Movement I: Largo
It was just inhumane.
The phone should not be ringing at seven o'clock in the morning.
Sango groaned and flung her hand over towards the nightstand, groping for the phone and, in the processes, knocking her metronome of the stand. Marvelous, that'll take me another fifteen minutes to find. She finally found the phone and picked up. "H'lo?"
"Kagome." She groaned and covered her face with her pillow. "What do you want?"
"Some way to treat your savior. Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"Seven-oh-three a.m.," she promptly replied. "Way too early to be calling a college student who lives off various nighttime concerts. Speaking of which, what are you doing up so early?"
"Oh, I don't know…just that little thing called an audition."
Sango froze. "What audition." That sinking feeling was settling in her stomach again…
"The audition for the background orchestra for that new movie? At eight o'clock this morning?"
"Shit." Sango bolted out of bed, tripping over her music stand and barreling into the wall. "Ouch! Goddammit…"
"Such language so early in the morning," Kagome chided.
"Shut it. Aw, man…I can't believe I forgot about that. I didn't go to bed until three this morning."
"The concert was over at eleven!"
"I went partying with a few violins and a bass…" She ripped off her pajamas and fumbled through her drawers for her black clothes.
"That explains it. Had you gone with the brass section, you wouldn't have fallen into bed till dawn. Heck, you'd just be swaggering through the front door right now."
"Ha ha. I think I'll relay that comment to Inuyasha and see how he takes it."
"Please do. I'm mad at him."
"Oh?" There they were. Sango pushed the speakerphone button and began to pull on her audition outfit while Kagome talked.
"He saw Kikyo again last night."
"His old girlfriend?"
"Yeah, apparently she was in the audience and went backstage to see him and invited him to go clubbing. Unfortunately, at that exact moment Koga was giving me his usual speech, so of course Inuyasha's jealous tendencies prompt him to agree…"
"And then he got drunk and did something regrettable," Sango finished, buckling the belt on her black pants and straightening the collar on her black polo shirt.
"How'd you know?" Kagome sounded surprised.
Sango paused her search for her black boots. "Did he really? I was being sarcastic… oh please tell me they didn't sleep together or anything…"
"No, just made out. Heavily. In front of me."
For the second time that morning, Sango tripped over her music stand. "What?!" she yelled into the phone, nearly deafening Kagome. "He did what!"
"Yeah. He didn't see me, but Kikyo did, and she took advantage of the moment. She always was resentful towards me for 'taking her place.'"
"Bullshit." Where were her socks?
"Yeah. He claims that he wasn't in his right mind and is now calling me every five minutes to try and 'tell me his side of the story.'"
"Not to apologize huh?" She yanked on the second black boot and ran a hand through her hair.
"Well, turn your phone off and use the excuse that you aren't allowed to have it on during auditions. Which you're not." Sango coughed pointedly.
"It always rings during the rests. I swear Inuyasha has the room bugged and calls specifically at those times."
"I wouldn't be surprised. Where are you?"
"At the studio, waiting for someone to come unlock the door."
"An hour early?"
"My reed broke last night; I need to break this new one in."
"Gotcha." Sango checked her watch. 7:15 a.m. She cursed again. "I'll be there as soon as I can. Let me load Kirara and my music into a taxi and choke down some coffee."
"See you soon." Click.
Sango threw the phone back onto the hook and raced into the bathroom. Screw makeup, she didn't have time for it today.
At exactly 7:24 a.m. she burst out of her apartment with Kirara strapped onto her back and her music bag slung over her shoulder, taking the steps two at a time to reach the lobby in exactly three minutes.
She burst out of the front doors to the customary hustle and bustle of the city. Frantically checking her watch, she decided that she couldn't waste time flagging down a taxi (and the traffic already looked horrific) so she took off walking down the sidewalk at a brisk pace.
This elicited many stares from fellow pedestrians. One man had the nerve to ask her what the hell she was doing.
