Kei watched as Kageyama lost his grip on his phone. Thankfully, the drop was short, so Kei didn’t even try to reach out and stop it as the device hit the countertop, though the noise made him wince. Kageyama was apparently too distracted to care that he may have chipped his phone (again, Kei thought with a mental eyeroll). His dark-stained lips were parted in a horrified gasp, similarly shaded and shadowed-eyes wide.
“How do you not know who Guchi is?” Kageyama asked, eyebrows furrowing deeply.
“Kageyama knows fashion icons now?” Kei asked with a dramatic gasp. “I thought you didn’t read anything but volleyball magazines?”
Kageyama growled, swiping his phone off of the counter, not even inspecting the possible damage before his fingers were flying over the screen. “Obviously I do,” Kageyama shot back, half a minute too late.
Kei opened his mouth to comment on his slow speed when a screen was shoved in his face. Kei quickly drew back and stepped to the side, avoiding the sudden assault.
“That’s Yamaguchi Tadashi, also known as Guchi to his western fans, and it became popular everywhere after that.” Kageyama thrust the phone further into Kei’s space, forcing him to take it and look at the spread of images in front of him. “He used to live in Miyagi, actually.” Kei hummed, only a tiny bit intrigued by the fact that they shared hometown prefectures. “When he was young he got scouted, whisked off to America, and now he’s back as Japan’s sweetheart.”
“And why do you know all of this?” Kei asked teasingly, head tilted innocently.
Kageyama narrowed his eyes and stole his phone back, shoving it into the pocket of his insanely tight skinny jeans. “Look at me,” he responded, waving a hand over his face. “I can’t achieve this look without learning something from the experts.”
Kei gasped dramatically again. “What? You didn’t come out of the womb a volleyball and goth prodigy? I am amazed.”
“I work hard for both,” Kageyama snapped back, averting his eyes.
Kei decided to change the subject. Not because he knew Kageyama’s volleyball ability and his rocky road to get where he is now was a bit of a sore spot for Kageyama and it would make him sulk, but because Kei didn’t care anymore. Or so he told himself.
“Still. He doesn’t exactly appear as the goth type like you,” Kei said, gesturing to Kageyama’s outfit. “More...punk, so I’m told.”
Kageyama sighed and scratched the back of his head. “And Shou’s friend from middle school apparently used to be elementary school friends with him, so they had lunch one day, and Shou ran into them, and then came home and talked my ear off—”
Kei waved a hand, adjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose. “I get it.”
“Besides all that: you’re just an intern.” Kageyama huffed and crossed his arms. “Why are you tasked with photographing him?”
“I’m just assisting the main photographer, stupid. Even though I could do a much better job than him.” Kei sniffed.
Kageyama covered up a laugh with his leather-encased hand, and Kei shot him a glare.
God, sharing an apartment with Kageyama Tobio and his boyfriend, the ever energetic Hinata Shouyou, was maybe one of the worst decisions ever made. At least their rooms were on opposite sides of the apartment, and Kei rarely left his except to eat. But both of them were basically volleyball royalty at this point, and Kei’s internship was unpaid. Kei did all the house work to pay off 75% of his rent, since the oddball duo barely had any time to sleep after class and practice for several hours a day, and the rest he paid for by the freelance and part-time jobs he managed to pick up when he wasn’t drowning in essays or photoshop documents.
“Either way, this conversation is making me late. So can you please step aside so I can fill up my coffee and get on my way?”
Kageyama just rolled his eyes but did as requested and beyond, leaving the kitchen all together, heading back towards his and Hinata’s bedroom. The two had a rare off-day, and Kei knew Hinata was going to be sleeping for most of it. Kageyama had gotten up at the crack of dawn, as always, done up his makeup, and then chose to antagonize Kei with his free morning. Asshole.
A half an hour and two trains later, Kei arrived at Karasuno Studios, ducking his head in a greeting to the two security guards right inside, each flanking either side of a large crow statue. Kei hustled to the fifth floor where he retrieved his materials and finished off his coffee before heading up to the studio on the seventh floor.
