For the men of The Diamond Mine, the JAVA Awards were always somebody else’s party.
They’d gotten used to not being nominated at this point. Oh, sure, the nominating committee occasionally tossed a Supporting Actor nod to Jui or Jun, since they had such long standing in the industry.
But for the most part? There were five nomination slots in each category, and four of them went to the majors – PSC, Hard Candy, Adonis and Heavy Hitter. The fifth usually went to the En Vogue Indie of the Moment, whether it was Eros Films, Avalon Video or Kiryu Video (before all three became, for all intents and purposes, part of PSC).
For Toya and the former Fest Video guys, though, the JAVAS were a time when they walked the red carpet, got a lot of drinks, saw (and, in some cases, hit on) lots of pretty people, and then just sat there bored during the ceremony itself, checking their phones. The closest any of them got to winning was if one of them scored at the After-After Party.
Which is why it came as such a massive shock when Toya’s name ended up all over the 2017 nominations.
* * *
Toya was vaguely aware it was nomination morning, but it didn’t really mean anything to him. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. He did have interest in whether Subaru was going to get another Best Actor nomination. (He’d kept in touch with the pretty blond since their time in Hokkaido, but alas, they hadn’t found time for any more intimate encounters. Well, there was always the After-After Party . . .)
That wasn’t his priority at the moment, though. No, he was most interested in getting breakfast on the table. He moved about the kitchen, yawning, filling the rice cooker and putting water on to boil for instant miso. As for something to put on the rice . . . well, there had to be some sort of appropriate leftovers in the fridge.
He was putting ground coffee into the pot when Jun shambled into the kitchen, pink hair in wild disarray, T-shirt worn backward. It was etiquette in their house that one put clothes on for breakfast if they went to bed naked – whether because of sex or because they were just too damn exhausted to put on sleepwear after working all day.
“Did I plug my phone in here last night?” Jun mumbled, blinking.
Toya pointed his coffee scoop at the table. “Right there,” he said.
Jun grabbed the device and sat down. “How are you so awake right now?” he mumbled.
Toya approached his lover and wrapped his arms around his lover, kissing his neck. “I could help you wake up, you know.”
“You can wake me up when I’m more awake,” Jun said, proving just how close to sleep he still was. He typed in his security code and saw he had three messages. Already? he thought. There’s people who wake up even earlier than Toya? He opened the first one, from HAL, and read . . .
Jun sat up bolt upright so hard and fast he nearly threw Toya – who hadn’t relaxed his hold – across the room.
“Oh, my God!” he said. “Holy FUCK!”
“What is it?” Toya said, craning to read over his shoulder.
“He said look at the JAVA nominations, NOW. Which means we actually got something.” Jun quickly switched to Twitter and scanned for the tweets containing the nomination announcements . . .
“What?” Toya said. “What is it?”
“We got a Best Drama nomination for Rainfall,” Jun said. “We NEVER got a nomination for any of our videos before.” He scrolled some more. “You, me and Jun got a Best Three-Way nomination for the same video.”
“Are you serious?” Toya said. “Really?”
“And you got nominated for Best Two-Person Sex Scene.”
“WHAT?” Toya grabbed the phone from Jun. There it was, plain as day – “Toya and Subaru, The Burning Snow.” He also noticed that Subaru got a second nomination for his scene with Mahiro in Swashbucklers – which he was sure was going to win. But still, a nomination . . .
“Let me see if there’s more.” Jun took the phone back, just as Jui stumbled into the kitchen.
“Whoa,” he yawned. “Jun’s fully awake at this hour. What the hell is going on?”
“We got JAVA nominations!” Toya said. “Actual JAVA nominations!”
“Are you kidding me?” Jui looked over Jun’s shoulder.
“Your Hokkaido thing got nominated for Best Romance, Toya,” Jun said.
“Best Three-Way?” Jui was looking at his own phone now. “Well, it’s about damn time they recognized how good you two are!”
“Did Subaru get a Best Actor nomination?” Toya said. He looked around for his own phone – and realized the water for the miso was nearly boiling over. He turned it down – breakfast could wait.
“Oh, yes, he did,” Jun said. “For Swashbucklers. And Swashbucklers is up for a shit-ton of . . .” He looked further down the list. “I got a Supporting Actor nomination! Holy shit!”
“For Rainfall?” Jui said. “You were a co-lead in that one! Why not Best Actor?”
“I’m not going to argue with that,” Jun said. “I’m taking it! I’m not going to win, of course, but hell, yes, I’ll take the nomination!”
