So this story won out in the end. I'm still considering the other one; we'll see, I guess. I'm very sorry for making our darling, innocent Aka-chan a sneaking, conniving and slightly heartless paparazzo. Please love him anyway. I'm very sorry, but this story will not have any yaoi/shounen-ai. It's purely humor/crack, and while there are a lot (and I mean a lot) of suggestive moments, there's nothing concrete.
I know most people tend to skip the author's notes, but if you read it you'll find that there's a preview for the next chapter at the very bottom, if you're interested.
Kirihara Akaya crouched behind the row of shrubs encircling the restaurant. There she was! Emi Masako, famed television actress, star of the famous drama House on Kite Avenue, and exclusively dating some sports star. And yet, here she was, sitting across from the French artist Pierre Delacroix, touching his hand and kissing his lips.
Quickly, he snapped a photo or five and stuffed the camera in his backpack. He walked into the restaurant, choosing the table about two or three yards away from theirs, and casually pulled out his cell phone, taking a few pictures with his camera phone too. The alleged couple was completely unaware they were being photographed.
But they'll find out soon enough, Akaya thought, when their pictures turn up on the cover of Star Weekly.
Yes, Kirihara Akaya was a photographer for Star Weekly—and about a dozen other branched gossip magazines. As a matter of fact, he was their ace photographer, with a reputation to boot. And maybe it wasn't the fanciest job in the world—or, for that matter, the most honest—but damn that, the job paid pretty well. After all, all he had to do was take photos. They didn't even have to be good photos.
And in the end, sneaking around had always been Akaya's strong suit.
A waitress sauntered up to him with an infatuated smile. "Can I take your order?" she asked huskily.
Not to mention he was pretty darn handsome. And he knew it, too. His posture oozed confidence, and his bright green eyes were alert and arrogant. Being so handsome was one of the perks in the job—looking good actually got his job done, and looking hot was probably the easiest part of his job. Deciding to play the waitress's flirting game, Akaya ran a hand through his hair and gave her a charming smile. "Why don't you order for me? I'm pretty new to this restaurant. And..." He winked. "...You seem to have pretty good taste." He fixed his green eyes on her brown ones (because eye contact was the best way to make a girl swoon, something he learned from a fellow reporter, Marui).
The waitress flushed deeply and stammered, "Well, s-sir, you may want to try our new—"
He tuned her out and focused on the couple behind her. They were still holding hands, laughing, smiling like there was no tomorrow. He snorted. They ought to be more careful. Didn't they know there were charming photographers around? Akaya looked up and gave the waitress another smile. "Yes, that will be fine." He tilted his body toward her and murmured enticingly, "Do you mind if I move to that table?" He gestured to the empty table next to the couple. "It's more suited to me. In fact, perhaps you could sit with me for a while, when you're not busy." His hand trailed to hers, and he brought the hand to his lips. His eyes sneaked back to her face, and he smiled against her hand. "It'd be a pleasure."
"No problem at all, sir," she squeaked and ran off to the kitchen. He sighed. The poor lady had no chance against him.
"Hidden in plain sight. Very nice."
Akaya turned around and grinned. "Niou-san," he acknowledged. Niou was his boss, perhaps the slickest of them all. Just looking at him—rattail and all, one could tell he was a man who meant business. A man who didn't seem very honest, either. Most people wondered how he could be best friends with a gentleman like Yagyuu Hiroshi (who was the CEO of a huge corporation and often assisted Niou in his 'scandals' albeit hesitantly). But he was certainly sly. He never did the dirty work himself, though he always knew the right celebrity to focus on—or rather, the right celebrity to ruin.
He and Akaya were truly very alike.
"Is there something you need?" Akaya asked. "I was about to take a close-up." He smirked, and knew his expression was the mirror image of his boss's.
"Nah," Niou said casually, sitting beside him and fiddling with the spoon set on the table. "I was just bored. Came to tell you that you should stop flirting on the job."
Akaya rolled his eyes. Niou certainly wasn't much older than him—only a year, in fact. Given, the young boss had unmistakable talent (rumor had it he had beat every single player in doubles in the country as a youth) in both sports, charm, writing and business, but he tended to be a tad... shall we say, slacking. "But boss," Akaya said with fake reverence, "you probably shouldn't be the one telling me that. If anything, I should be telling you, am I right?"
He grinned at Akaya. "You're right," he acknowledged, and ironically, just as he said that, the pretty waitress came running back to their table.
"I was wondering—" the waitress began, but abruptly stopped speaking when she saw Niou, playing with the spoon while smiling impishly up at her. His blue eyes sparkled with mirth and mischief, and Akaya couldn't help but roll his eyes again. "H-hello," she stammered, and Niou immediately stood.
"Good day, miss," he purred, bowing slightly and taking her hand. "What a surprise, to have such a beautiful lady assisting us today, eh, Akaya?"
The waitress blushed madly, and the two reporters could almost hear her wailing in her head, God, this is overwhelming!
Akaya smiled innocently. "But of course. It goes without saying, Niou-san." To the waitress, he added, "Allow me to introduce the two of you. Madame, this is Niou-san, a very gifted businessman. Niou, this is..." He gazed at the waitress inquiringly, silently asking for her name.