Stepping out of the elevator, he adjusted his lanyard that declared him an INTERN in large, bold characters. He immediately got to work setting up the studio, pulling out the strobe kits from the closet and fighting with the remotes to get them to work. He had an hour and a half before the shoot was to start, so he had some time alone in the studio to take some test shots, to make sure everything was set up for the actual photographer, whenever he felt kind enough to saunter in. Kei’s boss always seemed to arrive just before he would be late, infuriating Kei more than it should.
“Um, excuse me?”
Kei whipped around, startled by the sudden voice. He’d taken his headphones off of his head a minute ago so as to concentrate fully on the brightness settings on the strobe lights and the umbrellas they bounced off of, the music left filtering through tiny. So the sudden louder noise was very unexpected.
Thankfully, Kei never did anything without an aura of calm, and gave a neutral reaction to the unexpected visitor.
The person at the entrance was shrouded in shadow once the door closed, as all of the lights in the studio were off except for the ones used for the shoot. Kei could see them raise an arm and rub the back of their neck as they stepped forward and spoke. “I’m sorry, I thought I was late, but I guess I’m actually early? I’m Yamaguchi Tadashi.”
Kei’s eyes widened a pinch. Now that he was paying attention, stepping away from the bright lights and further into the otherwise darkened room, he could see the resemblance from the photos he’d quickly looked at earlier that morning.
The hair was the first thing to stand out. It was currently unstyled, but neatly tousled, curling around Yamaguchi’s face and neck, some of it tucked back and hidden away at the base of his head. There were too many glints of metal in his ears for Kei to count, but he noted one on his nose as well. Kei briefly wondered about the man’s tongue, if it housed a stud as well, before moving on with his thoughts.
Eyes adjusting to the darkness, Kei better saw the studded leather jacket draped over the man’s shoulders which contrasted with the stark white of the man’s ripped skinny jeans.
“Um, are you the photographer?”
Kei blinked. Oh yeah. He’d yet to say anything.
Kei reached for his lanyard and waved it around as he stepped up to Yamaguchi. The model’s eyes softened when he read the badge and bowed his head in greeting, which Kei gave back in kind.
“Tsukishima Kei. And yes, you are early. I’m the only one here so far, but others should arrive within the half hour.” He hoped. “Can I get you some coffee?” Kei offered, hoping his voice didn’t come off as disinterested. He knew this Guchi was an important contract for them, and as an intern if he screwed this up he’d never get hired anywhere.
Yamaguchi seemed unfazed, however, and grinned widely at the offer. “I’m fine, thank you. I have a water with me.” He patted at the bag at his side, its strap going over his shoulder.
Kei’s eyes darted about the studio. He pointed towards a trio of chairs in the corner and said, “Please take a seat. I have to finish setting up now. But let me know if there is anything you need.”
Yamaguchi giggled. “Will do, Tsukki.”
Kei nearly tripped over one of the strobe lights’ cord. He stared back at Yamaguchi, incredulous. In return he got a finger wave and another giggle.
The model had lived in America for several years, if Kageyama was to be believed (only about 65% of the time). Creative nicknames were common there, or so he’d heard. This was nothing out of the ordinary. He shouldn’t show this much of a reaction to the teasing.
Kei had never given nor received a nickname before, save for insults he threw, mostly at Kageyama and Hinata. This is of course excluding the time of his life when he was known as “Kei-chan” which he quickly shut down when turning age ten. It had always been “Tsukishima” since then.
Kei did his best to ignore the very important guest in the corner whose face was lit up with a phone screen. He grabbed the camera to resume the test shots, bending to pick it and the remote up off the floor. He connected the remote to the camera before testing each light in the room, making sure all four went off at the same time at a good brightness.
He tsked when one of the lights refused to go and fought with it for a minute. The giggles resumed behind him at that point, but that was not the noise that caught his attention.
Kei froze and slowly turned towards Yamaguchi who had a terrified look on his face that was quickly exchanged for one of innocent bashfulness.
“Did you just...take a picture of me?” Kei asked, voice measured.
“Sorry Tsukki,” Yamaguchi responded, smile clearly trying to pacify him. “You just have a very nice silhouette.” He waved the phone. “Already two hundred Insta-story views.”
“I better not get fired for this,” Kei grumbled under his breath before biting his lip, realizing he’d said that out loud. “Sorry,” he apologized quietly.