Toya just sat down at the table, stunned. He was nominated for two JAVAS. He. Was. Nominated. For. Two. JAVAS. It was the sort of thing he’d thought was impossible. How did this happen? Was it the fact that he’d co-starred with Subaru? Did that draw more attention to everyone else?
Whatever it was, he wasn’t going to complain. They finally had a reason to show up at the JAVAs this year other than booze and red carpet photographs.
And that made a huge smile cross his face.
* * *
“If you ask me, there’s a fuck-you-Heavy-Hitter factor at work here,” Kazi told the group. The Diamond Mine actors had gathered at their favorite Starbucks for celebratory Frappuccinos, the breakfast that Toya had started at home forgotten. (The only thing he’d really cooked was the rice – and it was the cheap kind of rice anyway. They could dump it, or recycle it for lunch).
“Why do you say that?” HAL said. “Heavy Hitter got a ton of nominations. They’re tied for first place with PSC.”
“Because the Heavy Hitter guys are bastards!” Kazi said. “You’ve heard people talk about them behind their backs! People like their videos, but they don’t like THEM!”
“I think it’s just that Rainfall got really, really good reviews,” Gaku said. “People pay attention to that.”
“Reviews don’t always factor in,” Jun said. “When Jui and I were with Hard Candy, there was one video we were in that we knew was a total piece of crap. It was a bad script and the whole thing was built around the producer’s boy toy of the moment. The critics called it out for being what it was. And the fucking thing still got nominated for six JAVAs.”
“Including a Best Actor nomination for the boy toy,” Jui said. “Somebody was paid off.”
“Maybe that was it?” Hiro said. “Somebody got paid off?”
“You’re all missing the obvious,” Jui said. “It’s Uruha. It’s because we’re being distributed by his company now. The JAVA people just love that guy.”
“You know what I think it really is?” Jun said. He pointed his straw at Toya. “Him.”
Toya looked shocked. “Me?”
“It’s because you finally came into your own,” Jun said. “You’re our secret sauce. Our hidden weapon.”
“I’m . . . I’m just me, really,” Toya said. “Okay, I have fun with this, I always have . . .”
“And you had a LOT of fun in Hokkaido,” Jui said, nudging Toya.
“But . . . well, I never thought of myself as a star,” Toya said.
“You know what?” Hiro said. “Jun is right. You ARE the secret sauce of this company. You’re the anchor. You’re the most reliable guy we have.”
“I am?” Toya said.
“Hell, yes!” Hiro said. “None of us has ever done a bad scene with you – am I right? Every scene with Toya comes out well.”
“I’m going to second that!” Kazi said. He smacked Hiro on the back. “And you’ve done some pretty fucking hot SCENES with Toya, Hiro!”
“I think he has a point,” HAL said. “You’ve always been the quiet anchor of this group.”
“And you’re talented,” said the silent-until-now I’ll. “Really talented. Just not in a showy way.”
“It took you being in a PSC video for people to see that,” Jui said.
“But . . .” Toya said.
“But nothing.” Jun wrapped his arm around Toya. “You just don’t see your own talent. There’s a reason The Diamond Mine’s videos didn’t really take off until Jui and I added you.”
Toya just accepted all the compliments with an uneasy smile. Was he really the key to their success? He didn’t think so – but was Jun right? Was he just not seeing his own talent?
* * *
Later that afternoon, Jui went over to the PSC office for a quick meeting with Uruha, who wanted to talk to him about publicity for The Diamond Mine’s next release – publicity had always been Jui’s specialty. He texted his two lovers, “We’re going out for a celebratory dinner afterward. Throw some ideas at me as to where, and I’ll let you know the when.”
The other two were back in the apartment at this point. Toya was cleaning up the breakfast that wasn’t. “Jui’s going to be burbling to Uruha for about an hour about those nominations,” Jun said. “He’s thrilled to death. This is what he wanted from the moment we started the company.”
Toya put dishes back in the cabinet. “Do you think there’s any truth in what he said at Starbucks?” he said. “That we got the nominations because we’re with Uruha now, and people like him?”
“I think there’s truth in what everyone said, quite frankly.” Jun sank down on the couch. “There’s a definite fuck-you factor involved with Heavy Hitter – I mean, the guy who runs that thing is an asshole, and he’s pissed off a lot of people. The guys at Adonis hate him almost as much as Uruha does.”
“I doubt they hate him as much as we do,” Toya said. He would never forget the feeling of having their careers almost destroyed by a careless bit of gossip in the social mediasphere.
