This is a re-working of a classic as suggested by loves_sg1
More than one pair of appreciative eyes took in the agitated young man clearly waiting for an incoming flight, but his own anxious, jade orbs were oblivious to them all. If he was not staring at the board checking that there was no delay on the flight he awaited, he was looking at his watch. He began to pace a little, eyes flitting from his watch to the board as the arrival time became imminent. The moment the board indicated the plane had arrived, his eyes fixated on where the passengers would start to come through.
It did not take long for his vigilance to be rewarded. A wheelchair soon became visible, pushed by a member of the plane's crew. It seemed to take an eternity for them to reach him.
"I'm just glad you're ok, Leon."
The Flight Attendant who had been pushing the chair stared at the two young men as they hugged. Twins. He might have been looking at a mirror's reflection from the thick, golden-brown hair to the small beauty mark just to the side of their full, sensual mouths.
"You must be Noel," he said."
"It's pronounced Nole, not No-el," came the automatic reply without Noel even looking away from where he fussed around his brother.
The other man saw Leon's wink. It was obviously a mistake many made with the name.
"Are you alright if I leave now, Leon?" he asked, certain of the reply.
"Sure, my baby brother'll take good care of me, won't you, Noel?"
"Of course I will. Thank you."
The Steward received twin smiles, identical in their brilliance, as he looked towards the brothers.
"That's great. Thank you for flying with us and I hope we made your journey as comfortable as it could be in the circumstances."
"Fault was all mine. The flight was great. Thanks for looking after me."
The Attendant watched for a few seconds as Noel fussed over his wheelchair-bound brother. He saw him check that the leg encased in a plaster cast from ankle to knee was comfortable as was the casted wrist. He smiled. He was sure his charge was in good hands and hurried back to join the rest of his cabin crew.
The journey home was mostly silent. Noel focused on the drive, trying to ensure he jolted his brother as little as possible and Leon was lost in thought. Occasionally Leon glanced furtively at his brother. He knew what he was going to ask of Noel would be difficult for his younger twin. However, he was equally sure Noel could do it. He just needed the right way of asking.
When they got home, Noel fussed around his brother, making sure Leon was comfortable and hurried into the kitchen to make drinks. As he flicked on the kettle he stared at his shaking hands. Seeing Leon with the casts brought home how easily the skiing accident could have been so much worse than a fractured ankle and dislocated wrist. Just six to eight weeks in plaster, at most, and Leon would be no worse for wear. At least, that is what he had been assured by the Orthopaedic Surgeon over the phone.
"Noel, could you come here, please."
At his brother's voice Noel whirled and rushed back into their living room.
"Are you ok?"
"I'm fine. Come here, bro," Leon said softly. His brother had been too quiet and the older twin knew that Noel was holding back. As Noel sat next to him, Leon drew the younger man into a gentle hug.
"I'm an idiot. You were right. I should have cancelled the trip. But I am ok." He kept hold as he felt the tremors that told him that Noel's tenuous grip of his emotions was finally breaking. "Just let it out, bro. I'm fine, we're fine."
"I'm ok," Noel whispered. He knew everything was alright and took a couple of wavering breaths. The last thing he needed was an asthma attack.
"Look at me," Leon murmured. He smiled into the face that he knew as well as his own. The mirror image was always a reassurance for them both, even from childhood. "Better?" he asked as he could see Noel visibly calm.
"Yeah, sorry," Noel whispered.
"I need you to do something that's important for me, for us," Leon continued as Noel finally drew back to smile at him.
"Anything, you know that," Noel said earnestly.
"There's no way I can start my six month placement with Celestin Fashions. Not like this. I need you to be me for six weeks or so."
"I can't..." Noel began to object, but Leon interjected quickly to stem the flow.
"You can. It's something we've done before and we've never been caught. We both know that if I hadn't been the selfish half of the family you wouldn't have had to care for mom and dad on your own a few weeks back. We both know because of that you picked up their flu bug. I could have lost you when it went straight to your chest and became pneumonia. You were in hospital three days."
"It was a precaution more than anything," Noel demurred.