She sent him an icy glare. "You've never seen anyone speed-walking with a cello on their back before? Where do you come from, Mars? It's all the rage nowadays."
"Okay, Inuyasha, calm down and tell me this again. Slowly." Miroku lazily took another sip of coffee and checked his watch. 7:16 a.m. He still had plenty of time.
"Bitch refuses to speak to me," Inuyasha shouted through the phone, his voice echoing throughout the small café. Miroku smiled placidly at the curious looks from the other customers. Most of the people who frequented this café were musicians, since the joint was so nicely placed just across the street from the main recording studio. And musicians were used to drama, so naturally, they were anxious to hear the entire conversation.
"Why is this?"
"She saw me and Kikyo together last night," his friend admitted grudgingly.
"Fine, so maybe we were making out. But she started it! I was dead drunk; I hadn't a clue what was going on."
"Ah. You are in trouble."
"If you want my personal opinion…"
"Miroku, I'm willing to try anything now. She is majorly pissed. She just finished talking with her best friend who never liked me in the first place, and according to her voicemail, she's turned her phone off because she has an audition—"
"An audition?" An idea began to form in his mind. "For what?"
"Background music for some movie, I don't know. I wasn't really listening."
"Maybe if you appreciated her more, she wouldn't be so mad."
"I wasn't asking for a lecture!"
"Don't yell at me, Inuyasha, I could very well save your life today. Is she possibly going to be at the Shikon no Tama recording studio at 8 o'clock this morning? Think really hard."
"Yeah…I think that's what it was called. Why? You gonna be there or something?"
"I'll talk to her for you."
"You will?" Inuyasha sounded relieved. "Thanks, man, I owe you one." He paused. "But let me warn you—watch out for her friend: she's extremely overprotective. And she has the habit of using her instrument as a weapon against those who annoy her."
"Don't worry, I have a weapon of my own. I can handle myself." He checked his watch again. 7:30 a.m. "I should go now. I need to warm up."
"All right. Hey, tell me how it goes."
"Of course. Bye." Miroku hung up the phone, finished his coffee and placed a few coins on the table. He hefted his instrument onto his back and strolled out of the café.
The Shikon no Tama Recording Studio hosted many recording sessions for minor movies produced in New York City. It was rather well-known among college-age musicians who made extra money off of recording background music for films that sometimes pulled in enough money to make a profit, but were mostly shown in small theatres for the sole purpose of being another title to add to the marquee on movie theatres. Still, musicians who played the background music made a nice paycheck that usually contributed to the rent of an apartment, or lunch money for the next month or so.
Of course, the Principal Chair musicians always received an extra $50 to that sum of money—which naturally created extreme competition between those auditioning for the position. It was usually college students who auditioned; although the random down-on-his-luck professional player would occasionally stumble into the audition room, most professional found higher-paying jobs, or even recorded for major film studios.
And that fact that they were auditioning against their classmates only made the students that much more competitive.
One little two little three little taxis.
Kagome drummed her fingers against her oboe case, wondering why no one had bothered to show up and open the door yet. Wasn't showing up early to practice encouraged? She shivered, wishing she'd warn something more substantial than a black corduroy skirt, cotton shirt, jean jacket, and tights.
Four little five little six little pedestrians.
Sitting on the stoop of a recording studio in Greenwich Village was not the best place to be. How many times had Inuyasha warned her about putting herself in vulnerable situations? She considered taking out her oboe and practicing right then and there—that would certainly scare people away.
Then again, it was a $10,000 instrument. Someone just might decide to steal it and leave her in the gutter.
Lovely thoughts, Kagome.
Seven little eight little nine little druggies.
Where was Sango? It shouldn't have taken her this long to get here. Perhaps she should try calling her again? No, that would entail turning her phone on. Which meant Inuyasha could potentially call her.
A man stopped in front of her and peered down at her questioningly. "You lost?"
"No, I'm quite aware of where I am, thanks," she snapped, letting her English accent slip in.
His grin widened. "British, eh? I love English girls."
