Open to: Scene closed, in the process of moving it to the main community.
Location: Morikawa's Talent Agency, and a little cafe on the corner nearby.
Time: Not sure.
Warnings: Um... Atobe's ego?
Notes: I will compile the comments as we go along, to keep the post from threading. If you notice there are suddenly fewer comments than there were the last time you checked, I probably compiled them and put them in the main post.
Ohtori walked into his agent's office, nodding at the secretary behind the desk. He didn't come in here very often; he got most of his assignments by phone or email. But Morikawa-san had said something about wanting to get some publicity shots done in prep for whatever this 'surprise' assignment was, and the photo studio they used for that sort of thing was right next door. Plus, Morikawa-san had insisted on telling him about this project face to face. He'd certainly sounded excited over the phone.
"Good afternoon, Choutarou-kun," the secretary smiled at him. "Morikawa-san is just in the middle of some phone calls, tying up loose ends for this latest project of yours. Go ahead and sit in his waiting room."
"Thank you, Ishino-san," he said, returning her smile as he passed her desk and opened the door to the waiting room. Usually this room was filled with hopeful models clutching their portfolios tightly, or parents who dreamed of their children being the next Atobe Keigo.
Instead, he found none other than Atobe himself. Ohtori stopped in the doorway, surprised. He knew the older model on sight, of course; at this point, there weren't many people in the city who didn't. Atobe was the top model for Morikawa's Talent Agency, with Ohtori himself as a relatively distant second. They'd never worked together; Atobe's sophisticated and sexy appeal was the exact opposite to Ohtori's fresh-faced, innocent look, and it wasn't often that marketers wanted both looks in a single spread or show.
They'd traded a few words in passing at various networking functions, though. So once he was over his surprise at seeing the older boy, Ohtori felt familiar enough to start a conversation with him. "Atobe-san! I didn't expect to see you here. Does Morikawa-san want to speak to you as well?"
Atobe set the magazine he was reading aside, the cover emblazoned with his own face. He glanced up at Ohtori and recognized him immediately - no small feat, given the number of people whose faces he was expected to recognize. "Ohtori-kun," he replied, rising to his feet and holding out his hand automatically. "Yes, Morikawa-san said he had a job for me. You as well?" His eyes flickered with surprise. For them both to be called in at the same time for different jobs was...weird. Was it possible they'd be working together?
Shaking the offered hand automatically, Ohtori accompanied the gesture with an equally automatic bow. Working in modelling had gotten him accustomed to the Western tradition of shaking hands, but he'd never quite trained himself out of the instinct to bow politely as well. Morikawa had stopped encouraging him to break the habit when he realized that the shyly polite manners Ohtori exhibited fit the image he promoted for the young model perfectly.
"He wouldn't give me any details over the phone," Ohtori said in reply to Atobe's question. He sat down across from the older boy, studying him curiously. "Do you know anything? He couldn't possibly be planning to use us both, could he?"
Atobe lowered himself smoothly into his seat, a hand rising to brush a lock of his pewter hair out of his face. He stretched out his legs and crossed them, sitting with a studied casualness that belied the sharp intelligence in his eyes. "Morikawa likes to keep me in suspense," he said, shrugging. "Especially about projects that are unusual, or which he is excited about."
His eyes travelled from Ohtori's feet up to his face in a clearly assessing manner. "Given your presence, and the fact that he's clearly excited, I'd say this is probably unusual. I couldn't venture a guess as to what it would be."
"You mean there are projects that Morikawa-san isn't excited about?" Ohtori asked dryly. The talent agent was a generally excitable person, very hyper and cheerful. He was the best at what he did, and could produce contacts for any occassion seemingly out of thing air, but he could be a little tiring sometimes. At least to someone less energetic.
He wasn't offended by Atobe's blatant once-over. In his line of work, it was so common he'd almost have been offended if the older boy hadn't done it. For his own part, he was once again noticing that Atobe wasn't much less gorgeous in person, without the help of make-up or special effects or photo touch-ups. Small wonder he was the best in the country, maybe one of the best in the world.
"None that he gives to his top models," Atobe said with a laugh.
On cue, a darkhaired man emerged from the office at the other end of the waiting room. His glasses were slightly askew and his hair a little rumpled, which added to his air of barely repressed excitement. The man practically leapt across the room at the sight of them, grabbing Atobe's hand before the younger man had fully managed to get to his feet, and pumping it with both hands. Atobe hadn't even caught his balance before Morikawa released him and grabbed Ohtori's hand, giving it the same treatment.
"Atobe-kun! Ohtori-kun! I'm so glad you could make it. How are you doing? Good, good. I have a really great project for the both of you, a REALLY great project. Shall we go talk about it?" Morikawa hardly seemed to take a breath while speaking - and certainly didn't give the boys a chance to get a word in edgewise. Grabbing each of them about the shoulders, he towed them towards his office.
