"Damn it! The lens is sweating again! Can't we turn the air-con up?"
It was hot; unbearably hot, and what Kentarou Nishioka did not want to hear in response to that question was:
"Sorry, Sensei, but it's up as high as it can go."
He scowled into the viewfinder, wondering how the hell he was supposed to work under these conditions. Summer in Osaka was bad enough; Summer in Tokyo was stinkin'. And what he'd like right now? A nice, easy job in Okinawa - a swimsuit catalogue or a wet T-Shirt competition or a chu-hi ad or something, but no, he was stuck here, and the client was a hassle and the deadline was tomorrow, despite the half a dozen changes they'd made to the spec in the last week, and boy, was he charging them for that. And just to top it all off, the model looked like she was wilting and there'd been so many problems today - bulbs blowing in the heat and the stylist's car breaking down on the interchange - that it was almost seven and he'd only just started shooting. If she asked one more time whether they could turn the fans on her, he was going to scream. He didn't want air in the picture or he would have turned the fans on her! Were they all stupid when they were this pretty or what?
"Shit," he swore, under his breath. At this rate, the film would be spoiling. "Ten minutes everyone!" he barked, snapping the camera off its stand as the set lights immediately went dark. "Go get yourselves a cold drink. And someone buy another few bags of ice!" They'd packed as many coolers and containers as they could find full of ice and set them under the fans and it still wasn't making any difference. This day really, honestly couldn't get any worse.
Or, then again.
"Now is really not a good time to ask me how it's goin', Dai-chan," Kentarou warned, turning to find Daisuke Matsukawa standing patiently a few paces away and damn him, he looked cool and unflappable even in this heat. Of course. Daisuke, Kentarou knew from long association, was almost completely imperturbable come rain or shine. Today he looked as if the forty-degree heat outside was a mere twenty-five. His suit jacket was draped over an arm, and his business shirt - rolled up at the sleeves and open a little at the throat - looked cool and crisp. Like the heat wasn't even touching him. Kentarou scowled. It wasn't fair. He probably looked like a sight in comparison, with his hair lank pulled back haphazardly by several random clips away from his face. In this oppressive weather he'd ditched his shirt almost as soon as he'd gotten to the studio and his jeans had slipped over his hips so many times this afternoon he'd given up pulling them back up again; so what if everyone could see he was wearing blue polka-dot boxers today? He was sweaty and sticky and cranky and he really wished Daisuke would warn him when he was going to turn up so that he could at least try to look a little more human...
"Ah, well," Daisuke began, smiling vaguely and immediately Kentarou knew whatever it was, he didn't want to hear it. "As to that. The client's made some more changes."
Kentarou gripped the camera body in his fingers hard enough to almost crack the casing. "No, Dai-chan. Absolutely not! Do you know how many changes they've made so far? Of course you do, since you're tha one who relay'd 'em to me! No more. The deadline's tomorrow. As it is I'm gonna have to stay up mosta th' night just to get th' prints done and dried 'n time. So they can take their changes and shove 'em right up their-"
"I know it's difficult," Daisuke interrupted, still smiling coolly despite his ranting, which actually only made Kentarou angrier. "But this is a big job. If we can impress them with this presentation, it means a nation-wide contract. You'll be the most sought after photographer in Japan. And then you can afford a bigger studio with better air-con." This last was said with a smirk, and lucky for Dai-chan the only thing Kentarou had on hand to throw at his head was his Leica.
"Alright, what is it now?" he relented finally, defeated. It wasn't that he wanted to be well known, necessarily, it was just that, well, the day definitely couldn't get any worse.
Daisuke fixed him with a calculating look, pausing for a moment. "The product description's changed," he said carefully. "To pour homme. It's a new summer line they're calling 'Beneath'."
Kentarou blinked. "What?" he said faintly, but he'd heard what Daisuke had said just fine. "WHAT?! AT THIS LATE STAGE?!"
Daisuke winced a bit at his volume and around them, people stopped.
"Yes," he confirmed. "At this late stage."
He couldn't believe it. "For Men?! There's no way I can do that! No way! Where am I going to get a model from?! Shiuko's still got an hour on the clock and everyone here has been working under these foul conditions all day and-"
And it wasn't Daisuke's fault. He knew that.
