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11 January 2017 @ 05:42 pm
[Fanfiction] My fair Model (Part 3/8)  
Title: My fair Model
Type: Series
Year: 2016
Fandom: Arashi, a few other Johnnies as well as japanese actresses guesting
Pairing: Sakumiya, Junba (side)
Genre: slice of life, romance, a bit comedy and a tiny little bit drama
Rating/Warning: PG 13 - NC-17

Jun and Nino are friends, but more than that - rivals. When their boss, owner of a prestige photo studio, is about to choose his successor, the two of them have to compete for the position. To make things even more difficult for Nino, Jun boldly suggests a bet according to which they have to pimp up a random stranger to become their perfect photo model. Suddenly, shy office worker Sho finds himself in the middle of this competition, his life turned upside down...

Author’s note:
Written on request by my lovely beta Juju (jtaytt) with the keyword "blossom" (who can find it? :D) for my Spring ficlet challenge 2016 and the wish for something based on "My Fair Lady". Thanks for betaing this for me!

Back to Part 1, Part 2

My Fair Model Banner2.jpg

Oh, before we start, since someof you requested it in the comments from the last chapter, here you have a sample of a "before and after" styling of Sho ^^ I know the haircolour and clothes might not 100% match my descriptions but I think you get the feeling of how I imanined his transformation, right? =)


And now here we go!

My fair Model - Part 3

Nino's newly found sparkling enthusiasm about the photo competition and his new model ebbed away immediately as soon as Sakurai started his – well, you probably couldn't even really call it that - posing in front of the camera.

Saying he was absolutely horrible would be the understatement of the century. His limbs were stiff, his face's only emotion was sheer panic, his eyes were goggling strained and his slightly parted lips looked more sloppy and stupid than sexy. And no matter what instructions Nino gave, "stay straight", "lean forward a bit", "give me a smile", it looked like the words were a complete foreign language for the man in front of the lens.

"Can you even smile in front of the camera?" Nino grumped after he took the nth picture of Sakurai's dopey face.

He knew that Sakurai could smile, he had just seen it, even if it was insecure and crooked, but if that had been unintentional, it was indeed possible that Sakurai didn't know how to smile when being photographed. Nino sighed heavily.

Sakurai stopped in his movements and tried to focus on his face's muscles movements, pulling the corners of his lips up, but instead of a smile, his efforts ended in a grimace that made Nino think about spooky clowns in awful horror movies.

"No, no, no, NO!" the photographer yelled, turning away from his camera and covering his eyes. "That's not a smile, that's giving me the creeps, stop that," he turned to his model again. "I said, STOP!"

Sakurai stopped smiling, dropping his shoulders. "I'm sorry…," he murmured.

"What the hell is wrong with you," Nino clattered, almost desperately.

Comparing with Jun it was unlikely for him to lose his patience with a client, but honestly, this was taking more than two hours and now despite Sakurai looking splendid after Aiba's makeover, it seemed to be leading to nowhere and it was frustrating like hell.

"You can't even smile naturally? Even I can smile into a camera and I'm not even used to smiling."

"True," Aiba, who was still accompanying the two of them, trying his best to cheer on Sakurai, nodded in agreement. "Nino is rarely smiling. But he can. And he has a cute smile."

Nino sent his friend a death glare. "Unnecessary information, Aiba, shut up."

"Be nice, I'm the stylist of your model, after all," Aiba replied huffily.

Rolling eyes. "Please shut up."

"Come on, show him how to smile correctly for a picture, I'm sure he's willing to learn," Aiba pushed his friend.

Nino shook his head. "No, you show him and then he can practice in front of the mirror! I have enough for today. I still have work to do, real work!"

"You know, I do have work too!" Aiba huffed back. "Jun is coming back soon for another photoshoot for a family portrait and I'm expecting the family in about 20 minutes to style them."

"Let's just stop for today," the photographer said, still looking unnerved. He flashed an annoyed look at his model and mumbled something like "Thanks for today," even if he actually didn't really mean it, took his camera with him and stormed off.

Back at his desk, he placed his camera next to his laptop and took out the memory card, inserting it so that he could check if the pictures he took were really as horrible as he feared them to be. While he was starting the picture-editing software, probably to try saving some of the less horrible pictures, he could still hear the distant voices of Sakurai and Aiba.

"I'm really sorry, Aiba-san, I didn't want to make him angry...," Sakurai said in a low voice.

He sounded down and if Nino wasn't that worked up at the moment, he might even feel a bit guilty for being the one responsible for his model's mood. He might not be that good with people, but he also wasn't a monster, after all.

"It's OK, Sakurai-san, don't worry," Aiba replied in his usual warm and calming voice. "He's just a little worked up," A little?! "He doesn't like competitions, you see?" Aiba got a point there, indeed.

Sakurai chuckled, probably trying to hide his embarrassment and disappointment. "I guess I'm just a useless case..."

Immediately, Aiba chimed in. "Don't say that! You look great! The only thing left now is that we have to make you look great in front of the camera too. Nino will find a way, I'm sure of it. It's his job after all. Leave me your contact data here and he'll contact you for the next photoshoot -"

Missing the rest of the conversation completely, Nino was staring at one of the pictures he had taken during the last two hours. Sakurai was just standing there, his long slender fingers playing a bit absentmindedly with the feather charm of the accessory hanging around his neck, while he lifted his head slightly, looking aside, probably into the direction of Aiba who was talking to him at that time. His look was natural, his face soft and showing a cute expression of curiosity. His posture was a bit curved, his sloppy shoulders hanging, his body language communicating insecurity and some kind of slight tension that seemed to be normal for the man, but he didn't look as stiff as on the other pictures. He looked good, charming in some strange way, even if he might lack confidence. He looked adorable, even, waking protective instincts Nino didn't even know he possessed.

This was a picture, Nino had snapped when Sakurai was not looking, was not focusing on trying to pose impressively for the camera, or attempting to smile and creep the hell out of the photographer. Nino sighed when he realised what that meant. It wasn't that Sakurai wasn't photogenic, far from it, it was just that as soon as he was aware of being in focus, of having a camera taking pictures of him, he turned into a stiff bunch of nerves that made it impossible for Nino to work properly with him. And this was probably due to the man's insecure character. People who weren't confident tended to think too much about everything, and once they felt observed, their motions and mannerism became forced and unnatural.