“You won’t,” Yamaguchi assured him, leaping up from his chair and stepping towards Kei. “Here, fair exchange. You can take my picture too.”
Kei raised an eyebrow. “That’s not my job, I’m just the assistant.”
“Not for the photoshoot,” Yamaguchi said with a wave of his hand. “I’m not nearly ready enough for that, my makeup is sparse and my clothes aren’t even part of the promoted line.”
Kei noticed Yamaguchi had freckles scattered over the bridge of his nose and over the tops of his cheeks. They were appealing. To his photography eye, of course.
And as for the clothes, Kei thought as he glanced quickly up and down, he would have never noticed.
“Fine. Please stand over there.” Kei directed Yamaguchi, pointing towards the set: a large white wall perpendicular to a pristine white floor.
“I don’t have clean shoes on, won’t it stain the white?” Yamaguchi asked, even as he walked over to where Kei had asked him to be.
“That’s the last of my jobs, to make sure the base is clean, so I’ll just do it after,” Kei said. His eyes flickered towards the door. What would someone think if they were to walk in right now?
Kei had a brief thought and snagged a new SD card from his bag, swapping out the one in the camera for his own. He didn’t want evidence of these photos on company property, just in case.
“What kind of pose would you like, Tsukki?” Yamaguchi asked, striking a ridiculous pose with his hands up and knees bent awkwardly that Kei swore mimicked a cover of People magazine from last month.
Kei thought for a moment, humming softly, allowing himself to give Yamaguchi a full once-over, circling him, and then going back to his spot adjacent to the lights.
“Something natural,” he decided. “Like you.”
A sudden blush overtook Yamaguchi’s face, and the man slapped a hand over his mouth, eyes twinkling. Kei could still hear the muffled, “Tsukki!” underneath it.
Kei snapped a picture then, and when Yamaguchi dropped his hand, mouth open to complain, he just. Kept going. He barely took his finger off of the shutter button. He was certainly giving the strobe lights a workout.
Yamaguchi didn’t do much, and Kei was surprised he let the impromptu photo shoot go on as long as it did. Kei stepped forward, then stepped back, then to the side. He captured Yamaguchi in this pure form.
At the end, Yamaguchi stuck his tongue out at Kei, like a child, and Kei snapped a photo of the moment he got the answer to his tongue piercing question.
“You’re good at this,” Yamaguchi complimented when it was clear Kei was finished, swapping the SD cards back. He double checked the camera was empty before setting it to the side on the charger to wait for the actual photographer.
“I hardly did anything, there is no way for you to know from the little I did,” Kei retorted, forgetting to hold back his normal tone and replace it with a professional one.
“I guess you’ll just have to look at the photos later and see for yourself what I mean, Tsukki.”
Kei felt his skin buzz, even though he had never been touched. It was as if Yamaguchi’s gaze was enough. He said nothing else and went for the cleaning supplies and got to work on his final task.
A few minutes later, the designer and makeup crew came along, and Yamaguchi was too busy with them to bother with Kei anymore. He caught the man’s eyes a few more times, most notably when Yamaguchi was in the makeup chair, getting those freckles dusted over, and had his phone in hand, gaze flickering from the screen to Kei to the screen and back again several times. Though his face was currently undergoing abuse, Kei thought the model may be smiling.
For the majority of the shoot, Kei’s job was to wait and be patient for it to end, so he could sit with the lights as they cooled down and then pack them away. So he half-paid attention to the photographer, pulling his phone out to check some emails and respond to a classmate of his requesting notes (he turned them down, naturally).
He had two texts from Kageyama, annoyingly enough. The first one was from a few minutes after he’d left the apartment, Kageyama warning him to be nice to Yamaguchi because if word got back that he was rude, Yachi (the high school friend) would be angry which would make Hinata angry and Kageyama would make Kei’s life a living hell if he pissed off his boyfriend, or something of that effect. Kei barely skimmed it.
The second text had come in just a minute ago, and Kei was surprised he’d missed the notification popping up. Then again, half of his life was avoiding Kageyama and likewise stupid people, so maybe not so surprising.