"Crap," he swore.
"I'm sorry," Daisuke said, more softly, and he really did look it. He shifted a little, moving his jacket to his other arm, and took a step forward, his expression suddenly gentle and a little pained. "Nishioka-san, don't cry..."
Was he going to cry? He wasn't sure. He was so angry, he could feel something working tight in his throat and his jaw clenched and his heart pounded. His breath shuddered raw past his lips and he couldn't bear the way Dai-chan was looking at him, was almost starting to reach for him as if he wanted to touch him but wasn't certain he should. He wheeled away, put his back to Daisuke and took a deep, even breath, fixing his camera back on the tripod even though he'd only just taken it off, just for something to do while he tried to calm down. It almost worked, too.
"Right. Fine," he said finally, turning around again, aware that the whole studio was deadly silent around him, waiting for another outburst. "Everyone! That's it for the day! Go home. And I hope your air-con works better than this shitty dump! Enjoy your night off." He waited for a moment, until everyone realised he wasn't actually joking and started to move, and then turned back to Daisuke. "Dai-chan," he began firmly and Daisuke waited with a patient smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Go and tell Shiuko she can go, and then contact her agency and make sure they understand this is not a breach of contract with them and that we'll work something out later. And then see if they've got any male models they can send us on short notice."
Daisuke's eyebrows raised only a little. "Tonight?" he asked, and Kentarou already knew it was probably hopeless but they had to give it a try. "You're going to start a new shoot tonight?"
Kentarou tried to smile. "Well, I'm set up. And it'll get cooler now that it's getting dark anyway so it'll be easier to work."
Daisuke regarded him dubiously for a moment. "If...you're sure?"
He nodded, brave face firmly in place. "I'm sure. Just you take care of the tricky stuff, and I'll take the great photos, 'kay!"
Daisuke smiled at that, genuine and a little bit relieved, like he'd done something great. Kentarou thought he was probably smiling too soon.
Nishioka-san really wasn't going to like this. He already knew that, but he was out of ideas. He'd tried calling half a dozen agencies in the last half an hour, only four of which had still been open and no one had a model to send them. It looked like they were out of luck.
Daisuke snapped his phone shut and slipped it back into his pants pocket. The studio was deserted now, except for Nishioka moving around in the background, occasionally cursing, and Daisuke supposed he shouldn't complain. Luck was something he'd had a lot of lately, most of it due to his genius, bad-tempered photographer; losing this contract was going to hurt, but it wouldn't kill either of them. There was nothing to do about it but call it a night. And maybe go out and get drunk.
He'd thought Nishioka was going to pop a vein when he'd told him about the change in product focus, he'd been that red. It had been bad news - the worst - and he hadn't been looking forward to telling him at all. But still... Nishioka was so cute, even when he was angry. Not that Daisuke would have wished this kind of day on even his worst enemy, but watching Nishioka fly off the handle, he couldn't help but admire how expressive he was, the way his voice cracked and colour flushed his face and the way he gestured, short and sharp when he was irritated and sweeping when he was truly angry.
And today, on a scale of the visually spectacular, had been farily memorable, considering he had also been half naked and sheened with sweat. His skin was smooth and dusky pale, his body trim but not delicate, his jeans hanging low on bony hips, below the elastic of his blue polka-dot boxers. Daisuke had had to force himself to keep his eyes firmly on Nishioka's face, rather than the inviting dip of flesh where his hipbones started drawing down towards his groin under the band of his shorts. Purely out of self-preservation. As it was, when he had turned his back on him, Daisuke had found himself, despite his sympathising, transfixed by a single trail of sweat marking its way slowly over his bare skin. Down over the tight plane of Nishioka's shoulders, down between his shoulder blades and bumping lingeringly over his vertebrae on a determined trajectory towards the small of his back, and he knew how soft the skin was there, remembered the feel of it vividly under his hands, even though they'd only slept together a few times so far. He'd wanted very, very badly to chase that trail of sweat with his tongue, all the way down and further still until Nishioka was no longer angry or upset, until that momentarily fragile look he'd seen on his face was gone and he was gasping and then moaning and-
And Daisuke was, quite possibly, in serious trouble here.