"You never said you were ill when I texted to say Celestin had an internship up for grabs," Leon continued. "I went ahead and applied not knowing you were too sick. I could have submitted yours if I'd known. If it had been a choice between the two of us you would have got it. You've always drooled over Celestin and his Fashion House, just like I have Madeleine. I'm doing this internship for the experience, nothing more, and you know I was going to drop your name as much as possible. Look at it this way, you get an opportunity to see the place and people first hand. Learn their likes and dislikes. I'll still push you for a stint there when my internship ends and you'll know the place to be able to tailor an application. It works for both of us, bro."
Looking into his brother's eager face, Noel knew he had capitulated even before he said 'yes'. Leon had always been the leader. From the two minute difference in their births, through infancy, childhood and, even now, he could still get Noel to fall in with his plans. On the other hand If Noel needed him Leon would drop anything and everything. He gave a sigh.
"You're sure this won't bite us in the ass?" he asked, tilting his head to the left. He smiled as Leon unconsciously duplicated the movement, but to his right.
"How can it? We're both excellent designers. You can come home and discuss everything with me. No one can tell us apart. No problem."
"No problem," Noel echoed.
Noel wished he felt more comfortable in Leon's clothes, but they were always just that bit too tight or too flashy for his tastes. Leon was a natural-born extrovert. However, Noel liked to melt more into the background. It was going to be a little difficult to imitate his more gregarious older brother, but he hoped that anything like that would simply be put down to 'newbie' nerves.
"Leon? Leon Dancer."
The full name caught Noel's attention and he turned quickly. He immediately recognised Paytah. He was Celestin's right-hand man and had been for years. Paytah was half-blood native-American and his heritage was reflected in the dark skin and poker-straight, black hair.
"Sorry," Noel offered as he hurried over. Rumour in the trade was that Paytah and Celestin both were hard, but fair, taskmasters and neither tolerated fools. He would have to step up his game to avoid slip-ups over the name. "Just taking it all in," he added as he came alongside the older man.
Paytah looked over the newcomer. Something about the young man was setting off his alarm bells. He had no idea what it could be. Just something seemed off-kilter about the younger man. He pushed it out of his mind. He let his subconscious work on it. He was far more likely to find the answer that way than if he stewed over it. He gave a swift smile of welcome.
"Understandable. Celestin is away today and tomorrow. That gives me time to get you set up and looking through the projects with me that need completion. Celestin rewards diligence and commitment. He'll push hard and so will I, but it will make you all the better at the end. Who knows, there may even be a position available when the internship come to an end."
"Thanks. I promise I'll work hard and learn fast," Noel said. Just to be able to spend time learning from Celestin was a dream come true for him. He would push himself to achieve any goal that was set. He could easily chat things over with Leon at home.
Following the older man Noel's eyes roved everywhere as he soaked up the atmosphere. There was a large room with a mixed group who were busy with draft-boards, materials and models. Soft, low-key music in the background and a continual murmur of voices and material being swirled around was dominant.
"These are some of our current designers," Paytah said. "There are some who are working in other offices here or at home and a couple are abroad on assignments. You'll be with another intern.
The excitement Noel felt was tempered by the knowledge that it was only going to be fleeting for him and that he was only there because Leon was hurt. He tried not to let it dampen his enthusiasm. He had to make a good impression for his brother's sake. He knew that Leon was a good designer and he was pleased for his brother. But he could not help but wish he had got a placement with Madeleine rather than Celestin.
It had been a long-standing dream for Noel to work in Celestin Fashion. It was ironic to him that the two fashion houses were bitter rivals, yet he and his brother each wanted to work in one or the other. It could prove interesting if they both got their wishes. He stopped as Paytah indicated an open doorway.
The young man sitting at the draft-board looked up and it seemed to Noel as if he was being stripped as the gaze raked over his body. He would have estimated the other man was a couple of years older, mid to late twenties perhaps; his dark eyes, however, seemed older. His chestnut-brown hair was fashionably styled, combed forward and gelled into wisps around his face and he wore black jeans with a red shirt.
