Fandom: Viewfinder (Finder no Hyouteki/Finder series) by Yamane Ayano
Warnings: crack. so much crack.
N.B. Please see the Chapter Index for additional information about this story, including disclaimers, cover art, and the original prompt.
Summary: Corporate lawyer Asami Ryuichi is the latest “star” of reality TV show, Japan’s No.1 Handsome Confirmed Bachelor. Flight attendant Takaba Akihito is tricked into signing on as one of the twenty-five contestants. But can he survive five gruelling weeks of competitive dating in order to win Asami’s heart?
Takaba forced himself to wait until the following night to use the phone. Unlike Tao’s, it was only picking up one bar of reception in the bedroom, so he waited until it was past midnight before sneaking up to the compound’s third floor.
The only female contestant left was Shibata, but that wouldn’t make Takaba look any less like a Mikhail-esque stalkerish pervert if he was caught up here, skulking around with a camera phone clutched in hand.
At the end of the third storey hallway was a large window, and this Takaba jimmied open until he could squeeze through the gap and grab onto the edge of the roof overhead. After hoisting himself over and crawling up a safe distance from the ledge, he fished out Ai-chan’s phone again. Four bars of reception!
There was a slew of LINE notifications, missed call alerts and texts for Ai-chan, but these Takaba ignored in favour of typing in the phone number he’d had to learn by heart after more calls from Yokohama police stations than he cared to remember.
Takato’s mother answered on the third ring, but cut her warm greetings short to transfer him as soon as he told her it was urgent.
“Akihito,” Takato said, in such a heavy voice that the sound of his name alone sent an ominous shiver down Takaba’s spine. “What have you done.”
“Well, hi to you, too. And what do you mean? I’m sorry for calling your house suddenly, but I couldn’t remember your cell number — ”
“I mean,” Takato interrupted, that edge still in his voice, “what the hell are you doing, taking five weeks’ leave out of the blue? And then going on a, a dating reality show! What were you thinking?”
Takaba felt his jaw drop. “What, how did you — ”
“I’ve seen the clips online, Akihito! We all have. You climbing Takao-san — ”
“ — Burning food on a cruise ship, I mean, I didn’t want to believe it, but there you were on the website! Yoshida has been sending the links to everyone, but I could only load the videos yesterday because I’ve been stuck in transit for days with shit internet. What are you thinking, Akihito! Are you trying to become the airline’s laughing stock?”
“It was Captain Yama!” Takaba cried, and then felt the overwhelming urge to punch himself in the face. So much for coming up with a plausible-yet-totally-fake excuse for why he’d secretly signed up for Confirmed Bachelor.
A tense pause. “What about him?”
“Well, uh, you know how I feel…about him. You know.”
A gush of static as Takato sighed. “Not this again.”
“But he applied for leave! Seven weeks of it, and then I realised the dates coincided with the filming of the show, and I thought he must have been approached by the producers to be this year’s bachelor…”
“Akihito,” Takato said, his voice finally softening. “It’s true that Captain Yama is off work at the moment. But it’s not because some TV people suddenly decided he’d be the perfect chain-smoking ojiisan to woo a bunch of wispy girls.”
“And boys,” Takaba grumbled. “And I’m not wispy.”
“Just listen for a minute! Yama took that leave because he’s been put in indefinite detention until his trial begins. He couldn’t afford bail, because he’s gambled away his life’s savings in pachinko parlours — not just his savings, but the millions of yen he was laundering from the airline too.”
“I’m sorry,” Takato said, not sounding very contrite at all. “I know your crush on him was kind of…intense. But we only found out about this a few days ago, and it’s being kept pretty quiet as it is. At least this way you can shift your feelings onto someone else, maybe like an actual potential lover instead of some miserable excuse for a father figure who doesn’t deserve your loyalty, yeah? …Akihito?”
Takaba stared into the dark, his mind reeling. His beloved Yama-sama, whom he’d idolised ever since becoming a flight attendant, was a lying, gambling thief? “I…I feel betrayed,” he croaked.