Ohtori cast a helpless grin at Atobe over the talent agent's shoulder, and allowed himself to be propelled forward into the office. "What sort of project could possibly require both Atobe-san and me, Morikawa-san?" he asked, his curiousity now well and truely piqued. "We don't usually work on the same sorts of things."
"This is a very special project," Morikawa replied, finally releasing them and kicking his door closed with a bang. Atobe immediately stepped back and sank down into one of the overstuffed chairs opposite Morikawa's chair and crossed his legs once more.
"What sort of 'special project'?" Atobe asked curiously. His interest was piqued as well. What could involve both of them?
Once Morikawa was seated at his desk, some of his excitement seemed to come under control. He folded his hands and leaned forward, his eyes lit up. "Next week, there is a special charity show on, to raise money for AIDS research. I want you two to be in it, and to steal the show!" He grinned. "It'll be great publicity for both of you. Not the most lucrative thing we've ever done, but a lot of very rich, very important people will be there, and it'll be good for your images. Especially YOU, Atobe-kun. What do you say?"
"A charity show?" Ohtori perked up immediately. He'd gotten his start doing charity work, and they were still his favourite type of assignments. They didn't often pay much, but it always made him feel good to be helping out. Moreover, he'd heard about this particular charity. It was already being advertised. Morikawa wasn't kidding when he said it would be a fantastic publicity opportunity for them.
Atobe's reaction was more subdued. He raised an eyebrow and stared off thoughtfully for a moment. "I think it would be good for my image to be seen as charitable as well as perfect and desireable," he said. "I don't have a 'bad boy' image, and I don't want to be seen as merely successful. It's vogue to 'give something back' to society."
Morikawa was nodding urgently. "Exactly, exactly. It'll be perfect for both of you."
Ohtori started to laugh, but changed it into a discreet cough at the last moment, covering it politely with one hand. He'd heard rumours about Atobe, of course, but he hadn't really given them credence. Surely one man couldn't be that arrogant and egotistic, no matter how successful he'd been?
Apparently he could. 'Perfect and desirable' indeed. Well, that was Atobe's image... but the image wasn't the real thing. Though Atobe would hardly be the first super-star type to forget that.
"It sounds wonderful, Morikawa-san," he said, his laughing eyes the only outward sign of his amusement. "And you wanted us to do some publicity shots today?"
Morikawa nodded. "We're just getting organized to do the shots." His eyes turned mournful. "But we're not quite ready. Why don't you two go for lunch, and by the time you get back, we'll be ready."
Atobe blinked slowly, then shrugged. "I suppose," he said. "I booked off the afternoon for the shots. So long as you don't go over." He rolled his eyes. "Again. I have a manicure at 4:00."
"I'm sure they'll be finished on time," Ohtori said reassuringly. He'd never really had trouble with sessions going over time, but he'd certainly heard other models complain about it often enough.
Then again, he thought it might be related to the fact that most of the photographers he'd worked with had praised him as one of the 'easiest' models they'd ever worked with. Something about him taking direction well, and not playing the diva.
"Did you want to have lunch together, Atobe-san?" he invited the other model. "We might as well. There's a really nice cafe down the street, I've gone there before on breaks during shoots."
Atobe glanced at Ohtori and nodded, a smile curving his lips. "Sure," he said. "I've been to that cafe, I believe. Sante Anna's? They have an excellent spinach salad."
Their agent, pleased beyond words that they were going to spend time together and "synergize", ushered them out of the door, saying he was going to go help the photographer set up.
"Wow," Ohtori couldn't help but comment as they made their way down the street. "I think he's worse when you're around. That's impressive. Or maybe it's just that he was so excited to have both of us in one place?" He smiled. He had a fond spot for his agent, who'd done a great deal of the work that had gotten him this far.
Atobe gave Ohtori a smile. "He seemed a little worse today. But not that different. Perhaps he's better able to contain himself when he just has one of his stars in the room."
The cafe wasn't far, and the workers there were more than used to having some of Morikawa's more popular models pop in for a bit of lunch, so there wasn't any of the usual sort of freaking out that could occur when one of the big name models was recognized. It wasn't usually as bad for them as it was for movie stars or idols, but it could get pretty bad.
At least, none of the workers so much as blinked when they walked in. The trio of schoolgirls in the corner was a different story, but they seemed content with just whispering and staring, so Ohtori ignored them with the ease of long practice. They'd probably come and ask Atobe and maybe Ohtori for an autograph, if they worked up the courage, but they weren't squealing and swarming and that was all he cared about.
