Title: Photo shoot
Author: Proverbial Pumpkin
Rating: T for brief language
Disclaimer: I own nothing. No affiliations.
Summary: A photo shoot goes from cute to steamy a little too quickly for comfort.
Author's Note: This used to be a chapter in a longer fic, but I realized it was totally off-topic and more of a one-shot. So I'm reposting it as it should have been to begin with... If you happen to know this is breaking any rules (and you are an authority) please let me know.
"Alright, let's get a series with just Seguchi-san and Sakuma-san."
Noriko moved off the set, shivering in her skirt and tube top. She crossed her arms tightly against her stomach as a make-up artist swooped in on her.
"Can someone please find her jacket?" I asked, irritated, to no one in particular. It was bad enough Noriko had to strip down to next to nothing for these photo shoots, but by late afternoon when the sun started going down, the studio usually got cold. Several underlings scurried off in search of her coat.
"Seguchi-san, this way, please."
I let myself be corralled off to a different backdrop with Ryuichi. This one was a solid white background, because any good shots they got of us would be set against the inside of our next CD cover. They were set up and waiting for us by the time we made it over, me checking my watch and Ryuichi trying to balance Kumagaroo on his head as he walked.
My heart sank as I surveyed the set. Our prop director was present. Brilliant. If there was one thing I hated above all else about photo shoots, it was when we were asked to use props. Of course, I reserved the power to nix any of them, or all of them, but Ryuichi loved these takes above all others. As soon as he caught sight of the beach ball or cooking utensils or whatever useless thing had been conjured up for us, Ryuichi wouldn't do the series without them.
I sighed. "What this time?"
"Puppies!" Ryuichi squealed to my left, running forward. I stopped in my tracks, horrified, when I saw that he was right. There was a box in the middle of the set, with four tiny, wriggling spaniels poking their noses over the flaps from inside. A splotched brown one, with enormous ears and sleepy-looking eyes nearly made it over the edge, and Ryuichi scooped it up and held it close to his chest.
I spun around, looking for someone to blame. "Absolutely not," I said to the photographer. He looked nervous, and the crew behind him seemed wary as well. Yes, well, they should be. "We are not doing a shoot with live animals, and that's my final word."
"Would you shoot with dead animals?" came a snickering voice from the doorway.
It was K, smiling and sauntering in with his hands in his pockets. He looked highly amused, and just a little pleased with himself. "That's sick, even for you, Tohma."
"What are you doing here?" I asked, my eyes narrowing. I hadn't forgotten he was the reason I was several hours late today, and just barely made it in time for the shoot at all.
"The puppies were K-san's idea," the photographer chimed in, anxious to divert my attention fully to someone else. One of the dogs gave a yelp from the box, and Ryuichi huddled it up with his other hand.
"I don't care whose idea they were," I said, seething in the American's direction. "We're not using them."
K shrugged. "It was just an idea. I thought Ryuichi might like them."
We both looked at Ryuichi, cross-legged on the floor with his stuffed animal on his head and two real ones cuddled up to him. It was sweet, and I knew it all too well. The fans would love it. We could probably make a magazine spread out of the shot if we got a good one.
But they were puppies, and I would not be swayed. "No."
"No, Sakuma-san," I said. "You can have the puppies if you want them, but we're not shooting."
"But they're my wife's!" someone called from the crew. I ignored him.
Ryuichi gathered one out of the box and stood up with it. It was lighter, with beady, alert eyes, and it tried to wriggle out of his arms as soon as he touched it. "This one looks like you, Tohma-chan!"
K laughed. I was getting a headache. "K-san, could you please go check on Noriko-san?"
"She's outside," someone reported. "With the car."
That got my attention for real. "What car?" I asked, as Ryuichi shoved the spaniel into my arms, babbling about its new name being 'Shacho.'
"The Mercedes," our photographer answered, setting up his camera. "I'll do her next."
