thekeyholder91: (Mattbliss)
[personal profile] thekeyholder91
Title: Chiaroscuro (part 1.)
Author: thekeyholder
Beta: Lots of thanks, love and a basket of fruit to [livejournal.com profile] stargarnet!!! She also helped me with the title.
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: PG
Summary: Based on this [livejournal.com profile] mkmeme prompt: Dominic is a successful photographer and for his new project he's looking for a model who would pose for him with food arranged on her naked body. None of the women live up to his expectations, but when a beautiful, mysterious young man appears on his doorstep, Dominic knows instantly that Matthew is exactly what he's been looking for.
Feedback: would be lovely if you have some time! <3
Warnings: Age difference.
Disclaimers: I don’t own Muse, but original aspects belong to me. So don't steal, please!
Author's note: This is a belated birthday present for [livejournal.com profile] millionstar! Wishing you all the best in the world, dear, I hope you'll like this! It's also a fill for the food porn prompt on my Bingo card. This is the first Belldom fic I've written this year, so be gentle. :) Regarding the second part, I can't promise anything, but hopefully #soon

Chiaroscuro is an Italian term meaning referring to the contrast of light (chiar) and dark (oscuro) in an artwork. Make sure you click on the link in the text to see the painting!


Chiaroscuro – part 1.

He’d never had a shortage of ideas. No, the problem was with carrying them out; foolish, impossible images that crept into his mind during the night and never let him rest until he brought them into being by pushing a button on his camera.

Dominic Howard was a photographer driven by the restless desire to get rid of the troubling stories that kept bubbling up in his head. He just wanted a bit of silence and peace, and instead he got worldwide fame and appreciation for his art. It wasn’t a bad exchange, oh, it certainly wasn’t. Not many twenty-nine year old young men could say that they were one of the best in their field of work.

He sat at his desk, tapping the end of a pencil against his bottom lip. Although it isn’t common practice among photographers, Dominic liked to sketch the scene before setting it up. The idea was quite simple: a beautiful woman, her naked body (well, some parts of it) covered by fruit. No doubt he would receive negative comments from envious rivals, deeming his newest collection banal and tedious.

Dominic was aware that these photographs would be completely different from his science fiction inspired ones, but he liked to try new things. This time, instead of the setting, the focus would be on the model. He knew everything depended on the woman that would look into his camera to enchant everyone who set their eyes on the picture.

He had already contacted his friend, Tom, who ran a modelling agency, even though he wasn’t sure what kind of model he was looking for. Dominic opened his laptop and accessed his inbox to have another look at the pictures Tom had sent him. There were ten models, all very beautiful. It was a difficult choice, but in the end Dominic made up his mind. He searched for his friend’s number and called him.

“Hi, Tom. How are you? Yeah, everything’s fine. Okay, so I looked at the pics you sent me – yes, they are all gorgeous. I think you should send Marina. Monday at nine is fine. Yep, my studio in the city. You told her that we’re talking about nudes, right? She’s fine with it? All right, thanks a lot, Tom. Who’s doing the make-up? Umm, Aida. I’ve been working with her for the past eight months and she’s great. She’s actually my personal assistant too. Okay. No problem, Tom, we’ll talk later. Bye.”

One last time, Dominic let his eyes roam over the dark eyes of Marina and her beautiful figure and smiled excitedly. He couldn’t wait to work with her.
* * * * *

“Tilt your head back and look straight into my camera,” Dominic ordered Marina and snapped a few pictures. “Now take that bunch of grapes and hold it up. Open your mouth slightly.”

“All right, let’s have a small break,” Dominic said and wiped his forehead.

He gave Marina her bathrobe and smiled at her kindly, even though he felt like going outside and screaming from the top of his lungs. Something wasn’t right. His idea was quite vague and he had hoped that it would all come to him on the way, but so far nothing. Marina was a lovely girl, but something was missing.

“Hey, Aida! Do we have more of those red apples?”

