Pairing: Nakajima Yuto/Chinen Yuri
Summary: “Well, I mean,” Yuto scratched his head. “I think you’re pretty, but you’d also be photogenic. Ah, how do I put this?” A metaphorical light went off on his head and he jumped up. “You know all pretty people aren’t photogenic and all photogenic people aren’t pretty, but there’s something about your face that makes me want to photograph you. You’re perfect.”
Notes: This story has gone through so many plot changes I'm surprised I managed to finally put it to paper. I should probably clarify before you read. This story takes place during Yuto and Chinen's first year of college within the College Universe I've built up, but its not required you read the others to understand this one. Enjoy guys~
He really should have known better, to not wait until the absolute last moment to get his photography work done. It was only his first semester of college, and Yuto had already fallen behind on his assignment, and he had picked the most important to do so.
A portrait of anyone. Shot and edited by 5 pm that evening, no exceptions. It would be the final piece of his portfolio to determine his acceptance to the photography department next semester.
He hadn’t meant to wait until the due date, but life had caught up with him. And by life he had meant staying up until three o’clock in the morning to play videos games while forgoing his studies and projects.
Yuto could have asked Yamada to help him, but he had used his friend for an earlier project. He didn’t want to repeat subject like a few of his other classmates. He wanted his portfolio to be a diverse collection of faces and objects to make him stand out.
He hunted, scouring the campus for someone, anyone to be his subject. Several times he thought he found the perfect person, but, for one reason or another, he found fault in them. From their clothing choices or the location they were sitting in. Something didn’t feel right.
He had only meant to go to the cafeteria to grab something to eat, something quick and light so he could continue his search, but there he sat. He was alone, sitting at a table, lunch tray pushed off to his left as he combed through a small novel, eyes darting across the pages before he turned the page. His short black hair covered his forehead, but those eyes, far wiser than any Yuto had seen before, drew him in.
He found it.
“Hey, let me photograph you,” he said, plopping down next to the tiny stranger. The lens of his camera banged against the table and he fumbled around, checking to make sure it hadn’t dent at all.
The other boy didn’t look up from his book. “No.”
“Aw,” Yuto sighed, sliding further down into the seat. “But it’s so much fun. You get to be the center of attention and I get to click, click, click the shutter and capture your beauty for eternity.”
For just a moment, the book was lowered from the other boy’s face, eyebrow raised. “You do realize there are people in this world that don’t want to be photographed, right?”
“Yeah,” he said, nodding his head rapidly.
“And even if I keep saying no, you’ll still insist you want to shoot me because I’m pretty?” he asked.
“Well, I mean,” Yuto scratched his head. “I think you’re pretty, but you’d also be photogenic. Ah, how do I put this?” A metaphorical light went off on his head and he jumped up. “You know all pretty people aren’t photogenic and all photogenic people aren’t pretty, but there’s something about your face that makes me want to photograph you. You’re perfect.”
“You’re really childlike, aren’t you?” the other boy asked.
“Yama-chan tells me that all the time.”
“Ah, my roommate,” Yuto smiled. “He’s a bit of a dork, but I love him anyways. So you’ll let me do it, Mr. Stranger person?”
“Chinen,” he said. He marked his spot in his novel and placed the book on the table. “My name is Chinen, and I guess you can.” He went to grab his backpack from the floor but stopped. “How exactly does this work? Do we go to a studio or something?”
“I’m Nakajima, nice to meet you,” he said. “And we can stay here.” Yuto shrugged off his camera bag before removing the lens cap of his camera. He had already selected an 85mm lens to use, so he could get straight to shooting. “I’m supposed to be photographing people in a natural setting anyways. The cafeteria works perfectly.”
He was silent for a while, fiddling with the settings on his camera, trying to find the right balance of aperture and shutter speed. He did a few test shots, the photos not being the most flattering of Chinen, and Yuto had to keep himself from giggling.
“So, tell me about yourself,” he said, taking his seat next to Chinen once more.
“Wait, you’re not going to-”
“Nope.” Yuto shook his head. “Not until you’re comfortable with me. I’m not an animal. Would it be better if I went first?”
It took a moment before Chinen nodded.
“So when I was sixteen I kissed my best friend when he was sleeping.”
Yuto was sure if Chinen had been drinking something the contents would have squirted out with the way his eyes went wide. He had a hard time containing his laughter with the way Chinen looked.
“Relax, relax,” Yuto said, trying to calm himself down. “Yama-chan knows now. It’s not like I hid this huge secret from him for all of these years.”