According to Nino's experience, usually, such people would avoid situations like being photographed, filmed, or positioned to become the focus of other people's attention in general, at any price. He knew, he was one of them. But Sakurai had asked for it, had taken Jun's offer with open arms, because he wanted this. He wanted to change, become more confident, as he said, more like Nino – or at least the Nino he was seeing in him. For some reason, Nino felt a tiny bit impressed by that man. He didn't know his full motives, if he really just wanted to get rid of his nervousness or if there was some hidden agenda, another reason why he wanted to change who he was. It made Nino curious.

For a short moment, the photographer felt like he wanted to help Sakurai. At least, more than he wanted to win this stupid competition with Jun in which he wasn't interested in first place, for some reason he wanted to help that man.

Skipping through the rest of the photos made the photographer sigh again, though. He covered his eyes over Sakurai's horror clown smile. If he really took this challenge, Nino thought, there would be a long long way to their goal, whatever exactly that might be.

- + -

After work, the photographers decided to go out for drinks. Nino hadn't been in the mood, but Aiba dragged him along anyway and so he found himself in between Suzu and Keiko, sitting across their boss and of course Aiba and Jun – Aiba leaning his cheek against his boyfriend's shoulder cutely. Even Shige was there, much to everyone's surprise.

"What are you doing here, anyway?" Nino snapped into Shige's direction.

"I figured, this thing might be a bit interesting for once," the other replied, sipping on a glass of orange juice when literally everybody else had ordered beer, staring at Nino.

"Oh Lord, please, someone save me," Nino murmured, downing the rest of his already half-empty beer glass.

Suzu giggled, right next to him. Keiko joined, slapping Nino's shoulder and telling him that his participation in their outings was at least as rare as Shige's. Tacky lifted his hand to call a waiter to them, ordering the second round already, just to make sure nobody had a dry throat. At least, Nino thought, the good thing about going out for drinks with his colleagues was, that without fail, their boss would pay the bill. That's the generous man he was.

"So," the man then started, his look wandering between Jun and Nino. "Any first reports? How were your shootings?"

Nino had already figured that this might be the main topic this evening, remembering that Aiba told him already, how excited Tacky was about this whole competition thing between him and Jun. Nino reached his hand for Aiba's beer glass to steal another sip, just not to be forced to give an answer right away. It was Jun then, who started his very detailed report, from the moment Nino had pointed out that plain painter in the pedestrian zone, until the moment he lost his nerves with Ohno-kun, who's facial expression had been the same over and over during the whole test shooting they made in the late morning. Jun concluded his report with a huge sigh and the suspicion that his model in fact had zero interest in modelling for his projects, to which Nino snippily replied that Jun probably had to raise the fee he promised the poor painter as fringe benefits.

After that, Nino didn't feel like reporting about his own miserable test shooting with Sakurai at all, so he dropped the details and started by simply pointing out how marvellous Aiba's styling had been and that everything that was left now was simply a bit of practise to get his unexperienced model to shine.

Of course, Shige then had to point out how horrible the shooting went – it was only then when Nino found out that the freelancer photograph seemed to be spying on his photoshoot, probably drawn by Nino's yells of frustration in between some shots of Sakurai. Of course, also Tacky had seen the scene for a bit, since he was present at the studio too for some time during the happenings and so Nino wasn't surprised by his boss' amused laughter in between.

"He is really photogenic," Nino finally admitted, putting his second empty glass of beer down on the table with a bit too much force. "He just doesn't know it and that makes him do all those strange things with his arms and his shoulders and his lips..."

Nino shivered once more at the memory of that creepy clown's smile of Sakurai, the curved up lips combined with his steering eyes and he swore he would get nightmares the following night from that look. Aiba, across the table, burst out laughing, a hint of tipsiness audible in the way his voice gurgled. Jun reached for Aiba's beer, taking it from his hands gently, and replaced it with a glass of sparkling water that he had thoughtfully ordered for his boyfriend. Gradually, the atmosphere around the table got louder and livelier.

"That guy is really fun," Aiba snorted.

When Suzu and Tacky made curious eyes, the stylist and Jun joined forces to tell the story of the clumsy and shy business man Sakurai Sho who apparently had chosen cool and confident Ninomiya Kazunari as his role model, accidentally making the photographer believe that he had a crush on him, due to his ambiguous stalking attitude.

"Hey, it's only your fault that I thought he had a crush on me," Nino immediately blamed Jun who just shrugged and joined his boyfriend's joyful laughter, cuddling a bit closer.

Tacky seemed to be having the time of his life too, drinking more and more and watching his employees bickering, amused. Just when Nino was about to reach over to Jun for punching his shoulder (or so people thought he was aiming for in this slightly tipsy attitude), Tacky spoke up.

"So basically, your models are inexperienced as hell and you have no idea how to deal with them," he summed up the situation. "That's really interesting."

Nino didn't reply, hiding behind his glass, while Jun immediately protested that he just had to get used to the situation and Ohno would become the perfect model before anybody could say the word "photograph" backwards – granted none of them was sober enough to handle the alphabet.

"Anyway, in order to help you guys out a little, what do you think about making them act in known situations for the beginning?" the boss then suggested earnestly, making Nino and Jun frown at him. "As Nino has already pointed out – and that's nothing new for you – people act the most natural and credible when they don't know there's a camera on them. And there are indeed people who can't deal with a camera, knowing that their presence is suddenly something important make them nervous and become stiff and unnatural, right?"

Nino nodded, finding his own thoughts from earlier that day voiced by his boss. "So what do you suggest?" he asked.

"First off, I am wondering if you guys," Tacky nodded at Nino and then at Jun. "Will agree if I get involved in your little project a little more."

"What does that mean?" Jun asked curiously.

"It means that I am the one choosing the topics for your photo challenges. How you interpret them is up to you, of course," their boss explained, earning a humming agreement by Jun as well as Nino.

"Why not?" the latter shrugged. Probably, it would make things even a little easier, since he had to admit that he didn't have any real plan on how to deal with this project yet, anyway.

"Alright! So I'm going to announce the first real topic for your competition now," Tacky said with an excited broad grin. "The first topic will be "Work"."