He didn’t really believe that some extra apples would help, but who knows.
* * * * *

This was so awkward.

“No, Tom, I told you Marina was great. She’s just… not the kind of model I’m looking for,” Dominic covered his blushing face.

“Well… what kind of model are you looking for? You know you can find every type in my catalogue.”

“I’m not quite sure. There was another girl, Yvette? Could she come tomorrow?”

“Sure, but… she’s the complete opposite of Marina. In terms of looks, I mean.”

“Yeah, I’m experimenting. Eight o’clock tomorrow then.”
* * * * *

The Yvette version of the photo shooting didn’t work out either. Dominic tried a different approach. Instead of dark colours, he went for a light, optimistic palette. He made Yvette lie on a white carpet in a blindingly white room with pieces of fruits on her pale skin that formed an ephemeral mosaic when viewed from above. Yvette was a wonderful model; she barely moved, so Aida didn’t have to change the ‘mosaic pieces’ too often.

In the break, Dominic sent Yvette to clean herself and have her make-up redone. He went into the kitchen where an assistant had just finished cutting up the fruits.

“Good job, Eric. With the mosaic, I mean, not just cutting up the fruits. This was a long day, so after we set up Yvette for the second time you can go home.”

“You sure you don’t need help with cleaning up?”

Dominic shook his head.

“Oh, thanks, Mr. Howard. You’re the best!”

The young man smiled at Dom as he passed the photographer, carrying the fruit bowls into the studio. Dominic thought the ‘Mr. Howard’ title made him sound even older than he felt. Before he could mope further, Aida made her way into the kitchen and grabbed the coffee pot from Dominic’s hands.

“Daydreaming?”

“Mmm, just thinking.”

“Don’t hurt yourself,” Aida laughed before she dodged a lousy punch from Dominic.

“Maybe we shouldn’t do the second part, Doof.”

Doof was a nickname Aida used for Dominic either when she was mad, made fun of Dom or wanted to propose a bad idea. Like now.

“And why wouldn’t we?” Dominic asked, peering over his cup.

“Well, what’s the use? You wouldn’t be satisfied with the photos anyway.”

Dominic watched Aida drink her coffee in one gulp then he went to the window. “I haven’t even seen the pictures yet, how do you know I won’t use them?”

“I can see just by looking at your dork face that you’re not satisfied with anything. So why waste everyone’s time if it won’t come to anything?”

Dominic knew it was true, but he was too proud to admit it. He scratched his right arm nervously.

“I think Yvette is done with the showering. Go and redo her make-up,” the photographer said to Aida, without turning back.
* * * * *

Aida was right, of course. Dominic was currently setting up the studio for the third model, Tina. He arranged the umbrellas and spotlights, making sure the blood red, silk sheets on the bed looked nice. Tina still hadn’t arrived and Dominic was getting impatient.

However, the challenge of staying calm intensified in the moment when Tina showed up and opened her mouth. She was a difficult person to work with and questioned every direction she was given.

“Now take a strawberry and lie against the pillows.”

Dominic was about to take a picture when Tina sat up.

“Umm, sorry, but don’t you think it would be better if there was some cream on the strawberry?” she asked.

Dominic, surprised, looked at Aida who just shrugged.

“Also, I think you should do a close-up of me, from above. I mean, my hair splayed over the bed and then I’d lick the cream off the strawberry or just bite into it…”

“Sorry, but I’m going to do it this way. Now lie back, please,” Dominic asked, his patience wearing thin. This wasn’t the first interruption.

“But this sucks!” Tina exclaimed.

“Please get your stuff and leave,” Dominic said quietly and turned off his camera.

“But I just think it’d be better…” Tina started, but was cut off.

“I said leave,” Dominic shouted and the model backed out hurriedly.

After a minute of awkward silence, Aida came to Dom, but the photographer didn’t even let her start speaking.

“If I have any plans for tomorrow, cancel them. I’ll call Tom and ask for another model for Friday. Make the usual food order.”

