Nico wasn't usually one to swallow her pride so easily, but she was tired. Tired of all the grunt work that had been pushed onto her--running deliveries all over the city, cleaning up after her superiors, dealing with her goddamn character of a boss--all from the ass crack of dawn until well into the night.
At first, Nico had been fine with this. Little steps went a long way, right? It was only the prologue to her wonderful life in the big city, after all--sacrifices had to be made.
However, when she realized to her utmost horror how heavily she had invested herself in the quality of the coffee to which she served her boss, she knew things had to change. Her dignity had long been forgotten, lost under a pile of garbage and coffee filters and shit. It was almost as if her degree in design--on top of four years at fashion school--were worthless.
What good was interning at a super exclusive and elite lingerie atelier if she wasn't even allowed to deal with its clientele?
And so, she had begged her dumb boss for a promotion of sorts, to do some sort of work that actually reflected her interests. It had gone down like,
"Please, I'm begging you! Let me put my talents-slash-brilliant-mind to use and show you the fruits of my hard labor!"
"No, you suck. Also, my boobs are bigger than my brain."
…Okay, so maybe she done just a little condensing, embellishing, over-exaggerating. Just a little. Basically, what had happened was that her boss--Nozomi--had agreed to let Nico deal with the customers if she were to practice dealing with the customers. But not actually like, with the customers. You get the picture: Nozomi didn't trust Nico's clumsy ass enough to let her work in the shop right away. She had to find her own guinea pig to practice on.
And that's why, at this point in time, Nico had swallowed her pride and was begging.
"So basically, you want to use my body."
It came out as less of a question and more of a statement, Nico doing her best to withhold herself from cringing. Still, the bluntness was something she could appreciate in such a dire situation.
"Ugh. Technically yes," she exhaled, "but literally all I have to do is practice taking your measurements. That's it." She waited for an answer, eyes darting around the dim lighting of the atelier's office. Nico had been the one to close up like always, knowing her superiors would neither know nor care if she brought someone over after hours.
The red-haired model, who had been perched across from her on a computer desk (like a goddamn model, there was a perfectly vacant chair across from hers, Nico thought with an eye roll), crossed her legs and placed a hand upon her chin as if deep in thought. "This must have been pretty important for you to stalk and kidnap me."
What the fuck? Nico spluttered unintelligibly for a few moments before straightening up in her seat. Well, straightening could have been the wrong word was what she thought as she stared at the long legs in front of her. Anyways: "First of all, I didn't stalk you. I recognized you, you know. You were one of the models for our trunk show last month, and I just happened to see you pass by as I was closing up."
"I bet you don't even know my name," the model said flatly.
"…Of course I know!" Nico defended. "It's…it's…slanty--"
"It's Maki," the model snapped. Nico waited a moment for her to continue on with her last name, but when she didn't, she realized with no small amount of embarrassment that Maki was probably waiting for her to introduce herself as well.
"It's Yazawa…Yazawa Nico," she mumbled.
"You're a newbie here, aren't you?" Maki observed, looking around the office as if realizing for the first time where she was. As if she weren't perched in front of a goddamn computer, Nico thought drily.
"Is that an insult?"
"No, I just thought that it was…nice, to finally meet someone else who's relatively new to the industry."
When Nico said nothing, only cocking her head at her in confusion, Maki continued.
"What I'm saying is that, I'm new too. Your company's trunk show last month has been my biggest gig so far."
"Oh," Nico said, obviously surprised. "Only small jobs since then?"
Maki ran a hand through her hair, distressed, but like, in a conventionally attractive way. Nico bit the inside of her cheek. It's just the model effect. "I was actually coming home from a failed audition when you intercepted me."
"Oh…" Nico replied smartly. "Well, I could help you! If you help me out with my little thing, then I'll put in good word for y--"
"No thanks," Maki interrupted. "There's not even much you could do, intern." Before Nico could say anything of the indignant variety, Maki hopped off the desk, looking over Nico's smaller figure. Nico was probably meant to feel intimidated, but instead she felt a little gay. "But I get your situation. I guess I could help you out, from one newbie to another." With that, she placed both hands at the hem of her shirt, tugging upwards. What the fuck. Nico caught a glimpse of toned abs before she bolted out of her seat, gripping onto the other girl's wrists.
"What are you doing?" Maki asked, looking put off. "Don't tell me you're getting second thoughts now."
"No," Nico replied quickly, before she could let her predictable mind wander and explore the possible duality in Maki's words. "I mean, uh, we're in the middle of the office for god's sake. The changing room is that way." Inwardly, she both cursed and blessed the lack of shame models, or rather, just this model seemed to possess.
Nico led Maki to the changing room, swiping a tape measure off a nearby desk as they passed by. She adjusted it over her shoulders-- "Keep the left end short, and the right end lower," she had once heard Nozomi say--and opened the door. It was less like a stall and more like a waiting lounge, decorated with several tasteful pieces of furniture fit for the wealthy people who patronized their business. Secretly, Nico was glad she had just tidied up the hour before.
