“Get up you lazy bum someone’s knocking on the door!” Ayu heard a voice screech into her ear and groaned. Oh god, who the hell was trying to wake her up? “Ayu! It’s probably that kid you hired come on! What time did you tell him you start?”
“I didn’t!” She mumbled sleepily rubbing the back of her head as she mustered up the will to face the horrific nightmare that was getting up in the morning. “Who the hell shows up at-“ Wait…what time was it? She squinted glancing at her phone. “9 AM?”
“Yeah, the regular human population has been up for about two hours already.”
Ayu glared at Christine who grinned back at her arrogantly. Christine loved teasing her about her night owl habits but thankfully never judged her despite being one of those crazy morning people who actually exercised. “Why aren’t you at work yet?”
“My boss said I could sleep in.”
“You know this boss of yours is a little too nice to you don’t you think?” Christine appeared to ponder this with her forefinger placed thoughtfully on her chin. Ayu yawned loudly and felt her heart jump up at the sound of a loud rap on the door. “Oh god, is that him? God that’s annoying...think you can tell him to stop?” She slowly got out of the bed and trudged like a zombie towards the washroom as Christine shook her head.
“Fine, but I’m letting him into the house. Come out dressed decently!” An odd sounding undead sort of groan from the washroom assured Christine that Ayu was fine with that, hopefully…so she marched over to the door and whipped it open shocking a very eager looking young man. “So you’re-“
“Nishikido Ryo- it’s very nice to-“ He mumbled out quickly his mouth and his eyes moving at ridiculous speeds as they took in everything in their surroundings. Wow this guy must have been pretty desperate for work.
“Yeah yeah, just come in and sit.” Ayu was going to eat him alive. Christine was sure if she saw him at the end of the day today he’d look like a fellow zombie. He grinned unsure, stepping into the house and stood there. “So Ayu will be out-“
“Ah yes Ms.Hamano mentioned that she wakes up a little later but with the first day-“
“Yeah, yeah that’s fine. Listen I’m going to get going. My name’s Christine but I doubt we’ll run into each other much Nishikido. Good luck today okay?”
“Ryo.” He corrected smiling at her as he held his hand out. She shook it politely, he had a nice smile this Ryo. If only he wasn’t so nervous. Why was he so nervous anyways? “Sorry I forget I should be introducing myself as Ryo Nishikido instead of Nishikido Ryo. Bad habit from you know - back in my country. I’m not an immigrant though! I was born here but then I moved back and - I mean I don’t think I have an accent but you neve-”
“No worries, make yourself at home.” She gestured towards the couch and just as she made her way out she heard the guy call out belated.
“I hope to see you around.” She nodded back smiling to herself. Normally, she would be freaked out but since last night - well Christine had felt a change in herself. She felt a little hope. Especially since Ryo looked a little bit similar to that guy she’d been talking to- Yamashita Tomohisa, with the same foolish 2D smile and golden sun-kissed skin.
She hit her head lightly as she locked up and giggled towards the elevator. Mrs.Norris from two houses down looked at her like she was an idiot but Christine could only shrug and smile back at her brightly.
After a moment of silence, Mrs.Norris scoffed and looked at her outfit up and down. “Christine, dear.”
“Yes Mrs.Norris?” What would it be today?
“Honey, it would be nice to wear something that left something to the imagination.” Christine glanced down at her outfit. What the hell? She was wearing dark blue jeans, a shirt and a leather jacket!
And no one asked her either!
Back in the apartment, Ayu stumbled out into the living room in her shoddy work dress that she’d managed to find her closet. “Ah, Hamano-san I mean Ms.-“
“Calm down, sit your butt on the couch and let me get some coffee and we’ll chat okay?”
“Ah- okay.” The overly eager apprentice blinked quickly as he gulped down the ball of anxiety in his throat as he watched his new boss disappear into the kitchen. He immediately decided to busy himself with arranging all of the documents he had brought to the first day of work because Hamano-san hadn’t sent them over. Mostly they consisted of tax forms, reference letters, a list of questions he had for her about the website, a strategy plan, and his passport. The last one was overkill but the way this girl had drilled him at the interview only reminded him too much of his nerve-wracking customs experience when he’d come to America again and had to prove he was a citizen.