He hesitated to use any words that might come close to describing the feelings such thoughts inspired in him, especially around Nishioka, but he suspected he knew what it meant when he found himself thinking about him several times a day and that lack of naming it probably wasn't going to make any difference. He just didn't want to scare Nishioka away by coming on too fast. This was still new, to Daisuke as much as it was to Nishioka and maybe admitting that he liked men - liked him - enough to sleep with him hadn't come as that much of a shock to him, but that only told Daisuke that if he'd been his first, it wasn't necessarily due to lack of opportunity. Something had happened, and Nishioka had been hurt, and he slept with women but sleeping with someone and liking someone were worlds apart and sometimes worlds collided. Daisuke knew that only too well.
Well, he supposed he should break the news to him, and then maybe see about dragging him out, getting him drunk and taking shameless, shocking advantage of him. If they both turned up a little hung over and the worse for wear tomorrow, well, it just couldn't be helped. At least if he could spend the duration of the undoubtedly horrible meeting picturing every single love bite he'd impressed on Nishioka's smooth skin and replaying the sound of his gasping voice in his head, the project wouldn't have been a total waste.
"I'm not sure I like that look on your face."
Daisuke blinked, and realised Nishioka had paused in front of him, halfway back to the set with a shutter release cable looped around his neck. Smiling, he tried not to consider the fact that the cord looked for a second disturbingly like a leash.
"Tell me good things, Dai-chan," Nishioka demanded, but thankfully it didn't look as if he held much hope. Daisuke sighed.
"How about dinner?" he said instead. "My treat."
"Aw, for real?" Nishioka groaned, his accent colouring the curse as his shoulders slumped. "No good, huh?"
Well, at least he wasn't yelling anymore. Daisuke watched him turn away and trudge over to the shooting stage to unsling the cable and screw it into its port on the camera body. If only he knew how sexy that damn accent of his was, he'd doubtless watch himself more often. Which was exactly why Daisuke didn't mention it.
"I'll help you pack up," he offered, following. "And then I suggest we go out and get very, very drunk."
Except, Nishioka didn't seem to be paying his suggestion any attention. He was standing by his camera, staring thoughtfully at the relit stage. It looked like he'd removed a couple of the front fill lights while he'd been on the phone, and Daisuke knew that look. That was Nishioka-san thinking.
"Dai-chan," he said slowly after a moment. "Would you come here for a second?"
Daisuke stared at his back, and then shrugged, stepping forward.
"No," Nishioka muttered, and turned to grip him at the shoulders, and then began manhandling him backwards, onto the drop sheet and in under the harsh, hot spray of the remaining lights. "Stand there; yeah right there. That's good. Don't move, 'kay?"
He scuttled back to his camera and spent a moment looking into it and fiddling while Daisuke stood abandoned in front of the lens.
"Nishioka-san, haven't you already got enough pictures of me?"
He was only teasing, but Nishioka's head snapped up, his eyes wide and startled for a second.
"Oh, what? This is almost a new roll of medium format; like I'm gonna waste it," he snapped and colour flared briefly in his cheeks again as he went back to what he had been doing. Daisuke started to smile, when abruptly the flash of the studio lights went off, to the accompaniment of the click of the camera shutter, the combination effectively wiping the smirk straight off his face again.
Nishioka looked up from the camera and, rather than looking contrite, or even slightly embarrassed, he instead had a large, surprisingly wolfish grin on his face that did sudden and inexplicable things to Daisuke's heart rate.
"Say, Dai-chan," he began slowly, a little breathlessly, eyes dancing with a professional interest Daisuke recognised, but had never actually directly faced. "You know I think you're pretty good looking, right?"
The lights were hot, that was it. He certainly wasn't blushing over a little compliment like that. "You have mentioned it, yes," he admitted slowly, wondering exactly where this was going and whether he actually ventured to guess.
"And you know I'm the best damn photographer there is, yeah?"
He couldn't help but smile again at that. So like Nishioka to have such an unabashed opinion of himself when it came to his work. "I may have mentioned that once or twice too, yes," he confessed. Nishioka cocked his head to one side in response and returned his smile but Daisuke had the sudden urge to be somewhere else, anywhere else, because that smile looked like trouble.
"Then would you mind taking off your shirt for me?"