Takato just grunted.
“What am I even doing here, Takato?” Because that was the question, wasn’t it? He’d known since the first night that Captain Yama wasn’t involved with the show, and he could have withdrawn whenever he liked. But whether through indecision, fear of humiliation or the hysterical promise-extraction of Ai-chan, he’d stayed on for two weeks. Two weeks of being molested by lawyers, throttled by tiny hair salon assistants and almost pushed down mountainsides by bleached boyband members.
“Don’t worry, Aki,” Takato soothed, some of the usual wryness finally leaching back into his voice. “We’re all going to vote for you online this week. It’s the least we can do for you since you’re providing us with this much entertainment.”
After he’d hung up on Takato, Takaba decided to call his mother. He’d been planning to anyway, but if it was true that most of his colleagues had seen the clips of him during the Love Challenges online already, it was only a matter of time before his mother saw them too. And he’d really rather the news that he was voluntarily participating in what had turned into an extreme gay dating competition came from him.
Part of him hoped his mother was in transit overseas, or even in the air. No such luck.
“Yoshida-kun already sent me the link,” Takaba’s mother informed him, a little primly, after Takaba had dithered too long trying to broach the subject of Confirmed Bachelor. “When I had trouble accessing the videos, he came over to my apartment with his laptop to show me in person.”
Takaba was going to eviscerate Yoshida. He was going to disembowel him and string his entrails from next year’s tanabata tree. As soon as he got out of here, it would be done. “I’m so sorry, Okaasan. I didn’t know they were going to post clips of the show online before it was shown on TV. And they took away all our electronics when we arrived, or I would have called you earlier — ”
“Akihito,” his mother interrupted, and Takaba fell silent. His mother was a serious woman long inured to the excuses he tried to give her for the shit he did, and now there was footage of Takaba making a fool of himself on the internet. What could he really say? “I have always tried to be understanding, no matter what trouble you happily threw yourself into when…” she trailed off, and Takaba’s heart clenched.
“Okaasan,” he mumbled.
“You listen to me,” she said, voice regaining its usual fierce edge. “I saw those videos of you, and then I did some research of my own. I learnt about this television show you’re filming, and also about Asami Ryuichi.”
Oh god, she hadn’t seen the article about Asami suing that restaurant over the azuki bean bun, had she? Or the blog post alleging he’d been involved in a Wisconsin tractor chase during his law school years in America?
“I don’t care if it’s all fiction, all tricks of editing,” she continued. “That lawyer, Asami-san, is the most handsome man I’ve ever seen outside a plastic surgery waiting room.”
Takaba yanked the phone away from his ear. “Mother!?”
“He looks a lot younger than thirty-five, too, even with the smoking. You’ll have to get him to quit, though, or twenty years later you’ll end up as his full time nurse while he coughs up his lungs in bloody chunks and can’t get his prick up.”
Takaba tried to breathe, he really did, but still wound up choking on air.
“Never mind that he’s also rich, talented, and dresses tastefully. None of those torn jeans and plaid shirts you’ve subjected me to for years. So if you don’t stop putting our family to shame by floundering around like a dying fish every time you’re in front of a camera, there will be hell to pay when you get home. Do you understand me, Akihito?”
“But, Okaasan — ”
“No! Bring me back Asami-san.”
It wasn’t fair, Takaba thought glumly. It wasn’t like anyone was allowed to refuse their mother.
He made sure to turn off Ai-chan’s phone before he descended the roof, because he didn’t have a charger and it would have to last him for however long he stayed on the show. (Also, the sheer number of text messages coming in from unknown numbers with subject lines like I want to lick Ai-chan’s cute feet! was starting to get creepy).
But getting down proved to be much harder than climbing up had been, even after years of crawling into his second-storey childhood bedroom post-curfew under his belt. He had to dangle from the roof until he could swing forward enough to hook his legs over the window sill, and then trust that gravity wouldn’t yank him down to a grisly, bone-cracking fate as soon as he let go of the roof.
