved him through the door. “Okay, so here’s the rundown.” She talked fast, snapping her gum every third syllable or so. “Castiel is going to be setting up lighting for the first piece tonight. So mostly you’ll be lying around in your birthday suit, staring at the ceiling.”
“That’s it?” Dean glanced around the room; someone had upped the thermostat apparently, because it was warm. He didn’t see the dark haired man from before.
“Basically,” Charlie shrugged. “Cas has to have a special permit to shoot nudes, especially for this project due to its,” she wagged her eyebrows and Dean grinned. “Suggestive nature.”
“So, porn,” Dean teased.
“Art.” Charlie corrected sternly, but the twinkle in her eye gave her away. “Anyway. I have to be present as a character witness or something. I don’t know. I’ll be around though. I’m gay, by the way.”
Dean blinked a few times. “Okay.”
She rolled her eyes. “So, you know. Your virtue is safe with me.”
Dean bit back a smile. “Thanks.”
“Shut up, Winchester and take off your clothes.” Pop.
Dean grinned and held up his hands in acquiescence. He moved to where her long finger was pointing, a pile of what looked like cheesy sheepskin rugs artfully piled under a mishmash of umbrellas and softboxes.
Taking off his clothes had never been more nerve-wracking. Partly because of the strange setting and circumstances and partly because he was on edge waiting for the photographer to show up. Dean had never modeled for a camera before; what if he sucked? What if the guy asked him to make those godawful faces with pursed lips and arched eyebrows, or manipulate his body into cheesy playgirl poses?
There was nothing to cover himself with once he was naked, so he sat in the middle of the sheepskin (it was startlingly soft on his ass cheeks, a pleasant surprise) and folded his hands in his lap.
Ten minutes later out of nowhere the guy appeared. Disheveled and angry and frowning at Dean like he was an intruder.
Dean jumped when he thrust an index card at him.
“Scene!” Charlie called from behind the row of umbrellas.
“Huh?” Dean asked, looking up at the man. Hesitantly he took the card and read it. Lie back on the rugs. Hands behind your head. One knee bent. Tilt hips twenty degrees to the west.
“It’s the scene,” Charlie said, squatting down so she was at Dean’s eye level.
He barely refrained from covering his crotch. He glanced back up but the guy was ten feet away again, light meter and camera in hand. Dean swallowed nervously. “Is he always like that?” he whispered.
“Like what?” Charlie whispered back.
“Angry. Silent.” Dean handed her the card and lay back. Seemed simple enough.
“Oh. Cas doesn’t talk.” Charlie stood up and disappeared.
“What, like ever?” Dean craned his neck but he couldn’t spot her. He jumped when the flash fired.
The photographer, Cas, was frowning again, fiddling with the meter before stalking back to a table where about a dozen different lenses waited.
When he returned, Dean was ready, posed as close to the card as he could remember. It seemed to be good enough, because Cas’ shoulders relaxed, minutely, and he began a slow sort of dance around Dean.
Dean began to relax too, after the first several minutes of severe performance anxiety, where he wondered if his dick was positioned pretty enough (fuck his life). The steady click and whir of the camera’s focus and shutter soothed his nerves and he drifted off in his mind as he stared out the windows at a fantastic golden sunset. He froze when Cas suddenly squatted beside him and grasped his chin tilting it slightly up and to the left.
There was a lengthy pause as he studied Dean at close range, his eyes startlingly blue, and Dean fought the urge to fidget. When it grew too uncomfortable, he looked away, gazing out of the window, and Cas snapped a single shot.
Dean had a feeling that one wasn’t on the original shot list.
Cas disappeared and Charlie was there, tossing Dean a Mars bar.
“Nice job, handsome. You wanna go grab a beer and pick up girls?”
Dean sat up and grinned. “I’d love to.”
Maybe this was going to be an okay job after all.