K stopped smiling, and lifted an eyebrow in my direction. I was livid, and my voice came out dangerously low. "You've got Noriko-san posing… on a car?"
There was a tense silence. The puppy squirmed in my hands, and I nearly threw it at the head of my photographer. Ryuichi was looking from him to me, nervously. He hated when I got angry, even when I didn't show it. I forced myself calm. "K-san, would you please retrieve her?" I asked politely. No one in the room was fooled by the tone; good. Noriko probably felt like she was working for a pornography agency, if she hadn't caught pneumonia by now.
K nodded, and left. I rubbed at my temples. This was ridiculous. I was the president of the company, and the second most important member of Japan's most popular band. I shouldn't have to single-handedly direct the photo shoots on top of everything else. Suddenly, a flash went off. From the set, Ryuichi looked up, beaming. "I wasn't ready!" he said. Our photographer was fiddling with the camera.
I set the dog down and gave it a shove towards the set platform, assuming Ryuichi would commandeer it back to his box eventually. Then I walked around to the side of the camera, where a digital monitor was set up. The shot of Ryuichi appeared on it, and I cursed under my breath. It was an excellent take. Ryuichi was in child mode, touching noses with the smallest of the puppies. I could easily picture it as the back flap for the album. K had undoubtedly suggested the shoot as his idea of a joke, but his manager sense was still upheld. Disgusting as it was, the shoot was a good idea.
The photographer was watching me. I clenched my teeth and nodded. "Fine," I said at length. "You get fifteen shots. Then we're done." A unified cheer erupted from the crew, and I rolled my eyes as the make-up artists set in on me and Ryuichi, and Shacho the Dog (whose real name didn't matter anymore, I supposed) was shuttled back over to me.
I hated make-up. Make-up worked on Ryuichi, and Shindou-san, and just about everyone else who performed under the NG label. But I still had some semblance of dignity to maintain and it would be hard enough with a six-month fur ball in my hands, so I shooed the make-up girl away before she could get too carried away with whatever instrument she was holding.
We took several shots of just me and Ryuichi while Noriko was still being sought out, me standing with the puppy in my arms, looking as if I'd rather drown it, and Ryuichi on the floor at my feet, more closely resembling a puppy dog himself. One of his new friends ran around my feet, and I was prepared to kick it over into the next room if it so much as got one drop of slobber on my shoes.
I didn't know why I was so temperamental that afternoon. Probably because I knew in the back of my head K was the cause of all this adorableness. Shacho the Dog was still moving around, trying to get away. I couldn't blame him. I wished I could get away too, but held him in a tight grip for the sake of the shoot.
The photographer was loving every second. Everyone in the room was, it seemed like, and I hoped they knew I was keeping close count of how many photos had been taken. The second we hit fifteen, I was done. They were lucky I'd humored them this far. The photographer practically beamed as he reset some settings on his camera.
"Alright, Seguchi-san, now without the jacket," he said. Our previous photo still showed on the monitor, me looking out of place and Ryuichi oozing cuteness. I dumped Shacho off onto Ryuichi's lap, pulled off my button-down, and immediately started to shiver. With just a dress-shirt and a light vest on, I was nearly freezing. At least Ryuichi got to keep his jacket. I passed off mine to someone just off the set.
"Switch partners!" Ryuichi announced, shoving a new animal into my arms. This one was also golden, with longer fur and a slightly darker eye color. It was larger, and didn't squirm around so much at my touch. I decided it was alright. At least it was warm, I thought as I kneeled to the floor with Ryuichi, preparing for the last set of photos. They had six left.
