pairings:gen; Yamada-centric + Hikaru and Takaki
warnings: Slight mentions of body image issues (it's not central to the plot, but Yamada has them), so if that might be triggering to you, please be forewarned!
word count: 3,257
author's note: This is part of my AU based on Hey! Say! JUMP's new subgroups from the s3art album, and on the performances done by those groups at the s3art tour in Yokohama Arena a month ago. Hikaru, Yamada, and Takaki were introduced as being dangerous criminals, and so... this happened. XD; This is technically a companion to もっとみてよ、みつめてよ, but you don't really have to read it to understand this one. ^^ Written for shiritori @ writetomyheart!
summary: Yamada never thought sneaking into locked, guarded buildings and burglarizing them would be something he found fun and exciting... but then again, a year ago, he'd never have thought he'd enjoy stripping, either, so he supposes that he's just going to have to learn to live with it.
"A statue?" Yamada asks looking up at Hikaru in surprise. "Wait, I thought it was a painting. What do you mean, a statue?"
Hikaru only shrugs, not looking up from his phone. Yamada frowns but doesn't say anything; it's rare that something gets Hikaru's attention enough to tear his eyes from his phone screen, and Yamada can't help but wonder what he's looking at. It's sparked many a conversation between he and Yuya in the break room, but while popular rumour has it that it's photos of an idol, Hikaru is so evasive and enigmatic about it that there's really no way to know. Still, it's frustrating to try to have a conversation with someone who can't even be bothered to look at him when he's talking, but he bites his tongue. As much as he hates to admit it, he got himself into this situation, and now he has no choice but to follow through.
"I never said it was a painting, just that it was a piece of art," Hikaru replies at length, a grin tugging at his lips, and Yamada is never sure whether his expression reflects the conversation they're having or whatever Hikaru is looking at on his phone. "Don't hurt yourself jumping to conclusions there, Yama-chan. What's the saying about assuming, again?"
"I thought it was a painting, too," Yuya adds sheepishly, giving Yamada a hesitant smile, but while Yuya is clearly trying to make Yamada feel better, somehow, he only feels more idiotic, considering that Yuya is not exactly lighting any intellectual fires. He likes to think of himself as notably brighter than Yuya (at least he finished high school!) but between Hikaru's words and the fact that he did, in fact, make a stupid assumption, he can feel his cheeks turning red, and he pouts.
"Hikaru-san, you made Yama-chan sad..." Yuya comments, which only makes Yamada more embarrassed, and he shrugs, cutting in before Hikaru can answer.
"Isn't a statue going to be too big to carry out of there, anyway?" he asks brusquely, determind to prove that he's not as dumb as Hikaru probably thinks he is. After all, Hikaru can make grand plans-- sure, he is the mastermind behind this whole thing-- but Yamada is the one who's going to have to evade museum security and steal this stupid piece of art, and he's not about to get crushed by some marble monstrosity and end up in jail.
"Maa... it's about 20 centimetres tall and probably weighs like 2 kilos," Hikaru responds after a moment of contemplation, his grin growing as he flicks at his phone screen, presumably scrolling to another page, or perhaps a new image. "I think even you can manage that, Yama-chan. And besides, I've seen paintings about twice the size of you~"
Yamada's frown deepens at the cracks about his height, but before he can fumble a comeback, Yuya smiles, replying, "That's good!" in complete earnestness. Yamada takes a deep breath; it's a good thing that they have Yuya, he thinks, to serve as a buffer, because his honest goodness, despite his lack of brain cells, makes up for the fact that Hikaru is a creepy jerk.
"Anyway, I've almost got the plan finalized," Hikaru informs them, seeming completely unbothered by the fact that Yamada is still shooting him an annoyed glare. He shifts in that weird way he has, rubbing underneath his nose absently with one finger (and Yamada can't help but wonder if he likes being gross, or if he's just too preoccupied looking at his phone to shave) before finally lifting his eyes to look first at Yuya, then to Yamada. "We'll meet tomorrow at noon in the usual Starbucks and I'll go over everything with you, and give you your headsets. Got it?"
