Title: A Quality of Light
Words: About 2,700
Summary: Artist Salvatore Greyson lived by two – and only two – rules. He never fucked models, and he only worked with women. Grady Scott didn't follow the rules.
Disclaimer: Saiyuki characters
are the property of Minekura Kazuya. I make no profit from this story.
Author's notes: For the lovely, gracious and generous Mercifulkanzeon (better known and loved as Rroselavy), as a thank you for 7thNight_Smut.
Email: samsarapine [at] yahoo [dot] com
A Quality of Light
Greyson flipped through the pages of the portfolio in
front of him, ignoring the young woman's wide eyes and eager expression as she
leaned across the table, watching him.
Her skin had the freshness and luminescence he was looking for, but her
colouring was wrong – too blonde, too blue-eyed. He abruptly slid the photos back into the
leather portfolio case and closed it.
"Won't work," he said, pushing the case across the table and reaching for his cigarettes.
The woman leaned forward some more, emphasising her cleavage. "But I've modelled for de Campos. He said my skin had--"
"Your skin isn't the problem," Salvatore interrupted. "You're too washed out. I need someone with a little life in them."
She smiled demurely. "Perhaps I could change your mind--"
"I don't fuck models." Salvatore sat back in his chair and tapped out a fag. "Get out. If I need an ice princess, I've got your number."
"Please." Tears magically brimmed in her eyes. "I've always wanted to work with you. It would mean so much to me if you hired me as your model. Try me, just for an afternoon--"
Salvatore lit the cigarette and took a drag, then blew the smoke out. "Look for another artist to pad your portfolio. Now, get out." He stared at her clinically.
Colour washed over her cheekbones.
Still doesn't have enough. Even her reds are just washed-out pinks and greens and blues.
"They're right," she said, glaring. "You're a bastard." She gathered up her portfolio and swept out of the room, head held high.
"Tch." Though now, he had a problem. Three months to finish the fucking mural, or Kanny would sue his ass, just for a laugh. Goddamn relatives. They paid shit for good work and then stood over your shoulder giving you opinions as if they had a fucking clue what art was.
He looked around the studio and pondered what the hell to do next. The sun had moved just beyond the zenith, which meant he'd probably missed lunch again. This was the time of the afternoon he preferred to sketch, saving the early morning and late afternoon hours for the actual painting, when the shadows and quality of light were most dramatic and elusive.
The studio itself was an artist's wet dream. Glass enclosed the space, a long, sloping transparent roof overhead, with two glass walls that framed the hills and valleys to the north of the campus. His reputation as an artist had got him in the door, but it was Kanny's money that had persuaded the university elite to forego the required teaching contract and allow him the space for his exclusive use. The university got to list Salvatore Greyson as an artist-in-residence, he got good light and a locked door. Everyone came out ahead.
He crushed out the cigarette and wished he hadn't finished the whiskey the night before.
He looked at the door. A shock of brown hair hovered there.
"This where the model interviews are?"
Shit. Unless she had an annoying voice, some idiot who couldn't read a fucking ad had shown up to waste his time.
"Go away. I'm only interviewing women."
The brown hair ventured further into the room, unveiling itself as the crowning glory of a face too round, too brown and too fucking the wrong gender. "Oh, hey, yeah, I know. But Professor Cho told me to tell you to talk to me anyway."
The kid's voice grated inside of Salvatore, deeper than hearing, as if it were setting up residence inside his head. "Professor Cho is full of shit."
A huge grin spread across the kid's face. "I'm not gonna be the one to tell him that," he said, approaching the work table. "Wow," he added, the grin fading into an awestruck look, "you're really pretty. Your hair – it glows."
The kid stepped into the sunlight streaming down through the glass ceiling of the studio, and Salvatore's breath caught.
He knew this boy. He'd never seen him before in his life, but he knew him. He'd looked into those golden eyes sometime, someplace, some other life...
He couldn't move as the kid came closer and tilted his head. "It's like the sun."
So are you. "What's your name?"
The boy seemed to wake from some kind of a trance at the harsh tone. "Grady. Grady Scott." He held out a hand. "Pleased to meetcha."
Salvatore ignored it. The kid had seemed so ordinary standing in the doorway, but here, close up, he felt almost battered by Scott's vitality. He was alive. Alive in a way that Salvatore never remembered being. "How old are you?" he asked abruptly.
"Twenty-two." Scott dropped his hand, not seeming to be offended, just waiting.
"Have you modelled before?"
"Then why did you come?"
The kid shrugged. "I need the money, and Professor Cho thought you'd pay me pretty well. Besides," he said, "I was curious."
"You. Everybody talks about you around campus, you know." Scott scratched the back of his neck. "They say you're creepy and nasty and don't treat people like people."