Daisuke blinked. "Pardon?"
"Just for a second. I want to see something."
"Well," he started, reaching slowly for the top button of his shirt and unable to resist teasing. "I'd rather you tear the clothes off me, but if you prefer to watch me strip..." He expected Nishioka to look incensed, or blush, as he smirked suggestively and pulled at his loosened tie but instead the flash went off again to the soft, whirring click of the camera, startling him a second time.
"Yeah, just like that Dai-chan," Nishioka breathed, not looking at him but staring down into the viewfinder instead, the shutter release cable held aloft in his right hand, and Daisuke felt something electric ripple unexpectedly through him at the tone. He'd never been in front of Nishioka like this before, in front of his camera, or least never so deliberately, and he felt strangely exposed. There was something heavy about that direct regard, that sudden, seemingly out of character focus, something about knowing Nishioka was looking at him through the lens and seeing him as the camera saw him. It sent a cool shiver spidering down his spine.
"Look over to the left as you do that," Nishioka commanded, and out of sheer surprise at being so firmly ordered about, Daisuke turned his head and, flash-click went the equipment again, the flare of it bursting, an almost-burn behind his eyes.
"Oh, god, that's great. You're such a natural, Dai-chan," his photographer enthused softly and Daisuke blinked. He was down to the last button on his shirt before even realising it and his heart was pounding for some reason and Nishioka had never sounded like that before, breathy and hungry and sure. In control. He didn't even know he could sound like that, when the most he allowed himself to utter when he was in his arms were strangled, trembling moans, and those sounds were sweet enough, but this... Daisuke stood, holding his tie loosely in his free hand and he was still more or less dressed but he'd somehow never felt more naked before in his life.
"Shrug off the shirt a little for me, Dai-chan," Nishioka coaxed huskily and Daisuke found himself obeying without thinking, as if he had no control over his actions and Flash-click went the lights again. "Yeah, perfect. Now, shift your weight to your right... Yeah, and hold the tie up a little higher. Palm up, fingers open; let it slide..." Click. Click, click, click. "Oh. That's good, really good... Now drop the shirt too. Yeah, drag it off." Whirr-click. "Yeah, like that."
Daisuke's throat was dry, his pulse pounding a silent, throbbing vow through his veins to hear Nishioka saying things, more intimate things, in exactly that same hot, throaty tone of voice, telling him what he wanted when Daisuke was buried inside him, Nishioka's legs tight around him, over his shoulders, his body hot and arching underneath him, opening for him and-
"Shit. No good!"
Daisuke breathed in shakily. Both the tie and the shirt were on the floor at his feet and his skin felt flushed from the lights and their heat was pooling in his groin as if his body was soaking it up like sunlight and if this didn't stop soon, Nishioka was going to notice the effect he was having on him.
"Well, I never claimed to be a model," he laughed, but rather than light and easy his voice sounded weak and strained to his ears. Nishioka didn't seem to notice. He was coming around the camera, cable release still in hand, with an intent look of his face.
"No good at all," he muttered. "I don't want the waistband in shot. Can we move it down a bit? Why's it gotta be up so high? Maybe we oughta take the pants off? Yeah, that might work..."
Daisuke watched, speechless as Nishioka dropped to his knees in front of him, head bowed, his sweat-damp, messily clamped hair flopping forward, as his hands came up and started unbuttoning the waistband on his trousers and maybe that actually wasn't such a good idea right now...
"Nishioka-san..." he began, admittedly half-heartedly, but it was already too late anyway. Nishioka froze. And he didn't speak for almost ten seconds. Daisuke knew because he was counting his heartbeat as Nishioka knelt, his face level with his crotch.
"Dai-chan?" Nishioka breathed softly finally, and then looked up at him and Daisuke bit back a groan at his wide-eyed, questioning expression.
"Are you hard?"
Well, he supposed, there wasn't any point in denying it, since the answer was fairly visible by now. "Yes, Nishioka-san," he answered as evenly as he could. "I am."
Nishioka blinked at him. And wet his lips. Daisuke felt something clench in his belly that felt suspiciously like panic. This really couldn't be happening. Because he wanted it so badly he thought he might go mad, so of course it couldn't be happening.