Shou is screaming at me over text what did you do
Kei blinked. Before he had a chance to respond, another message came in. This one was a photo, a screenshot of a texting conversation between Hinata and Yachi.
Yachi Hitoka sent you an image
ISN’T THIS YOUR ROOMMATE
WHY IS YAMAGUHI SENDING ME PICTURES OF HIM
Yachi im SLEEPING and idk why
wait GUCHI YAMAGUCHI?!
YES he seems smitten how do they even know each other??
Kei blinked, feeling his face go a tad warm, admittedly not because of the stuffy room. Had Yamaguchi been sneaking more photos of him?
Kei looked up at the model who was standing, relaxed, one foot forward as if he were walking, an easy smile on his face directed at an invisible someone. His eyes drifted over to Kei, and the smile softened. Kei wondered if he was blushing under the foundation over his cheeks.
Yamaguchi nibbled at his bottom lip, eyes still on Kei. The photographer seemed unconcerned and kept snapping away photos. Yamaguchi’s hand twitched, like he was nervous, and he shot Kei a wink. The photographer gasped as he captured the moment, shouting out a compliment. Yamaguchi’s eyes fell away from him, and Kei took in a desperately-needed breath.
stay out of my business
Kei sent the vague text to Kageyama and closed out of their conversation, no longer wanting to splice his attention. He was a photographer, and it was about time he paid full attention to his subject.
Yamaguchi didn’t meet his eyes at all during the rest of the shoot, but Kei was sure the model knew he was being carefully watched. Kei wasn’t the only one, though. All eyes were on Yamaguchi; he was clearly a natural. After almost a decade of modeling experience growing up, it was no wonder. There was no hesitance in his poses, his body angling the perfect way without any instruction. This was the most quiet Kei had ever heard his boss, and he was grateful for it.
Yamaguchi changed three times, each new outfit just as odd as the last. Kei thought he may never understand fashion, but Yamaguchi wore each of them with pride, something Kei himself struggled with. It was kind of…insanely cool.
The last one was the most normal of the three, an off the shoulder sweater with a large gaping neck hole, holes “worn” strategically throughout the fabric, paired with baggy pants and oversized boots. Yamaguchi made the outfit look soft, however, bringing one sleeve-covered hand up to his face and hiding his smile behind it. Kei itched for the camera once more. He felt for the SD card in his pocket. He wondered how the shots had come out.
The photographer called the shoot to a close much too soon, and Kei felt like he was forcibly pulled out of an experience. Automatically, his body carried him across the room to begin his tasks, powering down the lights and taking the camera to pack it back up. He would be returning it to the office once he was finished, the photographer too busy to do his own job apparently.
No one paid him much mind, everyone used to the intern’s movements. There was friendly chatter as people trickled out, the photographer talking with Yamaguchi for a bit before the designer walked over and joined the conversation. Yamaguchi was whisked away after a bit and then reemerged in his street clothes. Kei watched out of the corner of his eye as he propped the broom against the wall before reaching for the mop. Yamaguchi had wiped his face free of the added makeup, except for the eyeliner that made his thin brown eyes pop. He had a half-drunk water bottle in hand, the rim of it brushing his bottom lip. He flicked his tongue out to catch a stray drop. Kei could see the silver barbell even better now, and he forced himself to return to his task.
“Thank you for your work today.”
Kei turned slowly. Waiting patiently at the edge of the clean white floor, which Kei was grateful for, was Yamaguchi, head dipped in a typical bow. Kei hastened to do the same in response, keeping a controlled neutral face on. His boss was probably watching.
When Kei looked up, Yamaguchi was smothering a laugh, though he didn’t know why.
“Thank you for working with us,” Kei said, grip tightening around the handle of the mop.
“It was a good experience. I will work with Karasuno again.”
Something told Kei he was being teased. “We would very much appreciate your presence with us again,” he replied, the standard response he’d been taught on his first day.
Yamaguchi hummed. Kei could see it now, the pink flush on his cheeks that only heightened the presence of his freckles. “Sometime soon,” Yamaguchi spoke, voice soft.
Kei nodded sharply, once. He adjusted his glasses. The tingling under his skin was back, and he felt he needed to move.
