Clunky platform boots echoed on the soundstage. Full barely looked up from poring over his notes on the previous day's shots. All the outdoor sections were finished and now only one shot was left. It would appear for only a few seconds in the final product, but he considered it very, very important in this, his most elaborate video production ever.
"Full? Bro? I'm not late, right?"
The voice, so shy and hesitant. Full could just imagine the reluctant face behind him, brow creased with worry, fingers probably twisting together to form Gordian knots of fretfulness. He turned, almost too quickly.
"Not at all. Thanks for doing this for me, Tarou."
"No problem. It's a little odd, but, since it's you..."
"I really appreciate it."
Silence slipped in like a fluffy grey kitten, parading around the stage while Ryutaro blushed. Full let it maraude about for a few moments, then shut his notebook with an audible snap.
"Actually, you're rather early, which is good, because it gives me more time to get you ready."
"So what are you doing to me, anyway? I know it's something that will make it hard to tell who I am, because otherwise the record company might have problems with it, but you wouldn't tell me earlier..."
"Tell me, Ryutaro, have you ever worn a kimono?"
"You're putting me...in DRAG?!"
"Tell me you don't think it'll work."
"...Just tell me one thing, Full."
"Where did you get my sizes?"
Ryutaro reflected to himself that he'd never again ask Full that sort of question. The demonically amused grin that he recieved as an answer was too much for his heart to bear. Perhaps worse, he couldn't decide if the sudden thundering was caused by dread, or (definitely worse) anticipation.
"So, does it fit?"
Ryutaro tugged at the neck, trying in vain to pull it up over his collarbone. It really was a beautiful kimono, in shades of purple swirled over with an elegant floral pattern at the sleeves and hemline, but it kept trying to fall down, and Ryutaro just couldn't conscience facing Full without it properly up.
"More or less."
"Don't say it like that..."
"You don't sound sorry."
"You're right. Come on out of there so I can fix your obi."
"Come on. I know you must have gotten it crooked, or backwards, or something."
Ryutaro emerged from the dressing room, cheeks petal-pink. He stared at Full in silence, waiting for his opinion.
Ryutaro turned, very slowly, so that Full could see the entire effect.
"No, not bad at all. But you've got one thing slightly wrong."
He stalked towards Ryutaro, hands already reaching out to adjust and tweak. The younger man had to fight hard to resist the temptation to flee while he still could, but remained quite still as Full tugged down the collar that he had struggled so much to correct. Suddenly it was settling somewhere only just above his shoulders, and warm breath hissed over his exposed collarbone. His hands flew up to the collar, fluttering uselessly, as there was nothing to be done, no way to protect the frail skin from whatever attack might come next. Besides, he couldn't very well argue with the director could he? No. Full stepped back again, that mysterious half-grin hovering about his lips, and examined Ryutaro again.
"Better. Now for makeup."
"Don't sound so put-upon, Tarou-chan. You do it voluntarily all the time."
Full extended one slim hand, grabbing Ryutaro's rather larger one in a vise grip, and dragged him off to the designated makeup room. Ryutaro followed, stumbling helplessly in the constrictive garment. He dropped into the waiting chair rather gratefully, and closed his eyes. Full whisked a cloth over Taro's shoulders and shoved a headband over his hair to keep it out of the way while he worked.
As Full fussed with brushes and powders, creams, puffs, and sponges, he told Ryutaro very silly stories.
"A loong time ago, I was walking through a forest, and saw a squirrel playing in the treetops..."
"Was it cute?"
"It was very cute. Stop talking while I do this."
"Right, Full. Sorry."
"Anyway. So suddenly, CRACK!, the branch it was running on broke, and it fell towards my arms with a squeal like tires on concrete-"
"And you actually caught it?"
"No. Quit talking. I'm about to start on your mouth."
"But nothing, you brat. Shut up."
"That's it. No more story for you. Just sit still."
He wielded a lip brush threateningly and Ryutaro had to sit still to avoid getting his teeth painted along with his lips.
It really was an interesting set of sensations. The stiff bristles sleeking gloss over his lips; the soft prickle of the eyeliner and mascara on his eyelids and lashes; the fluffy texture of the puffs smoothing powder down to seal it all in. Not a set of sensations that he was unused to, by any means, but still, interesting. And somehow different, with the hand behind it being not just any person, but his close friend, who may have stopped telling stories, but was humming, quietly and almost tunelessly. Ryutaro felt stressed.
At last it was over. Ryutaro could hear Full moving a little away, tapping his fingers loosely on his arms. He started to creak open his eyelids, and Full tutted at him.
"Eyes closed, Princess Taro."
Full whisked away the towel, and started on his neck and exposed shoulders. The small brushes he used tickled immensely and curiously, scratching like finches and sparrows. What in the world was he up to, Ryutaro wondered idly, not daring to peek, though Full was quite finished with his face. His hair was next. Full pulled off the headband, and started fussing, clipping bits back, letting them drop forward, and presumably settling on a look he liked. Time passed, perhaps minutes, perhaps hours. It was impossible to tell. Ryutaro almost dozed off, but was startled awake by Full tapping on his head.
"Finished. You may look."
It was loosely his own face in the mirror. Loosely. His already pale skin had been transformed to pure porcelain; his dark eyes to smoky pits of despair. Somewhere along the line any lines of masculinity had been completely lost, leaving what he could almost admit was a rather pretty, very classical-looking girl (he sneered at his own vanity. how could he be beautiful with such huge puppy hands and feet? how could he be lovely at all?) swathed in a somewhat untraditional violet kimono, with peonies painted down her throat like tiny, bloody kisses, and a strangely-drawn striped insect perching on one eyebrow. One side of his hair had been loosely pinned back with a purple silk-winged butterfly clip, though it was already beginning to fall out, and the other drooped as it normally did, though it was less feathery than usual. Ryutaro felt lucky to have escaped so lightly, remembering some of the things that had been done to Asaki's hair over the years.
"Now you're ready. Give me a few moments to go talk to the lighting supervisor and set crew, and then I'll take you out to the set."
Ryutaro suddenly realized that he could indeed hear a faint rustle of voices outside the room, and his cheeks flushed under the makeup.
"Oh, come on. You've done enough video shoots to know better than that."
"Yes, but you always did yours-"
"Not this one."
"This is the last shoot, however, then I take it all home and start editing. That part's still mostly me."
"I'll just sit and wait here, okay?"
Full walked out, and Ryutaro remained, staring fascinated into the mirror, but with worms creeping about the pits of his stomach. What had he actually signed himself on for? What was Full planning?
Full examined the set carefully. It had been constructed to his specifications, sized just a little larger than any real furniture and intended to make the occupants look smaller. The dark faux velvet couch that formed the centerpiece was almost the size of a twin bed, and draped with ivy garlands and spiderwebs.
Tarou-chan would look like an elegant courtesan in this setting. Something about the prospect amused him. It would be a little in-joke amongst those few fans who were so obsessed that they thought they could identify someone from just the curve of a cheek and fall of hair, without even seeing the whole person. Rumors would fly, for a little while, then die down when no-one would be willing to confirm or deny anything. Only Ryutaro and he would know the absolute truth. That was the way he wanted it, and that was how it would remain.
He located the gaffer, and gave him a few instructions as to how he wanted things lit and where he needed shadows to fall. The studio dimmed somewhat as they were followed, and the set acquired an unearthly glow.
Full walked out onto the set proper, peering at things, setting things carefully awry in just the way he wanted. He could practically hear the rolling of eyes at his eccentricities, but he didn't care. This had to be perfect. Finally, he was satisfied.
He went back to get Ryutaro.