"Did that..." Nishioka licked his lips again. "Did that make you hard?"
Daisuke swallowed, and lifted his hand slowly, carefully so as not to scare him, until he was touching the side of his face, his thumb caressing the corner of his mouth as he gazed down at him.
"No, Nishioka-san," he breathed, watching as Nishioka's lips parted unconsciously a little. "You did."
Daisuke started. Had Nishioka just- But the photographer was staring up at him as if he hadn't even noticed the brief flare of the lights.
"Do you want...?"
A hesitant question, but clear in meaning. Nishioka had only ever- Once. And even then Daisuke had seduced him into it. The idea of it being freely offered, of Nishioka doing it willingly, of wanting to do it... Daisuke thought his heart would stop.
"Only if you want," he told him softly, carefully, because he didn't want to rush things or scare Nishioka and-
And Nishioka was undoing his fly again and- Oh. Oh...
Nishioka's nose and mouth and chin pressed gently against his erection under the cotton of his briefs and it was every erotic dream he'd had lately come true. He didn't even dare breathe...
"You...smell nice," Nishioka murmured, and perhaps he wasn't talking to him but Daisuke could feel his lips forming every syllable against his skin, could feel his breath heating what was already much, much too hot. "And...you're trembling."
Daisuke swallowed again, hard, and stared down.
"Because I want you," he said as softly as he could, although his voice was hoarse and he had to force it out evenly. "I want you very much. Is that all right? I want your mouth around me, and your tongue on me. I want to see my cock sliding in and out between your beautiful lips and feel you swallow when I come..."
Nishioka's eyes were huge and round as he stared back up at him.
"I don't know if I- I mean I've never..." he stuttered, his breath trembling past his lips and his cheeks flushed warm and red, but he wasn't saying no...
He really wasn't saying no. He was scared; he could admit that, but Daisuke's words, the way he looked down at him, sent some kind of insensible heat spiralling into his brain, making him feel dizzy and light-headed. He knew he didn't know how to do the kinds of things Daisuke liked - he was an experienced lover, that much was obvious, and Kentarou was painfully inexperienced in comparison - but suddenly he wanted to try. The memory of that first time, in Daisuke's bed, the cool quiet of his apartment, brought another rush of heat to his face and it was far too hot in the studio already, but he couldn't quite claim that he'd hated it. The look glimpsed on Daisuke's face, the delirious, suffocating headiness of the act, the gentle touch of hands in his hair and Dai-chan's soft, encouraging voice; he remembered those things clearly when he let himself and he knew there was a part of him that had been fascinated, that had liked the taste and the feel of him and the way he'd shivered a little. He wanted that again, he realised, right here, right now, and Dai-chan wanted him and there was no one else in the studio and...
Oh, he was crazy; he had to be. Dai-chan somehow made him completely not himself, but somehow he always had. He had been so focused on how Daisuke looked through his camera lens, so intent on the ideas forming behind his eyes, that it had come as a small shock to realise that he had somehow affected Daisuke in this way. And as soon as he had realised, nothing else seemed to matter. It was like falling, like drowning; Daisuke had some kind of power over him and it got stronger and stronger every time they were together. His hands shook as he reached for him, as he peeled the fly of his slacks back, ran his fingertips tentatively over the hard, dampening flesh pressed down under Daisuke's briefs and felt Daisuke shudder lightly.
"You remember, right?" Daisuke asked him softly, but his voice was thick, and Kentarou nodded as he carefully peeled the briefs down as well until his fingertips slid against and around impossibly thin, hot skin instead. He tried not to blush as he gently pulled Daisuke out, but it was so hot in the studio and the air seemed too thin and Daisuke was so hard in his hand. He felt terrifyingly exposed kneeling there like that, in front of him, beneath the camera lights.
"Nishioka-san," Dai-chan said in that dark, heavy voice he only ever heard when they were in the bedroom and the feel of his hand coming down on his head made Kentarou jump a bit. Out of the corner of his eye something flashed quick and bright but Daisuke was gently pushing his head toward him and Kentarou couldn't think, wrapped one hand gently around Daisuke's base and opened his mouth.