Dammit. So much for the intimidation tactic. "Actually, I'm Japanese. But all my professors taught in an English rather than American dialect."
"Even better. I love Asian girls even more."
Now she was getting really freaked out. She scrambled to her feet and backed towards the door, holding her oboe in front of her like a weapon. "My grandparents bombed Pearl Harbor."
"The past can be forgiven." He advanced towards her.
"My country's economy is doing better than yours!"
"Think I give a damn about money? As long as I got enough to buy my booze…" He chuckled drunkenly, his red eyes flashing. His lank hair fell over his shoulders grotesquely.
"I'll call my boyfriend!" she threatened as a last-ditch attempt, fishing the cell phone out of her pocket. "Be afraid—be very afraid! He's a black belt in Tae Kwon Do."
"As am I." The man was three feet away from her now. "Don't be scared—I'll be gentle, I promise."
"That won't be necessary," another voice spoke up.
Kagome peered around The Freak and sighed in relief.
Ten little musicians here.
The violet-eyed man at the front of the group stepped forward. "What are you doing, Naraku? Assaulting freshmen again?"
"Aw, Houshi, I was just having a little fun…"
"Go choke on a drumstick." The man called Houshi deftly pulled a percussion mallet out of Naraku's back pocket and flipped it through his fingers before using it to whack The Freak on the head. "Get lost."
Naraku glared at snatched his mallet back, stalking off towards the café across the street, narrowly missing a few cars.
Kagome simply stared in amazement.
"Percussion thug," Houshi said matter-of-factly. "Don't mind him; there are a few loose screws jiggling around in his head. But, really, it isn't safe to be outside here all by yourself. Are you waiting for someone?"
Kagome shook her head. "The door's locked, and—"
The man chuckled. "Poor freshie—no one told you?"
He stooped down and pulled a key out from under the foot mat. "Voilà." With flourish he unlocked the door and held it open.
The crowd of musicians behind him jokingly clapped and cheered before piling into the studio. Houshi turned and winked at Kagome, extending his hand. "Miroku Yamaguchi."
"Kagome Higurashi. Thanks for saving me."
"Saving damsels in distress is my specialty." Then he blinked. "Did you say Kagome Higurashi?"
"Yeah. You've heard of me?"
A mischievous look crossed his face. "First chair oboe of the Wind Ensemble at NYU, right?"
She blushed a bit, not used to people knowing her. "Yes."
"Well, it was nice meeting you. Do well in your audition."
"Thank you, and the same to you." She moved to enter the studio, then paused, feeling as if she should repay him somehow—even if Naraku was harmless. "If you ever need a favor, don't hesitate to call me."
He smiled widely. "I just may take you up on that offer."
She smiled back and entered the studio, her confidence bolstered. She was going to go into that audition room and kick ass.
"Damn…it…damn…it…" Sango chanted with each step. At least the studio was in sight now. Although she'd barely have time to run through a few scales and maybe the audition material before it was time to perform.
There was a lone man standing on the stoop beneath the blue awning that proudly proclaimed "Shikon no Tama Recording Studio." She sprinted the last few feet and reached for the door, breathing heavily.
The man, who was talking on his cell phone, opened the door for her, his violet eyes locking with hers.
She nodded her thanks and dashed into the studio, briefly noting the cello strapped to the man's back. He must not be taking the audition very seriously if he was standing outside chatting on his cell phone with only 15 minutes to spare.
She began to breathe a little easier. Maybe competition wasn't going to be so bad. Maybe today she'd play the best audition ever. Maybe today God was feeling generous.
"Sango!" Kagome flew out from around the corner and grabbed her hand, breaking out into a run. "Hurry, they've started the auditions early! You have five minutes to be set and ready to play!"
…or maybe this was about to become the worst day all year.