“Wait, you kissed your roommate?”
“Yeah. We did it again for truth or dare. He’s surprisingly a good kisser.” He motioned over to Chinen’s forgotten food. “Are you gunna finish that?”
“No, you can have it,” Chinen pushed the tray closer to Yuto. “It must be hard. Having a crush on your roommate and you know he won’t date you because he’s straight.”
“Several things wrong with that statement,” Yuto said, munching through Chinen’s chips. “First, Yama-chan is definitely gay. I haven’t seen him so much as look at another girl since we were thirteen. Second,” he dug around the bag for the last few crumbs left, “I was mixing up love with admiration when I kissed him the first time. The second time was for laughs.” He turned the bag upside down, the last few crumbs dropping like flies to the earth. “What about you? Is there someone that you admire?”
“Shouldn’t you be, I don’t know, photographing me?” Chinen asked. His eyes went to his book, fiddling with the closed pages.
“Oh ho ho,” Yuto laughed. “There’s a story. Are you trying to hide something?”
“N-no. It’s nothing serious. I just-” he sighed. “You’re going to make me tell you, aren’t you?”
“Not really,” Yuto shrugged, rocking back and forth in his seat. “But it would be nice to get a little natural emotion from you."
There was a little blimp of silence, the only thing between them the soft creaking of Yuto’s chair. In the back of his mind was a silent count down, reminding him how much time he had left to shoot and edit his project before the deadline. He could move forward, find some other conversation to make Chinen a little less stiff, but something in his gut told him to stick along the tracks they were on.
Chinen sighed. “I can tell it’s going to bug you-”
“Very greatly,” Yuto cut in.
“-if I don’t so here. I admire one of my seniors in the theatre program. Like I said, nothing too serious,” Chinen added, almost a little too quickly. “He doesn’t talk a lot, and he’s usually by himself except when his music major friend comes to visit and watch rehearsals.”
“Oh,” Yuto nodded along. “I don’t get it. Why do you admire him? He seems kind of…dark.”
Chinen furrowed his brows, hands gripping a little too tightly to his novel. “Don’t act like you know him. I mean, yes, he doesn’t take rehearsals seriously and the new theatre students don’t understand how he can be cast in all of the lead roles, but then he takes to the stage. Nakajima, you should really see my senior act in person.”
There it was, the passion and fire Yuto had been looking for. Framed within his camera lens it was beautiful. The life that flowed through Chinen’s veins as he talked was stunning, as if an aura of light surrounded him as words were flung from his mouth with such speed and resonance. A few times Yuto caught himself just listening to Chinen’s words before he remembered his purpose and kept pressing the shutter button as quickly as he could.
“It’s beautiful,” Chinen continued. “Each word he speaks is perfectly articulated and spoken so that even someone sitting in the far corner can hear him. The passion he exudes walking across the stage,” he took a deep breath, his eyes struggling to focus on something, “its unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You want to look away, but you can’t bear to tear them away and miss a single second.
“No one understands why he’s in theatre though. There are so many times that he’s been late or hasn’t shown up because he went fishing,” a smile tugs at Chinen’s lips, and his eyes have gone softer. “There was one time our teacher called him in the middle of rehearsal and all he said was ‘oh, sorry’ before he hung up. He doesn’t care, but he has so much talent flowing through him."
Yuto lowered his camera. Going through the rolodex of his mind he knew he had a photo he could use. The world that Chinen had shared with him had been brilliant, so full of life and color. He had been right to choose this beautiful quiet boy, sitting off in a corner, for his photography project.
“He sounds like an interesting guy,” he said. “I was wrong to judge him.”
“I wanted to get closer to him, you know? Learn his secrets to become better or, I don’t know,” the more Chinen talked, the softer his voice became. “I-I wanted to become his friend. So when he asked if anyone would be his model for one of his drawings for his minor I volunteered.”
It was difficult, to bring his camera up once more. To separate himself as photographer and subject as Chinen continued to speak, but it was a moment he wanted to capture within time and space, to look back on later with fond memories. How could he let such beauty pass him by?
“I was able to see him work up close, his hands occupied with capturing me on the frame.” His eyes were fond, focusing somewhere off into the distance. “We didn’t talk much, but when we did there was such a calmness to him, like the moment before it starts to rain. I wish I could relive it all, being in that room for those hours just the two of us. I’ll never get to experience it again.”
