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Keep Your Enemies Closer

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“Odagiri, chin up! To the left, the left!”

Azusa did as he was told, rolling his eyes at the ceiling as he struggled with the pose. They owed him.
This was supposed to be his time off, time he needed, but this was an emergency. One of the other models in the company was sick in hospital and he was asked to fill in for a shoot. The client was, of course, delighted with the free upgrade. However, because of the schedule he was pulled away for almost the entire week. He hadn’t seen much of Shinogu lately and the separation was enough to drive him crazy. They had talked enough recently to keep him from absolutely losing it, but during every single one of their conversations, one of them was in a rush, so their time was brief.

“Azusa, keep your chin up!”

He breathed another heavy sigh and tilted his chin as far up as it would go; the photographer signaled his approval by jumping in front of him and beginning to snap away with his camera. The shirt was a soft blue with silver buttons that dotted down the front. The top three were undone and it hung a little loosely to one side revealing the strong corded length of his throat. His pants were soft black leather, that fit him like a second skin, but did make the shoot a little uncomfortable. Dark, smoky eyeliner rimmed them, making already intense eyes even more lethal, or at least that was the desired effect, but right now it was smudging too much underneath layers of sweat.
The lights were hot, hotter than usual and he could feel the drops of sweat beading on his lip and running down his temples. His shirt was beginning to stick to his back and he was ready to scream in frustration.

“Azusa! You are sweating too much. Someone, get in there and do some damage control! Hair! Makeup!”

He rolled his eyes again and sat down heavily as a fleet of grabbing hands and fussing eyes tsk-tsked over his ruined appearance. He just wanted it over with already, he wanted a shower and sleep. He wanted to see Shinogu. He winced as his hair was pulled roughly and turned to glare at the offender even as they were sighing in frustration and snapping their fingers at the photographer.

“It’s a no-go. Complete re-work from the ground up.”

There was more cursing, but finally decisions were made and everyone scurried about to complete their assigned tasks.

“Everyone in wardrobe, get on those clothes I want them washed and pressed and looking like new in an hour, no more. Everyone else get your stations greased and ready to go. Afterwards, you may break for a meal, thirty minutes. As for you Azusa, go get those clothes to wardrobe, get yourself a bite and clean up, looks like the day is just starting.”

Azusa nodded and silently took his leave, grateful that he had some time to himself, yet resenting how long the shoot was taking.
People scampered by as he walked down the hall to the changing room. After arriving at the mid-size changing room, he stripped, and pulled on a robe, placing his clothes on a rack outside the room door. Like a scavenger, a slim young woman dressed completely in black swooped in and removed the outfit, rushing towards the wardrobe area. Azusa shook his head and closed the door behind him. He headed to the bathroom, taking in the stark white decor while he turned on the shower and decided that it made him feel a like he was in a hospital. After running his hand under the tap and adjusting the knobs he stripped his robe off of weary shoulders and stepped beneath the steaming spray. The feel of the water massaging away every little ache like a million little fingers was enough to make him moan long and low, which he did as he ducked his head to soak his hair. He just needed to make it through this last portion of the shoot. Then he could check out of the insanity and let loose for a couple of weeks, they did owe him that. He was seriously starting to reconsider the modeling. It had helped him with the initial task of earning the money he needed to keep himself off the street after his mother had died, when he had nowhere to go. However, he didn’t need the money as much anymore and thought it might be time to really focus on school. That way he could make more time to see Shinogu. He backed away from the onslaught and slumped against the shower wall and wiped the water from his eyes. Shinogu would be working now. He was sure that if he called him, he would just get the message in that irritatingly sexy voice telling him to leave his name and brief message, and assurance that he would be called back.

Shin.