The table fell silent for a moment, until Shige broke it with an audible slurp from his orange juice. While Nino rolled his eyes and shot a bewildered look at the other man, Jun's jaw dropped as if he just got enlightened.

"Work?" Aiba repeated confused.

"Work," Tacky nodded.

"What does he mean by that?" Aiba whispered to his boyfriend, his look still confused.

Jun smiled at him and took Aiba's hand in his, pressing it slightly as he smiled and started to explain. "It means, we're going to take photos of our models while they are doing their usual work," he turned at Tacky. "Right, Boss?"

Tacky nodded satisfied, his arms crossed in front of his chest. "Their natural surrounding will make them act normal. They will forget that there is a camera pointing at them and you will take the chance to take shots of them when they look good, natural, and you will make use of your talent as photographers to find the right pictures to set them in the best light. With this, you will – even if their modelling doesn't really add to the shooting itself – get some good first results, something you can show them and boost their self-conscious and this will make them feel more relaxed for following shootings," the photographer continued his explanation.

"Oooh!" Aiba stared at Tacky, eyes as big as the wheels of a car as he was struck by insight.

Nino, despite faking not paying too much attention, now looked at his boss, and he had to admit that the idea was brilliant. It just showed again how much Tacky knew about his job, no, not only his job, but how much he actually knew about people. It was... admirable, Nino thought. It was something he himself would never have thought of. Probably, his boss was right. Neither Nino nor Jun were ready to become the successor of this brilliant man yet. There was still a lot for them to learn.

"I'm expecting some first results by the end of the week!" Tacky said enthusiastically and lifted his glass to make a toast to Jun and Nino.

Jun had already lifted his own glass, his look full of determination and confidence, and when he looked at Nino, he smirked at him challenging, until Nino mirrored the gesture, alongside with the others sitting around the table, and they clinked glasses altogether.

- + -

Nino didn't even bother to warn Sakurai via e-mail or call when he went up to the 14th floor the next morning, his camera bag and Aiba in tow, and rang the bell to the man's company. He informed the receptionist of having something to discuss with Sakurai Sho and the girl behind the desk made a quick call to Sakurai's department to get him and his superior to come forth.

"Please let me just say a few words to my team and then you're free to do whatever pleases you," Ikuta Toma, apparently chief of Sakurai's department, said with a wide smile.

"No worries, please take your time, we have to style Sakurai-san first anyway," Aiba flashed one of his usual bright smiles back in return. "Oh and please tell your people, if anyone wants a quick styling check, I'm prepared." Aiba gave a thumbs-up while trying to wink.

"I'll tell them, thank you," Ikuta replied chuckling before he headed off.

Nino nodded thankfully, while Sakurai was standing there, cheeks flushed red. He definitely didn't expect the photographer and stylist to visit him during working hours, asking his boss for permission to have a photoshoot in their office – right now. This would surely become highly embarrassing, concern was written all over the man's face.

"You could have at least texted me before showing up here in surprise," the office worker said in a slightly cracking voice. His hairstyle was back to normal – although thanks to Aiba's cut yesterday, it looked much better and not as boring as before – and his plain grey suit didn't help in spicing up his appearance either. "I could have… I don't know, worn another suit at least."

"Don't worry, Sakurai-san, I brought two alternatives for you to choose from, I think they should fit your size," the stylist lifted the clothing bag hanging over his arm and smiled at the other man. "Is there a restroom we can use to change and style you?"

The young woman at the reception politely pointed in the direction of the big restrooms near the entrance and then handed Nino and Aiba some "visitor" badges that she begged them to wear as long as they were walking around their office rooms.

While Aiba vanished together with Sakurai to work on his appearance and prepare him for the upcoming photoshoot, Nino leaned against the reception and reviewed some of his shooting ideas while waiting. Depending on the rooms, there might be some interesting possibilities to capture the topic "work" in this office, but Nino was sure he had enough creativity to work with whatever that was waiting for him. It was his strength after all to put a setting into the right light and capture the right mood. The question was more about, if Sakurai would manage to act normal and natural enough to make the setting including its model, look real. The real surroundings should help, but he would know that there’sa camera and that might hinder him again. Nino sighed, wondering if this step was enough to make Sakurai loosen up a bit.

"Ninomiya-san?" he heard Ikuta's voice approaching him again and whirled around to face the man. "My employees gave their approval for the photoshoot. I beg you to only use our department's rooms for it, but you have free hand in taking pictures of everything except confidential material, of course. So please no files, no computer screens displaying data, and such things."

"Of course not," Nino replied, bowing slightly. "If you wish, you can check all the pictures I take, before we leave the office and we can of course censor things if they happen to get displayed."

Ikuta nodded. "I would appreciate that."

"And as promised, I'll try to include your company's logo in a few pictures," the photographer said. "I guess, that doesn't count as confidential."

Ikuta chuckled and Nino smirked. It was probably only the promised hidden advertisement that the company would get when the photos were displayed in the exhibition Tacky was planning, that got Nino the approval from the higher ups to allow the photographer to complete his work in their rooms, after all.

"Thank you very much. A few girls would like to take your stylist's offer by the way; they will show up here in a few minutes."

"Sure, no problem, my stylist should be finished with Sakurai soon," Nino nodded. "We will come over to the department when preparations are done."

"Great," Ikuta smiled before he excused himself with another nod. "Then I'm heading there first."

As announced, a small group of young women came along the corridor, chit-chatting excitedly about the upcoming photoshoot, even if they might only walk into a picture or stand in the background by chance, acting as extras to provide a realistic environment. They greeted Nino and asked him for a few details about the shooting and about the project Sakurai was involved in since he didn't seem to have told anybody yet. Nino told them the absolute minimum of what might be of interest to them, preferring to let his creative cells prepare for the shooting and not to get distracted too much.

It didn't take Aiba too long until he finished styling Sakurai and when the man came back from the restroom, dressed in a dark blue, fine pinstriped business suit, spiced up with a crimson necktie, his hair nicely styled and his glasses polished, Nino swallowed hard. Not to comment about how Sakurai's pimped up appearance was causing the office ladies to gasp at their co-worker, obviously stunned. Nino had to pull himself together not to chuckle at the hummed approval one of the girls gave when looking Sakurai but yeah, Nino couldn't blame her. Since Aiba had pointed out and proven Sakurai's "potential" to be a handsome man, the other day, Nino just couldn't deny that fact any longer.