With that, the photographer took his leather jacket and left the studio.
* * * * *

After a relaxing stroll in a park with a delicious ice cream, Dominic walked back to his car. He lived twenty kilometres from the city in a quiet village. More precisely, he lived in a house that was atop a hill that belonged to the village. Most people who visited him thought that it was a good place to escape to once in a while, but they couldn’t imagine living in such isolation every day.

Dominic didn’t mind the loneliness. The view was perfect and he loved sitting on his porch with a good book and a glass of wine. He could see the stars and take absolutely breathtaking pictures of the Moon. He also had a small garden with cherry trees and two stray cats that would disappear for a few days and then return to bask in his attention. Dominic was pretty satisfied with his life.

As he entered his driveway, he noticed there was a silver Mercedes in front of his house. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he’d remembered Aida telling him that Tom finally changed his old Ford. Dominic got out of his car, and as he suspected, Tom was sitting on his porch, playing with Gandalf, his grey cat.

“Hey! Didn’t expect you to see here,” Dominic said as he sat down beside Tom.

“Well, I figured we could talk better face to face than on the phone. Sooo,” he paused, “I’m going to be blunt and ask you. What happened today?”

The photographer knew Tom came to discuss the Tina photo shooting fiasco, but he didn’t feel like talking about it.

“I didn’t sleep well last night, plus I was extremely frustrated, because it just didn’t work the way I wanted,” Dominic looked away from Tom’s searching eyes. “Then Tina came and she’s a very bossy person, you know? She kept giving ME instructions, as if she was the one behind the camera. And I just snapped.”

Dominic took a breath, “I may have shouted at her.”

Tom glanced at the purring Gandalf in his lap before speaking. “Yes, she told me about that… I didn’t want to believe her. That doesn’t sound like you at all.”

Dominic sighed. “I know. Look, Tom, I’m not quite sure what I want to do and that makes me go bananas. It’s like I’m groping in the dark for the light switch. I’m just waiting for it to suddenly click, you know? But no worries, the girls will be paid generously.”

“I wasn’t worried about that, Dom. Just don’t go mad, all right?”

Tom’s voice sounded concerned.

Dominic laughed. “It’s not that serious, I swear.” He scratched his left arm, drawing Tom’s attention.

“What’s that?”

“What?”

“On your arm. Man, that looks bad. Doesn’t it hurt?”

“Umm… it’s nothing serious. I just have this stupid habit of scratching my arm when I’m nervous,” Dominic admitted quietly, trying to diminish the issue. Then he continued with a forced cheerful voice, “Hey, you know what? Pick one of your girls, whichever you want, and send her on Friday.”

“No.”

Dominic furrowed his brows. “Umm… did I offend you with something, Tom? I swear, I didn’t want to, I just…”

Tom put a hand on Dominic’s shoulder. “Easy there. I meant that I won’t send anybody on Friday. Not because I’m angry with you, but because I think you should relax. You’re trying too hard and that’s ruining your project. Not to mention your wellbeing. So take off a few days and try not to think about it. I’m sure you will find inspiration in the most unexpected moment.”

“I wish I felt as optimistic as you,” Dom said and took out a cigarette from his pocket.

“I’m sure you’ll be all right. If not, call me and we’ll get drunk,” Tom grinned.

“Well, according to chemistry, alcohol is a solution.”

The two young men laughed and watched the sunset with Gandalf sleeping between them.
* * * * *

The next morning Dominic’s eyes popped open and he jumped out of his bed, thinking that he was late from some meeting or other. He groaned on his way to the bathroom as he remembered that he was on a compulsory holiday. Compulsory holiday, what a strange association of words! It was an oxymoron, wasn’t it? Dominic went back to bed and slept another two hours.

When he woke up again, Dominic smiled against his pillow. Oh, he could get used to this. Maybe the time off wouldn’t be a complete waste. The photographer got dressed and went into the kitchen to have breakfast. This was new too, eating his cereal without any haste.