The waitress stumbled over her words, saying, "I'm Rukiro Haruka, nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too," Niou said casually in English, and Rukiro's eyes widened, finally blurting, "I've got to go to the chef," and running off.
Akaya's eyes dimmed, and he reassumed his uninterested expression. The paparazzo turned to Niou, who had dropped the spoon on the table and had gone back to staring into nothing. "So did you want something, Niou-san?"
"Yeah," he admitted. "I have a new case for you. Of course, it'll grant you a raise. And if you accept the deal, it'll put you in a better position of succeeding me..."
Akaya narrowed his eyes. Niou rarely tried to bribe his workers into doing things. Most of the tasks he assigned were fairly reasonable (except that one time he had forced Marui to dress up as a football mascot to get a scandalous photo of the quarterback). There was no reason for him to have to bribe anybody. What was going on here? "What's the task?" he asked, getting straight to the point.
Niou sighed. "You know Yukimura Seiichi, don't you?"
He snorted. "Don't we all?"
"Yes, well, he's recently revealed his bisexuality, right after his breakup with that Rin girl, in fact. There's a rumor going around that it might have been because he was in love with somebody else—" Niou paused dramatically, then continued, "a man. But there's no proof of that at the moment. Many people are saying it's his best friend, Sanada Genichiro, but we have no proof of that either."
"You want me to stalk him?" Akaya asked sarcastically.
"In a sense."
"Yeah, okay—wait, what?"
"Not exactly stalk," Niou assured soothingly. "I mean, it's not stalking if the person knows you're there, right?"
"I don't understand," the young man said, bemused.
"I want you to pretend to be his boyfriend," Niou blurted.
A moment of silence followed, then a burst of hysterical laughter. "You got me good there. Okay, so what were you saying?"
"No, I'm serious."
"Oh, please no," Akaya whimpered. Yes, he whimpered. This is when you know it's getting bad.
"You see, if we have somebody—not Sanada—be his new boyfriend, well, this would very well be the biggest gossip yet. There'd be a huge uproar, both over his sexuality and over Sanada not being the boyfriend in question, you understand? And since you're the master flirter, it was a unanimous agreement."
"Marui agreed too?" Akaya asked, horrified. "How could he turn on me like that?"
"Everybody did," Niou insisted, "because you're the best person for the job!"
Normally Akaya would have been flattered by such praise, but flattery had given way to horror, which had given way to something between despair and a strong urge to knock his head against a wall. With all the respect and sanity he had, Akaya enunciated, "I'm not gay."
"I know you aren't," Niou answered, exasperated. "But pretend to be. It can't be that different, right? Yukimura looks like a girl anyway. Don't you see? This is perfect! Yukimura recently won a huge tennis tournament, so he's in the spotlight. With our new article, we'll grab the attention! We can sell this for millions in a heartbeat."
"Why can't you do it?"
Niou grinned. "I'm the brains behind the plan, remember?"
Akaya was tempted to snicker at the idea of Niou being the brains behind anything, but decided this wasn't the best time to poke fun at his boss. "B-but—"
"Are you in it or not? If you do this, I can almost guarantee that you'll be the one to succeed me when I retire."
"Yeah, in like, thirty years, when you're fifty or something. By then I'll be fifty too, Mister Brains Behind the Plan!"
"It's not like that. I'll be retiring sooner than you think. Yagyuu's company needs a new project and product designer, as well as a new data coordinator, and they've already asked me to do both. Yagyuu actually wanted me to be co-president, but I need at least two years of experience to do that. And this gossip magazine means a lot to me, but my friend's got to come first, right?"
"That's cool," Akaya said softly, pleased at the thought of his boss moving on to a bigger and better corporation. "But I'm not sure how I feel about pretending to be Yukimura's boyfriend. I mean, what are the chances he'd go after me, anyway?"
"You'd be surprised," Niou said, grinning. "It really doesn't matter either way. As long as we get a photo of him hitting on you, we're all good."
"I'll force Marui on sanitation duty for a week if you do this."
That was quite possibly the dumbest thing he'd said in all nineteen years of his life, but he'd learn to regret that word later on.
So why am I writing this? Because after a few months of skipping from one fandom to another, I realized I'm a Prince of Tennis fan at heart, and I wanted to add something new (which isn't very smart of me, considering I haven't updated The Tennislutionary War in what, a month?). So I'm posting this up. Depending on the response this gets, I'll either keep it or delete it. It's not a huge loss either way, because keeping it means more writing, and deleting it still means more writing, because there's still The Tennislutionary War to worry about.
So, yeah. Here's the preview:
"I'm going to kill you, Niou-san! Get me out of here; Yukimura's nut case, damn it! Did you know he tried to kiss me? On the neck? The neck, Niou!"
"Dude, that's creepy. You've only been on what, one date?"
"Yeah, and that was hell in itself. Please let me leave," Akaya begged. "Send Marui in or something."
"Sorry brat, but you're in too deep to back out now. Look on the bright side: Yukimura's got some hot fangirls. You don't see chicks like that in the office, eh?"
"Are you stupid? They think I'm gay!"
"Oh, right. Forgot about that for a sec."