Azusa’s stomach ached and his mind drifted back to their conversation the other night. Shin. He was still dwelling in the past and the knowledge that he may be happy there was enough to make Azusa choke. He really did think highly of Hatsumi, but just once he wished that she didn’t exist, so that maybe he would be the center of Shinogu’s attention. Five minutes was all he asked.
His thoughts shifted a little further down the conversation highway, to Shin running his fingers through his hair, removing that twig and making him so damn hard he wanted to take him, right there on that damned bench. His body throbbed in remembrance and he laughed softly, almost painfully, knowing that just a mere touch could affect him this much, days later.
He tried not to think of Shinogu spread beneath him, begging, writhing, because no good could come from that train of thought.
On the contrary something very good could come from that train of thought, it was the treacherous voice inside his mind that deemed itself the authority on Shinogu. It was that devious plotting voice that taunted him now, sliding those oh-so naked thoughts into the front of his brain, images of bucking, taking heat that made his body jump to attention and pulled the air from his body in tangled breaths. Every ounce of blood in his body seemed to shoot down to his erection, throbbing and teeming with want so intense a hole was torn straight through his middle and pulsing down his engorged length.
Moaning, he turned under the spray and braced one hand against the wall, his fingers digging into the cold tile. A feverish hand teased the length first, then gave it a small slap as if testing it. The sensation elicited another groan a little, a throaty sound of desire he bit back behind gritted teeth. He added a small amount of conditioner to his hand seeking gratification and found the tip of it as he wrapped his hand around his cock.
His hand slid wetly over the smooth flesh, slow at first, then picking up the tempo. He panted with the steady rhythm and his body coiled tightly at the core. Images of Shin, sucking him raw left him weak, tortured. Resting his cheek on the wall, his eyes closed tight against the downpour and the sloppy sodden sounds of his hand. His thumb quested across the tip, his mind replacing it with the image of Shin’s tongue and feeling that wet firmness as though it was really there, lapping at his tumescence, taking him deep and swallowing him whole. He murmured the other man’s name over and over like a mantra. His pace quickened, his back arched into his hand as he hunted release with utter ruthlessness. His muscles in his ass flexed violently as he came warm onto his hand, his panting movements growing more frenzied, more intense.

“Shin!” It was a hoarse cry that he had issued almost every night in his dreams, a cry that carried the ache and the want down the entire length of his body, leaving him shaking and spent.

It never filled the void. He was always just as frustrated after these dreams and solo shower-time rendezvous then he was before.
Water streamed down his back, dripping off his ass and running down his legs, washing the evidence of his desire down the drain as he levered himself away from the wall and sighed.

“Damn it….”

There was nothing to say, nothing he could do. He was a man, in love with another man, these things just weren’t done, not in their world. Not with their past. Not when the other, was happy just thinking of something or someone that wasn’t him. He grimaced in pain, mixed with frustration and jealousy. He had to conquer this but just how was he going to do it?
He turned off the taps and stepped out of the shower, goose bumps and steam rose simultaneously from his heated skin and he shivered as he grabbed for the robe.

“Avoiding him won’t do", he muttered to himself. Surely it wouldn’t. Better to be his friend than never see him at all. He could continue to feed his selfishness by making himself believe that Shin wouldn’t want him to disappear either, but then, Shin didn’t know that he fantasized about him while masturbating in the shower. His weakness appalled him, but he shouldered it off and reminded himself that it would be better to have him close, yes, that would just have to be enough.
He left the stark white of the bathroom and found his clothes hanging neatly in the dressing room. He towel-dried his hair and was reaching for his pants when his phone rang, making him jump. He just couldn’t get used to how loud the thing was...but he never missed a call. He frowned as he looked at the caller ID. It was Shin, strange to get a call from him in the middle of the day. He tugged on his pants one handed as he answered, his tone tinged with concern.

“Odagiri here.”

“Azusa?”

“Shin, what’s wrong?”

Shinogu chuckled but it didn’t sound too heartfelt, in fact it sounded strained and a bit…weak.

“Nothing’s wrong. Why would you think that right off the bat?”

“You never call this early in the day. Aren’t you at work right now?”

Azusa could hear the exhaustion rolling down the line as Shin struggled to speak.

“Yeah, I’m working, just took a little break right now and decided to call you, we haven’t talked or hung out in a few days, thought I would check up on you and make sure you are alright.”

Azusa bit back a smile, selfless Shinogu strikes again.

“Fuck being worried about me Shin; you don’t sound too good. Have you been working too much again?”

Shin hesitated, briefly, but it was a long enough pause for Azusa to know that he was thinking too hard about what to say.

“Not too much. One of my co-workers at the convenience store is visiting a sick relative and I was asked to cover. They are also increasing my hours at the warehouse, so I haven’t had much time to do anything else. I didn’t want you to think that I had forgotten about you, so I made it a point to call you as soon as I could. So how have you been doing?”