"And you think that telling me that will get you hired?"
"Nah." Scott hopped up onto the table and swung his legs, grinning. "But I figure it can't hurt at this point, either. Plus, I like you. You're sorta comfortable, you know?"
"No, I don't know." Salvatore studied Scott. "Being a figure model is hard work. You'd have to hold a pose for an hour or more. Can you hold still that long?"
"Given the right incentive, sure."
The response was way too enthusiastic to be a come on. The kid fucking meant it. "What would that be?"
"Money, but that's a given. Dinner? Lunch? Not like fast food or anything," he added hastily. "You know, better stuff. Noodles and burritos and stuff, like they sell on the carts down on the library mall."
"'Better stuff'," Salvatore mocked, but fuck if he wasn't actually giving the kid's proposition serious thought. To capture that vitality on canvas… could he do it? It would be a challenge. Kanny had wanted a piece with beauty pushed to the sublimely lewd. Scott had neither beauty nor overt sex appeal, and regardless of his amazing eyes, his skin had the coarse, flat quality that was one of the most disgusting characteristics of the male form. Light would sit on him or bounce off, it would never clothe him in luminescence. No, the glow would have to come from his eyes and his pose…
"Shut up." Salvatore stood and stepped away from the table so he could see Scott better in the light. "Get up and turn. Slow."
Scott slid off the table and turned around, glancing back over his shoulder. "Like this?"
Damn. That's just so – powerful. Trust, but confidence, eager, but comfortable in his skin.
"Walk to the other end of the studio and back."
"No, you moron, normal. If you do normal, that is," Salvatore added in a mutter as Scott bounced across the room and back.
"What's this black stuff? It's springy! Is it like the stuff they use at the gym?"
"It's rubber matting. Rubber matting is rubber matting no matter where it is, idiot. Now strip."
Scott pulled his shirt over his head and slid out of his sneakers and jeans. He was wearing boxers with little – somethings – all over.
"Are those elephants?"
Scott shook his head. "Mastodons. You know, like our mascot."
What the hell was he getting himself into? Salvatore sighed. "Lose 'em."
He dropped his boxers and stood there, perfectly at ease. Salvatore narrowed his eyes. Good. No false modesty to worry about. Now, could the brat hold a pose?
"Stool," Salvatore pointed with his chin as he dragged his supply cart over to his easel. "Sit. Left leg, up, bent. Yeah, you can rest your foot on the rung, but face away. I want a three-quarter view. Chin down. No, no good. Chin forward, look at me. Left hand on your left thigh, right arm back. No, you moron," he said, stalking over to Scott and grabbing his right arm. "Put it here. Chin like this, shoulders back." He manipulated Scott until he was in some semblance of a pose. "Right. Hold that." He headed back for the easel, put a canvas on it and picked up his charcoal.
"Until I tell you to stop." Though he'd looked stocky in his clothes, Scott had good lines. His muscles were lean and well-defined and he actually had an ass, which was one up on most of the women he'd been using. Salvatore filled the canvas with his body, blocking in the lines and angles – not many curves, which was annoying, but what you got with male models, after all – and judging how light played over the bones of Scott's face and wrists. He dropped the charcoal and picked up his palette and a brush.
"Can I talk?"
"If you don't move." The paint was flowing well. It was almost as if he knew Scott's body as well as he knew his own: the powerful forearms, the fluid joints, the way his hair leapt off his head as if eager to fly in a wind. Salvatore's brush slid over the canvas as smoothly as a finger slid over skin. He worked furiously to capture the shadows before the sun moved too far, using broad strokes to capture shapes and forms that he could later fill in with detail.
"So, why'd you start painting?"
"I didn't say you could talk to me. If that's what you want to do, shut up."
"Okay." Scott shut up for probably thirty seconds. "My nose itches."
"I can't. It really itches."
"Shut up and ignore it."
"But it really--"
Salvatore dropped his brush into his turps jar and slammed the palette down on the cart. He stalked over to Scott. "Where?"
"Sort of on the left."
"Idiot," Salvatore muttered, rubbing Scott's nose.
"Any lower and I'll be shoving my finger up it."
"My name's Grady," Scott said, grinning. "You can use it, you know."
"Why use it when 'idiot' works?" Salvatore stepped back. "Can we get back to work, now?"
Salvatore snorted and picked up a new brush.
"What's this for?"
"A corporate commission."
"They buy naked paintings?"
"It's for my aunt's office," Salvatore said through clenched teeth. "She owns Self Love."
"The style magazine?"
"The style empire. And what do you know about style?" he added, thinking of the mastodons.
"Huh. Everybody knows about that magazine." Grady grinned. "Cool. I can tell all my friends that the owner of Self Love has a naked painting of me hanging in her office. I've got a friend, Gervaise, total perv. He'll be so jealous!"
