How it is: Chapter 3

“Tarou! IT’S HIM! AHHH!” Enya squealed to her two friends, Melissa and Sarah. Melissa was a robust Chinese girl and an aspiring dancer while Sarah was a skinny Vietnamese girl studying art and music theory. The three of them were obsessively attracted to Tarou for both his good lucks and humbly charming personality; Tarou would be typically sheepish and aloof around girls, something that made him come off as adorable to the three. “Tarou! Tarou!” They ran after him, much to his dismay. He was just on his way to class, hoping that have a quiet day for once. Instead, he found himself being hounded by these three, per usual. As much as Tarou wanted to tell all three of them he was not interested in dating any of them, he did not have the heart to reject anybody. The idea of hurting somebody, it just seemed unnecessary to him. He would try to avoid doing that if he could. “Again?!” Timmy frowned as Tarou sprinted past him. “Yeah!” He shouted back as Enya, Melissa, and Sarah followed him in hot pursuit. “Why can’t you just date one of us?!” Melissa shouted. “Yeah! Or just go on a date with each of us? You know, humor the notion!” Sarah agreed. “We won’t ever give up, Tarou! Just submit already!” Enya cried. The Japanese boy struggled with how to react to their continuous advances. A part of him was still in disbelief that these girls would always chase him around campus like that. He did not understand what about him had that effect on anybody. He used to be such a nervous, awkward, and outright hideous person. Nothing about him before college would have caused anyone to act this way towards him.

“Ugh, that was exhausting.” He panted, finally losing the three. Tarou was on his way to the New York office of Logan Photography, which was also the agency where he is models. He was told by his agent, Vanessa that for today, he was going to be wearing a Michael Kors suit. It was not exactly Tarou’s first choice for an outfit, his first choice almost always being a sleeveless hoodie and a pair of Uniqlo shorts, but he did what he needed to for his modeling career. He knew that if he could not make it as a singer, he could still model. Therefore, being a divo and complaining about what he had to do for his job was out of the question. He just had to accept the lesser of evils when it came to these modeling assignments, assuming that they were not against his own morals or beliefs, so to speak. Finally arriving at the tall red-brick building, he got off of his Uber ride, and walked inside. It was another day where he was going to be stuffed into an expensive outfit and told to pose. Tarou was lucky in that his modeling work was not scandalous or controversial. He never had to pose nude or even shirtless, although he was not opposed to doing the latter. Most of the time, he just needed to wear some outfit that he could not normally afford, and pose for some pictures. Occasionally, he would be invited to model at events through his agency, and have to strut down a runway and everything. Those were a lot of fun for him. Tarou did not mind being the center of attention, so long as the people giving him attention are not trying to hound him for a date.

“Hey there, kiddo! Not bad!” Tarou was just leaving the changing room, only to bump into a slim girl with long, wavy brown hair. Misaki. She was a 25 year-old full-time model at the agency, and well known in the Greater New York area. “I heard that they gave you Michael Kors. Not bad for being an 18 year-old, barely-legal adult!” Misaki has worked closely with several high-end brands, such as Vogue and Chanel, and was one of the agencies’ top models, being highly requested almost every day. Because of that, she was able to make modeling a full-time career. “Well, we can’t all be you, Misaki Obunai, model extraordinaire.” Tarou frowned, walking away from her. Since he started here four years ago, Misaki would often tease Tarou, much to the younger model’s chagrin. “Hey, I’m talking to you!” She shouted as he walked off, Michael Kors suit still in hand. The two had a very playful, sometimes flirtatious relationship, but he knew that she was not interested in him that way. “Hey!” She ran up, grabbing him by the arm. “Give me respect!” Misaki frowned. “Okay. Please leave me alone. I’m not in the mood to deal with you right now. I’ve got meetings to go to.” Tarou disapproved of whenever she acted this way. Misaki already had a boyfriend. And he was not interested in dating somebody who was older than him. The idea of being babied or festered constantly, it bothered Tarou greatly. He would prefer to not be in such a relationship if he did not have to. And Misaki, she represented all of those very qualities he did not particularly care for.