“And as for what Kazi said? Uruha does have a lot of goodwill in the industry, and he got more when he picked up our distribution deal. People love a good white knight story. And the reviews for Rainfall were better than anything we’ve ever done.”
Toya nodded. He’d been shocked when he saw them, quite frankly – one critic had called it “like an American indie film with a lot of hot, man-man (and man-man-man) action.” He’d even printed that particular review out and stuck it up on the bulletin board in their kitchen.
“And . . . what about what you said?” Toya came into the living room and sat next to Jun.
“What about it?” Jun said. “I meant every word, you know.”
“I never thought of myself as any kind of driving force behind this company,” Toya said. “I’ve always been just kind of . . . there. You and Jui are the leaders. You’re the ones who put this thing together and write our scripts. I’ve just kind of been the support. . . I’ve followed your lead.”
Jun threw an arm around Toya. “You don’t get it, do you? That is precisely WHY you are important, babe. You may think we’re just bouncing ideas off you, but while we’ve been doing that? You’ve been coming up with some of the best ideas we’ve had.”
“I have?” Toya said.
“Hell, yes!” Jun said. “Half the stuff in Rainfall was stuff Jui and I couldn’t agree on. You made the decision on what scenes went into the final script. You even came up with a compromise between two scenes. We really should have given you co-writer credit.”
“I . . . don’t know about that . . .” Toya said.
“Don’t say that, you deserved it,” Jun said. “And as for your acting? You really are the anchor of everything we do.”
“I’m not a showy actor like the two of you,” Toya said. “I mostly play . . .”
“The quiet and shy one?” Jun said. “Yes, and that’s your charm. You’re the guy that everyone wants to fall in love with – and don’t deny you have a lot of fangirls, because I’ve seen how they react to you at the Expo. We almost have to pry them off with a crowbar. Subaru picked YOU out personally for that Hokkaido video, remember? Not Jui. Not me. Not one of the Fest Video guys. You.”
That was because the two of them had hit it off at the New Year’s party, of course, but Toya wasn’t going to point that out. His three-way relationship with Jun and Jui had always been very open, but he’d never fallen for any of his “outside action” like he had for Subaru. Not that it diminished his feelings for the other two, of course . . .
Jun leaned his head against Toya’s. “You deserved those nominations,” he said. “And I want to see your pretty face up there on the winner’s stand when the JAVAs come around!”
Toya seriously doubted they’d actually win – they were up for Best Threesome against two groups from their nemesis, Heavy Hitter, as well as groups from PSC and Adonis. And he still thought Subaru had a better shot in Best Two-Person with Mahiro.
“I’m just glad we’re going to hear our names be called that night at all,” Toya said, wrapping his arms around Jun’s shoulders. “We’ve worked a long time for this, haven’t we?”
“Ever since the day you walked onto our set as a sound man. Or was it a cameraman?”
“I think it was both, actually.” Toya said. “But that doesn’t matter.”
“Not now,” Jun said. “Not when you’ve become what you are.”
“A damn sexy star, that’s what.” He leaned in and kissed Toya, hard.
Toya immediately wrapped his arms around his lover and kissed back – because, seriously, when had he been able to resist Jun? The answer to that was, of course, never. He’d fallen for the man like a ton of bricks almost from the moment he first walked on a set.
The kiss deepened quickly, the two men tightening their arms around each other, mouths opening and tongues caressing each other. Their hands moved along each other’s bodies, stroking and caressing, re-learning familiar territory . . .
Toya pulled back, breathing heavily. “Maybe . . . we should go in the next room . . .” he said.
Jun stood up, holding out his hand to Toya. “I’m not going to argue with that,” he said.
They walked into the bedroom, not bothering to close the door – the only other person who had the key was Jui, and if he arrived, he’d either watch, join in or quietly go into the living room, depending on his mood. Their clothes quickly ended up in a heap on the floor, and just as quickly, they were on the mattress, kissing hard again, touching each other everywhere their hands could reach.
Toya found himself gladly rolling over on his back, opening himself up to his lover, the kind of surrender that came with the trust of a longtime relationship. Jun KNEW him, knew him inside and out, would instinctively figure out just what he wanted. The depth of that trust was almost as thrilling as the physical contact itself, the fingers running lightly over his chest and stomach, grazing his nipples.
His lover bent over, kissing his way slowly down Toya’s belly, pausing for a moment and gently rubbing his hair over the skin, then kissing his way down again. And Toya found himself closing his eyes, breathless with anticipation . . .