He landed safely, the carpet muffling his drop to all fours. But it didn’t matter how quiet Takaba was, not when someone was lying in wait for him.
“Takaba Akihito, nimble as a monkey. And as stupid.”
Takaba scrambled to his feet, jamming Ai-chan’s phone into his jean’s waistband before it was noticed.
“I saw that.”
Shit. Detaching itself from the wall, the silhouette moved with self-assured laziness into a beam of moonlight several feet away. Even with the figure’s face only partially exposed, Takaba only needed a glimpse of the skin-tight, electric blue hot pants to know who it was.
“I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of Confirmed Bachelor’s rules about contraband telecommunications devices,” Sakazaki purred. “Or about the contract you signed promising not to use them while you’re a contestant on the show. Eh, Takaba-kun?”
Takaba had to force his lips closed lest he burst out with a list of all the other contestants he’d seen using their phones or tablets on the sly. But while he didn’t care a whit if that puffed up prig Kuroda got slapped on the wrist, he didn’t want Tao to get in trouble. (Especially if it meant that Tao decided to channel his rage into suffocating Takaba with a pillow).
“I don’t know what you mean.” Takaba could only hope he sounded suitably wronged and indignant. “I was just enjoying the night air for a while. I have respiratory problems, you know, and the ventilation in my room is, uh, substandard. I’m thinking of filing a complaint, actually.”
“And to enjoy the night air, you had to climb onto the roof.” Sakazaki grinned, and took a few steps closer.
Takaba backed away quickly. “Yes,” he agreed, heart clenching when the backs of his thighs made contact with the wall beside the open window. Sakazaki was backing him into a corner. In more ways than one.
“Come now, Takaba-kun, I’m sure those fake jewels stuck all over Momohara Ai’s phone must be digging into your lovely skin. Doesn’t it…” and with one long step he ate up the remaining distance between them, grabbing Takaba by the forearms. “…hurt?”
“Let go,” Takaba hissed, twisting out of the other man’s grip. It held. “What are you going to do? Shibata-san is just down the hall! You try anything with me, and I’ll shout until she hears.”
Sakazaki leered. “Believe me, Akihito, with the sounds you’ll soon be making, you won’t want anyone to hear you.”
The window. Takaba could jump out the window. What were a few broken limbs compared to the terrifying glint in this bastard’s eyes? But he had to stall for time— “Oh yeah? What makes you think you won’t be the one making noise? Screams of pain when I knee you in the groin, for example.”
Sakazaki’s fingers clenched around Takaba’s arm when he tried to sidle towards the window, yanking him forward until they were pressed chest-to-chest. Takaba could suddenly feel the rattle of Sakazaki’s rapid breathing, his exhalations landing like humid slaps against Takaba’s cheeks.
“That won’t happen,” panted Sakazaki, pulling Takaba closer until he could no longer ignore the hardness jabbing at his hip. “That won’t happen, because in a moment your knees will be smack against the floor while you suck my cock.”
Takaba squeezed his eyes shut, trying to shove Sakazaki off him. He felt crushed between the wall and the other man’s superior height and bulk, and panic was starting to edge out the voice in his head, the one calmly telling him to jump out the fucking window.
Sakazaki froze at that one, booming syllable. Takaba used the man’s distraction to stamp on his feet until he could wriggle away. Sakazaki barely seemed to notice; he’d turned around, peering into the darkness as a figure in a white bathrobe approached them with an unhurried, even stride.
When a patch of light finally illuminated Asami’s face, all the air Takaba had been holding inside rushed out of him. It was all he could do not to sag against the wall.
“Asami-san,” Sakazaki greeted, doing a fair job of sounding like this was nothing more than an accidental meeting on a moonlit stroll. “How unexpected to see you up here.”
Asami barely spared him a contemptuous glance. “Takaba, come with me.” His hand reached out.
If Takaba hadn’t just averted that with Sakazaki, he’d be inclined to feel insulted that Asami was apparently here to escort him away like a pre-schooler. As it was, he bowed his head and scurried over to Asami’s side, submitting to a hand landing heavily on his shoulder to guide him away down the corridor.