Just then, K opened the door from outside, with Noriko in tow. The evening chill drifted in, rustling her skirt. Even Ryuichi was distracted long enough to pull his light jacket more snugly around himself. The door lingered open for a moment, and then a swifter gust of night air blew in, hitting my bare arms like ice. Instinctively, I held the puppy closer to me for warmth and began telling K to shut the goddamn door. Just as I looked up, however-
"Ha! I bet that was a good one," K said jovially, strolling around the camera to see. Our photographer looked triumphant, and swiveled the monitor around. There, on the screen, sat Ryuichi and me. Ryuichi looked like his usual self, but I… didn't. My mouth was partly open, my eyes looking just beyond the camera. I looked cold, and it completely stripped away the professional poise I usually kept so carefully intact. There I was, immortalized with a baby animal clutched tightly to my chest. I knew instantly we'd use the shot. I knew my public, and I knew they'd find it endearing. I found it unnerving, and it made me want to vomit.
K seemed more inclined to the first camp. He didn't even try to hide his grin as he watched me angrily shove the animal back in its box, while Ryuichi warned me to be gentle because baby animals should not be manhandled. "Noriko can do the rest," I grumbled, swiping my jacket back from the girl holding it for me. "And would someone please turn the air conditioning off?"
"Ah, if you please Seguchi-san, we've got one more series."
I closed my eyes, searching for an innermost patience I hadn't had to use in a long time. "Alright," I said, smiling. "Where would you like us next?"
"Right here is fine," said the photographer, snapping one last shot of Noriko kissing Sacho the Dog flat on the mouth. I must have looked appalled, because K laughed at my expression.
"I'm glad you're in a good mood," I muttered to him as the dogs were carted away. Ryuichi was grieved to part with them, but in another instant a giant floor fan was brought to replace them and he immediately began entertaining himself with it.
"I've gotta say, I am," K said, smiling and snaking an arm around my waist. I swatted it away, looking around fervidly. He was unperturbed. "In fact," he said, stroking his chin, "I think I might want my own copy of that last picture."
"If y – Sakuma-san, don't stick your fingers in there," I said. "If you want a copy then buy a CD," I finished, before being turned around by the wrist by our wardrobe manager.
"Put these on," he said, shoving a bundle of clothes at me, and hurried over to Ryuichi. K looked on interestedly as I unfolded the mass of material. It turned out to be a very small mass, and K's jaw nearly dropped when I held it up for a better view.
Now it was my turn to laugh. "Something wrong, K-san?" I asked, folding the meager outfit back up.
He took it from me. "I think they must have given you Noriko's clothes," he said, looking from the top to me as if he had mixed feelings about the notion of me wearing such a small amount.
I smiled. "Really, K-san. As Sakuma-san's former manager, you shouldn't be surprised," I said. "All part of the business, you know."
His eyes narrowed. I supposed forcing me to sacrifice my dignity with a handful of puppies was one thing in his eyes, but me parading about wearing next to nothing for a photo shoot was apparently quite another. "I'm staying for the shoot," he said through gritted teeth.
I shrugged. "Do what you like. I've got to get changed."
I've always had a more polished sense of humility than Ryuichi, or perhaps just a better understanding of what was socially acceptable. So when I came out of the makeshift dressing room, I kept my jacket on until we had to begin the shoot. Ryuichi, on the other hand, saw no problem whatsoever in wandering about looking like a bondage prisoner. Freezing, but without the sense to realize it. Still, I had to laugh at the sight of him eating snacks in the center of the set floor in nothing but leather and rubber and chains, dropping candy crumbs over a giant buckle that stretched across his lower abdomen and served no purpose whatsoever. "Sakuma-san, you'll get your clothes dirty," I chided him, kneeling down to clean him up.
And it wasn't easy, either. Kneeling down, that is. I was in tight jeans, tighter even than the ones I wore for a similar shoot back in Nittle Grasper's early days. I felt a little ridiculous, now that I was thirty years old, but I knew it was all the same to our fans. Besides, Ryuichi and I had gotten almost entirely naked for the sake of sales, in that shoot early on. The least I could do now was suffer through some un-stretchable pants which, although they probably sealed the deal on whether or not I would ever give any children, looked alright.