When his boss re-entered the living room she’d brought with her a cup of coffee for him which he grabbed gratefully, missing the small smile on her face as she sat down in front of him. “Okay, let’s set some ground rules up. First don’t dress up this much. We work out of my house.”
But there wasn’t a chance for him to speak up more. “Secondly- don’t flirt with my roommate, that's fucking weird buddy.”
Oh damn, she’d heard that? “I wasn’t-“
“Pish posh you were flirting. I run a dating site man, I know what flirting sounds like and I mean at least if the lines you were hitting it with were good I may have given you her number but your game needs an upgrade if you’re going to be on this site as its employee.” Her narrowed gaze made him blush that he’d been caught red handed. As Ayu watched the younger boy color in front of her she wanted to laugh in his face but decided to spare his manly ego this bruising. “Finally, do you have any questions?”
“Yeah- I mean yes.” He cleared his throat and folded his hands together on his lap. Underneath the table top of a desk this movement would look quite normal and professional, on a couch it just made him look a little bit like a housewife. “What would you like me to start working on today?”
Ayu stifled a giggle and clapped a hand on his shoulder. She simply hoped he was eager enough that he’d solve all her problems for her. “Let’s talk about business then shall we Nishikido-“
“I think we should be bringing in lots and lots of phallic objects into the studios I mean let’s be honest now half of 1D’s fans are freaking gay.” Christine wasn’t sure if she wanted to hurt Chace or laugh in his face. It all depended on how serious he was about his concept for the very lucky chance their studio had gotten to handle the creative shoot for Vanity Fair’s upcoming British Takeover issue. “You put the dicks in there trust me, the magazine will fly off the shelves like a guy-”
Which of course included the fabulously loved British Boy band. “Yeah I think that’s one dick-rection we’re not taking this in Chace.” Her boss Dylan smirked behind his hand glancing over at her. “Christine any ideas?”
She’d been thinking about this on her way over, simply because this was the whole reason Dylan had let her borrow the car when she’d needed it. “Grow them up. Take them to the past. Make them relive the British bands of the past -access nostalgia. It is Vanity Fair so we can’t just take pictures of them - they have to mean something. Bring in the icons, Mick Jagger, John Lennon- vibe them out to that artsy vibe. Change them and their image forever.”
“Yeah we have to be careful about that - we can’t just put up a sexed up Liam-“ Dylan
“Please Liam would so not be the one sexed up - if anyone is a Mick Jagger it’s freaking Harry,” Emma blew out the bubble in her mouth, nodding knowledgeably as she didn’t bother to hide her smile as she dazed off into a small air bubble fantasy. Christine could only hope to not imagine what was running through the girl’s head. “I mean it’s almost as big as Jon Hamm’s.” Christine cringed. Gross. Harry was like five years her junior.
Chace gasped loudly as he patted Emma on the back proudly. “Agree with the first one and fuck no are you kidding? No one beats Michael Fassbender.”
Oh god, once it got to Michael Fassbender this talk could almost never be stopped. “Please guys there is too much dick in this conversation. Totally unnecessary.” Christine blurted out as Dylan nodded enthusiastically.
“I agree, can we take a break from all that? Any thought of male anatomy right now just makes me want to cut something down, preferably the aforementioned male anatomy.” Their lighting lead Hime spoke up jabbing her pen roughly into the paper as the room silenced.
“That’s a little scary Hime- we’ll get back to that later I promise.” Dylan slowly inched his chair away from Hime towards Christine who snickered. Hime had just gone through a pretty bad break up with her boyfriend who she’d been seeing for about a month unofficially and then five months officially after that. “So yes, are we going with nostalgia? I’ll message Vanity Fair.”
“We can always do Candy Bubble Pop.”
