title: Spice Jam
author(s): Epic ADD
pairing(s): Sasuke/Sakura, Neji/Reflection
for: you, the people!
disclaimer: we do disclaim
notes: so sorry for the wait, guys. It's all my – meaning Annie's – fault, honestly. Sigh. Thanks for the support, though, and especially for the positive comments about my favorite theory: that Sakura is Pein and Konan's lovechild. I mean, it's so obvious.
There was a reason that Pein had assigned Deidara to Sakura, not only as a guardian but more specifically, a driver. How the accident-prone teenager had past her exams and actually obtained a license was still a mystery considering the two collisions she'd been in.
Her first accident was a minor one that remained a 'family secret'. She had had her license for about two weeks and when Deidara had dropped her off at her mother's private family estate, Sakura couldn't help but run into the garage and take out Konan's customized Bentley Continental GT. She'd been eyeing the thing for quite some time, so sitting in the driver's seat, Sakura didn't seem to realize how strongly she'd stepped on the gas.
Or that she'd be in reverse.
Nobody got hurt but Konan wasn't too pleased to hear her precious car needed repairs.
Sakura's second accident happened when she was eighteen during her summer break between high school and university. It had been very late at night and when she was making a left turn at the lights, a car came out of nowhere, hitting the right side of the car. Her father had been livid when he found out the driver who hit his little girl was drunk and two days later, Deidara came into the picture and Sakura's car keys were taken out of it.
At least Pein thought so.
When Sakura heard from Deidara that he was going to be gone for a week on a vacation, she couldn't help but rejoice knowing she'd get to drive again. She immediately went to the garage and took back the keys for her precious convertible.
She had an actual destination, though. Driving aimlessly for the sake of driving could wait a few hours.
Right now, she had a meeting with the Spice Boys.
She could only imagine the hell she'd walk into. Sakura couldn't help but remember her high school days when after gym class, the girls would be gossiping while getting redressed into their uniforms. Some would be doing their makeup, blow-drying their hair and so on. From what she'd researched (read in magazines), the Spice Boys was on the list of Bands with the Biggest Wardrobes. While it also said that they were charitable, donating said most of said wardrobes to charities after tours, she still couldn't help but fit them all into stereotypes.
They are pretty good looking though, she thought, glancing at the open magazine on the passenger's seat beside her. The magazine was a bit old, coming from last May, so in the spirit of prom outfits, the Spice Boys were all dressed in different tuxedoes. Yum.
But still! What self-respecting guys would—
Ugh. Sakura shook her head miserably, dreading the meeting to come. Her father told her meet with them before the tour to get a 'feel' at what they were like.
"Oh, fuck my life..."
Do it for the purses! And the shoes! The shoes!
Sakura groaned. She took a sip of her non-fat vanilla latte and put it back in the cup holder.
"You have now arrived at your destination," said the robotic female voice of her GPS.
Carefully, Sakura parallel parked her car between a large orange hummer and a motorcycle, praying to the gods she didn't believe in – Daddy only believed in money and himself, apparently, so no one really taught her religion – that she wouldn't hit anything. Another notch on her record and Pein would surely never let her drive again. Sakura made it though, and she couldn't help the sigh of relief that escaped her lips when she took the key out of the ignition.
She reluctantly got out of her car and walked over to the large door to what was supposed to be Spice Boys' so-called headquarters. Sakura knocked on the door very loudly and waited a few moments before someone finally came to open it.
"What?" the man hissed.
Judging by the grouchy tone and major bed head, Sakura assumed she'd just woken the poor guy up, which really confused her, as it was already two in the afternoon. He wore nothing but a pair of red boxers – silk or satin? – and a tan cashmere robe which Sakura could have sworn she saw one time when she went shopping in the ladies' section.
What the hell was wrong with these men?!
"Uh..." she began gracefully. Sakura shook her head and quickly regained her composure. "Sorry. Right. I'm here to meet with the Spice Boys."
"Hmph!" The brunette at the door snorted and flicked his long, lustrous hair over his shoulder. He made a show of rolling his lavender eyes and checking his cuticles and then making a small gasp, likely having found a broken nail or something. "All girls – even guys – want to meet the Spice Boys." He scoffed at her, giving her a once over. "We don't just let anyone in. Especially ones dressed like you."
Sakura couldn't help but grow offended. Who the hell did this man think he was?! She grew up observing some of the greatest wardrobe assistants ever and this loser had the audacity to oh-so smugly tell her she dressed poorly? Sakura thought back to what she put on that morning, quite pleased with what she'd chosen. A simple red dress, casual yet professional, with some black stockings beneath for the chilly November air. She donned a pair of dark brown boots and then her usual black leather jacket. She even wore a nice purple scarf to accessorize!
"Excuse me?!" Sakura bit out indignantly.
Inwardly, she counted from one to ten, putting the father-daughter anger management classes she and Pein attended together to good use. She pictured a box and then shoving her anger into it, but later put the source of her anger (the boy at the door) into the box, justifying the action by saying getting rid of the anger's source would make more sense that just temporarily just getting rid of the anger.