This was still so strange, although it was better this time he knew what to expect and knew a little what Dai-chan liked. He slipped his tongue against his head, lapping gently at the tangy pre-come forming, pushing the point of his tongue carefully into the slit and feeling Daisuke's hand clench for a moment in his hair before closing his lips and drawing the suction in his mouth tight around him.
And then he started to move, and Daisuke moaned.
And it was so hard to concentrate on what he was doing when Daisuke made a sound like that, louder than he was used to hearing, more open and unconscious, echoing in the relative emptiness of the studio. His heart was pounding and he was trying to breathe through his nose as he got into some sort of rhythm and he felt unbearably hot, like he was going to burn up at any moment. Daisuke's hand on his head kept his movement even, kept him anchored so that he remembered not to go too far and choke himself but his touch was gentle as Kentarou worked at making more room, dropping the cable still in his hand so that he could work Daisuke's pants down off his hips until there was nothing but skin.
And the sounds Daisuke was making. Did he even know? All because of what Kentarou was doing to him, of how he was touching him. They made him feel braver, bolder, and he shifted to slide his mouth down the side of Daisuke's erection, tip to base, his hands moving to cup and caress his balls beneath as his tongue curled. Daisuke shuddered again and Kentarou glanced up to find him watching.
"You're so beautiful," he breathed and Kentarou for a second forgot what he was doing as his heart turned painfully in his chest. "Touch yourself for me. Can you do that?"
Kentarou shivered, nodded dumbly, and fumbled for a moment at his own jeans, almost embarrassed that this act was making him as hard as Daisuke was but just too hot to really care. When his other hand was around his own erection, and with Daisuke in his hand, he groaned as well, shaky and breathless, and took Daisuke back into his mouth.
And then somehow it was completely easy, natural, thoughtless and strangely instinctive, until he was moving both his hand and his mouth, up on his knees and pressed against Daisuke's legs by both his hands and Daisuke was moaning hoarsely, his thighs tense and trembling. The pulse of the vein under his tongue was throbbing, and he was aching in his own hand, throbbing in the slickening slide through his fist and he was close, thought they both were, the impossible hardness and burning heat, the way Daisuke trembled as if he was trying to hold back. Kentarou didn't want him to; he wanted to have him just let go, not in control just for this moment, just taken by his own pleasure, just Dai-chan's, just his, all his...
"Nishi- oaka," Dai-chan gasped, and when he looked up at him, his eyes were dark and hot and his mouth was wet and flushed and Kentarou thought it was the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen in his life.
"Pull...back a little and-" He was having trouble speaking enough to tell Kentarou what to do, as if almost all his concentration was in controlling himself. "Give yourself. Room. When I... You don't have to. Swallow. Just... Just... "
"Hmmmnnn," Kentarou hummed in answer, but he wanted to, wanted to try this, for Daisuke, because Daisuke wanted it. He breathed in sharply at the sudden pull on his hair as Daisuke gasped again.
For a second Dai-chan's whole body froze, and Kentarou let out another muffled sound at the strange jerk that his cock gave in his mouth, and then the first spurt hit his tongue. On instinct, he swallowed. Daisuke's hands were fast in his hair, and he probably didn't even know how tight he was holding and his taste was thick and slick and almost overpowering but he dug his fingers into the muscle under his hand and backed off a bit like he'd been told as Daisuke groaned and started coming in his mouth.
It was a little faster, a little more than he could swallow, an alien sensation but somehow thrilling and he'd been wrong about this, so wrong. It felt the same; Daisuke was still in him and his head still spun and his heart still hammered hard enough to drown out almost everything and his body burned and throbbed and his hand was tight around himself and then he was gasping as well, swallowing what he could and just trying to get enough breath as he came and came and came...
"Nishioka! Nishioka..." Daisuke was saying and Kentarou blinked dazedly, and Dai-chan was on his knees, his arms around him, kissing him all over, his face, his eyes, licking away what he hadn't had the presence of mind to catch at the end and Kentarou tried to kiss back, catch his breath.
"You're beautiful, so beautiful, Kentarou. So good. Are you alright?"
Kentarou shivered and relaxed into Daisuke's embrace. He felt awful, burned out and sticky with sweat and a bit slimy and he'd made a mess of his jeans and- God, Daisuke's slacks too, but Dai-chan didn't seem to care. He was holding him tightly...possessively, and his murmuring voice was so warm...
