Rumiko Takahashi created one of the characters in this fic. If you can't figure out which one, then the story won't make any sense to you anyway. Oh, and Takahashi also created the situation. I just expanded on it.
"The life of a martial artist is fraught with peril."
Well, yes. But what about the life of a martial artist's wife?
The girl was tall, and very slender. She was quite lovely, but the arrogance in her eyes shone brighter than her beauty.
"I don't even know why you're here, Saotome-san. There's not a single girl here who's even half your age."
Nodoka Saotome scowled at the teenager. "I am here because I need to be."
The girl snorted indelicately. "Well, don't expect much. Odds are, you won't even get past the secretary." She turned and walked away, chuckling at her own wit.
Nodoka sighed. The girl wasn't lying; she was old enough to be the mother of anyone else in the room. Including the secretary. But she really had no choice.
The door opened, and a small, rather pudgy man stuck his head into the room. "Hey, Eri. Who's up next?"
The receptionist consulted her notes. "Saotome Nodoka."
"Okay, Saotome-san. This way, please."
Nodoka stood, ignoring the glances from the girls, and walked through the door.
"Okay, Saotome-san. Relax." The pudgy man took off his glasses and polished them on his shirt. "My name's Hasukawa Akira."
Nodoka bowed. "Pleased to meet you, Hasukawa-san."
Hasukawa waved a hand. "Please. There's no need for any formality here. Call me Akira." He placed his glasses back on his face. "Have you ever done this before?"
"Well, don't worry. It's not really that hard." He pulled a stool up and sat down. "To begin...Could you please strip down to your panties."
"Oh..." Nodoka's hand flew up to her mouth. She could feel her cheeks redden.
"Please, Nodoka-san. I'm a professional. You don't have to worry."
Nodoka didn't reply, but instead slowly began to undo the belt on her kimono. She drew the kimono open, then let it fall to the floor. Underneath, she wore a light pink chemise and panties. She drew the chemise over her head, and dropped it on top of the kimono.
Hasukawa looked her up and down. "Your skin is quite clear. Remarkable in a woman your age." He hopped up and walked around her, examining her rather closely. Nodoka's blush deepened; it felt like her face was on fire.
"Some stretch marks here..."
"Yes. My son was quite large when he was born."
"Oh? How big?"
"Three point eight kilos."
"Hm. He'd be, what, fourteen? Fifteen?"
"Fifteen, I think. I haven't seen him in so long..."
"A terrible thing, to be separated from one's son." He indicated the stretch marks. "I'm sorry...May I?"
Nodoka nodded, barely perceptibly. She steeled herself, but it wasn't necessary; Hasukawa's touch was light, as he traced one stretch mark with a finger.
"Hmmm...I don't think we can do anything with this." He straightened, and sighed. "Tell you what. I can offer you one shoot, and if we make anything, you'll get the same twelve percent that any of the other girls make. No guarantees in this business. Is this acceptable?"
Her answer was a whispered, "Yes."
"All right. Five minutes. You can wear the chemise - it'll cover the stretch marks - but lose the panties, okay?" He turned and picked up the phone, dialed an extension number. "Junpei? Grey splotchy backdrop and drape, two floods. Thirty-six exposures. Right." He hung up, turned back to Nodoka. "You still have time to back out, Saotome-san."
She was pulling her chemise back down over her head. "I'm willing to do the shoot."
"All right. You can leave your kimono here. This way, please." He opened another door.
Beyond the door was a small photo studio. Three technicians were setting up equipment, including a black-and-grey crushed velvet backdrop. The cameraman was fussing over his photometer and yelling instructions at the techs.
"Right over there, Saotome-san."
"Hey, Akira." The cameraman seemed upset. "You don't give a guy much warning. Thought we weren't gonna shoot anyone but Miko and Chiasa today?"
"Thirty-six exposures, Junpei. Is that too much to ask? And Saotome-san here's a one-shot. Got it? You'll never see her again."
"More's the pity." Junpei grinned at Nodoka.
"Cheese-cake shots only. And the chemise has to stay on. Stretch marks."
"Okay, okay..." He finished fidgeting with the camera. "Saotome-san? We're gonna do six sets of six, changes between. Don't worry about standing still; In fact, after every shot, I want you to move some. To start, lean up against that box there."
Nodoka did as she was told; by now, she was blushing so badly that she could see it, on the tops of her breasts. The heat of the lamps against her mostly bare skin didn't help at all. A woman darted forward with a small sponge and dabbed at her face, then stepped back.