Sakura slowly exhaled and then proceeded to glare. "Look," she began in her mother's professional-but-thoroughly-annoyed-and-ready-to-throttle voice. "My name is Haruno Sakura—"
He snorted once more, cutting her off. "Seriously, what do you want? An autograph or something? A lock of hair? Boxers? My babies?"
Oh, fuck this!
Enraged, Sakura turned on her heel and stomped back to her car.
She was not working with these people. No amount of shoes or purses could get her to spend three months with the Spice Boys.
"Who was at the door, Neji?" Kakashi asked as the boy in question walked towards he and Naruto.
The Spice Boys' manager sat at on a stool at the island in the kitchen with a mug of coffee in one hand while reading the newspaper in the other. Neji couldn't help but notice that Kakashi wasn't even drinking the coffee, but didn't think to far into it. He was still very hungry and that stupid fan girl had interrupted his breakfast. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his Eggs Benedict still intact on his plate.
Naruto snorted at Neji when he realized the brunette thought he was going to steal the food. "Yeah right, loser," Naruto said, shooting Neji's a breakfast a look of disgust. "Don't flatter yourself, thinking I'd eat your crap. That shit looks disgusting."
Neji glared in return. "This shit is delicious, you moron."
"The door, Neji?" Kakashi interrupted loudly before a fight could wake everyone else up. The boys had been at the studio until four in the morning so Kakashi allowed them to sleep in. Besides, they had a small, private, invites-only show that night so Kakashi wanted his boys to be as awake as possible. Especially Shikamaru.
"Oh." Neji cut off a piece of his breakfast and ate it before answering. "Some fan girl. She was weird," he commented thoughtfully. "Had pink hair."
"Aw damn!" Naruto groaned. He stared at Neji, looking utterly betrayed. "And you sent her away. I could've used that 'can I see if pink's your natural hair colour?' line, you idiot!"
"Well excuse me for thinking with my head – and I'm talking about the one on my shoulders."
"Pink, huh," Kakashi murmured. He thought back on the various pink-haired people he'd met in his career and only coming up with a three. One was an aging actress who thought she'd try being young again, another was a singer who thought she looked 'cool' and the other was the sassy spawn of business guru Haruno Pein. The one who grew up to be a protégé of her dear daddy's in video production.
The one who Pein said would be tagging along on the boys' tour and making the documentary that would air on MTV and either solidify or break their career.
"What was her name?" asked Kakashi, his visible eye wide open.
"Uh..." Neji paused to go over the scene at the door. "Sakura. Haruno Sakura, I think."
Kakashi cursed under his breath. Gravely, he put down his coffee mug and then dropped the paper on the counter. He brought his hands to his temples and groaned.
"You two," he began in his Managing Voice, "go see if the girl is still outside. If she is, bring her in and for your fames' sakes, treat her like a goddess!"
When they reluctantly did as told, Kakashi shook his head sadly at Neji.
"And he calls Naruto an idiot..."
Sakura was furious. To try and relieve her stress, she kicked the side of the Spice Boys' building. This only served to give her a bruised toe and a sourer mood. Freakin' Spice Boys!
Sakura pulled out her phone, a pink BlackBerry Pearl, and hit and held the letter 'D' to speed-dial her father. She didn't even care about the shoes anymore. There was just no way she could deal with the Spice Boys – not if they were all as prissy as Cinnamon.
The phone continued to ring, and she exhaled gustily, sending her bangs fluttering. Of course. Daddy Dearest was probably in a meeting. Or, more likely, he was screening his calls – of course he would be expecting her to refuse.
Smart man. She couldn't stand him!
She beeped open the lock to her car, yanked open the driver's side door, and leaned in to deposit her bag on the passenger side, when there was a tap on the window, and she looked up—
—Only to lurch back from shock when she saw the smiling face pressed up against the glass.
"Oh my God!" she squealed, grabbing the car door for balance. Her heart was racing, and she put a hand over it, trying to regain her composure. "Who the hell are you?"
When the face pulled back from her window and reappeared over the hood of her car, though, Sakura recognized him. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, goofy-grinned Naruto, aka Silly Spice was beaming at her.
"Where are you off to?"
For the first time, Naruto's smile faltered. He looked slightly nervous. "Okay, so here's the thing," he said in a rush, "Neji was cranky because one hair was out of place or Akamaru stole his nail polish or something stupid, so he was kind of a jerk to you, but he totally didn't mean it."
"But my manager really, really wants you to give us another chance, and Neji will apologize and we're all sorry but the rest of us aren't like that, or at least I'm not, so please come back? Also, you're really pretty!"
She didn't understand anything but his last few words, but Sakura was easy to win over, so she sighed, shutting her car door again.
"Lead the way, then."
So Naruto was stupid and loud. From what she had seen and heard so far, Kiba seemed to be much the same, but also a bit of a lech. Neji was prissy and annoying, Shikamaru was just a lump on the couch, and Sai was creepy. That was five freaks, so Sakura really did think she was prepared for anything else the Spice Boys might throw at her.