"Was that...okay?" he asked breathlessly, and Daisuke took his head in his hands again and kissed him hard and deep and lingeringly, his tongue licking at his own taste in Kentarou's mouth until he shuddered.
"It was wonderful," he told him, pulling back to smile at him. "You thought so too, right?"
Kentarou's heart fluttered and heat flushed his face again but Daisuke chuckled, a sweet, happy sound with no trace of mockery.
"Well, at least tomorrow, when the meeting's a write-off, I'll still be able to smile."
Kentarou sighed, and leaned his head on Daisuke's shoulder. That comment made him somehow terribly happy. For a while he just drifted, exhausted and listless, until Daisuke finally moved him, and then helped him to his feet. Reality intruded then, rude and sticky, as they set about cleaning up, but halfway to the bathroom Kentarou remembered something he'd almost forgotten, and his heart gave a little, excited lurch.
He'd had an idea, and now he had a roll of exposed film in the camera, and he already knew, without even having to look at them, that they'd be good.
And he might just be able to save tomorrow's meeting...
Daisuke looked relaxed when he arrived at the meeting, but Kentarou could see a slight tension at the corners of his mouth. They hadn't started yet, so at least he wasn't too late, even if he'd only had an hour's sleep and still smelled of developing chemicals. Kentarou wondered as he walked over to the sideboard what Dai-chan's face would look like in a few minutes, and hid the sudden, helpless flush in his cheeks as he thought about it. He leaned over the percolator and carefully poured himself a cup of coffee, slowly and carefully until he felt the blush cool and his mouth pull into a grin. It would be kind of nice to see the normally unflappable guy squirm for a bit, he thought, since Daisuke seemed to enjoy seeing him squirm. It was only fair.
When he sat down at the table, Dai-chan smiled politely and nodded at him, and he smiled back.
"Ready?" he said, and Daisuke looked a little surprised for a second. "Well, after, let me take you out to lunch," he continued, pretending he didn't see the question in his eyes. "And then I'm going to sleep for the rest of the afternoon, with the phone off the hook."
"You worked all night?" Daisuke asked in an undertone as the clients filed into the meeting room in mid conversation. "What-"
"Well, shall we start?" the client's manager began.
The introductions were thankfully short; and then it was straight down to their pitch. He heard Daisuke clear his throat to begin and shot up out of his chair before anyone could say anything or before he could chicken out.
"Right," he began, ignoring the look he could see Daisuke giving him out of the corner of his eye. "Firstly, what I want to say is that we're not proposing an ad concept here anymore. What I'm about to show you is the test prints for a campaign that will knock the socks off this city and guarantee your line top place in the new season sales."
That had their attention, even Dai-chan's, and that was good. He knew he wasn't as good at this stuff as Daisuke, but that wasn't important. His idea was good, and the photos; the photos were... His hands only shook a little as he retrieved the prints from his folder. He'd been up all night, but it'd been worth it; the photos were hot, even if he did say so himself. You couldn't even really tell it was Daisuke, unless someone else in the room recognised the edge of the tattoo that curled around his left bicep that Kentarou hadn't wanted to cut out. He'd deliberately under-exposed the film in the shoot, and then pushed the exposure in the printing room, burning in until the differences between the blacks and whites were stark and the texture of Daisuke's skin was almost tangible in the image. Then he'd cropped the shots just above his chin, and just below his waistline, leaving a hint of expression at the top and hip bones at the bottom and leaving the sleek, toned lines of Daisuke's body to dominate the rest of the picture. The side-lighting, without a fill, created sharp, clean, sexy edges. The shirt he was in the process of pulling off in each consecutive image glowed against the warmth the black and white tones gave the sheen of perspiration on his skin, and the tie wrapped around his hand like a rope, and then falling from it, was as black as midnight.
And Kentarou told himself to stay calm as he passed out copies and avoided Daisuke's eyes. He told himself to not think about what they'd done shortly after he'd taken those photos. Otherwise he'd never get through the meeting.
"These are...excellent," one executive began. "But our product isn't featured in them."