The photographer looked through his camera. "Some glare on her forehead." The makeup artist dabbed at her forehead, then worked the cream into her skin with a soft cloth.
"Okay, that's good." The makeup artist stepped off the set, and the photographer snapped off a set of three shots. "You've got great skin, Saotome-san. We gotta use a ton of makeup on that Miko chick."
The makeup artist grumbled, "Wish we had makeup for her personality."
"Now turn." Three more clicks from the camera. "Take the panties off."
She did so, lifting herself onto the box and raising her knees to slip them off over her feet.
"Oh, that's perfect." Click, click, click. "Bend your left knee--okay." Click, click, click. "Damn! Okay, put your feet up on the box--okay, that's not what I meant, but that works real good." Six rapid shots, the photographer stepping sideways after each one. "Move your feet apart. Put them on opposite sides of your butt. Okay." Six more clicks. Despite her embarrassment, her nipples were hardening, and poked out against the chemise.
"Damn good stuff. Put your one hand up, on your shoulder. Okay, use the other to pull down the chemise. No, further, over the nipple. Okay." Another six clicks. "Okay, move your right hand down between your--"
Junpei turned to Akira. "Oh, come on. It's still cheese-cake."
Akira shook his head. "Not this lady."
Junpei sighed. "Okay. Let's try this. Bring your knees up against your chest. Turn to the right some." Three more clicks, and the photographer moved to the left. Three more.
"Almost done. Lie back on your back. Pull the chemise down. Roll towards me somewhat. Okay, yeah, like that. Bend your left knee." Click, click, click. "Pull the top of the chemise down again--Okay." Click, click, click. "And that's a wrap."
Nodoka hesitated, then sat up. Junpei was rewinding the film in his camera. "Hey, Saotome-san. That was great. You ever want to do another set, don't bother talkin' to Akira. Come straight to me."
"You do that to me and I'll fire your ass, Junpei."
"Hey, it might be worth it."
Nodoka's voice was only barely above a whisper. "Are we done?"
"More's the pity."
Akira was nodding. "Eri has your phone number? I think we can sell this shoot."
"Damn straight we can! Good lookin' lady like this, in excellent physical condition. Hell, Miko should look so good, and she's half your age! And you got that shy act down to an art form!"
"Shut up, Junpei. Saotome-san. I'll let you know inside a week how much we can get for this shoot." He paused; Nodoka was still standing on the set, looking somewhat disoriented. "We're all done. You can go."
She bolted from the set like a startled deer.
Junpei shook his head. "Gawd. You mean it wasn't an act?"
Akira looked at him in disgust. "Moron."
* * * * *
Nodoka struggled into her kimono, belted it firmly. She had left the set in such a rush that she'd left her panties lying at the base of the bench; she mentally wrote them off. She would never go near that room again if she could possibly avoid it.
The life of a martial artist's wife was fraught with peril; the one she was trying to avoid today was starvation. Her education was only partial, and out of date anyway. She'd been unable to find any employment, not even as a maid. And her savings were almost completely depleted. With her husband and son on the road the last nine years, and no income whatsoever, she'd been forced to desperate measures just to pay the bills. From what Hasukawa-san had told her, the profits from just this one shoot would cover her expenses for almost a full year.
She doubted very much that her husband would ever see these pictures; his interest in pornography was surprisingly low, and his tastes ran more to hentai manga. What she really dreaded was her son, browsing through whatever magazine, coming across these pictures. She had no doubt that he'd have a strong interest in the female form.
She pulled her cloak on, pulled the hood over her head, and stepped back into the reception area.
The teenage girl who'd heckled her earlier sneered as she emerged. "He musta taken his sweet time before telling you no. Musta not wanted to hurt you."
Nodoka paused, and glared daggers at the teenager.
The girl seemed unaffected. "Trust me, granny. It's better this way. You can hide in that stupid kimono, and no-one has to see you sag."
Nodoka smiled somewhat, and straightened. "Miko-san, I take it?"
"Yeah." The girl's expression changed for the first time that day. "How did you know?"
Nodoka turned and left the building, not speaking another word. All of a sudden, the day seemed a little brighter.
* * * * *
Having noted the appalling lack of Nodoka pics, I drew one. Then asked myself, "Hold on. It's extraordinarily unlikely that Nodoka would be caught in such a situation. How on Earth can I justify this?"
That having been said, I believe that the fic can stand on its own. So here. Enjoy. And most importantly, tell me what you think.