"Got it," Yamada replies in his best deadpan, but he can't ignore the way his heart leaps a little in his chest at the prospect of actually pulling off something as exciting as art theft. He isn't sure how he ended up in this situation, or how this is even his real life and not a manga or something, but he can't help but look forward to the challenge.
Beside him, Yuya bounces a little, nodding enthusiastically. "This is going to be just like Oceans Eleven!" he practically squeals, and while Yamada laughs at him, in truth, he feels pretty much the same way.
Yamada's dream has always been to be a professional dancer, as long as he can remember. Maybe it's from watching pop music videos in his formative years, full of cool moves and complicated formations behind the singer, or maybe it started in elementary school, when his female classmates chose him to do a special solo bit in their dance for the sports festival in fourth grade, but whatever the reason, he can't remember wanting anything else. He begged his mom to sign him up for ballet and hip-hop classes when most of his friends were doing little league baseball and junior soccer, and was surprised and delighted to find himself immediately pushed to the front of the class, the only boy and therefore the center of attention. It was practically like a dream come true to have starring roles in his dance school's recitals and concerts, and it only strengthened his resolve through junior high school and high school to go pro.
Things weren't so easy when he started auditioning in his senior year, though; outside of his weekly classes, he was far from the only guy in the dance world in Tokyo, and while he was able to land parts-- mostly supporting or understudying-- in professional shows here and there, he never made the final cut for any companies, and half a year after his high school graduation, he found himself struggling to get enough work to get by. He'd insisted on moving out from his parents' house-- he was an adult, dammit, and he would support himself-- but even in his tiny little studio apartment in Shin-Okubo, that meant bills to pay and rent to cover, not to mention feeding himself from day to day. He tried to tell himself that no money for food meant staying skinny, but well, that only got him through so many missed meals in a day before he began to despair.
It was around this time when one of his castmates in the show he was currently doing noticed how much he always seemed to be scraping for money and suggested stripping. "You're a great mover and really attractive, I bet you'd get a job right away," she'd said, but Yamada was horrified at the idea at first. He was a dancer, an artist, not someone who took off his clothes for money!! And besides... well, not that he'd ever admit it, or that it was a big deal, or anything, but he'd never really been sure why people complimented his appearance all the time, when even with layers of makeup and the most flattering clothes he could find (admittedly difficult when he spent most of his day in tights), all he could ever see when he looked in the mirror was some fat, ugly, pathetic loser.
But a few weeks later, bills and starvation began to trump personal indignation and embarrassment, and he found himself at an audition for the most reputable-seeming place he could find on the internet. As with any audition, he braced himself for criticism and rejection... and therefore was understandably surprised when he was told, no strings attached, that he had passed and would be starting on Friday.
Maybe because he hadn't ever believed that he would pass the audition, or maybe because he'd only come to stripping as an alternative to starving, but somehow, when Friday had come around, he'd almost chickened out and not gone. The thought of being naked in front of one person he didn't know, not to mention a whole crowd that was there to watch him, was practically enough to make him ill, but somehow, he managed to get himself onto the stage, and... actually, it wasn't so bad. So long as he didn't think about the fact that people were probably judging him for being fat and gross, it was sort of like dancing one of those weird interpretive numbers that no one really understood...
Only, as it turned out, not only weren't people thinking he was fat and gross, but apparently, he was a hit from day one. The tips collected under his name were greater than those of some of the more experienced guys, and within a month, his hours had almost doubled. And not only did people tell him he was attractive, but actually, somehow it almost felt like the audiences at the strip club appreciated his dancing more than anyone had when he'd actually been doing it for a living, complimenting his movement and style almost as much as his body. Somehow, in some way, working at the strip club turned out to be some sort of miracle, and when Yamada found himself going to fewer and fewer dance auditions on the side, he couldn't even really bring himself to feel guilty.
