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Oct 18, 2019 3:03 AM
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"You weren't wrong, earlier. I studied at NYU." 

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"You have an eye."

After a minute, he manages to tear himself away from his own reflection.

"Are we keeping you on for the rest of the costume work? For the next video?"

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"I certainly hope so," he says, which is true. 

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"If the next outfit is anything like this one, I'm going to make it happen."

His eyes flick over him, briefly. It's hard not to like someone who makes him look this good. Shame about his clothes.

"–Roger, are we going to try the choreography? Are the cameras all set up?"

When he gets an affirmative, he saunters towards the center of the stage.

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Wonderful! Job security! And someone who looks at him like that, which is kind of uncomfortable but whatever, he knew what he was signing up for when he decided to work for Gabriel Taylor. 

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They run him through the part of the video he needed the outfit for.

His movements are gorgeous and precise and the arrangement of sequins on the fabric is dazzling when it ripples.

I don't mean to do you wrong, I'm not trying to hurt you, baby

I'm just addicted to pleading on my knees lately

I don't mean to be cruel, lighting up that short fuse

I can, I can – I can make it up to you

(It's not an uncontroversial song.)

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He almost categorizes the feeling in his chest as wanting, before he recognizes pride. The song isn't his favorite of Gabriel's, but the glow of having created something beautiful — he'll wind up watching the video a lot, probably. 

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He approaches a man at a laptop, when he's done, watches the recording over his shoulder, confers with the makeup artist and the producer.

After a short conversation, he picks up his discarded clothing and disappears behind a curtain.

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He comes back out dressed and fixed up, carrying the silvery garments from before like they're made of spider silk and could blow away with a breath of wind. When he hands them off to an assistant, he does so very carefully.

His gloves are back on with the rest of the outfit.

"...I'm looking forward to the rest."

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....weird. Not like Sasha knows anything about performers, but. Weird. 

"Me too," he says, soft but earnest. 

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He smiles, faintly, before he disappears.

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It's only later that he realizes what happened.

Just for a moment – just there, at the end, just a fleeting glimpse of –

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Hoping for it is dangerous. Dreaming about it is dangerous.

But what if.

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A startling amount of research into Sasha Michaels' portfolio later, he's getting a contract delivered to him by an assistant to work on the next three videos.

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That gets the brightest and most genuine smile anyone working there will have seen from him. 

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The next few days pile on the assignments.

There's another costume they need for this video – fitted, this time, more angular and dramatic, and then there's the backup dancers in this particular scene, they'll be getting eight identical outfits made off his template, and they'd really like to talk over the video for Breakdown with him while they're still in the planning stages –

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He talks to choreographers, producers, figures out what the lighting's going to look like, how he wants the fabric to move; he watches Gabriel whenever he's in eyeshot, studies the way he moves and the way he holds himself and the angles of his face when he's performing as opposed to when he's backstage. He watches previous music videos, watches the types of lighting Gabriel tends to go for, studies the way other costumes have looked on him. He draws, and sews, and adds details where appropriate. It's a lot of work, but it's fun work. 

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Gabriel, it turns out, is very different performing and backstage.

While he's working he's curt, moves deliberately, always seems to be doing three things at once. He doesn't touch anyone, if he can avoid it, and even then he's always wearing gloves. He holds himself upright and walks with purpose, but his body language is much more closed off.

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When he's been performing...

He's fluid and slinky and open, palms out and hips swaying. He's smiling, often as opposed to almost never. He touches people freely, ungloved, sometimes with much more intent than there perhaps should be. At least once he disappears offstage with a cameraman for half an hour. (He's flawless for the rest of the filming, that day, though.) From what Sasha's able to hear, even his speech is different.

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......weird. 

He can tell the difference pretty much immediately, once he's paying attention to it. His designs start featuring less silver and more red, more motion and less structure, fewer cool colors and more bright warm ones; turquoise blue and not ice, orchid purple and not violet. (Still no gold. It just doesn't look that good on Gabriel except maybe if there was only a little of it and everything else was neutral — he shelves that idea.)

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When Sasha comes to show the team his designs, one day, Gabriel comes with them.

He leafs through the pages of illustrations, expression tight. The more open lines and jewel colors he sees the more he looks like he's about to cry.

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And then he looks up and he beams.

"I feel like you're designing for me," he says, as if this is unusual. "–the person I really am."

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Ahahaha what. 

"You're going to be wearing them while you're performing," he says instead of trying to articulate the differences, it's not like Gabriel isn't aware he has a stage self, "not while you're backstage." 

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"I'm never myself backstage."

He runs his thumb over one of the papers.

"...well. Almost never."

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what does that mean what does that mean 

"...Yes. It's — not hard to tell the difference, if you're paying attention to it," he says, instead of asking what the fuck that means. 

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