Azusa filled him in on his week, explaining about his sick co-worker and the spread that he was working on. He paused frequently asking Shin if he had enough to eat and if he was sleeping. Shin shrugged off the questions and gave pseudo answers, sometimes he didn’t even seem to be there at all.
A loud knock at Azusa’s door made him jump and he cursed under his breath as he swung it open. The waif swathed in black stood at his door looking up at him with large eyes, made even larger by her large thin-rimmed glasses. Armed with a clip board that she checked frantically, she gazed at his robed form and compressed her lips in a thin line with obvious pique.

“5-minute call Odagiri, Mr. Kaneshiro is getting impatient.”

Azusa snorted at the mention of the photographer’s agitation, was there a time the miserable bastard wasn’t getting impatient?

“I’ll be ready, please tell him I am on my way."

She nodded and he closed the door before she could say anything else. He grabbed his shirt and shrugged it on.

“Shin, I have to go make pretty for the masses, will you be alright?”

His voice was laced with regret. Shin did sound terrible, and he didn’t want him to feel abandoned.

Shin picked up on his hesitation and a soft sigh wafted into his ear.

“Go to work Azusa. I will call you later.”

“Promise?”

“Yeah. I will have a break between jobs in a few hours. I will call you then.”

Azusa wiped his hand down his face and smiled into the line.

“You take care of yourself and I will talk to you later.”

Shin agreed and then broke the connection. Azusa stared at his phone for a minute before buttoning up his shirt, again leaving three of the buttons undone. He felt uneasy. He knew he was probably just being over protective, but the man did not know when to take a break and allow himself to rest. He would just have to go visit him later tonight and see for himself that he was doing ok.
It took all of four hours for Azusa’s makeup and hair to be finished, for the lights to be set just right and for Mr. Kaneshiro to finish the rest of the spread. He was exhausted, but happy to finally be finished. He returned to the dressing room and changed into a pair of baggy jeans and a t-shirt. He left without even so much as looking back. He checked the call list on his phone. Shin still hadn’t called, dismissing the doubt, he dialed his manager and warned her that he would be unavailable for the rest of the night. She seemed ok with that, but did it really matter if she wasn’t?
He was walking down the hallway, when his phone rang, scaring him again and making him wonder if getting every phone call was worth all the heart attacks.

“Odagiri here.”

There was a moment of silence on the other end before Hatsumi’s winded voice broke it.

“Azusa, it’s Hatsumi. Are you busy?”

She sounded panicked and he was immediately on alert, even though that voice that knew everything screamed out in frustration, demanding that he hang up and just go see Shin. He pushed those thoughts away, frowning.

“What’s wrong Hatsumi?”

“It’s Shin…”

His heart skipped a beat and his hands gripped the phone fiercely.

“What about Shin?”

“It seems as though work has caught up with him again. He was almost finished with his shift at the convenience store when he just, collapsed. I thought that he was working too much, but apparently, he doesn’t notice until he has pushed too far. He is awake now, but he doesn’t want any help getting home, and he doesn’t want me to call our parents. I think that he intends to go the warehouse, but he isn’t strong enough to make another shift there, not tonight anyway. Oh, Azusa I am so worried, he just won’t listen to me. He is being so dang stubborn.”

Azusa cursed and kicked a nearby trash can. He knew that Shin wasn’t well, but instead of pressing the issue, he just continued to work. Why wasn’t he ever there when Shin needed him?

“Hatsumi, you keep him there, I will be right over to help you get him home.”

He could feel her relief through the phone.

“I admit Azusa, I was hoping that you would be able to help. I think Shinogu might listen to you.”

He grimaced, he wished it were true, but Shin very rarely listened to anyone, including him.

“Just hold on Hatsumi, I’ll be there in less than twenty minutes.”

He waited for her assurance that Shin wouldn’t be allowed to leave and hung up.

He sprinted out the door and called for a cab. Walking was too slow and he couldn’t bear a lengthy train ride. He shuddered, did he always have to do this? He had collapsed more than once due to sheer exhaustion, but he still refused to take the hint. He slid into the backseat and directed the driver to the convenience store through gritted teeth. Shin was going home, even if he had to bludgeon him and carry him there himself.