The man had just the right statue, he wasn't too thin, nor too muscular, his face was a bit round but not chubby and showed a strong, attractive jaw line. His eyes mostly looked nervous but they had some depth that made Nino curious and wanting to find out more about what might be taking place in the mind of Sakurai Sho, what moved him, what made him the way he was. He had beautiful soft dark hair and with just a tiny bit of styling by Aiba, it looked breath taking. The glasses made him indeed look a bit nerdy, but for the shooting today, they fit perfectly, Nino decided. Further, Nino had to shamelessly admit that Sakurai radiated a certain subtle sexiness the man himself obviously didn't know about, which made him even sexier. Nino tried hard not to blush at that thought.

Seriously, if there just weren't those sloppy shoulders and his complete incapability of posing in front of a camera, Nino was convinced that guy would make a gorgeous model, actor, someone who would get the spotlight he deserved. Well, hopefully, Tacky's strategy would work and they could at least reduced Sakurai’s posing and smiling problem in this shooting.

"Good morning," Aiba greeted the group of office ladies with a beaming smile and followed them to the restroom – they allowed him to step into the women's rest room just this once – to freshen up their hair and make-up a little.

About an hour later, they were in the middle of the shooting, Nino was already trying his best not to lose his nerves with Sakurai's incapability of acting naturally in his natural environment. The man was just too nervous, too aware of Nino's presence and this was affecting his behaviour immensely. Sakurai already managed to tint his hands blue with a broken pen (that he broke himself accidentally, apparently), spread a mountain of papers all over the floor and dropped his stapler twice, the second time ungraciously hitting his head on his desk in the process of picking it up again. Nino lowered his camera, sighing deeply, not knowing if he should laugh or cry.

"Is he… Seriously, don't be so fucking nervous, Sakurai!" he yelled at the man who turned around, blushing embarrassed.

"Sorry, I'm –," the man tried to say something but then the telephone rang, he cringed and picked it up. Nino used the chance to sneak around him a little bit and take a few shots, hoping it would look natural in the pictures.

"Just that you know, he really is that clumsy," Ikuta said in a low voice as he tapped the photographer's shoulder to get his attention. "Even if he's not under camera surveillance."

"You're kidding me…," Nino shot a frowning look at the man before he continued snapping pictures of Sakurai and his surroundings, hoping at least to get something that would be useful in the end.

"I'm not. He's a real goof," Ikuta chuckled.

"This is just too difficult," Nino murmured frustrated, thinking hard trying to figure out some ideas that would help in this situation. "Does he have a problem with his nerves or something?"

"Well, relaxing isn't his forte, I'd say."

Sakurai ended the phone call and turned around to Nino, as if he wanted to continue the sentence he wanted to say before. Nino waved it off and instructed the man to just continue working.

"Although…," Ikuta added, crossing his arms in a thinking gesture. Nino picked up the hint of an idea in the man's voice and looked at him curiously. "What do you think about taking pictures of lunch break?"

"Lunch break?" Nino arched his eyebrows questioningly.

The other man grinned, pointing at Sakurai. "You have to know that guy just loves eating. Seriously. And I think it's then when he relaxes, he forgets everything around him. It might not completely fit your topic though?"

Suddenly, Nino smirked satisfied. He looked at Ikuta. "Not exactly but you know, you gave me a good idea, I think."

Letting Ikuta stand there on his own, a wondering look on his face, Nino looked around for Aiba who had chosen to stay for a while and watch the shooting's progress. He gave him some quick instructions and pressed a few bills into his hand. Aiba rushed away and when he returned about 10 minutes later, he was carrying a big plastic bag filled with cartons and a huge tray of paper cups filled with extremely delicious smelling coffee.

"Hey, everybody, it's time for a break!" Aiba chimed, drawing everyone's attention towards him. Nino moved and then he was right behind his friend, his camera ready. "Thanks for your hard work," the cheerful stylist added with a huge smile and started passing around the coffee.

According to Nino's instructions, he made sure that Ikuta would be the first one to receive a cup – as a small apology for messing up with his department – before he divided the rest to the other office workers, including Sakurai.

"A decaf for you, Sakurai-san," Aiba said, holding the cup out for the man. "Hope that's fine with you."

Sakurai stared at him, stunned. "How do you know I don't take caffeine?" he wondered.

Aiba quickly glanced at Nino next to him and shrugged. "Nino said better no caffeine for you."

Sakurai looked at the paper cup in his hands before he searched for Nino's eyes – or camera, that the other still held up in front of him.

"Thank you very much for your concern, Ninomiya-san," the man said and then he smiled.

Smiled so naturally as if he had never done anything else. The corners of his lips curled up slowly, showing his cute white teeth, his cheeks got rounder and a little red and his eyes narrowed, forming crescents. Sakurai's whole face was glowing and Nino's heart made an awkward jump shortly before his finger pushed the shutter button as if on impulse.


"And now – Donuts!" Aiba yelled before Nino could even say anything to Sakurai and the office cheered.

Not that Nino would know what to say to the man, it would probably sound strange if he told the man that he assumed that his fidgeting personality would be even worse with caffeine in his blood. He also didn't want to tell him what strange thing that smile of him just did to his heart. No, definitely not.

Ikuta's remark about Sakurai's weak point for food worked wonders. Not only did it earn Nino a picture of Sakurai's most beautiful smile, but after Aiba had handed out all the coffee and donuts, the atmosphere was just great. People chatted a bit more, Sakurai seemed to feel much more comfortable and especially while he was eating his donut as he was typing his report, for a moment he didn't even look nervous at all.

In the end, Nino even managed to encourage him to pose for him a bit, to sit in a specific position, look into a certain direction, to lean over to a colleague, pointing at something on the computer screen, to pick up the phone and pretend he was making a phone call, and whatnot. Still, the man seemed a bit stiff, however, slowly but surely, things became better, a little smoother, a little less awkward and so Nino could finish the shooting before lunchtime and he seemed quite satisfied with the result.