“Overexposed.” Dylan sighed. “But I’ll add it to the idea list just to make nostalgia appear better.”
“It’s not like we can make 1D tackle serious political issues.”
“What if they’re themselves-“ Hime spoke up and the rest of the team turned to look at her thoughtfully. “I mean they were literally just hanging out and we took some pictures and waited for the right shot to happen.”
“Ugh, candid guerilla photography is the worst. You get shots that look like this.” Emma exaggereated her facial features during a laugh making Christine snicker at the snapshot image that she hoped was burned into her memory forever. “I mean like what is that face is it even human?”
“It’s definitely something to consider. I’m sure the boys would be more comfortable with something like that.” As Dylan noted the thought down another modification flew to Christine’s head.
“Add that to a party studio setting and we have ourselves a pretty winning set I think.” Christine butted in and saw the table ponder this. “Balloons, phallic shaped if we really need them to be Chace,” Chace immediately nodded his approval. “Loads of freaking glitter everywhere.” Emma cheered happily for this idea. “We can play around with the lights to make it sexy to playful naturally play up their expressions so it’s not totally candid style and then totally add the classy old school vibe.”
“I love you, will you marry me?” Hime burst out loudly making the rest of the studio turn to look at her confused again. “Total joke Christine. I’m sorry for being inappropriate in an office environment but honestly, love it. Dylan, make it happen.” As she stood up and left the room packing her things up, Emma and Chace glanced at each other and shrugged and got up as well.
“You know - I thought I was the boss here.” Dylan looked so forlorn, Christine felt bad for him till she saw the light of mischeviousness in his eyes and smirked. “Does she want me to make her marriage happen or the shoot?”
“You are the boss Dylan!” Then trailing off the end of her voice she snickered. “In theory.”
He rolled his eyes and ushered her out of the room. “Bye Christine. Get to work before I set you up on a real date with Hime?”
“That was mean!” Christine hit his arm playfully. “She’s emotionally fragile right now!”
“Oh right, so caring Christine,” Dylan threw his hands up in the air apologetically. “Pray tell me, how do you always look so cool? Why aren’t you ever emotionally fragile?”
“Oh trust me, Dylan.” She twirled lightly on her heels and threw her hair back over her shoulders dramatically. “You don’t ever want to see that. Just be happy you hang out with over confident, snarky Christine. Speaking of- tomorrow night is it all right if I basically just skip out at 3:30?”
Dylan was scanning through his phone, responding to her request with a healthy tone of ‘I-don’t-give-a-shit’. “Why not?”
“Yes. Okay, you said it can’t take it back. Bye!” She tapped him happily on the shoulder as he looked up at her from his nerd block glasses shaking his head and walking in the opposite direction where his office was situated.
He really did have a penchant for hiring lunatics didn’t he?
“And so the world would never-
“CUT!” Toma yelled out into the mic and shook his head as he looked at the way the voice actor in the recording studio glared at him. This was the 30th time that Toma had asked him to stop. Pi wanted to kill his best friend himself…but then again he was being let into Warner Bros studios for free he couldn’t really complain all that much even if he wanted to. “Ah…sorry Rick can you say that with a little more epic in your voice please?”
“What the hell does a little more epic sound like?” Pi muttered, snickering as he saw the guy in the studio’s jaw drop slightly. Apparently, he didn’t know what epic sounded like either. In the far distance of his gaze he saw his phone blink and grabbed it grinning at the notification. Christine had messaged to ask if they were still on for tomorrow…which they were but Pi decided he wouldn’t message back until three hours from now even though he’d read the message.
That was how the game was played right? “Epic?” Rick parroted back as Toma nodded.
“I need life or death voice, not I need to go pee in three seconds voice.” The voice actor seemed even more irritated. Toma was messing around with the rerecords on the computer while Pi kicked his feet up on the soundboard. “Yah yah Yamashita! Feet on the ground son, this isn’t your mom’s house. This is a freaking mecca of film all right?”