"Kagome Higurashi, right?" Miroku confirmed. "Thought so. Yep, I just saved her from Naraku… no, he didn't lay a finger on her. He's mentally deranged, but so far he he's never actually hurt anyone…"
Miroku's gaze locked on a woman in black jogging down the sidewalk, a cello case on her back. Hmm…he'd never seen her before. Perhaps she was a freshman as well? He'd have to make her acquaintance after the audition…
She reached for the door, breathing heavily. He opened the door for her, barely aware that Inuyasha was jabbering into his ear. Her silky brown hair was extremely long—it fell just above her rear…
She nodded her thanks and disappeared into the studio. Miroku stared into space for a full minute after she'd disappeared. She had magenta eyes…he'd never seen anything so beautiful…
"Miroku? Yo, buozo, you there? Hellooooooo?"
"Huh?" He snapped out of his daydream. "Sorry, Inuyasha, you were saying…?"
"I said, invite her to dinner."
"What?" He was still thinking about the magenta-eyed maiden. "Already? But I just met her…"
"This isn't for your pleasure, moron! This is about saving my ass! Just ask her out to dinner, and then conveniently have me sitting at your table instead."
"Oh, you're talking about Kagome?"
"…Were you listening to a thing I said?"
"Of course. Just…I have five minutes before this audition begins. I'll call you back later." He snapped his phone shut and picked up his cello, entering the studio.
"So…how do you think you did?" Sango asked around her peanut butter sandwich.
"Pretty well, I think," replied Kagome cheerfully, licking the last bit of yogurt off her spoon. The two friends were sitting on a bench in a small park, enjoying their bag lunches. When registering, they'd purposely put all of their classes in the afternoon so they had the mornings to practice, talk, or finish up homework. "There were only three oboes who auditioned, and the one had severe tuning issues, so it shouldn't be too hard of a competition."
"That's good." Sango crushed an ant with her shoe, staring at the ground.
"How did yours go?"
"Not too bad. I could have done better…I rushed a little too much in the fast excerpt, but other than that, I think it went okay. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people I didn't recognize auditioning. I'm not worried about the other NYU people…but those from other colleges…"
"I'm sure you did fine," Kagome said breezily. "You're principal chair of the Symphony Orchestra, you've won the concerto competition and how many other awards?"
"And yet there are still tons of people a million times better than me." Sango frowned and licked the excess peanut butter off her fingers. "I don't know how they do it. I still have to finish my Psychology and Anatomy assignments before I run off to class."
"Don't worry about it, you'll get it done."
Sango gave Kagome a look. "You're in an awfully good mood. Did something happen?"
"Hm? Oh, not really. Just…you remember that guy I told you about? The one that saved me from Naraku?"
"He asked me to dinner tonight." Kagome smiled happily. "You know what this means, right?"
"You're finally over Inuyasha?"
Kagome laughed. "Sorry, Sango-chan, not anytime soon. No, this means that Inuyasha will get insanely jealous—like usual—and shower me with fluff and stuff until I feel like forgiving him."
"Bastard," said Sango under her breath.
"Hey, I take offense to that; he does have his good points."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. He's still a bastard." He hurt Kagome way too much.
"Maybe I should hook you and Miroku up after Inuyasha comes to his senses," Kagome said thoughtfully. "He's really good-looking. And he plays the cello too."
Sango barked out a laugh. "Hook me up with potential competition? That would be a pleasant date. And besides, I'm off guys, remember?"
"You'll give in eventually." The blue-eyed girl nodded confidently.
"You wish." Sango crumpled her brown paper bag into a ball and lobbed it into the trash can. "Score. Let's go talk a nice, long walk to campus to clear our heads."
"Sounds good to me."
Sango turned the page of Walden only to realize that she had no idea what she'd just read. She turned the page back, skimmed a few sentences and found that none of it looked familiar. She turned another five pages back before she found a familiar idea.
Great. She slammed the book down on the desk, ignoring the hostile stares of other struggling students who had taken refuge in the library. I need to get out of this insane asylum. She gathered her book up into her arms and pulled her side bag onto her shoulder before walking out of the library.