When he went through the pictures together with Ikuta, seeking approval to use them for the stated purposes, surprisingly, Ikuta asked Nino to join him for lunch. The photographer accepted, wondering, if they would go with the whole team, but it seemed like Ikuta had something to talk about with him, so it would just be the two of them.

When Aiba left for lunch with Jun after waving goodbye to Sakurai with a friendly smile and giving him thumbs-up for the shooting, the latter chuckled cutely, Nino noted, but now Sakurai was looking at him with an enigmatic look. Nino tried not to think about it and before he followed Ikuta, he said goodbye to the man too, telling him that he did an acceptable job today and he would contact him for more. Sakurai thanked Nino but he didn't smile at him. Nino didn't like that.

- + -

"It was really fascinating to see a professional photographer doing his work, Ninomiya-san. I can see why Sho is fascinated by you," Ikuta said, smiling at Nino as they clinked glasses (coke, not beer, since there was still work ahead) and waited for their food in a nearby ramen shop.

"Ah, the admiring thing?" Nino asked after taking a big sip of his coke, wetting his throat. He frowned a little, thinking about the meeting with Sakurai from the previous day. "He told me but honestly, I don't get it. Do you?"

The office worker nodded slowly. "I think he sees someone in you he wants to become. Someone who's… free?"


"Sorry, I may be lacking a better word," Ikuta chuckled. "You're just... the complete opposite of Sho, I think."

Nino continued drinking, letting his thoughts wander. It's true, he and Sakurai didn't seem to have much in common. But nevertheless, Nino couldn't really get why he should be a role model for another person. Sakurai didn't know him, his quirks, his weaknesses, apparently he only saw a cool and relaxed photographer in him, a person that even Nino himself wasn't sure if he really was.

"Ikuta-san? I have one question," the man then asked, putting down his glass.

"What can I do for you, Ninomiya-san?"

"About Sakurai. Something I just can’t get out of my head…," the photographer then continued. "I agree with you that he and I seem to be completely different. But I can't help but wonder… What exactly is his problem? He seems to be respected by his colleagues, even if he's clumsy, they even seem to adore it and are willing to help him out whenever they can. You're no difference, right?"

Ikuta nodded again, following Nino's argument. "As expected from a photographer, you kept a really close eye on the situation and captured the problem well. It's true, he seems to be the one having the biggest problem with his personality."

Nino continued, his look wondering. "Judging from his shy behaviour and his insecurity, I thought he's probably getting bullied at work or something like that but that's obviously not the case..."

"We all honestly respect him and his abilities," Ikuta smiled. "He might not look like it, but he's very capable for most parts of his job."

"Most parts?"

"He's a great researcher and has a very good eye for details. He can write fantastic reports, he's creative and efficient, he comes up with great business solutions," Ikuta used his fingers to count down all of Sakurai's strengths and yes, Nino was seriously surprised to hear all this. Then, the man became a bit reluctant. "But… he can't convey his ideas properly. When he's in a meeting, he becomes so nervous he starts stammering and can't present his results at all. Recently he asked his assistant to do that for him and it works but it's definitely not the best solution."

"Why is that?" Nino wonders seriously. "If he's capable of his job, shouldn't he be confident about it? Where does this nervousness come from?"

After taking another sip of his coke, Ikuta looked at Nino, meaningfully. "I think he's having a complex towards his brother."

Nino blinked. "His brother?"

"I'm sure; you read the name of our company, right?" Ikuta asked and Nino nodded.

"Red Blossom Trading Ltd.," he stated simply, earning a nod from the other man.

"The name is inspired from the name "Sakurai" – Sho's father is the founder and owner of the business," Ikuta continued and Nino awed in realization. "He retired a few months ago and handed his business over to one of his sons. Sho's twin brother, Shu."

"Wait," Nino stopped the other to catch up. "You mean, Shu and Sho, although they are twins… only Shu was handed the business and Sho is... - sorry – stuck in that department as a normal employee, even under your supervision?"

Ikuta nodded. "Exactly."

"Oh crap...," the photographer said, brushing his hand through his hair. "I guess, that must have been a bummer for Sakurai... Sho I mean," he added quickly.

"On the one hand it was and on the other hand, it wasn't at all since he wasn't surprised," Ikuta said and when he saw Nino's confused look, he chuckled. "I have to go a bit back in the story to explain that..."

"Well, we still have some time," Nino said, surprised about how eager he was to learn more about that man's background.

The two men were interrupted for a moment as their bowls of chicken ramen were served. The smell was absolutely delicious but they set them aside a bit to cool and so Ikuta continued.

"Shu is just a few minutes older than Sho but he was always treated as the older brother by the family. He has a very strong personality while Sho has always been the shy one. Shu used to be the brother good at everything, school, sports, he had lots of friends. Sho was good too, at school but compared to his brother, he was always a step behind, had always been in his shadow," the man told, Nino's eyes glued on him, listening carefully. "Sho once told me that he got used to his brother always being the one doing everything, getting everything. He got used to being his brother's ghost, but I think his confidence suffered a lot from that and since the company got passed to Shu, it has become worse."

"As I thought," Nino murmured, letting his look drop to his ramen bowl. And now, Sakurai wanted to change...

"I think Shu didn't get favoured just because he's the older one, but he overtook Sho's position due to his open-mindedness and strong attitude which are essential in dealing with all the business partners and clients as the representative of the company. I was present when Sakurai-san – the father – handed over his position. Those were his words. He was full of pride for his son Shu but he didn't even dare to look at Sho, nor did he say a single word about Sho's achievements, about what Sho's hard work means for the company... nothing," Ikuta sighed. "Now Shu is the big boss and Sho… yeah… he's still in his brother's shadow, struggling."

"So that's why he wants to overcome his shyness," Nino sums up. "He wants to overtake his brother and become the boss of his father's company?"

Ikuta reached for his wooden chopsticks, breaking them apart and started eating, nodding in Nino's direction to make him do the same. After a first taste and praising the ramen soup, he continued.

"No, I don't think that his motives are of competitive nature, at least not solely. I just think that since he's still suffering from his own flaws, he finally wants to get rid of them," the man explained before flashing Nino a sincere smile. "And I think he wants to make his father proud too, even if he's not fit to become the company's CEO."