“Yes trailer boy, I got it.” He rolled his eyes smirking at his friend who just smiled back at him, hitting him over the head as he brought his feet down. “You just love touching my head too much.”
“Yes, I love your head so much I want to hit it every time I see it.”
“How is any of this conversation convincing me that this isn’t your secret boyfriend Toma?” Toma’s co-worker, Katy, spoke up from Toma’s other side. Pi had to laugh because it was funny…he’d thought he was the only one who made fun of Toma. Maybe there was just something innately about that guy that made you want to bully the shit out of him.
Probably because he screamed momma's good boy from all angles.
“Fuck off guys, I’m not gay.”
“You JUST said you loved his head-“ Katy wiggled her eyebrows suggestively winking at Toma who looked increasingly disgusted and appalled with Katy’s dirty thoughts.
“You did say that. I must say my head is splendid.”
“EW.” Toma shrieked. “I’d much rather get head from Katy here than you! And I don’t even like her!”
“Oh my god you sick pervert I meant my head not my head!” Pi shoved his knuckles into Toma’s head who yelped rather unattractively. He rubbed his temple looking back at his hand to see if Pi’s uber manly strength had actually drawn blood from his head. “Stop being so dramatic Toma.”
“Hey man, eitherways is good. It’s me or Pi pick.” Katy giggled as Pi followed suit snickering with only Toma looking irritated but that probably had more to do with Rick than either of them. “Also thanks for hurting my feelings Toma, I thought we were bros.”
Toma groaned, whining loudly. Seriously what the hell was he thinking when he brought Katy together with his best friend Yamashita Tomohisa? “Why the hell did I invite you to our company outing?” Pi wasn’t sure but he knew he was happy he came out. It had been a while since he’d been mischievous.
“Because we’ve been dying to meet your boyfriend-“
“KATY I swear to god one more word about his idiot being my bo-“ But Toma didn’t a chance to say much more, and neither did Rick because the head of the fantasy trailer department was transformed into a puppy. “Mommy?” Pi snickered as he saw the way Toma lovingly held the phone, pressed tightly to his cheek. He pushed his swivel chair closer to Toma to overhear the kid’s conversation but Toma immediately got up and walked out of the room.
When it came to his mom, Ikuta Toma was fiercely protective- he had to be. He was the only son in the house and his mother had worked extremely hard to send him where he was.
You know it helped that his mom was one of the coolest women in the world, a VP of the extremely artistic Yamaha group. Her story was famous amongst business women who aspired to climb the ranks quickly. Everyone knew the story behind the single mother who transformed her life from being a mere mailroom clerk to one of the driving forces behind a multinational company.
Or at least, that was what Pi heard from Toma constantly. Feeling naughty he grabbed the mic that Toma used to speak into the studio where Rick was. “So dick - I mean Rick - what does epic mean to you?” When he saw the guy’s face pale he had to snicker heavily, Katy was having trouble holding back her own laughs as she threw a pen in Pi’s direction playfully.
As Toma leaned back against the door to his studio he smiled brightly. He’d been waiting for his mom to call him. Now that he was older and no longer really needed to talk to her every day that old lady had been slacking off on caring about him. He worried about her incessantly though. “So how was the trip to Italy? Is my busy woman all relaxed?”
“Yes…and overweight. Thank you for caring so much about your old woman.” Hearing her laugh was enough for his heart to be appeased. He wasn’t going to lie, he was pretty proud that he’d saved up enough money on his own to send his mom to Italy. “It would have been nice to have you too-“ Saving up for the two of them would have taken too long, but saving just enough for her happened incredibly quickly. So he’d decided to forego the trip and just send her by herself.
Besides if he’d have gone she’d have spent the whole time worrying about him and this trip was about letting her finally relax.
“Ah mom, don’t lie. I’m sure you were just as happy by yourself.”
“Keh what’s the point yes- I was happy not worrying about preparing your clothes for the next day-“
“You do that yourself. I’ve always told you I can dress myself.”