She breathed in the crisp September air, reveling the feeling of being outside. It had rained nonstop the past three days, and since she'd been catching up on studying most of the time, she hadn't really gotten a chance to be outside.
That and it took her so long to do anything since her mind was mostly on the audition. Thank god the results would be posted today. If she was rejected, she would bury herself in work to prove to the world that she wasn't a failure. If she was accepted, she would still bury herself in work so that she could practice twice as long every day.
It was a win-win situation.
Depending on which way you looked at it…
She checked her watch. Noon. Still another hour before the mail was delivered to the campus post office. Maybe she'd go grab a bite to eat at the snack shop near the post office and hope the mail delivery came early.
Her trek took a half hour, she was pleased to discover, and when she neared the snack shop, she noted that it looked more crowded than usual.
Ah. That's why. Kagome and Inuyasha were cuddling in one of the seats, and the rest of their band friends were chatting and laughing happily. Being a cellist and part of an orchestra, Sango didn't know many wind players who were only in band, but she liked Kagome's crowd. They were a crazy bunch.
As she came closer, she noticed a few orchestra members as well. Looks like I wasn't the only one with the idea to wait out the mail, she thought in amusement.
"Sango!" Kagome called, waving from her place in Inuyasha's lap. "What took you so long? I thought you'd be the first one here!"
"I had a book to doze through," she replied, dropping her texts on a table and nearly knocking it over. "Geez, you think there's a certain weight quota for these things? 'College textbooks cannot be issued unless they weigh a minimum of five pounds.'"
"Probably," a blue-eyed male with abnormally pointed canines and a long black pony-tail said, laughing appreciatively. "I take it you're waiting for the audition results as well?"
"Yep," Sango said, snagging and empty chair.
"Guys, this is my friend Sango," Kagome said, waving her hand at the occupants of the table. "She's the principal cellist in the Symphony Orchestra. Sango, these are my band friends."
"Thanks, Kagome," she muttered. "You don't have to introduce me like that every time, you know."
"Oh, but it's so fun seeing you flustered."
Inuyasha grinned at her over Kagome's head. Kagome's plan to make Inuyasha jealous had backfired when she realized that her date was on Inuyasha's side. However, her boyfriend had dug himself out of the hole with a profuse apology and believable explanation—and the promise of being extra careful around Kikyo from now on.
Sango smiled tightly in response. Kagome was much too forgiving, in her opinion.
"Oh Sango," Kagome said suddenly, "I mentioned you to Miroku and he was very interested in taking you out on a date. Apparently the two of you have already met."
"We have?" she said in surprise.
"Mmhm—he was the guy on the cell phone when you flew into the studio with five minutes to spare."
"Oh him?" The violet-eyed man. He was hot. Sango's cheeks immediately flushed. Bad thoughts, Sango. You've sworn off men, remember? They're all the same: lying, scheming bastards.
"Uh-oh, what's that blush for?" Inuyasha teased.
"Shut up, Yasha," she said, knowing that the nickname would make him squirm.
Kagome grinned wickedly. "If you make Principal cellist, will you go out with him?"
"If you make principal cellist and I buy you a new CD, then will you go out with him?"
Sango raised an eyebrow. "Why are you so determined to find me a date?"
"You need some men in your life. Heck, even your instrument is female. One date won't kill you, Sango. It's been how long since you've been on one of those?"
"Three months, two weeks, and five days."
The blue-eyed man choked on his soda. "You've been keeping track?"
Sango smiled sweetly. "It's easy to win converts when you have your own track record."
"Damn, woman," he muttered.
A man with a white mohawk suddenly shot to his feet. "Ook! Eee's eeere!"
"Try taking the mouthpiece out of the mouth, Hakakku," Inuyasha said dryly.
The guy pulled the sax mouthpiece out of his mouth and repeated, "Look! He's here!"
"Who's here?" a man with a long, black braid and a purple diamond tattooed on his forehead asked patiently.