Come to think of it… I glanced up from Ryuichi's mess to the photographer. Jet black hair, sturdy build… Yes, it was definitely the same one from that shoot several years ago. Glancing at Ryuichi's and my outfits, I wondered if this guy had some sort of hidden agenda. That would explain why Noriko was getting the shaft; she'd already been sent off to do some individual photos again.
"Alright, let's begin," he called. Well, I guess I'd find out soon. As would K, so for the sake of the photographer I hoped this shoot remained innocent enough. K was leaned back against the adjacent wall to the one Ryuichi and I were positioned in front of, so he had roughly the camera's view of our every move. His eyes narrowed at the photographer, but were diverted quickly enough when I divested myself of my jacket.
I'd expected as much; K had left me in no doubt of his inclination towards me by this point, and the outfit I'd been assigned, though it blessedly left more to the imagination than Ryuichi's, was questionable to say the least. It was certainly over the top by my conservative standards. Someone had thought it would be clever to make me a vest in a similar fashion the clothes I worked in, only with a more exhibitory flair. This one was thin and tight and black, with a zipper in the front that didn't reach the top without some forcing. In an odd, uncomfortable way I was reminded of a flimsy corset, but under no circumstances was I about to bring this to anyone's attention. It was sleeveless, and the paleness of my arms was only highlighted by the stark contrast in color against the dark material. I missed the security of having a dress shirt on underneath. As a lovely cap, the vest didn't even cover my waist, exposing a good inch of skin between its hem and the belt over the black denim of my jeans.
The photographer spoke again, sounding irritated now. "Where is Seguchi-san's make-up?" he demanded, and the girl from earlier was upon me in a heartbeat. I counted to ten and endured it. After she began whipping out utensils I'd never even seen up close before, though, I held up a hand.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Super-heavy eye liner," she responded proudly. "Your eyes are too light, and you need to match Sakuma-san."
I stepped back from her. "No," I said emphatically. "Eye make-up that dark is only for women, and extremely effeminate men."
The room was silent for a moment. I glowered at them all.
In the end though, Ryuichi took her side which meant she won, and held up a mirror to me when her work was completed. I gawked at myself. It was black, as black as my outfit. It made the color of my eyes stick out like radioactive sapphires in a bottomless pit. On the whole, I now effectively looked like some sort of supernatural sex fantasy. I felt K's eyes on me. I could scarcely have missed it; he was staring. Surprisingly, apprehension set in, my professionalism cracking ever so slightly under K's gaze. It was irritating, it was embarrassing, and I couldn't even look him in the eyes to tell him to leave.
So we started the session. Ryuichi knew we were out of puppy-dog mode and going for shots that would speak to girls' libidos, and made the necessary adjustments to his persona. Gone was the wide-eyed manner of a five-year-old, and in came concert Ryuichi, the one who could smirk and pose and from the looks of things, turn the photographer himself on, if he wasn't careful.
"What's the fan for?" I asked the prop director politely. If Noriko wasn't in the shot, there were no voluptuous curls to toss about.
"You," the photographer answered. "Unzip your shirt."
Oh. I did as I was told, feeling the cold more than ever now as the air hit my chest directly. In the back of the room, K fidgeted uncomfortably.
"Now, kneel in front of Sakuma-san."
I lifted an eyebrow.
"Facing the camera, not him."
Again, I followed his instructions, wondering where this was going. Suddenly, the fan was flipped on, and with a low whir the air came spiraling at me. And it was cold as hell. Ryuichi made a sympathetic sound above me.
"Seguchi-san," the photographer said, "I can't get a good shot with you shivering like that.
I rolled my eyes. "Sir, if you haven't noticed, it's cold outside, and in here. And you ask me to strip down and then point a fan at me. I rather wonder what you expect."
Ryuichi laughed, and the man behind the camera frowned. "Sakuma-san," he said, "put your arms around him."
Ryuichi flung his arms around my neck, my hair blown partially in his face by the fan. "Like this?"
