"Fine, fine. I'm sorry. I'll let you know." Natori clicked his phone off and gave it a look of disgust as he threw it on the grass next to him, where he crouched behind some scrub.
"They're not very happy, are they?" Hiiragi's face was as much a mystery as ever behind her mask, but her voice conveyed her disapproval.
Natori shrugged, narrowing his eyes as he stared into the trees. "I don't care."
"You'll lose the role."
Natori turned to look back at her, lips stretched in a mocking smile. "You've learned so much about show business, Hiiragi. I'm impressed."
"How better to serve you than to understand your world as much as possible?" she asked tonelessly.
"It doesn't matter anyway," Natori said, his own voice now carefully neutral. "If they want to give it to that other kid, that's fine."
That was a lie, and he was sure that Hiiragi knew it too. His agent promised this would be the role that would catapult him from burgeoning heartthrob into someone who'd definitely arrived. And Natori was inclined to agree. After all, the movie required lots of shots of him brooding: sometimes with hair blowing in the wind, once even shirtless and dripping wet -- the plot had him fall into a lake, the indignity of which fretted him, but it would be worth it for the visuals.
What a pity to jeopardize that, but there wasn't anything he could do about it.
He craned his neck. "I think it's coming." His stance sharpened, coiled power ready to explode.
The phone shrieked. His sleeping mind translated it into the screams youkai made as he sealed them. It was a few heart-pounding moments before he realized the sound was much more innocent. His eyes flew open nevertheless.
"The phone," Hiiragi said, peering into his face. "The phone is ringing."
"I know," he said, just short of a growl. He pulled his pillow over his face. Let the machine get it. He knew it was the right decision when the grating voice of his agent filled the apartment.
The director was furious and his agent was worried. Where had Natori been yesterday? It had been an important day and they'd had to rearrange everything and perhaps Natori should think of his future, because this director wasn't someone to anger, no matter how popular Natori had become recently...
Natori pressed his hands to his ears, wishing he could blot out that voice. Instead, he settled for lurching upright and hurling his pillow at the machine, which squawked as it hit the floor and then began beeping steadily.
He sighed and flung himself backwards onto the futon. He'd make sure to go on set today and bow and apologize as much as he had to. Assuming nothing else came up. Well, Natsume was out of town on a study trip. And the youkai that had forced him to miss yesterday's filming was out of action.
He pushed back the covers and eased his way out of bed, stumbling as he put weight on his right foot. Damn. He'd forgotten about that. He'd twisted his ankle while chasing the youkai, but after he got home, he iced it and put it up and took some painkillers and did all the things he thought you were supposed to do.
He considered. Today's scenes -- or yesterday's scenes, assuming they would just do them today -- didn't have lots of movement. Some pacing, but he thought he could muscle his way through that. Mostly it was supposed to be dramatic, tearful moments between his character and his character's long-lost father. He could handle it.
Limping to the shower, he managed to wash himself and get dressed. He glared at the exhaustion he saw in the mirror. Oh well, that's what the makeup crew were for.
While his tea was steeping he called his agent. "Yes, yes, I'm very sorry. Something came up. Yes, I'm okay. Yes, I'll be there today. I'll be sure to apologize. I'll work hard from now on." He hung up, let the phone slip onto the table, and rubbed his eyes.
"You'd better be careful," Hiiragi said. "How many more times are they going to let you do that?"
Natori sighed. "Thank you for your concern." He didn't have the energy for an argument; he had to marshal all his charm to appease the director. Any goodwill he had left would've been burned up by this latest absence. At least he'd called at the last minute to tell them; the previous time he'd run off on exorcist business he hadn't even had time to do that.
"How long can you live two lives?" Hiiragi asked. He wished she would shut up. He could make her shut up, of course; all he had to do was say her name and tell her she wasn't allowed to speak. But somehow he didn't feel like doing that.
"As long as I can." He limped back into the bathroom to fidget with his hair and, while he was back at the mirror, practice some apologetic expressions.
"All right," he muttered. "Let's get this over with."