title: Spice Jam
author(s): Epic ADD (personally, I, ohwhatsherface, liked pannannie but NOOOO) or more specifically the blanket, annieberry and ohwhatsherface
pairing(s): Do these even matter? This is crack! But for the sake of having one: Neji/Reflection (and the obvious drizzles of Sasuke/Sakura because it's us)
for: THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD BECAUSE WE ARE RAYS OF LOVE AND SUNSHINE.
disclaimer: We do not own Naruto. If we did, it wouldn't be as lame as it is now. Because it is. Lame, I mean.
a/n: LAWL. So this is what happens when I get stuck posting. And also, Merry Belated Christmas!
Sorry, this was supposed to be up yesterday but I was busy playing Monopoly and eating sugar cookies.
And last, we love the freaking Spice Girls. And their movies.
by: Aburame Shino
Twenty years ago, it was The Sandaime.
Ten years ago, it was The Flash.
Five months ago, it was Akatsuki.
Today, it's the Spice Boys.
Armed with soulful ballads, head-bobbing beats, and scorching dance-moves, the Spice Boys have easily become Generation X's answer to The Legendary Sannin. The dynamic septet—led by teen heartthrob Uchiha Sasuke, brother of rival band Akatsuki's Uchiha Itachi, and one of the heirs to the Uchiha Corp. fortune—are this year's breakout hit.
"They're amazing," gushed a fan, who was coming out of last night's sold-put concert at the Meadow. She held her handkerchief like a lifeline. "I think one of Sasuke-kun's sweat drops landed on this!"
"I tattooed Cinnamon's name on my heart last night," another fan was heard to say, before unbuttoning it to show onlookers the florid script. "He is just so posh! What I'd give to run my hands through that hair of his!"
This kind of devotion seems to be commonplace among fans of the Spice Boys. However, as any fanatic can testify, such acts—tattooing hearts, throwing underwear, etc.—are hardly unique in the world of music. It will, for example, be a long while before anyone can forget the day all of The Sannin's female fans voluntarily left home topless, simply to provide Pervy Sage with the inspiration he needed to write their last hit. Despite that, The Spice Boys are a unique case—unlike The Sannin, whose music appeals to a generation past, and the Akatsuki, who aim their tunes at urban professionals, The Spice Boys enjoy a broad appeal. Their demographic cannot be pinpointed to any one particular group.
"I hope Silly caught my bra all right," said a grandmother of three, who came to the concert with her grandchildren. "I spritzed it with miso-flavored ramen broth, just the way he likes it!"
Perhaps, their appeal can be attributed to the fact that each member offers something different to their audience. Silly, whose real name is Uzumaki Naruto—who is also son of The Flash—is a blond-haired, blue-eyed ingénue, clearly meant to call forth his fans' motherly instincts. On the other hand, Scruffy, called Inuzuka Kiba off-stage, is a rugged wild-man, whose fashionable scruff-factor is appealing to the wilder, PETA-set. For the apathetic literati, the Spice Boys offer Sleepy, also known as Nara Shikamaru, a rebel without a cause, with dark, thick hair, and bedroom eyes. Nice Spice, the glittering Rock Lee, is almost overwhelmingly wholesome—perfect as the boy next door. Cinnamon, Hyuuga Neji—scion of HYUUGATECH—is the spice of choice for the more discriminating fashionista. Of course, most women do appreciate the tall, dark, and the handsome. While none of the Spice Boys is a slouch in that department, two of them share this particular crown. Sexy Spice, and Smiley Spice play up their pale-skinned, dark-eyed looks to their advantage.
Still, by far—
Disgusted, Pein threw the magazine down on his massive cherry oak desk. Spotless and nearly bare – save for a sleek and shiny computer at one far end, a lone framed picture, and a phone – the desk was the only piece of furniture in the oversized room other than his plush black swivel chair, which he sank back into now, contemplating the picture that brooded, beamed, and blazed in full color from the center of the page boldly proclaiming the Spice Boys as the newest, hottest phenomenon to ever hit the music industry.
It made Pein's lip curl.