"This is Darren. Darren this is Leon Dancer. He's the other intern and will be working in this office with you, although you won't be collaborating. You'll each have your own portfolio. I'm taking Leon on a quick tour and then to my office to discuss what's expected of him."
"Of course, Paytah."
Paytah was impressed with his charge's attention to detail and reiteration of what was needed for the assignment he set. His brow furrowed a little. When interviewing Leon, he had got the impression of a young man who often just 'went with the flow'. However the way a check list was immediately created to ensure everything was listed and prioritised to achieve Leon's goal seemed a little at odds with his perception. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Of course Leon was new and would want to make an impression.
Celestin and Madeleine were the two biggest fashion houses in the area and had many young men and women who desperately wanted to join the teams. There was no guarantee of a permanent contract at the end of internships, but if he and Celestin saw talent, commitment and a desire to work hard to achieve dreams, they would often offer a job to an intern.
"You happy with that, Leon?" he asked, smiling as he watched the way the younger man chewed thoughtfully at his pencil.
"Oh, yes, thank you," Noel smiled, remembering to react to his brother's name. He was to design a one of a kind outfit for an upcoming show and already several ideas were in his head.
The room he was to share was empty when he returned and so Noel instantly set himself up the way he wanted, careful to ensure he did not encroach into his workmate's space. He gave a wrinkle of his nose. It seemed the other man was untidy to say the least. Part-sketched designs were scattered around the floor and several crumpled offerings had been made to the bin behind where Darren sat. Noel glanced at the draft-board. It seemed to him that Darren seemed to be lacking inspiration on whatever project he had been given.
Noel was not normally given to being overly cautious about his work, but something about the other man had been niggling since they met. He suddenly did not want Darren seeing his thoughts for his own project. Instead of a dress, Noel sketched a skirt and top. He would work with Leon on the real outfit from their home.
"Back at last. You took your time."
Blinking in surprise, Noel stared as Darren came in. He felt as if the dark eyes of the older man were undressing him as they lingered firstly over the small nubs of his nipples, which had peaked due to the cool of the air conditioning, and then at his groin. He hopped onto his stool to angle his body away from the unwanted attention.
"There were a few things that Paytah wanted to discuss," Noel said. He gave a mental frown. He did not owe this man any explanations. "Not that it impacts on you," he added.
"Discuss? Is that the word now?" Darren smirked.
"What's that supposed to mean?" demanded Noel, not liking the insinuation or the tone.
"Why do you really think you got the placement? Wasn't talent. Celestin has a big thing for pretty boys. That probably swung it for you as soon as he saw you."
"I got this because of the quality of my designs and how well I interviewed," Noel retaliated, angry for his brother.
"Of course you did," Darren sneered. "I know I did. Celestin was away when I was interviewed. But if you think that getting on all fours and wagging your tight ass or laying back and spreading your legs will get you anywhere you'll be sadly mistaken. Celestin got burned a while back. 'Look don't touch' seems to be his motto."
"If you think so little of him, why are you here?" snapped Noel. He was becoming more unsettled in Darren's company.
"He's still one of the best. For now. Reached his pinnacle and the Star is on the wane. Madeleine is going to be the House to get into. I'm here for what I can get out of the experience. I'm not looking to stay."
Noel bit back the retort about Darren being so mercenary as he realised that the man he was meant to be was no different. Leon did not want a career with Celestin. The internship was nothing more to Leon than a stepping stone. He gave a mental sigh. Being his brother was going to be far more difficult than he thought.
Sitting comfortably, Leon listened to Noel's first day and about the design needed for his assignment.
"Whatever you want, bro," he said encouragingly.
"It should be yours," Noel replied. "You'll get the credit for it anyway," he added, trying not to sound disappointed.
"You design it. Once I'm there and chatting to people I'll make sure everyone knows that we collaborated on the design."
Leon's encouragement and enthusiasm over Noel's ideas for the project quickly had the younger twin focussed on the work he needed to do and pushing all thoughts about what would happen when Leon was fit out of his mind. It was something that, if he was honest, he did not want to think about.