It was a few weeks later that he met Yuya-- tall, sexy, and insanely stupid-- and they hit it off. Yuya is probably the nicest person Yamada has ever met, and while sometimes, it's a struggle to explain things in small enough words for Yuya to understand, he was happy to make friends with another new recruit. Yuya had no dance training and had been hired on looks alone, and so it felt good, too, to be able to help him with the little things, making his movements more graceful and fluid. In return, Yuya always treats him to coffee, which Yamada can't exactly complain about.
As for Hikaru... he's honestly not sure how he somehow got roped into Hikaru's little group. He'd never spoken with Hikaru despite knowing of his existence for a long time; Hikaru was the particularly creepy lighting guy who was always glued to his phone with a creepy smirk on his face, and something about his disheveled appearance always made Yamada want to keep his distance. It wasn't until several months after he began working at the club that one day, Hikaru approached him and Yuya, offering them an enigmatic grin and asking them to hear his proposition.
Somehow, despite the fact that he really shouldn't have been, Yamada was shocked when Hikaru revealed to them, plainly and simply, that he was an art thief, and told them he'd been studying them and decided that he wanted them to join his team. Yamada was indignant-- there was no way he'd get mixed up in something like that!! But then Hikaru had pouted and commented that it was too bad, because Yamada was the most graceful person at the club, and the most aware of his body and his surroundings, and he would just be so good at art theft... and, somehow or other, Yamada had caved.
A couple weeks later, sitting in Starbucks and looking over sketched-out museum floor plans and guard schedules, deciding on just which guards Yuya needed to distract and figuring out which security points Yamada needs to avoid, it's not really any easier to believe that he's gotten himself involved in this sort of thing, but at the same time, there's something exhilarating about it all coming together.
Still, when Hikaru finally shows them a photo of what they're going to be stealing from the museum's leaflet, an odd little statuette of a sitting cat, Yamada can't help but roll his eyes. "I can't believe I'm going to risk my neck for this stupid thing," he whines, but even as he says it, his eyes moving over all their maps and plans laying out on the table, he can't help the way his heart beats quickly in his chest, ugly cat statue or not.
"Sorry Yama-chan, looks like you're going to have to change course," Hikaru says for the third time into the headset, his voice sounding all too gleeful for Yamada's taste. Supposedly, Hikaru has hacked into the museum's security mainframe and has blocked recording on the cameras that will show Yamada's existence, instead watching those cameras himself to keep an eye on Yamada's progress, but Yamada really has no way of knowing for sure. Still, Hikaru does seem freakily aware of Yamada's actions, and Yamada tries not to think about the fact that Hikaru might be watching his every move as he makes his way further into the museum.
"What do you mean??" Yamada hisses into his own headset, pausing and looking around nervously in the darkened museum corridor. "That's the third time already!! Your planning is shit!!"
"Sorry, sorry~" Hikaru responds, sounding not sorry in the least. "Just go back to the original course this time~ Looks like the coast is clear after all~"
Yamada isn't entirely certain that Hikaru isn't just making this change in plan to laugh to himself as he watches Yamada struggle to adapt, but it isn't exactly like he can stop trusting Hikaru now. In the depths of the museum in the dead of night, there's no way he could get out in one piece (and avoiding arrest) without Hikaru's help. Taking a deep breath and trying to stay calm (sometimes he thinks Hikaru has come into his life as karmic retribution for being so short-tempered when he was younger), he mentally adjusts and heads back to the original course.
Perhaps Hikaru can tell from his movements that he's tense, or perhaps he was never fooling around in the first place and there are no more changes to the plan, but for whatever the reason, Hikaru is mostly quiet for the rest of the time, only chiming in to tell Yamada when he needs to look out for guards and alarms. In fact, Yamada is beginning to wonder if Hikaru fell asleep at his computer or something for how long he's been silent when suddenly, he sees the cat statue ahead, just as ugly in real life.
"I can see it!" he informs Hikaru, which earns him a "hmm~" that proves that Hikaru is, in fact, still cognizant. There's a moment of stillness as Yamada's heart beats in his ears, because here he is, about the commit the deed, and it's exhilarating, really, knowing what he's about to do as soon as Hikaru gives the word...