Of course, Dominic thought about his project. Probably way too often, but he wasn’t as anxious as before anymore. He would figure it out somehow. What he knew for certain, though, was that he needed to make his idea more specific. He wanted fruits with a charismatic model, but there had to be something more to it, right? Otherwise his pictures would end up as some lousy stock photos.

The weather was excellent, so Dominic went for a refreshing jog. When he got back, both Gandalf and Sailor Moon (his other stray cat, a black one with a white spot like a half moon on her head) were waiting for him and loudly complaining.

“Hey, you lazy bunch! Stop meowing, I’ll bring your food in a sec!”

After feeding his cats, Dominic decided to take care of his own nutrition. He had a pizza in the freezer, but he felt like cooking something himself. He made Spaghetti all’Arrabbiata from scratch and he ate it with relish, knowing that he himself had prepared it.

Dominic was debating whether to do the dishes then or later, but he knew that if he postponed the task, he would become too lazy. There weren’t many dishes anyway. He would finish in ten minutes. Just as he was washing the last plate, he heard a strange creaking sound approaching. He peeked out his window and noticed that someone on an old bicycle was coming to his house. He withdrew quickly.

Who could that be?

The photographer dried his hands on a towel absentmindedly as he waited for his mysterious visitor to arrive. Good thing his driveway was so long, he had time to prepare. Dominic waited with baited breath. The person on the bike was a young man. He had absolutely no idea who it could be. But he wished he would, because the young man looked so happy and smiled so contentedly as if the fact alone that he was outside in the golden sunshine had made his day.

Dominic touched his lips with his fingers as he studied his visitor. The young man was wearing dark jeans and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up in a relaxed fashion. He was still a bit far, but Dominic could tell that he had delicate features and fair skin, his dark brown hair fluttering in the breeze. He was checking the stuff he had fastened to the bike.

The photographer decided to stop lurking and greet the visitor, see what he wanted. Dominic opened the door just as the cyclist started towards him with a heavy basket in his arms full of various fruit. Dominic looked up to the boy’s face (he looked so young!) and the image dazzled him. It was something about the boy’s expression; the way his eyes swept over Dominic, the way his small mouth was slightly parted and how a strange sense of warm recognition ran down the photographer’s spine. This reminded him of something and he didn’t know what.

“Mr. Dominic Howard?” the boy asked and Dominic noticed with horror that he was staring at him.

“Yes. Hello. How may I help you?”

“Hi, I’m Matthew from Bellamy’s Orchard, from the village. Your assistant, Aida Hamabi called us in the morning. She said you’d need fruit for a photo shoot tomorrow.”

“Oh…” Dominic’s face fell. He forgot to call Aida about the change of plans.

After a silent moment, Matthew caught on and said, “I can take back the basket, sir. It’s not a problem.”

The photographer looked up, startled, as if woken from a dream. Oh, he couldn’t let the boy go. Matthew? Even his name sounded so gentle and innocent, like his smiling face and clear blue eyes. Oh, that look again, of shyness and subtle lust. Lust? No, his mind had to project that. It was him feeling that tingle, not the boy.

“No, no. You came all this way, went through all this trouble. I’m sure I will use it in some way.”

Dominic’s brain was spinning with ideas, and the moment Matthew’s lips parted to reveal an imperfect, crooked smile, he knew. That look, that first image of the boy was one he had seen before… in a painting. He could almost see it, but couldn’t remember its title. His heart sank, because suddenly, he had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do with his fruit project, but it might be impossible.

“Where should I put the basket then, sir?”

“In the kitchen. Come, I’ll show you,” Dominic replied and opened the door for Matthew.

The boy had called him ‘sir’. He had manners, of course. Surprisingly, though, it didn’t make Dominic feel old. But who was hiding under that young face? Matthew could easily be 16 or 25, if he was one of those lucky people who don’t seem to age at all. He had to find out.

Dominic showed the counter in the kitchen and turned away, as if he was peering outside the window. He tried to be as casual as possible:

“So, Matthew… are you working in your summer holiday?”