Frustrated, he flipped the magazine closed. Unfortunately, those damned Spice Boys were grouped together on the cover as well. Was there no getting away from the craze?
He paused, narrowed-eyes gaze resting on the framed photo on his desk. He picked it up thoughtfully.
It was true: the Spice Boys appealed to men and women, young and old, all shapes and all sizes. But there was one girl that Pein knew who could care less about the so-called heartthrobs of the century.
Luckily, that one girl happened to be very near and dear to Pein.
He set down the photo and picked up the phone. "Konan," he said when his secretary – and ex-wife – picked up. Her reply was snappy, but he didn't lift his gaze from the picture of the rose-haired, green-eyed teenager peering up at him with a wide, open grin.
He turned his attention back to the phone. "Get me Sakura."
Sakura had been getting a coffee when she got the call. Since she'd yet to have her daily caffeine fix, she had been a bit grump in answering.
"What do you want?"
"Manners, Sakura. Get down here."
"Manners, Daddy. What for?"
"I have a job for you."
"Can it wait? I'm in Starbucks."
"Get me a coffee while you're at it, then get down here. This is important."
The phone beeped off without so much as a goodbye from either end, and Sakura scowled, shoving it back in her purse. In the same movement, she pulled out her wallet, yanked open the zipper, and peered in. if she used every last coin and didn't get the muffin, she had just barely enough to get two drinks.
Dammit. Why did she never have any money? She was hitting the bank as soon as she got to her dad's office – the bank being his wallet, naturally.
Still, as compensation, she got herself a large, got her father a small. He was as much of a coffee junkie as she was, and she couldn't wait to see his face.
Well, that's what you got when you disturbed Haruno Sakura at the ungodly hour of seven in the morning. Not even Pein, owner of the single biggest telecommunications network this side of Japan, the MTV of Konoha, and Sakura's old man, could tell her what to do.
As expected, Pein had looked disgruntled at the dinky little cup Sakura offered him, but he didn't comment, only clasped his hands together on his desk and watched as she paced around.
"Why is there nowhere to sit?" Sakura complained. "Your office is pretty suckish. Well, except the view," she said, nodding appreciatively at the poster windows taking up most of the wall behind Pein. "Though that would kind of freak me out, honestly, it's so high up."
Pein raised an eyebrow. "Did your mother put you up to this?" he asked dryly.
"You wound me, Daddy. I would never put myself in between you two—"
"New bag," he observed, voice still flat. "Was that the bribe?"
Sakura fingered the strap of her new YSL bag guiltily, and Pein knew he had her.
"Sakura. I will buy you as many brand-new Louis Vuitton bags as you want if you do something for me." Sakura's eyes lit up and she moved closer, interested. Pein slid the magazine he had been perusing earlier across the table, and watched her interest fade to surprise, then disgust.
She grinned evilly when her father opened his mouth to give her the assignment.
"Ha, did you really think it'd be that easy, Daddy?" she cooed. Still smiling, she reached into her designer bag and pulled out some fashion magazine. After a moment, she found the page she wanted and pointed to a pair of black leather boots – similar to all the other black boots she owned. "I want these ones." She looked thoughtful for a moment and then gestured to the red high heels. "Oh, and these ones, too, while you're at it."
Pein narrowed his eyes. "It seems you have become spoiled, young one."
He almost sounded disappointed.
"Excuse me – ugh, no way!" Sakura shook her head, looking very insulted. "I'm not spoiled, old man." She smirked, flipping her pink hair over her shoulder. "I'm smart. And cunning. And manipulative. Heh, one of my teacher's in high school said I have the potential to become a sociopath!" Sakura shrugged mock-modestly. "I just know how to play my cards right, is all."
His eyes glittered with pride. "Ah, a skill you developed from—"
He immediately scowled at the too giddy nineteen-year-old and picked up the magazine only to drop it back onto the table loudly.
"Enough," he growled. "You will get your purses and shoes if you do a certain job for me." She raised an eyebrow but he ignored it, changing the subject. "Hm… Tell me, Sakura, how is your internship at my company? Are you enjoying the job I got you?"
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Oi, it was my brains and finesse that got me the internship."