Nino didn't reply, his mouth stuffed with delicious ramen noodles, as he slurped them up. He had to admit, he admired Sakurai a little bit. If what Ikuta told him just now was the truth, he admired him. Sakurai has decided to take the necessary steps to change, to break from the shadows others pushed him into and in which he had been living for so long now already. It must have taken him a lot of courage and determination to find this decision and to take the first step. Suddenly, Nino remembered again the scene in the elevator from Monday. How Sakurai had been standing behind him, had tried to talk to him. It must have cost him so much courage to try talking to a stranger...

"I have to admit, I'm very proud of him that he made this decision and took this step," Ikuta said warmly. "As his friend, I only hope the best for him and want to support him as much as I can. I think this model project is a pretty cool thing and that it might really help him in overcoming his shyness. Please take care of him."

Nino slurped up some noodles again before he nodded slightly, making a humming sound. Yes, he thought, determined, even if he still didn't really care about winning this stupid bet with Jun, he would give his best. He would give his best to support that shy clumsy man too and try to help him find a better version of himself.

Continue with Part 4

More author's notes: Hope, you also enjoyed this chapter! Let me know in the comments down below and I'll read you soon! ^.^/


Since I am gradually deleting my fics from lj, I am closing the comment section. Please go to my Dreamwidth or AO3 pages in order to leave a comment, which is of course very much appreciated.
Thank you!
thelos22: pic#126236791thelos22 on January 11th, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
God that's seriously nerdy

and that exact opposite of nino part hit me. Sakumiya is somehow that way but also not(?) nevertheless they're still adorable ;;;;;;❤ and I love junba PDA at work God why are they so perf ❤

your effort worth it ninooo, you'll see :'''
anyway, how about our juntoshi photoshoot? I agree about his flat face yeah. But, he is really expressive lately, I mean in reality
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:32 pm (UTC)
Lol yes, it's literally the nerdiest picture of Sho that I could find XD

Hm... when we're talking about real Arashi Sakumiya, I think they have lots of things in common but are also different at the same time. For example I think that they are both very smart and quick thinkers. They also can voice their thoughts pretty well and they can connect between people. They can read the mood and act accordingly to make it the best situation possible. Also I think that they often understand each other without even having to talk. And what they have in common too is that they both atmire each other a lot! They are kind of alike in this. But then, they have that side of their personalities which is completely different. While Nino is more the introverted type and prefers being alone and spending his days off at home, gaming and such, Sho is more extrovert and people-oriented also in real life.

Aw, I'm happy you enjoy the Junba <3 I wanted to portray them as a cute couple. Aiba just loves his Jun more than anything and surprisingly, Jun is the same lol. I kind of imagined him as a tsundere here. Tough and sometimes even badass towards others, but super nice and cute with his beloved Aiba <3

Oh the Juntoshi photoshoot... well, I didn't write much about it tbh, to keep the focus on Sakumiya, but it will be mentioned so keep your eyes opened. ^^ About Ohno, I think the thing with him is that he can be very expressive with his face, if something interests him or when he's acting. But when he's just being lazy and things don't bother him he's just spaced out LOL I personally find that cute haha

Thanks for your comment and see you next week! <3
ララトインダー ☆tocchi☆: pic#125350868ralatoindah on January 11th, 2017 06:59 pm (UTC)

"He didn't know his full motives, ... It made Nino curious." ---> me too

But then you tell us the story behid Sho's goofiness, omg... Poor Shooooooo :'(. I wonder what's in his father's head all this time, putting one child aside like that. And I wanna know about Shu more, whether he's nice or not towards Sho. I just hope that they won't act too mean :'(.

Aaaaannnndddd, Nino!!! I wish that he'll change his attitude towards Sho now that he understands him a bit :'(.

Can't wait for the next Wednesday ❤❤❤.

ララトインダー ☆tocchi☆: pic#125350868ralatoindah on January 11th, 2017 07:01 pm (UTC)

Ah, one more thing: I love Shige's tendency to do things (or make some noise) at the inappropriate moments, haha. He's so mysterious yet so cute ❤❤❤.

(no subject) - sky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
sandy_wjktl: #IstandwithSatoshiwjktl on January 11th, 2017 07:10 pm (UTC)
Twin brother? With a same face or not? So eager to know

Wah...love the 'work' theme by tackey ... And our cute sakurai really love food ne~ cant wait to see nino change his personality... And cant wait to see their relationship development !
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:22 pm (UTC)
Hm... in my imagination, they were no look-alike-twins. Sure, they look similar since they are siblings but they don't have the exact same face. Sho is unique XD lol

Glad you enjoyed the work-shooting! =D Yes, Sho just loves food xD haha. Nino... well, he's antisocial but that doesn't mean he can't be nice, right? Probably, Sho makes him show his nice side more from now on?

Thanks for your comment and see you next week! <3
learashi: Glasses! Junlearashi on January 11th, 2017 08:09 pm (UTC)
So both Jun and Nino are having major problems with their potential models. It is also giving them an idea of how tricky it is to be the boss.
I loved the way that Jun is so casually thoughtful towards Aiba (taking his beer away so smoothly when he was getting too tipsy).
Sho is slowly working his way into Nino's heart. It sounds like Sho needs some love.
I'm looking forward to next time 💜
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:20 pm (UTC)
Indeed, Jun and Nino both don't have it easy with their models but time will tell XD

Tbh, I imagined Jun very tsundere-like here. He's competitive and strict and sometimes even a little badass but when it comes to Aiba, he's all lovey-dovey and caring and... well, he just loves him <3 Glad you noticed those little hints of his affection towards his boyfriend <3 Junba-love yei <3 <3

Yes, Sho needs love T_T Let's hope, Nino will be able to give him love, but things might be a little more complicated than expected...

Thanks for your comment and see you next week, dear <3 ^^
Say Oh-chansay_oh_chan on January 11th, 2017 10:13 pm (UTC)
Sho has quite a difficult background. It looks really not easy to live in the shadow of someone. But Nino start to understand him more and that's a good thing I think.
Look forward to see their next interactions !
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, Sho had it difficult and that's why he developed some kind of complexes. But he's still a nice guy, he just wants to be accepted and respected for the way he is. Maybe Nino can help him with that.