Salvatore paused. Somehow, the thought of Kanny seeing Grady's body bothered him. He frowned at the canvas. Grady seemed fine with it. Why did he feel so…
He snorted. Fuck it. He painted to paint. If people got their rocks off on his work, it was their problem, not his. And if Grady posed naked for money, well, at least posing never gave anyone a STD.
Now, if he could only capture Grady's Apollo's belt... "Oi!"
Fuck. The second reason he hated working with male models just reared its head, literally. "Get rid of it."
Grady looked down. "I'm not hard-hard, just a little. Can't you ignore it?"
"You were limp when I first started painting. Make it limp again."
"Then stop looking at me." Grady's face was flaming.
"I'm fucking painting you! Tell me just how the hell I'm supposed to stop looking at you!"
"It's not my fault that you're pretty!"
"Don't fucking tell me that you're getting a crush on me?"
"I'm not!" Grady shouted at the same moment that his prick proudly stood tall, belying his words.
Secretly, Salvatore was impressed that Grady was matching him glare for glare. Professionally, Grady was a disaster as a model. "Look, get dressed. It's not working. And I don't fuck my models, no matter what you've heard."
"I'll pay you for your time." Salvatore glanced at the clock; he often lost track of time while he was working. Grady had held the pose nearly two hours. Impressive for a first modelling stint. "I pay twenty an hour."
"All right then, fifty bucks for the whole session."
"Listen to me when I'm talking to you!" Grady shouted. He leapt off of the stool and stalked over to Salvatore, grabbed his head and pulled him down into a kiss. Salvatore had a somewhat confused impression of heat and wet and tacos and coke and was just getting a glimmer of the possibilities possessed by an almost prehensile tongue when Grady pushed him away. "You gonna listen or what?" he asked belligerently.
Salvatore glared back at him. "Shut up."
"You're hard, too," Grady pointed out.
Damn. He was. He refused to allow Grady to see his surprise. "That's none of your business."
"It is if you're getting hard by looking at me."
"And how do you figure that?"
"Because I'm hard and you're hard and I'm naked and you're pretty and, well, I don't really need to say anymore, am I right?"
Grady's eyes glowed as golden as the sun, a heated flush burned red across his body (red, not pink, not even blush, but bloody, sinful red) and Salvatore knew, knew deep in his gut which was the only thing that he ever trusted, that Grady was right.
That didn't mean he had to surrender easily.
Grady pounced, pressing that hot, blood-red, sun-gold flesh against him and rutting against his leg while pulling his face down into the most sinful kiss that had ever crossed Salvatore's lips and his gut reasoned that yeah, yeah, no surrender, but that didn't mean he couldn't be defeated quickly and he knotted his fists in coarse brown hair and rutted against Grady's gorgeous iliac furrow, which had started the whole damned mess anyway, at least by Salvatore's reckoning.
At some point, Grady stripped him, but he wasn't sure if it was during the mind-numbingly intense oral sex or the rough-calloused hand job or the wild cowboy ride that ended with Grady spraying semen everywhere while Salvatore arched his hips up and up and up until he fell back on the padded floor, exhausted.
They lay panting side by side in the aftermath, next to a bottle of linseed oil emptied into a slick wet puddle that looked black on the thick rubber floor matting and that stunk to high heaven and Salvatore's overturned box of mostly-emptied tubes of paint which had briefly hidden the linseed oil from view before Grady's broad arm-swipe had knocked it off the cart and he'd triumphantly held up his prize while making a fucking god-awful mess.
After a disgustingly short interval, Grady bounced to his feet. Salvatore debated killing him for his damned youthful exuberance, except that Grady brought back his cigarettes and lighter, which earned him a short stay of execution.
"It's limp." Grady grinned.
"Smart ass," Salvatore answered, blowing out a stream of smoke. The sun had moved to the time of the day when shadows started to get interesting. He stubbed the cigarette out on a paint-encrusted mixing tray and stood. He pushed Grady. "Get up. It's time to get back to work." Shit. "You do remember your pose, don't you?"
Grady winced a little when he climbed on the stool, but in seconds he was posed. "Like this?"
Salvatore pulled his trousers up and fastened them, glaring at Grady. "Brat." He glanced back at his canvas.
Grady had captured it perfectly. All that, and body memory, too.
Yeah. He'd do.
Kanny would have her fucking mural.
Grady beamed. It suddenly seemed as if his skin glowed golden, as if his happiness and sheer joy in living poured out like the sun from his eyes and face and clothed him.
Salvatore pulled a brush out of the turps, blotted it, picked up his palette, and prayed that the light would hold.
He began to paint.