Misaki and Tarou were both walking back towards the direction of NYU: the older model lived just off of Washington Square Park. “So, are you dating anybody?” She giggled. Truth be told, Misaki had her suspicions about Tarou’s sexuality. He seemed to have an androgynous sexuality to her, having both masculine qualities in the way he acts and speaks, but feminine ones in the way he reacts or feels. Since her flirtatious advances were not revealing anything, Misaki decided to try a different tactic: prying information by mentioning adjacent subjects. “So, I heard about your next shoot. You’re going to be posing with another guy?” She smirked at him, trying to gauge his reaction to that comment.  “Oh, well I’ll be fine with that. It’s not something that’ll be too difficult for me.” Tarou shrugged. “You mean you’re used to other guys entering your personal space?” She eyed him. “Well, I’ve been with guys and girls before, so it shouldn’t matter to me.” He admitted. “Wait, so you’re bisexual?” Misaki fought not to blush. She was not expecting that sort of response. “Yeah.” To Tarou, he did not really care what she thought about it. He was more worried about how Timmy would react, since they have been friends for so long, and they live together.

“Tarou, for your next assignment, you will be posing with me!” A tanned young man smiled at him. “Oh, wait, really now?” Tarou smirked, trying to hide his nervousness and excitement. He was finally able to work with Paulo, a slightly older 21 year-old who was absolutely his type. Paulo was tanned with short, spiky brown hair, much more muscular and taller than Tarou, and had piercing green eyes. He was mesmerizing to look at. “Yes. The two of you will be working on a certain television show host’s LGBT campaign, featuring equality when it comes to sexualization. It will feature a lot of very… intimate poses. Luckily, you guys will be at least partially clothed at all time, and no M-rated nudity, so that’s a huge plus.” Tarou’s modeling agent, a tall young woman named Vanessa, explained. “I mean, I’m comfortable doing it if you are.” Paulo grinned at the Japanese boy. “Absolutely. I’m fine with that too. Looking forward to working with you, Paulo!” The two shook hands. To Paulo, it was another shoot. Tarou, he tried his best to think the same of it. He could not let his excitement or attraction to the other male get in the way of his own career.

“Alright, so that’ll conclude today’s meeting. Make sure to change your cover photos on Facebook and share the event page.” Said the president, Akinori. It was later in the day and Tarou was walking out of another club board meeting, the Japanese Business Association. The club was hosting a Momofuku Milk Bar cake and cookie fundraiser so that they can use the money to go on a trip to DC for cherry blossom viewing in a couple months from now. At this point, they all had the same, boring agenda to him. Events, fundraisers, raising awareness for the club, recruiting, it was just a blur. Luckily, he had everything written down for what he needed to do, so he will be fine, but it was just a lot of unnecessary busy work that made him regret joining these boards, and to an extension, these organizations in the first place. He thought he was doing them to make a difference on campus. Instead, each board, while the people were different, the goals were the same. They all wanted the clubs to make money, get more members, do more events, and in his eyes, waste more of his time that he could be spending studying or with people he actually wanted to spend time with. Letting out a huge sigh of relief, he finally made his way back towards his dorm, as the sun began to set. There went another day for him.

“Home, sweet home.” The model sighed, falling straight onto his empty mattress. If Tarou could do one thing, he would choose to do nothing for the rest of his life. He did not need a lot of material possessions to be happy. He just needed friends like Timmy and Val to keep him company. Friends who did not care if he was skinny or fat. They saw him for who he was beneath that facade, and it was something he greatly appreciated. Unlike his fan club. Enya, Melissa, and Sarah, if they ever saw how he used to look, they would probably be disgusted by Tarou. Or better yet, if they had met him prior to his weight loss, none of the three girls would even approach him. Just knowing that they would act that way, it frustrated him. That was the main reason why Tarou would never bring himself to date any of them. They only were attracted to him by his looks. Whether or not his personality had any effect on them later on, his appearance was definitely what drew them in. Some people in this world were just too shallow for him to waste his time and effort on.

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