“Enjoy your night together, gentlemen,” Sakazaki called after them, his voice dripping with its usual sleazy insinuation.
Takaba raised his head to question Asami, then caught sight of Shibata-san’s face peeking out from behind her door. She waited for them to pass by, nodding at them both in acknowledgement before closing it neatly again.
“What was that?” Takaba whispered on the staircase down to the second floor. Asami’s hand had migrated from his shoulder to his upper arm, unknowingly digging into the bruises already left there by Sakazaki. “How did you know to come up there?”
Asami didn’t reply until they were paused on the landing to make sure there was no one else about. “Isn’t it obvious? Shibata called me.”
Takaba had several things to say about that, not least of which was Shibata has a phone too? So why am I the only one getting molested for it? “But why did she call you instead of security? Or even Mitarai?” Takaba demanded, allowing himself to be pushed down a new corridor that ended, abruptly, in a service elevator.
“She’s my personal assistant,” Asami replied blandly, jamming the down button.
“What-?” Takaba yelped as the doors opened and Asami yanked him inside. “Ow! Stop digging your fingers in like that, you bastard.”
Asami released him, stepping back to lean against the wall as the elevator jolted into its descent. And really, Takaba thought angrily, no one should be allowed to look that self-possessed when walking around a shared house in the middle of the night in a terry cloth robe.
“What do you mean she’s your ‘assistant’? Did you blackmail her into becoming your spy, or something?”
“I mean it in the usual sense,” Asami replied as the elevator gradually slowed and dinged its arrival.
“What floor is this?” Takaba muttered suspiciously as Asami led him into a windowless corridor. It was carpeted like the rest of the compound, but lit by an array of small lamps drilled into the plain cream walls. The air felt strangely still and enclosing.
“B? Basement? Oh, don’t tell me you’re taking me to an interrogation room! Or some kind of bunker. God, I’m innocent, all right? Sakazaki was the one who jumped out of nowhere and grabbed me — ” he broke off when he heard what sounded very much like a snort of amusement. Asami was snorting at him now. “Shut up! See how much you like it, getting attacked by the man who’s supposed to be your charming presenter when you’re just having a little walk around at night, minding your own business and not bothering anyone.”
“You’re very noisy,” remarked Asami, extracting a key from the pocket of his bathrobe and unlocking a door at the very end of the corridor.
“Wait!” Takaba hissed as Asami grabbed his bruised arm again, dragging him into what was probably a nuclear fallout bunker or a cold storage room for all the corpses of the court room defendants Asami had smirked to death in the past and — “Oh.”
For a suspicious and secret basement room, it was pretty luxurious. Plush carpet covered in foreign-looking rugs, an assortment of blocky leather furniture, a massive television hanging on the wall, and a four-poster bed lying in wait in one corner like a hibernating monster (made of pillows and blankets). There was even a kitchenette with a refrigerator and microwave, and another door presumably led to an en suite bathroom.
“This is. Uh.”
“My bedroom,” Asami supplied drily.
“What, you actually stay here? And here we all were imagining you swooped into the compound every other day in a helicopter or a chartered blimp. Wait — if you actually live here with us then how come you’re always showing up late for the group dates? Tell me you’re not just tormenting the other contestants for fun.”
As far as Takaba was concerned, Asami’s silence said everything.
It took the click of the door’s lock sliding closed reminded Takaba of his current situation. That situation being: alone and underground with a noted pervert, with nobody to hear him scream.
“I’m, uh, I’m just going to go back up to my room. Now.”
Asami raised an eyebrow, fiddling with a control panel set into the wall until the bedroom’s lights were extinguished but for a soft glow cast across the living room area — and the bed.
Asami caught the direction of his gaze. “You’re nervous.”
“No,” Takaba snapped automatically. “But it’s been an eventful night already, and I’d rather just go to bed. My own bed,” he amended quickly.