"Never stand directly in front of the customer," the Nozomi in her head said. Nico was a bit depressed that there was a Nozomi in her head to begin with. Still, she complied, standing off to Maki's side.
Thankfully, Maki seemed to get the hint and with no further instruction, began to strip.
Then the panicking began.
Would Maki laugh if she turned away? Models were used to this sort of thing of course, but Nico wasn't, having only been in the dressing room to clean up after a customer. But the flush creeping up her neck was too much, so she opted to keep her face ahead with her eyes to the side.
Nico allowed herself a small gulp as Maki's jeans hit the floor with a small rustle, signaling the end of her disrobement. She tightened her grip on both ends of the measuring tape, and for a small moment, wondered if she could possibly cross her arms and strangle herself to death. And to think that she had practically begged to put herself in such a situation. She really was an idiot.
Biting the inside of her cheek, she tentatively shuffled closer to Maki, kneeling down and lifting the tape from around her neck. Anywhere, anywhere, just pick a place and stop looking at the goddamn floor, her mind pleaded. And so Nico listened to the frantic voice in her head. And promptly pinned her eyes to Maki's boobs.
Fuck. Well, the bust first it was then.
"You want to wrap the tape around the largest part of the bust. Wow, Nicocchi, there really is nothing here--"
Okay Nozomi, I can do this, Nico thought, ignoring the tail end of her memory. She gingerly brought her arms around Maki, circling her bust and pinching the tape at the side. Impressive, she thought, staring at the number. Impressive… she thought once more as she finally noticed the lacy black bra Maki was wearing.
Instantly, she caught herself. Fucking hell, Nico. No wonder Nozomi won't trust your gay ass. You can't even measure one person without becoming a distracted mess, holy shit. I've officially dethroned Nozomi as the queen of lesbians.
As if to redeem herself for her disturbing revelation, Nico sped through the process, shifting the tape to the area below Maki's breasts and scribbling down her measurements with lightning speed.
"--The narrowest part of the waist--"
Nico could see the light at the end of the tunnel, with bust done and well on her way to hips.
"--The widest part of the hips--"
But then, she heard something strange. If Nico wanted to be perfectly frank with herself, it sounded like an exhale that, surprise, wasn't from her this time. But that was crazy, right? The only two people in the room, in the store, actually, were just herself and a lingerie model.
She decided to just switch the annoying part of her mind off, she was at the most important part of the measuring process, after all. She set her tape down.
"This part cannot be measured in numbers. You must pat down the client's waist and hips, in order to get a good feel for their curvature. Do you hear me, Nicocchi? A feel. A good feel. A--"
Shut the fuck up, Nozomi, Nico internally cried as she patted down Maki's incredibly soft skin. Was this even legal? But her thoughts were interrupted when she heard it: a low, guttural, bona fide moan.
Slowly, she shifted her gaze upward to meet Maki's for the first time in a solid half hour. And was met with hazy violet eyes, a flushed face, and heaving chest. Said eyes widened upon contact, red hair swishing as Maki quickly turned away.
"Okay Nicocchi, now that you're listening to me again, you gotta do this: You gotta fu--"
Fuck off, Nozomi! Nico stood up, backing out of the room. "Er, I'll…I'm gonna go put the measurements into the database. Just…" She gestured to Maki's clothes on the floor, not daring to look at her actual clotheless body. "Let me know when you're all done."
Ears burning, Nico all but dashed into the office, cursing herself for literally picking up a model off the street.
It was five minutes later when Maki knocked on the doorframe into the office, clothes neatly in order. Her backpack was slung over one shoulder and even her ball cap was in place, having taken it off upon entering the building. And much to Nico's disappointment, her features were schooled, as if she hadn't had that certain reaction that had intensified Nico's already-present gay panic in the first place.
"All done," she said casually.
Nico tried to take notes. "I'll walk you out," she replied in her most even voice. She opened the door, Maki following after her into the brightly lit sidewalk. Nico felt a bit guilty upon realizing how late it was. "Listen, you've really helped me out. Sorry I kept you out so late." She bit her lip, glancing at the dark sky. "Are you walking home?"
"Nah, I called a cab already," Maki explained, finding a small amount of amusement in Nico's concern.
"You denied my offer to help you out, so at least let me cover your fare." Nico made a move to reach for her purse, but stopped when she felt a gentle touch on her wrist.
"No, I already said I helped you out just because I felt like it," Maki said earnestly. "Although…" She paused when a yellow cab suddenly came into view.
"Although?" Nico pressed on, disappointed at how quickly it arrived.
"If you're interested enough to help me," Maki said, holding the cab door open. "You could stay the night, Nico-chan," she smiled for the first time, winking in Nico's direction.
Nico darted into the cab, tugging Maki in by the hand. Nozomi didn't have to tell her twice.