Instead of what he really wanted, Jun quickly pulled away, moved up to his neck and delivered a sharp nip to a sensitive spot. The shock of pain when he was expecting pleasure made him gasp and jump – and a sharp thrill ran through him.
“What was that you wanted, again?” Jun said, playfully, nipping at Toya again, lighter this time.
“You know that I want your mouth on me,” Toya said, just as playfully.
“Oh. Well, then . . .”
Jun brought Toya’s hand to his mouth, gently kissing the fingertips, one by one . . . and then slid the index finger into his mouth, running his tongue along it as he went, then sucking on it. Toya closed his eyes, his head falling back as he felt the soft wetness.
It wasn’t quite what he had in mind, but he was going to welcome it.
Jun kept going, moving to the next finger, running his tongue along it top to bottom before taking the tip in and sucking. Toya moaned this time, both from the silken feel of the other man’s mouth – which he could never, ever get enough of – and the so-close-but-yet-so-far teasing.
By the time that Jun slid the next two fingers in his mouth at once, Toya was writhing with anticipation, just wanting his lover to move his mouth lower, down where it belonged, to give him what he really needed and make him COME, dammit!
Jun lifted his head. “Still not right?” he said.
Toya was breathless. He was aware he was breaking out in a sweat already. Jun was a rare guy in that he could get a lover to sweat without even touching his cock. “No . . .”
“Perhaps I should be spanked for not getting it right, then.” Jun got on all fours, offering up that gorgeous bottom . . . and Toya took the invitation right away, delivering a gentle, yet firm swat to one cheek, then the other, then the first again, watching as his lover shuddered beneath him.
He gently rubbed and caressed the rounded flesh, feeling the familiar curves, the way this man’s ass just seemed to be made for his hands . . . and then, he spanked him again, a bit more firmly, making Jun give out a little cry.
“I think I know what to do now,” he gasped. “Lie back . . .”
Toya did, and he watched Jun kneel astride his head, leaning over, way over, to his ultimate goal, running his tongue up the side of Toya’s erection at long last, making Toya let out a deep, long, shameless moan in appreciation.
And, of course, he had positioned himself in a way that offered an open invitation to Toya, as well – which he was most definitely not turning down. As Jun began to lick his way around the tip of his erection, his tongue darting this way and that, finding sensitive spots and teasing them before moving to the next one, Toya reached up to grab that ass again.
His fingers caressed the flesh he’d just been spanking, feeling the hot patches that he knew were caused by his own hand, and he shuddered all over again. His tongue found the hardness in front of him, sliding over the hardened flesh, caressing it gently.
And as he did that, Jun finally gave Toya what he’d wanted, moving down on him and sucking, his mouth seeming to devour his lover and surround him completely in wet, hot softness. He started a rapid rhythm, sliding down far and fast, sucking hard, then moving up, slowly, a heated caress over the whole length of his erection.
Toya licked faster, running his tongue over every inch of the hardness he could reach, his lips surrounding the tip and sucking, matching what Jun was doing to him, trying to make the other man feel as good as he was feeling right now.
The two of them moved together, soft lips and tongues dancing over hard flesh, Jun seeming to take Toya in deeper with every slide downward, and Toya could only moan, feeling completely and utterly lost in this man, in the feel and taste and scent of him, in the pleasure that they gave and took . . .
There had been a threesome scene in Rainfall like this, probably the one they were nominated for, Toya and Jun locked in a 69, with Jui behind Jun, fucking him while Jun continued to give and receive oral pleasure . . . Toya remembered being lost in the moment, forgetting the camera was there, remembering only in the blissful, come-soaked afterglow moment when the director yelled “CUT!” . . .
He felt Jun plunge down on him even further, oh, God, it felt like he was in every inch of the man’s mouth now, maybe he was even deep-throating him, he’d lost track of exactly what Jun was doing, and he wrapped his lips around the tip of the other man’s hardness, sucking with everything he had, his fingers running up and down the shaft . . .
The explosion of pleasure was deep and intense, shooting through Toya’s whole body, and he felt Jun pull back to catch the come on his face, even though there were no cameras on him. Toya moaned around Jun’s erection, but didn’t pull it out, didn’t stop what he was doing, wanting only to hear and feel his lover come in return.
And he did, letting out a long, delicious moan, and Toya pulled back so he could feel the hot wetness splatter on his face, like Jun had done with him. He licked at it, wanting to feel completely a part of the other man a little bit longer.
Jun moved up and kissed his lips. “So, did you finally get what you want?” he said.