"Excellent. Now spread your legs a little bit… That's it, ass out."
Behind him, K looked like he was literally biting his tongue. Part of me, the part that was grateful when he did things like drive me home and stay the night, wanted to give him a gesture not to worry- this was just all in a day's work. But part of me was enjoying watching him squirm; after making me late, and that stunt with the puppies, he deserved it. So I slapped on the expression I thought our guy was looking for, and the camera flashed.
I glanced at the digital monitor and nearly laughed. I looked like some kind of high-class hooker, with Ryuichi draped over me from behind. But as much as I hated to admit it, it was also a good shot. This photographer, though I maintained the secret notion that he was a bit of a pervert, knew what he was doing. He turned the fan off- I mentally said a soft prayer of thanks. "Alright, now," he said after a couple similar shots, "on the ground. Sakuma-san on bottom. No, wait- Seguchi-san."
Ryuichi adjusted some of his many straps. "Do you mind?" he asked me.
I sat down- gingerly, because the discomfort of my jeans could turn to pain very quickly if I angled my legs the wrong way. "Not at all."
K did. Still silent but seething, he ran a hand through his hair and paced the length of the wall. For a brief moment I imagined if the tables were turned- if I had to watch K pose on the floor with another man. And I did feel a bit bad. But this was for Nittle Grasper. I lowered myself down so that I was leaned back on my elbows, and Ryuichi hovered over me. I was a bit indignant, upon closer observation, that Ryuichi's make-up hadn't been applied nearly as liberally as mine.
"Lower, Sakuma-san- there. Seguchi-san, zip up your shirt again. Not quite all the way. Now, Sakuma-san, hold it there, with your teeth.
An audible protest came from the direction of K, but I couldn't see him. All I could see was the ceiling, Ryuichi somewhat apologetically biting down on the zipper of my shirt, and out of the corner of my eye the camera directed at us. I tried to remember a more compromising position I'd ever found myself in with Ryuichi, but this might be it. "It's alright, K-san," I said reassuringly.
The photographer's voice reached me again, and I turned my head towards the camera to hear him better.
"That's it! Perfect, look right here…." Flash. I blinked. "Now, Sakuma-san, let's see that concert look."
He dropped my zipper from his mouth. "Which one?"
"No, no, with the zipper. That sexy, smoldering… that's it." Of course, Ryuichi could turn on that expression in a heartbeat. I'd watched him do it a million times. "Now," continued the photographer, "Seguchi-san, could you amp up the sex a bit?"
"Appeal, I mean. The sex appeal. Try to look how you do ten minutes before you orgasm."
There was a stunned silence for a moment, and then I waved K off before he could storm in and beat the photographer square in the jaw. From the floor, it looked as if K might do it. His eyes were set on me, and he was angry enough. "K-san, it's okay," I repeated. After all, we hadn't worked with this photographer in years. Perhaps he didn't understand the way things worked around here, or that there was a certain tone with which I was to be addressed. Besides, in a sick way this guy was good. I wanted to keep him around, but maybe on a leash.
"Unfortunately, sir," I said, hefting myself up on one elbow and looking at the photographer with a deadpan expression, "this is how I look ten minutes before an orgasm."
Ryuichi rolled half-way off me, laughing. K was staring at me, shocked at hearing the word come from my mouth. The photographer tutted. "I don't believe that, sir," he said. "Imagine you're with your wife. Can you do that for me?"
I nearly laughed myself. Not at the absurdity of the whole situation, but at the suggestion. I hadn't seen Mika in almost a week, and it had been much longer than that since we thought of each other in sexual terms. I gave a sigh and let myself fall back again. "Sir, can we please just continue?" I asked towards the ceiling.
He shook his head, fiddling with the zoom. "I've got a great shot, right here," he said. "From the torso up. I just need the right look from you, and then we can move on."