"Yes, combined with my status."
"…Yeah well…" She pouted and shifted from side to side on her brown ankle boots. "Whatever," Sakura muttered, crossing her arms. "That only helped. I would've gotten into the program without your assistance, Father. I am very capable in video production, in case you haven't noticed—"
"I have noticed," Pein interrupted, nodding.
Sakura was quick to stare at him suspiciously.
Her father only really paid much attention to her when he needed something from her, to be frank. She didn't quite mind that since in place of him was his credit card, but compliments from him were few and far in between. Even when they worked in the same building, right above her, they didn't bother spending their lunch breaks together. Her mother, on the other hand, despite her constant impassive face, managed to make the time to see Sakura at least twice a week.
"Apparently this job you require of me is going to be very hard," Sakura stated, tilting her head a bit to attempt to look confident, "considering it needs both bribes and compliments."
"You wound me, Sakura," Pein said dryly. He then pointed to the magazine. "Anyway, I have a job for you—"
"—which will require you to spend some time with," he sneered, looking down at the open page, "the Spice Boys."
There were three instances in her life when Sakura actually hated her father.
The first time was when she was in kindergarten, on her first day. Her (twelfth) nanny had quit two days before, claiming Sakura was a 'demon child', Konan was on a trip in another country, and little Sakura refused to go with one of her father's drivers, thus leaving Pein as the one to drop her off.
Unfortunately, dropping her off was all he did.
Sakura had waited on the stairs at the front of her school with her teacher for a good three hours before her father finally came.
She promptly kicked him in the shin and ran to the car, leaving him to the disapproving stare of her teacher.
The second time was when she was in ninth grade and managed to get a major role in the school play. It took place around the time of her parents' divorce, shortly after her mother moved out ergo her parents were arriving separately.
Or so she thought. She was livid when she saw that the two seats she reserved in the front row for her parents were only half occupied. It wasn't until her father took her shopping to make his absence up to her that he admitted her was with a woman that night as he was attempting to date again now that he and her mother were over.
The third time was when he told her about a deal he made with Hatake Kakashi, the manager of the Spice Boys. Apparently her father was to make a two hour documentary on the Spice Boys with footage from their current tour, which Sakura was to film and edit and produce – something she had always dreamed of doing.
"I can't believe him!" Sakura whined as she slipped off her ankle boots to try on a pair of sleek, blue stilettos. "He's going to make me tour with those total losers!"
Deidara nodded sympathetically. "Let it out, sweetheart."
He was something akin to Sakura's nanny, despite the fact that she was already nineteen. Deidara was her driver and had the secret job – assigned by Pein, of course – to make sure Sakura knew the definition of a budget when she went shopping. However most of the time, he played fashion consultant to her when said job was required.
Like at that moment.
He looked at the shoes on Sakura's feet and gasped loudly. "Ick, Sakura! Look at that, you have toe cleavage!" Deidara shook his blond head. "That's just… weird. Take those things off immediately, young lady."
"Yeah." Sakura frowned at the shoes. "Ew. Totally."
Deidara handed her a pair of green, pointed flats after asking someone to get them in her size. Sakura was clearly going through a tough time, Deidara noticed, therefore she very much deserved a good new pair of shoes, a new dress and maybe some more clothes to rectify her father's injustice
"Here, try these."
"I mean, Deidara, he wants me to spend the next three months – the rest of my break – trailing behind a pack of stupid prissy boys when I should be learning at my internship and having fun with my friends!" Sakura wailed, slipping one shoe on her right foot. "I mean, Daddy is so lame! Way to make me want to go back to school!"
Deidara patted her on the head. "Well, sweetheart, if it's any consolation, those shoes look fab."
Sakura sniffled in self-pity before looking up at him smiling. "Really?"
She sighed as she slipped them off and put them in the box. After paying for them, Sakura grinned at the nice, large sum on her receipt.
Take that, old man!
Their headquarters was located in an old warehouse they'd had restored, on a fashionable side street off of Main Avenue, squeezed between a Marc for Marc Jacobs boutique and a bakery famous for its mouthwatering red velvet cupcakes. The rent was hell on the pocketbook, but Hatake Kakashi decided that didn't really matter. In this business, sending the right message was everything, and the band on the brink of being this year's hottest new teen act could ill-afford to be seen anywhere that didn't scream chic.