Thanks for your comment and see you next week! <3
Life is Hard だけど be Happyicha_kazeinda on January 11th, 2017 10:21 pm (UTC)

Imagining sho's smile, probably I would act the same as Nino XD Took his cute picture and kept them for myself XD

I've been feeling curious about the reason behind Sho's clumsiness and finally all my questions had answered! Poor Sho (╥_╥) he really should overcome his clumsy and shyness!! And now Nino knew Sho's background behind his goofiness, hopefully he would work harder to help Sho. Well, probably it's still a bit far from their lovey dovey moment tho but I'll be waiting for it (≧∀≦)

Can't wait for next week! ❤❤

Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:16 pm (UTC)
Aww yes, sorry for the sad past, but now we know why Sho is so shy. He doesn't really believe in himself and is very shy but he's also kind of positive. He doesn't even want to outshine his brother or anything, he just wishes to be accepted and respected at what he is. Hopefully, Nino will be able to help him. At least, he's now much more willing to and they will grow closer.

Thanks for your comment and see you next week! <3
kame_no_arashikame_no_arashi on January 11th, 2017 10:38 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy Nino isn't just a bitch who is antisocial and gets mad/grumpy all the time. In this chapter, it makes me understand his kindness. Sho's also...... his history is so sad.... but he's so positive!!!
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:14 pm (UTC)
Haha no, he's not a bitch XD He's antisocial but that doesn't mean he can't be nice =) Even if grumpy is probably his standard lol. Yes, despite his hard past and even if it affected him in being shy and everything, Sho didn't lose his positive side. ^^

Thanks for your comment! <3
arashiobsessionarashiobsession on January 12th, 2017 01:46 am (UTC)
What a beautiful chapter. I had tears early from when Nino was finding it hard to direct Sho and then tears at the end when Ikuta was explaining Sho's plight. You really are an awesome writer.
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:12 pm (UTC)
Re: tears
Thank you dear, I'm glad you liked this chapter! Sorry for making you cry D: *hugs* <3
galuhdayintagaluhdayinta on January 12th, 2017 07:05 am (UTC)

soooo! well well well.. Takki's idea is not bad after all! this project made Nino get to know Sho's background and surrounding; and Toma :D I bet Sho is jealous when Toma asked Nino to have lunch together! XD

and God, I think I would freeze if Sho smile honestly at me like he did to Nino. it's amazing that Nino could press the camera button lol XD as expected of pro.

about Sho's background ... I somehow remembered Yamada's Getsuku drama (Cain to Abel).. the story is quite similiar here and there. Cmon you can do it, Sho! surpass your own brother!!! ٩(๑`^´๑)۶ and now Nino wants to help Sho too! ♥ will the love spark? XD ♥

anyway, if I think about it, in real life, Sho and Nino has opposite character after all. ( ・ิω・ิ) I remembered in Shiyagare (2012), where Sho and Nino had to say what were they doing in their recent off days. Nino had 3 gaming sessions in a day and never step outside while Sho, had change his clothes 3 times in a day, watching piano performance XD.

If you think about it again, they're really opposite.
I think their match point is their quick thinking. Sho would often be the one who find the topic, and Nino commented it in bratty way/tsukkomi it. that's why Sho and Nino are a good combi for getting great, fun atmosphere. ♥
Sho is definitely clever, and Nino (surprisingly, lol) on par with him at certain point. that's why I love Sakumiya ʕ•̀ω•́ʔ✧ I love tricky-clever couple XD

Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:09 pm (UTC)
Tacky is a smart guy, isn't he? XD Jun and Nino both still have to learn a lot from him.

Ahaha yeah, Sho was jealous of Toma. HE wanted to go eat with Nino probably, but well... he would probably have been too shy to even ask >.<"

Ahh... now that you mention it, yeah, Cain to Abel might have a similar plot. Didn't fully watch it yet and it didn't cross my mind that it resembles that part of my story, tbh, problably because in this fic it's really just a background story and not in the main plot. But you know, I don't think Sho wants to surpass his brother. He's not in for the competition. He just wants to be accepted and respected as the one he is.

I remember that Shiyagare episode lol. Well, I personally think too that Sho and Nino have quite similar ways of (quick) thinking, so their characters are pretty similar imo (thus they often seem to know what the other thinks, without even having to talk about it). They are both very smart, considerate and adaptive and it's great to watch them talking. One of my dreams is that they will get a variety show together T^T but I doubt that this will ever happen. (Especially after they got accused to only talk to each other when being together, instead of guests xD like that one time in HnA lol) Well, they just have a really really good chemistry, right? <3 Our smart couple haha

Teir personalities are different though. Nino is much more an introvert while Sho is more an extrovert, that's what I think. Thus, Nino prefers to spend time alone at home and following his indoor hobbies, while Sho is more outgoing and well, he's a walking schedule xD that's his own very specific chracteristic I think lol Nobody can match Sakurai Schedule Sho... it's impressive.

Anyway, thanks for your lovely comment and see you next week! <3
yumi_usagi: Sakumiyayumi_usagi on January 12th, 2017 07:43 am (UTC)
Yay it's Wednesday again!
I love this chapter. We know a lot about Sho's past ne. Poor Sho! I hope Sho would get whatever he wants when he asked Nino to be his model and I also think Sho needs love too.
Love that part when Sho is cute and made Nino feels like to protect him, hehe Nino's protective instinct. Nino is really nice. Now all he wants is to help Sho and he doesn't care about the completion any more.
And that part in the beginning when Aiba said Nino has a cute smile. Aww Nino, show Sho your cute smile please.
Sho just love eating in whatever fanfics he's in Lol
I can see Nino is falling deep for Sho every passing day. But I also think Sho likes Nino in a romantic way too, not only just admire Nino.
I can't help but want both Nino and Sho to be the boss their work place at the end Lol
Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to next Wednesday!

Edited at 2017-01-12 07:53 am (UTC)
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 12:58 pm (UTC)
Yay, thanks for dropping by again, I'm glad you like this chapter! =) Yes, Sho has a difficult past, but even if it effected him in being shy and everything, he didn't loose hope and is kind of a positive character here, isn't he? But yes, he definitely needs love <3 >.< But well, who can resist wanting to protect/love him for too long? :3

Yes, deep down, Nino is a nice person xD He's not very social but that doesn't mean he's a bad guy. People often assume antisocial as equaling bad but I don't think it is the same.