Yamaguchi bowed once more before retreating, saying his goodbyes to the rest of the staff in a similar fashion, yet more briefly. The weight of Kei’s phone in his pocket increased. He shook his head and got back to work. He finished cleaning the floor and then put the supplies away, then began dismantling the lights. They had cooled enough for him to replace the caps and deconstruct the tripods, so he did that on the left side of the room, then the right.
There was a piece of paper in the light cap of the third set, Kei found, and he frowned, fishing it out of the black plastic before snapping the cap into place. It was a rectangle, paper thick, one side blank. Kei flipped it around in his hand, and realized it was a business card. Yamaguchi Tadashi’s business card.
Along the border was scribbled a string of numbers- a phone number. Next to it was two small doodles, one of a star and the other of a winky face with its tongue stuck out. The doodle reminded Kei of another man he’d photographed half a year ago for a sports magazine, one Oikawa Tooru. But the scribble was more crude, drawn by an unsteady hand. Kei found it endearing, which was odd, because he rarely felt anything of the sort.
Kei glanced up. The room was empty.
Pulling his phone from his pocket, Kei ignored the seventeen texts waiting for him (ugh) and keyed in the address on the card, ignoring the professional information the card actually was meant to provide. He tucked the card into his pocket, just in case, and then stared at his new contact. For, like, two straight minutes.
Kei glanced at the time and then swore to himself. He should have finished up already. He had some work to do in the main office downstairs and wasn’t supposed to work more than four hours today. He quickly fished packing away the room before grabbing the camera and heading for the elevator.
Once in the office at his small corner station, Kei uploaded his SD card up onto his laptop. He’d already taken care of his boss’ photos, uploading them onto the Karasuno server and locking the camera away to where it belonged. But he was far too intrigued by his own photoshoot to think about doing his other work first. It wouldn’t do any good to work distracted, he said to himself as an excuse.
Twenty minutes later, Kei was still going through the photos, having seen all of them at least four times by now. They were all good, though Kei wasn’t sure he could take the credit. It was likely any photo taken of Yamaguchi Tadashi would turn out good.
Kei unlocked his phone. He searched for Yamaguchi’s Instagram and swiped through his story. The first picture, from last night, was a blurry photo, but it was obviously of a starry night sky. There was one from early that morning, a disposable coffee cup surrounded by sleeping emoji faces. The next was him, Kei’s silhouette, standing by the lights. He couldn’t see any discernable characteristics other than his outline and the hanging lanyard around his neck, but he knew it was himself. The last photo was recent, a picture of an open taxi door. There was a filter on it, casting a pale hue over it. There was some text in the middle, looking like it sat inside of the taxi. Come get me.
Kei swallowed. Well if that wasn’t a calling card, Kei didn’t know what was.
Switching over to the camera app, Kei snapped a photo of his laptop screen which displayed three shots of Yamaguchi side-by-side, all form their impromptu photoshoot. He assessed the picture, noting that he himself was reflected by the screen, showing him taking the photo.
Opening up a new conversation with the number Yamaguchi had left behind, Kei queued the picture up to send. He hovered over the chat box, contemplating whether or not he wanted to add a comment. Thinking back to Yamaguchi’s latest post, he added a couple words and then hit send before he had the opportunity to worry about regretting it.
I got you.
Kei set aside his phone and continued to stare at the unreasonably large collection of semi-candid shots of one of the most popular up-and-coming models in Japan.
A buzz. Kei’s gaze whipped over to his phone, and he scowled when he read that the text was from Kageyama. He hadn’t read anything his roommates had sent him. Hinata had joined in on the aggressive texting at some point, which only make Kei want to ignore the couple even more. See how they fared without clean laundry for a week, Kei grumbled to himself mentally.
Ignoring them wouldn’t make them go away, though, he knew. This was just troublesome. What Kei did with his life was his business alone. And who he interacted with was also his business only. Why did they care so much?
Tobi is gonna throw a fucking fit soon Tsukishima you better answer us
WE’RE the ones with the connections to Guchi anyway
you should be sucking up to us so you can get his number
I have his number. Leave me alone.
Kei sent the text in the apartment group chat and then muted the log, so that the notifications would no longer show up. He sighed deeply and ran a hand through his hair.