Inside, the studio was walled with mirrors. The record company paid some poor soul a monthly salary to come in every morning to polish the floors to a reflective shine, and then, to dot the corners of each rehearsal room with packets of sandalwood— Hyuuga Neji, Kakashi thought, was really too much, sometimes.
The silver-haired manager shut his eyes, and allowed Uchiha Sasuke's silk-smooth voice to blend with Inuzuka Kiba's low rasp, as Uzumaki Naruto and Nara Shikamaru finished the bridge, and Neji, Sai, and Rock Lee harmonized in the background.
The walls were painted a meditative green—dark enough to appeal to Sasuke's light-sensitive eyes, and bright enough that Lee's FLAME OF YOUTH! stayed disappointingly well-lit. In addition to a room for each of the band members, as well as one for their manager, choreographer, and voice coach, there was a single room with green felt upholstery, and a mountain of chew toys for the band pet, Akamaru—enough to keep him satisfied through eighteen hours of rehearsals. The kitchen was kept well-stocked with sparkling water (for Neji), instant ramen (for Naruto), green tea (for Lee), and tomatoes (for Sasuke). The sheets in "nap-room"— specifically tailored to meet Shikamaru's regrettably uncontrollable sleeping hours—had an obscene thread count, and the ceiling was painted in a sky blue with dots of cotton-white, courtesy of Sai.
They've certainly made it a sight to behold—as close to a home as they'll have when they're not on the road, anyway, Kakashi reflected, as he took another sip of his tall Sumatra, and crinkled the magazine he held in one hand.
Not that anyone would have been able to see it at the moment, as it was covered in pitch-black darkness.
"All right, boys! Take five!" Maito Gai, retired opera tenor—and one of the few famed castrati outside of Italy—beamed veritable rainbows as light flooded the room in careful increments. Sasuke's eyes wouldn't be able to handle it otherwise.
Lee leapt up, and ran to his mentor, ready to start their daily aerobic exercises.
"Let's go, Gai-sensei! We must exercise more than our youthful voices to stay in shape, after all!"
"Finally," Kiba groused. "We've been at it for ages, no thanks to Naruto and his special brand of idiocy. How many times can you mess up the chorus, anyway?"
The blond turned away from the perpetual one-sided glaring contest he was having with Sasuke, and faced Kiba with a scowl.
"What'd you say?"
"You heard me…idiot."
"Take that back, Kiba!"
As the two leapt at each other to begin that day's round of inanity, Sai turned to Sasuke with a small smile.
"They do this every morning, and it always has the same result. I wonder why."
"Because they're both idiots, and they haven't yet realized it."
"I think it's due to their lack of penis, myself."
Sasuke threw him a disgusted look.
"I bet you've checked, haven't you?"
Sai blinked, clearly confused by the question.
"Of course! I made it a point to measure all of you when we were signed on to the band. Christmas is coming soon, you know, and I read that it was considered polite to give friends gifts during the holiday. Naruto-kun told me codpieces were appropriate gifts for bandmates."
"…You shouldn't listen to that moron. He's…a moron."
"I know, Sasuke-kun. Are you doing all right now?"
Sai took his silence for a confirmation, and walked alongside his brooding band mate.
"That's good, Sasuke-kun. For a moment I thought you were still sulking over Ita—"
Sasuke froze mid-step, and turned to Sai with murder in his eyes.
"Don't even say his name."
Sai merely smiled on, unperturbed by the hostility coming off Sasuke in waves.
"Oh, so you are upset. I wondered for a while, actually."
"I am not upset," Sasuke hissed. "Popularity polls are beneath me. I don't care that—"
"The fangirls voted Itachi sexier than you over all in the NUMBER WHAT SEXY! poll? Just a week after you won it? Also, you should stop frowning so much. I've read that it causes premature wrinkles."
Oh, Sasuke-kun was getting angry. Sai thought that it was about time for a compliment, and searched his mental files for an appropriate one.