Lol yes, Sho just loves eating XD It can't be different, can it? haha.

Thanks, so see you next Wednesday :3
eve_aidaeve_aida on January 12th, 2017 09:51 am (UTC)
FINALLY! I'm here to comment :D

You really surprised me! Without ever mentioning a thing about working on a new Sakumiya fic. *Punpun* Anyway, I think when I read the first 2 chapters, chapter 2 caught my interest. How Nino and Sho character develop to become more out-stand to the readers. I pity Sho with his insert-slow-shy-personality when actually he's not. Being The Shadow one is really difficult. Somehow, I hate how Nino being hard on Sho (but I love him back when in the end he tried to be nice to Sho and after the story telling thing) ❤

Btw, yes. I found the "Blossom" word. In this very chapter. LOL!!
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 12:47 pm (UTC)
yei~ I'm happy to see you here so thanks for dropping by! :D

Oh, in fact, last year I hinted on having a Sakumiyastory up my sleeves, and it was this one, but since it's so long ago, probably you didn't connect it with this one, sorry xD

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoy the story so far (and congratz on having found the "Blossom" ^^). True, Nino is being hard on Sho, he just can't really deal with people, but he's learning and he's changing =) Because well, who can resist a cute and clumsy Sho? XD

See you next time <3

indigo_loverindigo_lover on January 12th, 2017 01:11 pm (UTC)
yay!! i see that you put up a reference pic, ppl must have requested for it too huh I am glad i did and thankful you actually put them in XD

aww Sho... ya, it is hard when you are compared to your siblings and get overshadowed by them... i understand how you feel Sho. But it is so great to know that you are brave enough to want and make changes to yourself and be better.

Nino!! it is up to you now to unleash Sho's inner model!!

thanks Sky for the update! Continue your hard work and i'll see you next week!!
Skysky_fish7 on January 12th, 2017 01:35 pm (UTC)
Haha yes, three or four people asked for a reference pic so I thought I put it up with the next chapter ^^

Sho really had a hard past, ne? It's always a little difficult between siblings, I think and in their case it was specially hard. However, Sho doesn't want to surpass his brother or anything, he just wants to be accepted and respected as what he is, so he wants to become stronger and braver to show what he's capable of. He's not an idiot after all. Let's see if Nino will be able to help him with that XD

Thanks for your comment dear and see you next week! <3
arashitvarashitv on January 12th, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
Ha ha ! Sho is always happy when we talk about food or when he eats !
I wonder if it's easier with Ohno because he always look sleepy. Even if Nino is lucky to be with Sho because if he wants to see Ohno's smile, he has to be on a boat. And everybody know that Nino hates the sea.

Poor Sho it's a sad story... I want Nino to hug him !
It's a good thing that Nino think more about helping him than winning

When you say that Sho and Shu are twins, it means that they have the same face ?

Thank you for this !
See you soon !
Skysky_fish7 on January 19th, 2017 08:39 pm (UTC)
Haha yes, Sho is a real foodie xD

In the next chapters I wrote a little bit about Jun's experience with Ohno lol. Sho's past is sad, but he didn't give up and still wants to improve himself. Let's hope, Nino can help him with that! About Sho and Shu, no, they are no identical twins, so they look not completely alike.

Thanks for your comment! =) See you soon! ^^/
deelovesryo: Sulky popcorndeelovesryo on January 12th, 2017 07:31 pm (UTC)
Nino, relax a little. He is doing it for free, you know! Lol

Tacky had a wonderful idea and I enjoyed all the office part.
But it was sad to know Sho's background, hope he can improve himself and start to be free and happy. I always love Sho's happy smile.

The little Junba was very sweet, they are really cute^^

Thanks for sharing!
Skysky_fish7 on January 19th, 2017 08:27 pm (UTC)
Whoops xD Now I replied to your new comment before the old one, I'm sorry XD Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting :D

Sho has a sad past but it didn't make him give up, that's the most important =) Let's hope Nino will help him to improve ^^ Glad you like the Junba here, I really enjoyed their relationship in the background of this story =D

(LOL your "sulky popcorn" icon is cracking me up XDD)
Windy Way's Journalwindyway94 on January 12th, 2017 09:45 pm (UTC)
Uwaaah what a makeover! Sasuga Aiba fairy XD I laugh at Sho's workmates, they are stunned by his new look. Awww Nino you're interested in him finally hmm? *eyebrow wiggle* Can't wait to see the final product, at least Nino has more motivation to "participate" in the battle. And you, Sho. You're easily bribed by donuts neeeeee. Then your level 999999 of clumsiness amaze me smh, reminds me of Kurihara-sensei's last scene in kamikaru 2.

Nooooo I hate to know about Sho's paaaast. It's terrible to compare people, even it's your own parents who did that. Everyone is special, like a snowflake XD But I can relate to Sho's shyness. I suffered from low self-esteem for years, makes me hard to talk and make friends, or even appreciate myself. Thanks to Arashi, I can love myself more and face my weakness. Then learn to stick with my own principal (and ignore people hahahaha).
Skysky_fish7 on January 19th, 2017 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for dropping by, dear :D I'm glad you enjoyed this chapter ^^ Haha yes, slowly but surely Nino is getting interesting in Sho, ne? And of course, Sho loves food just too much haha That was one of the things I had most fun with when writing this story lol Ahh... I still didn't watch kamikaru...

Sho's past is sad but he didn't give up and is here to fight and become a better person =) It's really tough to get compared to others... and the worst thing is if you compare yourself to others. That's why I personally try not to do so, even if - of course - it doesn't always work. But in the end we're all different people and different people have different strenghts, right?

For me too, Arashi added a lot of positiveness to my life. Without them I probably wouldn't enjoy writing so much right now for example ^^ Or studying Japanese =) It's hard for me though to love myself, even if Arashi tries to convince me that I'm beautiful with their songs and stuff lol XDDD I'm too stubborn I guess lol But you know, I agree with you. I think it's a good thing to stick to your principles. They are what make you the person you are, right? I used to adapt quite too much to other people in my life (am doing so still sometimes...) and it's not the right way for everything, I think... so, let's try to be true to ourselves, ne?