Kei pressed a hand to his chest, rubbing the skin over his heart. His heartbeat was still slightly elevated, and there was a light pressure in his head that he knew wasn’t from stress due to dealing with two idiots.
His eyes drifted towards his phone unbiddenly, and he worked his lower lip between his teeth. For the first time in maybe ever, Kei wanted a response.
His phone buzzed. Kei smiled.
glad you got my message Tsukki!!! I know I said soon but I didn’t expect this soon ;) not that I’m complaining
and I told you the photos would turn out good
I can’t take all the credit.
you know just how to make a boy blush
buy me coffee Tsukki??
Kei didn’t need to be asked twice. He already had half of his things packed up, laptop snapping closed and sliding into his bag with ease. He could finish his work later.
if I must
your roommates are scary btw Yachi is texting me like she’d worried for her life
Kei scowled. Fucking volleyball idiots.
better buy me a pastry too
who is the rich model from America again?
you did your research!!
Kei cursed Kagayema once more.
but, fair. I’ll buy your coffee too
where was this bravado when we were together an hour ago?
Kei couldn’t help but ask, because Yamaguchi seemed much more forward through text, unashamed whereas he’d seemed more reserved but still somewhat flirty in person. It took a few minutes for a response to come through, and by then, Kei was in the elevator headed for the lobby.
even rich models like me want the boy to call first
Kei chuckled, smothering his smile with a hand as he stepped out of the elevator. He pressed the dial button on his screen and held the device up to his ear. It rang twice before the call connected.
“You asked for a call, why do you sound so surprised?” Kei asked, a teasing tone to his voice.
“Not an actual call!” Yamaguchi’s voice was soft through the phone. Kei wondered where he was. “But I’m not…unhappy.”
Kei smirked. “Didn’t think so.”
“You are so embarrassing. I don’t think I want coffee anymore,” Yamaguchi pouted over the line.
“Then how about dinner?” Kei suggested, nodding to the security guards before pushing out of the doors and heading for the train station.
There was a pause on Yamaguchi’s end. “T-tonight?”
“If that’s okay.” Kei had no plans, but that was probably not Yamaguchi’s case.
“I. Yeah.” Yamaguchi’s words came on an exhale. Kei’s heart thumped.
“Perfect. I’ll cook.”
Yamaguchi made a wounded noise. “Dinner?”
Kei laughed. “If you want breakfast, you’ll have to wait.”
Kei wished he could see the blush that he didn’t doubt was staining Yamaguchi’s cheeks after hearing his sort-of suggestion.
“W-would this be at your place or—?”
Kei shrugged, though Yamaguchi couldn’t see. “Whatever you’re comfortable with. My roommates may be around, though I have enough on them to force them into submission for a night.”
Yamaguchi giggled, and Kei felt his skin tingle yet again. This was a new feeling.
“I don’t have any roommates,” Yamaguchi announced.
A wide grin broke over Kei’s face. “Then yours?”
“Sure, if you don’t mind the boxes. I’m barely moved in.”
“Boxes are fine, as long as you have kitchen supplies out,” Kei assured him.
There was a rustling of noise on Yamaguchi’s end. “That will, um. Happen.”
Kei smirked. “Mhmm. Text me the address. Does seven work? I’ll pick up ingredients on my way.”
“Seven is good. Plenty of time.” Kei snickered. “I-I mean!” Kei laughed again. “Tsukki don’t be mean!” Yamaguchi chastised.
“The first thing you’ll get to know about me is that I am always mean,” Kei alerted him as he took a seat on his train, squishing himself against the end of the row to make more room.
“I guess I’ll have to learn that for myself, huh?” Yamaguchi said with a hum.
A lull fell between them, and Kei’s body rocked with the motion of the train. “I’m on the train now, so I’ll probably get cut off soon. Seven?”
“Seven,” Yamaguchi confirmed. “Can’t wait, Tsukki.”
Kei disconnected the call, their texting conversation taking over the screen as the call faded off. Kei locked the device, and brushed his thumb over the screen, warm from the call. His body felt warm as well.
Another text came through: Yamaguchi’s address. Kei tightened his grip on the device and finally pulled his headphones up from around his neck and over his ears, letting his music settle him. The smile never left his face.