"Also, Sasuke-kun, I think that it is amazing that you haven't yet succumbed to the weight of your gigantic inferiority complex. Well done!"
The Uchiha considered him for a moment, wondering if Sai was purposely trying to egg him on. Normally, he would have attacked, but Sai was a…special case. One could never really tell with him—his face was so inscrutable, and his eyes were as dark and as blank as Itachi's.
At the thought of his older brother, Sasuke felt his hands clench into tight fists. He looked up and met the eyes of his reflection in the mirror, relaxing when he noticed the way the light played over his skin, and the way the midnight-black of his hair contrasted sharply with the pale angles of his face. He smirked in satisfaction.
Yes. Still sexy, no matter what that stupid poll said.
"I'm going to…get some tomatoes. Or something. Don't follow me, freak."
He stalked off, his shoulders stiffer than usual, leaving the other standing alone with an air of confusion.
When he left the commune he'd grown up in—a small one in the boondocks of rural Japan, where emotional reactions were weaned out of children, and everyone existed in a state of happy ambivalence—Sai had no idea what to expect. His experience thus far was certainly doing a good job of opening his eyes.
He padded off to the kitchen to make green tea, nodding to Shikamaru and Neji as he passed them.
"They're so troublesome," Shikamaru said, referring to their two brawling band-mates, working the words out around a yawn.
"I'll say," Neji hissed out. "And I'm going to take care of it, right now."
The brunet flicked his hair over his shoulder and out of the way, barely managing to avoid hitting Shikamaru in the face with it, and walked away to deal with the mess. Shikamaru slumped down where he stood, and began snoring, curling up into a little ball.
From his place near the door, Kakashi sighed. Clearly, Shikamaru had forgotten to take his codeine again.
Oh, well. At least he wasn't doing tai chi this time. Kakashi shook his head. It figured that Shikamaru would be more active asleep than he ever was awake.
He turned his attention to the middle of the floor, where Hurricane KibaNaru seemed to be concentrated, and prepared himself for a show.
"What do you morons think you're doing?"
At the frostiness in his voice, Kiba and Naruto stopped, mid-brawl and looked up at the Angel of Death. Kiba sneered.
"Fuck off, princess. Go play with your D&G handbags."
Naruto seconded him, their fight forgotten for the moment in the face of a Mutual Enemy.
"Yeah, princess! And you maybe wanna think about trimming your nose hairs. They're getting pretty long."
Neji seethed, and kicked them both as an outlet for his frustration.
"I am having a crisis of epic proportions," he said, through gritted teeth. "The humidifier is on the fritz and my hair is not cooperating with me today." He gestured to his near-flawless head of hair—near-flawless, due to one stubborn strand that seemed determined to utterly ruin the perfect center-part.
Naruto and Kiba quirked a brow in perfect synchronization, and Neji sighed with momentary satisfaction—he knew that there'd been something to his theory about them both sharing the same brain cell.
"So," Naruto asked snippily, drawing the word out for four extra beats. "What's your point?"
"My point," Neji said through gritted teeth, "is that all your arguing, brawling, breathing, living is taking up precious oxygen, and adding to the despicable carbon dioxide in the air, which in turn, is adding to the humidity. Which is messing up my hair. You are messing up my hair. In conclusion—stop breathing and save the oxygen for those of us who matter."
Kakashi, who'd expected something a bit more explosive, chose that moment to intervene.
"All right, boys. That's enough. Naruto, go get Sasuke and Sai in the kitchen. Neji, stop Shikamaru before he drowns himself in his drool. Kiba, you retrieve Lee."
Naruto squinted up at their manager, suspicion clear in his blue eyes.
"What's going on?"
Kakashi spared him little more than a glance, which predictably had the blond puffing up with Righteous Indignation.
"I got a Phone Call," he said mysteriously, and Neji could hear the capital letters.
"And it's probably going to change your lives."
We are a band of Epic Sadists who like picking on Neji.
And yes, they are spices. They wouldn't be the Spice Boys if they weren't.
Nobody's gay. I think. They're just…meterosexuals!
I talk too much. Sigh.