He laughed. “Oh, I guess you could say that, sir. I have all the time in the summer, but I try to help out my father as much as I can the whole year.”

“Your father? Are you…?”

“Yes. Matthew Bellamy, pleasure to meet you, sir.”

“Dominic Howard,” the photographer said and shook the boy’s hand vigorously.

Matthew’s handshake was firm and Dominic could feel the calloused skin of his palm. The boy couldn’t be sixteen or was it just wishful thinking? The muscles of his arms were visible even through his tight shirt… But he really had to know Matthew’s age; he couldn’t have a child pose… No.

“Not many young men would help their parents. So now that we’re properly introduced,” they both smiled at that, “do you mind me asking how old you are?”

“I’m twenty-one, sir,” Matthew said and lolled his head to the right, with the tiniest bit of pride in his smile, as if he’d read Dominic’s intentions and was now waiting for his reaction.

“Really? You look so young!”

Matthew rolled his eyes, but smiled. “I get that a lot.”

“No, I didn’t mean it in the bad sense! It’s just, there are only eight years between us, there’s no need to call me sir!”

“Oh, it would feel strange not to show you the respect you deserve,” Matthew replied serenely, brushing away a lock of hair from his face.

Those long fingers… and those kind words. Dominic gripped the edge of the table tightly. He had to have Matthew pose for him, whatever it took. The world had to see his beauty. However, Dominic couldn’t ask him now, because he had to work out his idea properly, but he had to find an excuse to see him again.

“Matthew… I actually might need more fruit. Would that be possible?”

“Of course, Mr. Howard! Here, I’ll give you my phone number,” and with that, Matthew took out a small notebook and pen from his pocket. “You can call me any time and I’ll deliver the goods as fast as possible.”

Dominic couldn’t help the grin spreading on his face as he took the piece of paper from the boy. Matthew looked up at him through his lashes, smiling mysteriously. He might be young and inexperienced, but he sure as hell wasn’t stupid. He was just playing along with Dominic, curious what would come out of their funny game.

“Thank you very much. It’s very nice of you,” Dominic said.

“No problem, sir. But I have to go now, need to do another delivery.”

Dominic saw Matthew to the door, watched his slender form and the muscles of back flex, wondering what was hidden under the shirt. The photographer tried not to let the idea of Matthew modelling for him pervade all his thoughts. What if the young man said no? Oh, what a blow that would be. Even the thought saddened him.

“Have a nice afternoon, Matthew. Thank you so much for coming all this way.”

Matthew’s face shone brighter outside and his smile was prettier than any Dominic had ever seen. The funny thing was that the boy wasn’t even aware of the effect he had on the photographer who fervently wished he’d had a camera in that moment. Having no other option, he tried to memorise all the details.

“Any time, Mr. Howard. Just call me if you need me. Bye!”

Matthew smiled as he made a turn and passed Dominic. The photographer watched him cycling downwards and he really couldn’t hide his grin when Matthew turned back to smile at him. What was this boy doing to him?

Dominic shook his head. He loved people and he liked to think that he saw beauty in every person, but Matthew had enchanted him terribly. Oh, those pretty eyes and shy, yet seducing smiles! Where had this boy been hiding till now? He could have been a model in one of Caravaggio’s lascivious paintings. Oh, wait…

Humming to himself, Dominic hurried to his bedroom to get his laptop. That was it. He remembered now, when his mum showed him the painting with immense enthusiasm. It was in Rome… He wished he would have paid more attention when she explained to him Caravaggio’s technique. Something about shadows, wasn’t it?

Dominic typed the artist’s name into Google and accessed an online gallery. The painting he was looking for was there among the first ones and his heart pounded faster as the image loaded. It was incredible. Its title was Boy with a Basket of Fruit and Dominic giggled as he remembered his own fruit delivery boy. Then he looked at the other images and he was surprised to discover that Caravaggio had painted quite a few portraits of young, attractive men with fruits and various objects. Well, the master would be a very good source of inspiration.
 
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