The crowd of students rocketed out of their chairs at the same time and made a dash for the post office counter. A baby faced boy whose nametag proclaimed "HOJO" looked slightly overwhelmed. "Whoa, guys," he said. "Calm down—everyone will get their mail, I promise." He spotted Kagome and his face brightened. "Miss Higurashi!"
Inuyasha growled protectively and pulled Kagome closer to him. Kagome rolled her eyes at her boyfriend's antics and replied, "Hello, Hojo. How are you doing today?"
"Fine, thank you. Are you here for your mail?"
"No, she's here to buy some over-the-counter drugs," Inuyasha said under his breath.
Sango surreptitiously stepped on his foot.
Hojo shot them an odd look, but continued shifting through the mail. "Form a line, please, and tell me your name when it's your turn."
Inuyasha elbowed his way to the front of the line, shoving Kagome in front of him. Hojo presented her a white envelope with a large smile.
"Thank you, Hojo," she said. "Could you find Inuyasha's for me too?"
"Inuyasha Takahashi," he murmured, shuffling through the stack of mail. "Yes, there's one for you too."
Sango, who had somehow gotten pushed to the end of the line, tapped her foot impatiently as each musician took and tore open their letter, eagerly pouring over the contents. When she finally received hers, she made her way to where Kagome and Inuyasha were standing. Kagome was grinning from ear to ear—as was Inuyasha.
"Sango!" she cried. "I made Principal chair oboe!"
Sango wrapped her friend in a hug. "Congratulations! That's wonderful! I'm so proud of you!"
"So am I," Inuyasha said, reclaiming Kagome.
"You're just glad she won't be moody and irritable anymore," Sango corrected with a smile.
"Er…I don't know what you're talking about!" Inuyasha, who only played the trumpet so he could be in band with Kagome, didn't understand the anxiety and tension of waiting for a response. He preferred to play his bass guitar at nightclubs rather than compete on a wind instrument.
"Open yours, Sango!" Kagome said, bouncing up and down. "Open it!"
"Okay, okay." Taking a deep breath, Sango ripped the flap and pulled out a white sheet of computer paper. "'Dear Miss Taijiya, we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the background orchestra for the recording of the movie In the Shadows—'"
"Yes!" cried Kagome. "I knew it!"
"'And, because of your exceptional skills on the cello, you have been placed as—'" Sango cut off.
"What?" Kagome moved round to peek over Sango's shoulder. She blinked. "Assistant Principal?" Recovering quickly, she hugged Sango warmly. "That's great, Sango-chan! Assistant is still really tough to make!"
"Assistant Principal?" Sango echoed, disappointment lacing through her. She hadn't made Principal chair. What a let-down… And she thought she'd done really well at her audition too!
"Assistant Principal is good, right?" Inuyasha said. "That's still extremely competitive."
"It's a whole $50 difference in my paycheck," snapped Sango.
"Or maybe just a blow on your pride," Inuyasha shot back. "Let it go, Sango. You can't be the best all the time. You almost made it—just try harder next time."
"Almost isn't good enough!" She folded the letter back up and stuffed it into her pocket. "I want to know just who made Principal Cello."
"Shouldn't there be a list at the bottom?" Kagome said, checking her own sheet of paper.
Sango's eyes fell upon the name listed just above hers. "Miroku Hamaguchi."
Inuyasha suddenly had a coughing fit. "The Houshi?"
"Oh…" said Kagome in a small voice. There goes any chances of hooking the two of them up…
"Miroku Hamaguchi," Sango repeated, her eyes narrowing. I have a score to settle with you.
Author's Notes: Well, what do you think? It's amazing how inspiration a big, heavy AP American textbook can be. Honestly, I write better with that thing resting in my lap. I am just on a writing rampage today. No school today and tomorrow because of Hurricane Jeanne, so I put my time to good use! (I'm sure my teachers will love to hear that.) Oh, and I was listening to the song "In the Shadows" by Rasmus, so that's why the movie got saddled with that title. XD Please tell me what you thought of this! Tell me the good, the bad, the in-between…