“Yes that may be true - but you dress yourself so badly Toma. Who the hell buys an orange tie with purple dots on it?”
“Kaa-san, it was scene fashionnn and I grew out of it!”
“I thought I was going to get mad when you used to dress in all those clothes with that eyeliner-“
“Kaa-san! I grew up!” He kicked his feet out laughing. “Neh, neh how was Italy though really?”
“It was nice Toma. Kaa-san saw a lot, she ate a lot, she relaxed a lot- and Kaa-san decided something she wanted to tell you today.”
“Eh what’s that?” He was ready to hear it. He was the best son ever. He was amazing. He deserved an award.
“Kaa-san is leaving her job to enjoy her life more.” Eh?! That was great news! He knew how hard his mother worked because hell she worked harder than he did most days. She was at the office late into the night, encouraging her team members to work their hardest and she delivered the best results Yamaha had seen in a long time because of her strategic management of the company’s supply chain division.
“Mah, it’s about time! I make my own money now so you don’t need to worry about me-“
“Yah Toma sometimes you have to let Kaa-san finish talking all right?” He could hear the mild irritation in her voice and snickered to himself. “Kaa-san has something important to say.”
“Hai, hai. Dozo.” He heard his mother intake a large breath.
“Kaa-san met someone on the trip, Toma.”
Of course she did! She must have met a hundred someones! It was Italy, the country they both loved so much! “Mah I know you must have made so many friends-“
“Can you tell me their names? Your fiftieth birthday is coming up soon neh? We have to plan well for that and-“
“Toma-“ He heard his mom in take an exhausted breath. She must have been so tired, that company must have been working her especially hard because she was leaving
“Neh but mama are they all Italian? Or Japanese? The tour I booked you on was held by an English company so you-“
“Toma- I’m getting married.”
Inside the room, Pi was booming into the mic with Rick by his side. “We need real emotion when we say ‘It didn’t last long even though they had embraced the darkness all night’-“ He hollered into the mic. “Like that right Katy?”
“Yeah yeah, Rick follow Pi’s lead. You remember the next line right?”
“Of course!” Rick nodded enthusiastically, excited to please Katy in any way he possibly could. “That’s what she said!” Katy cracked up, slapping her hand against the chair as Rick’s trailer voice echoed as the sound of the door opening ran through the studio.
“Ah Toma, you finished being a momma’s boy?” Katy called out but he didn’t respond to her. She frowned as she saw the way he sluggishly moved towards his chair, not at all peeved by the way his best friend was singing into the mic. “Yo, you okay?” He shook his head. “What happened?” He shrugged and put his phone down on the counter before taking a deep sigh. “Toma- why do you look like you just got divorced?”
At that he let out a sinister laugh so fake it made Katy’s spine tingle. “She’s getting married. That- THAT- UGH!” He shuddered. “She’s so- gah. Old! Why do old people get married?”
Because his father had died very young, Toma had never had to worry about sharing his mother with anyone. Not another sibling, not another one of his mom’s siblings, not even his own father. He had been the sole focus of her attention and now knowing that his mom was getting married was irritating him beyond belief. He knew he should be mature about this. He should be mature. “And the worst part is- she just thinks she loves him!”
“Maybe she does-“
“He isn’t even Japanese!”
“Ouch!” Katy pressed a hand to her heart and Toma growled.
“That’s not what I mean Katy! I mean it’d be fine-“
“You know you’re like 26. Don’t you think you’re pretty much too old to have this crisis?” The way Katy’s eyes were looking at him, it was clear she thought he was being a kid but fuck he didn’t care! His mom was getting married okay, Katy didn’t have a right to speak to him like that. Coming from basically the strictest Catholic family ever her parents had been married (and would be married) to each other forever.
Pi poked his head out of the recording studio as he saw his best friend’s face slowly change colour from a red fury, to a blue lack of air. “Yo, you all right?”
It was most decidedly clear when Toma walked over to the garbage can and kicked it very loudly, like a complete infant, that he was not all right at all.