"Not directly, no," Kentarou agreed confidently, glad for the distraction and warming to his pitch. "But that's why I said this is a campaign, and not an ad. What I'm proposing is a series of ads, each featuring a celebrity in the process of undressing, of getting to what's beneath the mundane exteriors they wear- your new line. Through a series of images, billboards, magazine ads, that kind of thing, where the models expose more and more skin but their identities remain deliberately obscured as in these test shots, people will stop and ask themselves what they're looking at, who they're looking at, and they'll talk about it and they'll think about it and it'll be the biggest, most exciting advertising phenomenon this year! You could even work it into a product launch where in the final campaign stage you reveal the models' identities."
"Who would we get, though?" another executive considered, sounding interested, and next to him, Daisuke cleared his throat politely.
"A partner company manages several very well known and popular actors," he informed him easily. "Asano, Ando, Omori, Kaneshiro, to name a few. Extremely good looking and mature actors who appeal to women and are admired by other men across several demographics. It shouldn't be too hard to fit in a photo shoot or two into their schedules. And Nishioka-san can easily take the shoot to them, if necessary."
The names were like magic and if they hadn't been convinced during Kentarou's pitch, they certainly were now. He dropped himself back into his chair as Daisuke expertly led the rest of the meeting into a formal agreement, and he was kind of surprised it was so easy after all the trouble he'd been through. It was a weird feeling leaving that meeting room finally, knowing they had just landed a multi-million dollar contract on the strength of prints that weren't even dry.
Not that they hadn't done the same before.
"So, how about lunch?" Kentarou suggested, feeling on top of the world despite the all-nighter he'd just pulled, despite the return of the oppressive seasonal heat as they left the building and headed along the street towards Daisuke's car.
"Sure," Daisuke agreed as they walked. "But it's my shout. It's the least I can do after you saved us like that."
Kentarou glowed silently at the praise. "Nah, it was nothin'," he dismissed, grinning. "A moment of inspiration."
Daisuke stopped to look at him, and Kentarou stopped along with him, until he saw the smile on Dai-chan's face.
"So, my naked body inspired you?" Daisuke queried, smirking and Kentarou almost choked on the humid air.
"You took a lot of photos of me last night," he continued easily, as if they were talking about the weather or something, instead of standing on a reasonably busy street talking about Daisuke being naked and Kentarou taking photos of-
"Back there in the meeting, I thought for a second you were going to show them something naughty."
Kentarou could feel the blush racing up to his cheeks. In this heat, it felt like sunburn. "Of course I wouldn't show those photos!" he denied quickly, but Daisuke only looked more interested at that, instead of less.
"Nishioka-san?" Daisuke began suspiciously. "There were more photos?"
Shit. He hadn't known. Kentarou could have kicked himself. "Ah-hahahaha..." he stalled, turning and started walking again, fast. Maybe if he just-
"There were?" Daisuke realised, catching his arm before he could get far enough away and Kentarou couldn't look at him, just couldn't. He sounded as if he didn't believe it, but he didn't sound outraged exactly. In fact, he sounded rather impressed. "You took photos of me while I was in your mouth?!"
"Oh my god don'tsaythatoutloud!" Kentarou screeched. "My hand slipped! I forgot I was still holding the shutter release and-"
"You did!" Daisuke gasped, and now he sounded as if he was laughing but Kentarou still couldn't look at him. "And you were planning on keeping them? Perhaps for when I wasn't around? You know, that's not necessary, Nishioka-san. All you have to do is call me, and I'll come right away."
"Shutup!" Kentarou told him hotly, trying to pry Daisuke's hand off so he could flee. "Shutup, shutup! I definitely wasn't going to use them for-" And then he heard what he was starting to say and stopped, mortified, only to find Daisuke was now trying not to laugh, which only made it worse.
"Well," he said after a moment, and let Kentarou go to hook his arm around his neck and it really was much, much too hot to be this close out on the street but no amount of pushing seemed to have any affect as Dai-chan started dragging him along.
"You know, after lunch I think we'll go shopping," Daisuke said and Kentarou stared up at him at the unexpected declaration.
"Yeah," Daisuke said, looking down at him briefly and grinning a wicked, unmistakable grin. "I think I need to buy myself a camera."
And Kentarou's blush, when he realised what Daisuke was saying, was hot enough to make even the summer heat seem cool.