Juggling his latest sketch in one hand and a couple of swathes of cloth in the other, Noel was not paying attention as he made his way back to his office. With a yelp he collided with an unyielding object and bounced backwards. He fully expected to end up on his ass but strong arms caught him and steadied him. He stared at his benefactor.
Celestin was a couple of years short of forty, but could easily pass for in his early thirties. His silver-blond hair was spiked and gelled, there were just a few lines around his arctic-blue eyes and his body was solidly muscled. Noel knew Celestin's colouring was due to a Scandinavian mother and that the older man ran and swam as part of a regular fitness regime. He felt like a tongue-tied idiot as he tried to mumble coherent thanks.
"Watch where you're going," Celestin said. "I don't want any accidents. It's Leon isn't it?"
"Sorry, um, yes," Noel replied, feeling his cheeks begin to burn. Another part of his body also felt an onrush of blood and Noel was grateful that Celestin released him to step back and look at him before any errant behaviour in his lower body caused even greater embarrassment.
"I'll catch up with you at the end of your first week. Paytah will keep me appraised till then."
"Of course," Noel said.
Noel knew a lot about Celestin. He had researched as much on the man, his designs, his lifestyle, as he could. In truth he still had the same crush on the older man that had started in his late teens. He became aware of the raised eyebrow and wry grin and realised he was staring. He was just glad he was not drooling. He ducked his head, feeling the blush snake up from his throat. He always blushed so easily. He wished he was more blasé like Leon. His twin would probably be carrying on a sophisticated conversation by now.
"I'll be more careful. I'm sorry, Mr LaCroix."
"Call me Celestin, Leon. All my staff here is on a first name basis and I'm no different with my people."
"Thank you," Noel murmured. "I'll get back to my office," he added, desperate to get away before he could make any more of a fool of himself. As he hurried down the corridor he did not see the older man's eyes following his every move.
For a couple of seconds Celestin stared at the empty corridor and then he shook his head. He needed to speak to Paytah
Darren looked over at Noel as he came into his office. He was beginning to hate being in the company of the other man.
"The look of the well-shagged," Darren drawled sardonically. "Find a nice empty closet somewhere did you?"
"You have a filthy mind and even filthier mouth," Noel growled. The barking laugh grated on his nerves, but he forced himself to pay no more heed.
His real design was almost complete. He was going to create the dress at home. He was sure that some of the designs that he had left in the shared room had been tampered with. Darren seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around the other designers and Noel saw little of the older man's own work. He gave a wince as he realised that the strip of sequinned material he wanted to use to create a flower was with his other stuff. He had no intention of leaving the real material he wanted to use and so purposely left some washed-out denim and cheesecloth on his board, but took the other materials with him.
"Leon, I'd like a word with you."
Paytah's voice had Noel jump as he tucked his materials safely into his portfolio case. He had not heard the other man come into the room.
"Of course," he smiled. "Is everything ok?" he added, suddenly worried he might have done something not quite right.
"You tell me," Paytah countered. "I've seen your draft sketches, but little's been done with them for a couple of days. You've taken several swatches of material, a couple are on your drafts board, but the swathes are not in your room. Is there a problem?"
Ducking his head, Noel could feel the blush start.
"I've been working more on it at home," he confessed.
"There's no problem with that, Leon," Paytah said carefully. "But is there a reason?"
"Darren seems to pay too much attention to...to what I do," Noel stuttered.
"And to you personally?" queried the older man.
"I don't know, maybe," Noel hedged. The last thing he needed was to create a potential problem in work for his brother when they swapped back into their real lives.
"Leave it with me," Paytah said. "I'll be watching. But if he says or does anything that makes you uncomfortable you come straight to me. Understand?"
"I understand," Noel smiled. "Thanks."
"Work is supposed to be a safe environment for everyone. I don't like bullies, however they operate. And I don't like dishonesty. Take your stuff and finish for the day. I'll let Celestin know you've gone home."
"Ok," Noel said. He would be working at home, so he did not feel he was taking undue advantage.
Leon was surprised to see his brother home early, but happily accepted Noel's slightly edited version of events. Noel concluded by explaining that he was going to work on a first creation of the outfit itself.