Asami made no reply, but stepped closer. This near, a loosely-corded bathrobe really didn’t seem like much of a barrier between him and muscles that, frankly, looked painted on. Takaba swallowed and retreated — straight into the wall beside the door. Oh great, déjà vu from about fifteen minutes ago. Why was it always Takaba getting backed into corners and aeroplane toilet cubicles by randy middle aged guys?
But rather than shove himself forward and pant into his face like a dog in heat, Asami’s hand flashed out and snaked around Takaba’s waist. Takaba gave an involuntary hiss as fingers grazed the small of his back, brushing down to just above the cleft of his ass.
“Stop it,” Takaba hissed, grabbing Asami’s wrist and yanking it out of there. To Takaba’s surprise, Asami allowed it. But that was only because it seemed the bastard’s aim hadn’t been an ass grope after all, but the pink glittery thing now nestled in his palm.
Asami brought the phone up to his face to inspect it. “Interesting accessorisation.”
“Obviously, it’s not mine,” Takaba grumbled, crossing his arms.
“So you stole it?” Asami pressed a button, bringing up the home screen. Which was backgrounded by wallpaper that was, unfortunately, a photograph of a pastel blue bedroom all but heaving with enormous plush animals and cushions.
“I’m borrowing it,” Takaba corrected, reaching out a hand. “And I’d like it back now. Thank you.”
Asami hummed, turning the phone over in his palm before casually slipping it into his robe pocket. “I’m sure you would. The question is, how much would you give to have it back?”
“What, you’re blackmailing me now? Wait, no, extorting! You’re an extortionist.”
Asami only smiled slightly at the accusation. “Call me what you like. But if this really isn’t yours, then I’m sure you would feel responsible if something bad were to happen to it. If it accidentally fell into the bathtub, for instance.”
You wouldn’t! Takaba wanted to cry. Except this was Asami, and Asami was the devil incarnate. “But you’re an attorney, so if I sue you for property damage you could get, I don’t know, disbarred.” Probably.
“But it would be an accident. Not that I imagine you’d be so keen to expose the circumstances that resulted in its unfortunate dowsing, eh?
Asami stepped closer again, and Takaba immediately slid sideways with his back to the wall. It would have been a handy escape route except for the massive leather armchair that was in the way. Asami reached out a hand —
“Do that and I’ll bite you.”
Asami smirked and placed his hand above and to the side of Takaba’s head, palm flat against the wall. “You’re welcome to bite me wherever you like.”
“If this is how you usually flirt,” Takaba said, intent on ignoring the fact that he was now truly hemmed in on all sides, “then I’m not surprised you’ve had to come on a dating show to find someone to sleep with.”
It must have been a trick of the light, but this close Asami’s eyes looked molten, strange. Takaba had never seen anything like them before, which was why he became so intent on pinning down their exact colour that he missed the surreptitious approach of Asami’s other hand. He startled at the sharp flick of his jean’s button coming undone.
“Ah,” he gasped when a warm hand shoved itself into his briefs without warning. “Ah, stop — ” he broke off when Asami’s fingers wrapped around him, tugging ungently. “Oh god, oh god…”
“So responsive,” Asami murmured, pressing Takaba flush against the wall with his body. “From your reactions alone, one would think you were a virgin, Takaba.”
The haze of heat and sensation that had been threatening to overwhelm his brain seconds before abruptly evaporated.
“Wrong,” he grated out, unclenching his fingers from where they’d burrowed into Asami’s bathrobe. “But from your reaction to other people’s distress I’d think you were very experienced — with sexual assault!”
Asami froze. Noticing the man’s sudden hesitation, Takaba didn’t think twice about lunging forward, using his weight to push Asami backwards and biting at whatever came in range of his teeth. Something crunched, and Takaba tasted blood.
He reared back in panic, spitting out the taste of copper and grabbing the door handle with nerveless fingers. A second before he fled the room, he chanced a look behind him. Asami had fallen to a crouch, one hand cupping his nose, staring right into Takaba’s face with eyes that burned.