It feels like he waits forever, but finally, "I have one very important warning for you," Hikaru instructs ominously, and Yamada swallows hard. He isn't familiar with museum security measures, but the thought that maybe, if he messes up, he'll end up in jail (or worse) is practically enough to make his hands shake.
"Wh-what is it?" he breathes after a moment, bracing himself for his instructions.
Hikaru waits what feels like another hour, perhaps because he's thinking of the best way to say it, or perhaps because he likes to build dramatic tension, but either way, Yamada feels like a balloon that's about to pop when Hikaru finally says ..."Don't drop it~"
It's a good thing that Yamada has been working on his temper for a while now, because it really wouldn't do for him to start screaming expletives at Hikaru in the middle of the locked-down museum at night.
"So how much is it worth?" Yamada breathes, looking at the statue in awe as they regroup in the back room at the club. Hikaru has a key and they've decided to use the club as their meeting point, since today is its weekly day off. Now that he and Yuya have made it out of the museum in one piece and Hikaru is back with them, Yamada feels a lot less tense, and giddiness at the knowledge that they've succeeded is setting in. In this light, the cat statue looks a lot less ugly, and he grins at it, waiting for an answer.
Hikaru, however, only hums, also seeming transfixed by the statue. Yamada wonders absently what exactly it is about this thing that made Hikaru choose it, of all things, but he supposes, with Hikaru, one never knows. Yuya is all grins as well as he, too, examines the statue, but Yamada can hear him muttering about how cute it is under his breath, and he can't help but wonder if Yuya realizes that the statue isn't a kids' toy, but (somehow, ugly as it is) actually a valuable piece of art.
But Yamada is brought out of his thoughts by Hikaru, who finally lets out a more definitive "hmm~" before replying, "I'd have to check market values." Yamada doesn't even want to know what that means, considering he's fairly certain that they can't just sell it on Yahoo auctions or something, but as long as he gets his cut, he's decided, he doesn't care.
"Well, when are you going to sell it?" he prompts-- it's not that he's really tight on cash ever since he started stripping, but a little (or a lot) more couldn't exactly hurt, either.
But Hikaru only blinks at him. "Sell it?" he asks, and suddenly, Yamada has a sinking feeling. "Why would I sell it?"
Maybe this is an appropriate punchline for the joke that has been this whole venture, but after risking his own neck breaking into a highly-guarded museum in the middle of the night, he's not in his best humour. "But you promised me and Yuya fifteen percent each!" he bursts, gesticulating so wildly that he almost hits Yuya in the head in the process. "How the heck are you going to pay us??"
"Hmmm~" Hikaru replies, his infuriatingly pleased smirk making Yamada want to punch him in the face. "Well, I suppose I'll just keep it on record that Yuya owns the tail, and you own the leg. How's that?"
"What do you mean?! Quit messing with us!!" Yamada practically yells back, loud enough that he feels Yuya suddenly put a hand on his back, as if to calm him down.
But Hikaru only laughs. "That's just the way it is~" he replies in a singsong voice. "Breathe, Yama-chan. We'll sell the next thing."
"The next thing??" Yamada responds, his voice rising in volume and pitch in sheer disbelief. "After I put myself on the line for your stupid cat statue, you really think that I'm going to--"
"You enjoyed it, don't lie~" Hikaru responds aggravatingly calmly, "and besides, fifteen percent of a hundred-million yen is still a lot~"
As much as Yamada wants to throw it all back in Hikaru's face, he knows Hikaru's right. He never thought sneaking into locked, guarded buildings and burglarizing them would be something he found fun and exciting... but then again, a year ago, he'd never have thought he'd enjoy stripping, either, so he supposes that he's just going to have to learn to live with it. Still, as much as he wants to beat Hikaru over the head with his stupid cat statue right now, there's something intriguing about him that makes Yamada think that maybe, he's not really a bad guy. And besides, the way that Yuya is looking at him, hope sparkling in his eyes, Yamada knows there's only one way he can respond.
"Well~" he drawls, trying to look like he's actually considering it, but giving himself away with the grin tugging at the corners of his mouth, "Make it twenty percent, and we have a deal."