'What the?' Noriko stared at her phone. There were pictures of her face glaring back at her from the screen. 'How did they?' "Kuri, what's going on?"
Kuri turned and leaned over Noriko's phone. "Ah, they're live now."
'Live?' "Isn't this for a magazine?"
Kuri shook her head. "They'd never agree I bring you for a shoot like that. Way too expensive. This is for some kind of on-line gig."
That made more sense than Noriko wanted to admit. Just looking around her confirmed what Kuri had just said. While indoors this was nothing like a proper make-up studio. A few hastily thrown together foldable chairs, a rig with industrial lightning, an almost clean tarpaulin to walk on and a closed off part of a shopping mall as background. That was their studio.
"Fine, you don't need professionals, but what's with me getting photos from my classmates?"
This time she got a smirk before Kuri said anything. "Had to call our teachers or else they'd go ballistic when we returned late."
That also made sense. Those photos hadn't been sent by any school staff though.
"Guess someone couldn't keep quiet," Kuri added.
Things slowly started to make sense in a very bad way. "Everyone in school knows the link to your little fashion show?"
Kuri rose and dragged Noriko to her feet. "Time to work." She pulled Noriko along her to wherever she wanted them to display some more poorly suited clothes for the season together with a couple of good looking boys who were just as much amateurs as Noriko. "Only the second years," she added just as the smattering of shutter noise started.
Noriko let out a sigh of relief until what Kuri had said registered. 'All the second years? That's the same as the entire school you moron!' Cause juniors had senior friends as well as freshmen ones. Like Tomasu and Jeniferu. 'Jeniferu, gods!' She never pulled her stops.
Thinking of that girl gleefully spreading the plague had Noriko make some kind of error she wasn't aware of. So did one of the boys, and they had to retake the entire shot.
While they were made ready again she threw the display windows around them a glance. There were clothes. While maybe not a perfect fit for Kuri what Noriko saw still suited pretty girls better than herself. There was a world made for those who already looked good. She snorted silently and pushed the thought out of her mind.
The next shot was better, but the approving words that followed it made her remember her own uncertainty. Cute, she knew she got called cute, but pretty and beautiful were words for the likes of Kuri and Hitomi. Sometimes, especially when she was happy, those words could be applied to Kyoko as well. Only Noriko was exempt.
'When did being pretty become so important?' From when she finally hauled Urufu in was the answer.
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"Kuri," Noriko said half naked between two sets of clothes, "why would being beautiful become more important after?" she asked.
Kuri threw herself into her clothes with the speed of a world class sprinter and began helping Noriko. "After what?" she said zipping up Noriko's backside.
Noriko fidgeted and pulled another zipper, one for her skirt. "You know, after Urufu… after we..."
"You had sex?" Kuri said deadpan.
"So you haven't?"
"I didn't mean..."
Kuri giggled and Noriko felt a reassuring hand on her shoulders. "I know." The hand vanished and Noriko felt herself being pulled outside the miniscule privacy offered by a few flimsy blankets on hangers. "It doesn't work that way. You tried even before you became a couple, but you didn't know?"
"Didn't know?" Knowing could mean so many different things.
"Let's get this one over with and I'll explain," Kuri offered.
There were more shots, and Kuri promised Noriko looked absolutely stunning, and after that they got a decent break, which meant more than a few minutes, for something to eat.
With a tray half full with whatever substituted for food during work like this Noriko glared at Kuri to make her honour her promise.
"What?" Kuri asked. She must have forgotten.
"About Urufu," Noriko tried and stuffed her mouth full with bread.
"Urufu? Ah, yes." Kuri swallowed something of her own and stared at her plate. "When Urufu and I still… sorry, before you and Urufu, you know," Kuri began, and Noriko sent her a grateful thought for changing her words. "You still wanted to look good. Almost everyone does. Thing is," there was a pause while Kuri looked like she was searching for the right thing to say, "you tried to look good, for your own fantasy," she finished.
"Fantasy?" Noriko had an idea where this was going, but she still wanted it said.
"Uhum," Kuri nodded with her moth full of food. She looked like anything but a super model. "You didn't know what Urufu liked, and when it comes to him it's, well, it's more difficult than usual."
'You could say that.' Urufu's taste in clothes was a disaster in its own right. "You mean I imagined an Urufu and tried to dress up for my imagination?"
"Yeah, something like that. Now when you're together you're supposed to know him better and you're guessing what the real him wants."
'The real him. I've been in love with several real hims. Which one?' "But he's got horrible taste," Noriko said. She knew she was changing the subject, but the thought of handling different versions of Urufu made her head spin.
"You know," Kuri said and smiled. "His taste in girls clothing isn't all that bad. It's old fashioned, sure, but he's got a pretty good eye there. It's just himself," Kuri added and shuddered. "I wish he had it as easy as me dressing well."
'Because you really have it easy, and you just had to say it to my face.' Noriko sulked, but then resolve built in her. Resolve was good. Resolve was what she had in spades. Resolve, she believed, was part of what Urufu found attractive in her. 'I'm so going to pump you for everything I need.'
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