“Yes,” Toya replied. “Everything . . . and a bit more.” And I got that the day you walked into my life, too, he thought.
They snuggled together, pulling the covers over themselves – and then, almost as an afterthought, getting tissues to clean off their faces. You know you had transitioned from the blissful, heated Neverland of sex to the real world when you suddenly became aware that you were covered in white sticky stuff.
Jun wrapped his arms around him and held him close. “Now, I don’t want to hear anything else about you not being important and not deserving the nominations, all right? Because you ARE . . . and you DID. And when you’re up there on that stage to collect your award, you’ll deserve that, too.”
Toya just snuggled closer to him, nodding. Okay, maybe he did deserve those nominations. He had worked hard, he wasn’t going to deny that. But right now, awards weren’t what he was thinking about. He was just glad to be so close to his lover.
Finding someone like him counted as winning in itself.
* * *
Several miles away, the head producer/director of PSC Productions sat at his desk, looking over the list of nominations again.
He certainly had no complaints about this year’s slate. Swashbucklers had pulled in quite a few nods, as he’d expected – Best Actor for Subaru, Best Supporting Actor for Mahiro, Best Two-Person Sex Scene, Best Screenplay, Best Director and a nomination in a new video category – Best Epic, created by JAVA since Hard Candy and Adonis had also been releasing their share of big-budget-feature-film-type pornos in the last year.
Tomorrow Never Dies was up for Best Porn Parody, which puzzled Uruha – until he realized that the association probably considered it a parody of the James Bond series as a whole. He wasn’t going to argue with it – it was a category they’d never been nominated in before.
In addition, The Burning Snow and The Boy in the Bottle were both nominated for Best Romance, Ruki had his usual nomination for Best Oral, MiA was also nominated as Best Actor for Boy in the Bottle, and their affiliate Kiryu Video had scored quite a few nods for Kabuki Disco – Best Comedy, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Two-Person Sex Scene, and a nomination for Kouki in another new category, Comeback Performer of the Year. (Uruha welcomed the new categories as additional ways to honor actors, but he was sure that the crowd, who just wanted to get to the drinking and fucking at the After-After Party, wouldn’t appreciate the show being even longer).
The biggest surprise, though, had to be the sudden prominence of The Diamond Mine. And Uruha had to admit he had the same curiosities about that as the company’s own actors. He reached for his phone and looked for a certain contact.
“Greetings,” he texted to Sparxxx. “I’m guessing you’ve seen the nominations by now.”
“I have,” the mysterious blogger texted back. “Congratulations on your impressive showing.”
“Thanks,” Uruha replied. “Not sure how many we’re going to win this year, Adonis actually put out some quality titles and Hakuei made yet another comeback, so I’m guessing Best Actor is an automatic lock for him.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Sparxxx replied. “But I imagine it’s not the predictable nominations that you’re interested in right now. You messaged me because of something else, didn’t you?”
“You’re right,” said Uruha. “It’s one of the big surprises that that I’m interested in. Namely, how well The Diamond Mine did. They’ve put out good videos for years and nobody took any notice. Rainfall was a good production, but they’ve put out others that were just as good in the past. So – why the sudden lovefest? Does it have to do with us taking over their distribution deal?”
“Yes and no,” Sparxxx said. “It’s complex. But a big part of it is that there was a faction within JAVA that was furious with Heavy Hitter for cutting The Diamond Mine loose. They thought it was cruel and baseless – which it was.”
“Obviously, the faction doesn’t have enough power and numbers to keep Heavy Hitter from getting nominations,” Uruha replied. “They’re tied with us for most overall, you know.”
“That’s because they have an equally vocal faction of supporters – and the fact that there’s now an anti-Heavy Hitter faction has made their boosters even more vocal and vindictive,” Sparxxx said. “Indeed, they may have kept you from getting more nominations. You know and I know that Ruki should have been up for Best Actor for Tomorrow Never Dies. The fact that he wasn’t very well might have been the pro-Heavy Hitter faction’s influence.”
“So it’s dueling factions,” Uruha said. “This could get interesting.” Indeed – he was wondering, quietly, which faction would have the most pull in the end. Would they get their usual high percentage of wins versus nominations . . . or would his decision to take on The Diamond Mine hurt them in the end?
Either way, he thought, something good came from the war – Toya got recognized. He’d said when they were working on The Burning Snow that he was the best-kept secret in the industry – would the voting members of JAVA see things the same way?
Whatever happens, he thought, we all need to buckle up – because it’s going to be a wild ride.