It broke him, listening to the somber words of Chinen’s story. How, even such a graceful person could hold so much sorrow within him.
“You must really like him,” he whispered.
Chinen shook his head. “It’s not like that. I told you, I just admire him.”
The moment hangs between them, Yuto not daring to move or speak, his finger half pressing the shutter button, posed. He can feel it. Something is coming. A breath that will escape him if he’s not ready. His heart pounding, he waits.
“Besides,” Chinen finally speaks. “He has a girlfriend.”
Just as Chinen blinks, Yuto strikes, pressing the shutter button down and capturing the moment he’s been waiting for, and he lets it rest. He knows when to continue pushing for an assignment’s sake, but this is not one of those moments. He wants to gaze upon those gentle features of Chinen’s face with his own eyes, not behind the lens he’s come to call his home.
“Don’t be,” the fire is back in Chinen, the tender moment lost. “Like I keep saying I only admire him. That’s it.”
“Things happen for a reason,” Yuto said. He reaches across the table for his lens cap, securing it in place to protect the precious glass. “You’ll find someone that can love you better.”
“You don’t listen, do you?” Chinen asked. “Are you done already? That was quick.”
“Photo shoots don’t have to take long, and this is only for a beginner photography class, so my teacher isn’t expecting much,” Yuto explained. He secured his camera back into its bag. “When I actually get into the department I’ll be spending more time on everything. Oh,” he gasped. “I remembered something. All of our photos will be displayed in the photography building in about a week if you want to see the final product.” He bowed. “Thank you for this.”
“You’re welcome, I suppose.” He said. “I guess this is goodbye.”
“For now at least,” Yuto smiled. “I’m sure we’ll see each other soon.”
As he walks away, stomach full of food he swiped from Chinen’s forgotten tray, he feels his heart sink in his chest. He hates it, wished he didn’t have this self-proclaimed rule of becoming friends with the people he’s photographed. If he finds them later, after all is said and done, Yuto doesn’t mind talking with them once more, but he knows not to expect anything of the future, of meetings and reunions. If it’s meant to be, it will happen, but fate has never been kind to him.
“Yuto, I swear to god if you embarrass me tonight I’m going to kill you.”
Before Yamada could take two steps into his room, Yuto had already slammed his laptop shut and was attempting to act natural.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He always tried to play innocent, and it never worked. He had fooled Yamada the first few times, but, after a year a half, Yamada knew what to look for, a strained expression, a fake smile tugging at his lips. The only reason Yuto would ever have his external plugged into his laptop at their apartment was for one reason and one reason only.
“You could have asked for the guy’s number instead of staring at his photos longingly,” Yamada said, rolling his eyes.
“Don’t remind me,” Yuto groaned. “But I promised.”
“And your promises to yourself are stupid,” Yamada said. “Just put pants on or something. Remember, Keito and his roommate are coming over, and I really like the guy. Don’t be weird.”
“I’m never weird,” Yuto said, putting a hand over his chest.
“Just be good,” Yamada said, and he was gone as quickly as he came.
He waited until he heard more voices in their apartment before he moved, fingers finally unclasping from the cool metal of his laptop. He threw on a pair of sleep pants over his boxers, loose t-shirt swinging around his hips, before he padded out to the living room.
A chorus of laughter surrounded him as he yawned. Yamada was doing a fine job of entertaining their guests since it was supposed to be roommate night between the four of them, a night Yamada meticulously planned to become better friends with his crush.
“Wait, seriously?” one of the newcomers asked. “You’ve kissed your roommate before?”
“Yeah,” Yamada said. He was in his favorite arm chair sitting across from the other two that occupied their couch. “It was back when we were…seventeen I think?”
“Sixteen,” Yuto said, plopping down on the ground in front of their coffee table. “You should really let me tell the story.”
He finally took a good look at the two claiming his couch. The one sitting closer to Yamada has long wavy brown hair and a kind face but the other-
Yuto had difficulty keeping his jaw from dropping. That black hair, the gentle line of his jaw, and those eyes wise beyond his years. It could only be one person.
“I guess I should introduce everyone,” Yamada said. “This is Keito,” Yamada motioned towards the boy with longer hair,” and that is Keito’s roommate, Chinen. And this is my roommate, Yuto.”
Yuto nodded his head. “Nice to meet you guys.”
He had to force himself to look away, to keep himself from staring, but it was difficult. Especially with the way that Chinen was smiling at him. Chinen remembered him, even after all of this time.
Perhaps fate finally wanted to be kind to him.