Ryuichi shrugged at me. He was beginning to question this guy's fixation as well. I wasn't sure how we were supposed to proceed.
"Seguchi-san, I'm not asking you to jack off. But isn't there anyone that comes to mind? Someone, who, shall we say… excites you?"
I stiffened at his words. And before I could stop myself I glanced, ever so quickly, at K. He was standing, his tie loosened, with one eyebrow arched.
"No," I said quickly, suddenly wanting to be done and go home. "N-no, there's not." Damn it, my voice shook. And he- this guy, whoever he was, was all over it.
"Really?" He said excitedly. "No one who, if they touched you there…"
I was shocked at his language. Appalled. Appalled, disgusted, and fuck. Was there someone? There sure as hell was. There was K, standing with his arms crossed and looking very interested in what was happening. His shirt had become untucked slightly in the back. There was someone. Something the photographer was saying reached my ears and took me back to the night before, to the kiss I'd never expected in a million years, but had responded to in a millisecond.
"Someone you think about when you're alone?"
Of course I'd responded. K had put his arms around me in a way I'd never thought a human being willingly would. Arms tanner and stronger than mine, body heat that melted the cold off me.
Almost unconsciously, I gave a light whimper. It just escaped, and for a split second whatever glazed, lusty expression the photographer was looking for must have passed over my face because I was vaguely aware of him saying something to Ryuichi, and then the camera flashed.
I blinked, stars clearing from my vision, and Ryuichi was standing over me, smiling and offering me a hand up. "That was Tohma-chan's best shoot ever, no-da! Look!"
I glanced up at the monitor. My jaw slackened. It was too suggestive for the CD cover, I knew that much immediately. And we pulled it off far too well. No one would ever see that photo in a magazine spread. If NG was ever in danger of going bankrupt, I decided, we'd print off a thousand copies and sell them for solid gold.
Ryuichi was already off, bounding into his dressing room in his child-like manner again, even as he tugged off the leather choker from his neck. I spun around, prepared with a few choice words for this photographer, but was halted by the appearance of K.
"Dressing room," he hissed so low I could barely hear him. "Now."
I didn't get to finish. K landed a vice grip on my arm, and I was physically hauled away from the set, the photographer looking disturbingly triumphant behind us. K slammed my dressing room door behind us and locked it. Then he spun around towards me. "First of all," he said, barely controlling his voice. "Where the hell did you get that nut job from?"
I shrugged, gathering up my regular clothes and pulling at the zipper to my black vest. It was stuck. "I don't remember. We had him a long time ago. He's a little… eccentric, but his work is good. If you'll let me out, I intend to have a chat with him about the proper procedure for-"
"Forget proper procedure," K said, advancing towards me. His eyes trailed down from my eyes to the vest I was struggling with, to the pants it had taken me so long to wriggle into. I felt myself growing a bit nervous despite myself. I'd seen that look, only on a much milder scale. I opened my mouth again to speak, but he shut me up the most effective way he knew how.
Gone were the chaste kisses from last night. The second I accidentally let out a soft moan, his tongue was attacking mine, and I felt my better judgment fuzzying around the edges. "K-san…" That's about as far as I got before I felt his fingers trail around the strip of exposed skin above my jeans, and let my hips be drawn close against his. He didn't speak, didn't have to, and when his lips moved downward to the nape of my neck, I almost forgot what I was going to say.
"K-san, I've... nnghh… I've got to get–ahh… get changed."
"Let me help you," he said into my ear, and with a firm tug broke my zipper loose. His hands drifted over my chest, and my breath hitched. Suddenly, I couldn't recall why it was so important to get dressed or do whatever else I was going to do outside the dressing room. Then with one swift movement of his hands, he slid my vest over my shoulders, and backed up a half-step. "Fuck, Tohma," he said, eyes ghosting over me.
I leaned my face back towards his. "Alright."
Author's Note: Review if you liked it or if you have thoughts, please. :-) Like I said, this is a one-shot, now.