Atobe glanced at the girls briefly and gave them a sensual smile that caused them all to blush as one and turn to their food, twittering like birds. He sat down opposite Ohtori and accepted to the menu from the waiter, opening the leather cover to look it over. "You seem excited about this project," he remarked quietly. "Have you done anything like this before?"
"I've done some charity shows before, but nothing on this big a scale," Ohtori said, scanning his own menu. "I think it's going to be a great step forward for me. How about you?" He raised an eyebrow at his companion. "You don't seem overly moved by the idea." Of course, Atobe was used to working on this kind of scale, probably.
"It sounds like it might be fun," Atobe said, shrugging slightly. "It'll be good for my career, of course. I'm concerned, though," he said, his forehead creasing. "What if people think that we...HAVE it?" His voice dropped to a whisper for the last few words. "That would be horrible."
Ohtori considered that for a moment, before shaking his head. "No. They know they'll be hiring big names for something like this, and I doubt we're the only ones. It'd be a bit much for people to believe that all of us have it, and have managed to hide it this long, only to reveal ourselves like this."
Then he laughed. "Well, I'm sure one or another of the tabloids will latch onto the idea, actually. But that's surely nothing new to you."
Atobe's expression twisted with disgust. "Tabloids," he said in a tone of voice that made it sound as though he were discussing something he'd stepped in. "They'll say anything. You just have to ignore them."
The waiter returned and Atobe ordered one of the spinach salads and a seltzer water, then glanced at Ohtori with a smile.
Ohtori chose a lettuce salad that featured almonds and dried cranberries, and apple juice. As the waiter smiled and took their menus, he shrugged at Atobe. "Thus far I've mostly escaped their attention. If they're going to pick a model to feature, after all, you're much more likely to sell as a headliner than I am, after all." He smiled. "I'm sure my turn will come. Sooner or later they're going to decide that nobody can really be as 'sweet and innocent' as my reputation says I am, and they'll go digging for dirt."
Atobe raised an eyebrow teasingly. "And do you have any dirt for them to dig up?" he asked.
"Nobody's perfect, Atobe-san," Ohtori murmured, with a quirk to his smile as he remembered that 'perfect' was the most commonly applied description to his companion. "I'm sure if they looked hard enough, they'd find something to turn into a scandal. And if they couldn't find it, they'd manufacture it. That's how they work."
Atobe scoffed at the idea that no one was perfect, but there was amusement in his eyes even as he did so. "I know," he said. "Believe me, you don't have to tell me how tabloids work. Everything they've said about me were lies." He thought for a moment. "Well, almost everything."
"They're very good at salting the lies with just enough truth to make it believable," Ohtori commented dryly. "I've seen it done often enough to know." Then he laughed. "But now I'm curious about which parts of what they printed about you weren't lies. Are you not so perfect after all? Or do you just have perfect flaws, too?"
The older boy just smirked. "If you think I'm going to tell you..."
"What?" Ohtori gave the older model his best 'I'm so helplessly innocent, I might as well be an angel' look, the one that had made him a star. "You don't trust me with your secrets?"
Atobe glanced at him askance. "Certainly not if you look like THAT," he said. "I only reveal my secrets to those whose secrets I already know - and who have more dangerous ones than my own." He grinned and winked at the younger boy.
Ohtori inched up the intensity on his sweet smile, all the while grinning to himself for real on the inside. This was fun. It was nice to talk to someone who understood the ins and outs of the business - everyone else he knew who was his age had no clue what his world was like. "Atobe-san, are you implying that your secrets are very dangerous? Surely not..."
"Dangerous to myself, certainly," Atobe said with a grin. "Otherwise they wouldn't be secrets." He glanced up at the waiter as he returned with their salads, placing them carefully in front of them and then wisking away without a word.
Ohtori waggled his fork at the older boy, the clueless smile morphing into real amusement. "Ah, but now you've made me curious, Atobe-san. There's obviously more to you than meets the eye. And that's saying something." He took a bite of his salad, and chewed happily. He really liked this cafe.
Atobe picked up his fork and took a bite of his salad, nodding in contentment at the flavour. "Did you think I was one-dimensional before?" he asked in surprise. "Me?"
"Well, no," Ohtori admitted thoughtfully. "I just didn't know what was under the surface. I wasn't sure if you were just another spoiled diva, or what. But I'm glad I'm getting the chance to talk to you now." He smiled at the older boy.
Atobe chuckled, spearing another few leaves with his fork. "And after a few minutes of speaking to me you've concluded that I'm not just another spoiled diva? What makes you think you're right and everyone else is wrong?"
"Atobe-san, I'm surprised you would believe anybody could think you 'just another' anything," Ohtori shot back, chuckling. "After all, aren't you supposed to be perfect?"