That was, until Naruto and Sai led her through the cool, dim corridors of the house into the brightly lit, surprisingly cozy kitchen in the back of the house. While the appliances were sleek, shiny stainless steel, the entire room was painted a soft, pale yellow. The dining table was spacious, squashed into a corner, and the blinds to the numerous windows were open, letting light shine through. But Sakura only noticed those details later, for as soon as she entered the room, her gaze slid – against her will – to one Uchiha Sasuke, leaning against the breakfast bar, elbows on the table, examining the expiration date on a carton of milk with distaste.
"This is nearly three months past its expiration date," he announced, setting down the carton. Immediately, Naruto bounded over.
"Nearly's good enough for me!" he said cheerfully, taking the carton and tipping it towards his mouth to guzzle it down.
Sakura didn't know who to stare at: McGorgeous, or The Human Garbage Disposal.
Of course, that was when Sasuke looked at her, one eyebrow raised coolly. "And you are?"
Sakura twitched at his infuriatingly superior tone. Rockstar needed to be brought down a notch. "Haruno Sakura," she said, dropping her gaze and brushing non-existent lint from the skirt of her dress. "You might have heard of me."
Sasuke scoffed. "Hardly."
Sakura smiled frostily. "Then we're even." She glanced around. "Where's your manager?"
Naruto, who Sakura was finding was something like an overeager, always ready-to-please puppy, turned to her. "I'll go get him, Sakura-chan! You just sit there and look pretty. Sai, get her some food!" he added on his way out the door. "I'll find Kakashi—oof."
Naruto stumbled back from the door, clutching his nose. The tall, lanky man in the doorway that he had bumped into looked hardly affected. "No need, Naruto," he said pleasantly, "I'm here."
He turned to Sakura and said pleasantly, "Why don't you sit down? Would you like a drink? Sasuke, make her a smoothie."
Sasuke ignored him. Sakura didn't look impressed.
"I'm good. Can we just start?
Kakashi crossed the room to drop back in his seat at the counter. "Of course," he said. "Just as soon as Lee gets here."
Neji sniffed. "He went for a run. He has to shower before he comes near me."
Sakura rolled her eyes and sat as far from the priss as she could, right beside Shikamaru. "There's another one of you? Have you multiplied in the past year?"
Sasuke glared at her. "Akatsuki had more," he reminded her indignantly.
Sakura smiled, crossing her legs at the ankles and leaning back in her hard-backed chair. "Yes, but," she said coolly, fluttering her eyelashes for added effect, "Akatsuki also had Itachi, and he was all that really mattered."
Sakura had played her cards exactly right. Sasuke twitched, attempted a sneer, and stalked out of the room, but not before Sai called: "Don't be jealous, Sasuke-kun! You will always be sexy to us!"
Sasuke's ears were burning scarlet as he disappeared down the hall, and Sakura stifled a laugh. Naruto, dropping down into the chair beside her, didn't bother to hide his amusement.
Sai, for his part, continued to smile, albeit he looked a bit puzzled. He turned to Shikamaru for help. "Did I say something inappropriate?"
"You're always saying inappropriate things," Shikamaru grumped. "Just stop talking."
Ever obedient, Sai abruptly shut his mouth.
Sakura had been watching this with interest. "Should I write you boys a script?" At Kakashi's look, she added, "Children will be watching this, you know."
"That's fine with us," he said lightly. "We are a wholesome, family-loving group, you know."
Sakura bit back the insults threatening to spew from her mouth and took a calming breath. She was a professional, after all, and Daddy was counting on her. She did want to impress him, and not entirely for the shoes.
"Of course," she said with a little laugh, trying to play off her earlier attitude. "Well, could someone please find Lee, then? I would really like to get started."
Kakashi glanced around. "Lee should be—"
"Fear not! The Beautiful Green Beast has appeared!"
"—Just coming in." The skin around Kakashi's lone visible eye crinkled in a smile, his gaze on the doorway, and Sakura turned to see the final member of the Spice Boys, Mr. Nice Spice, wholesome, spandex-wearing, lovable Rock Lee.
Despite Sakura's attitude toward – well, everything, she was actually a very professional, hardworking girl. She had researched the Spice Boys from the moment she had agreed to film their documentary. She had made a clear schedule, outlined everything that she had hoped to accomplish, even color-coded her lists! All her information was compiled in one neat black binder, tucked away into her bag with her laptop and digital camcorder. She knew the Spice Boys, inside and out.
Still, she wasn't expecting… this.
Decked out in green spandex and orange leg warmers, Rock Lee was a study in Fashion Crisis. Not only was his taste in clothes questionable, but his way-out-of-date bowl-cut and blindingly bright teeth were, to put it mildly, painful.
Even so, he was the first of the Spice Boys to smile at her sincerely, so Sakura looked past his unusual appearance.
"Hi," she said. "Lee, I presume?"
"Your presumption is correct!" he said cheerfully, drawing up a chair beside her. "And you must be Haruno-san!"
He was kind of enthusiastic, but that balanced out Shikamaru's… Shikamaru-ness. Lee was quickly becoming her favorite.
"Just Sakura is fine," she said, reaching out a hand for him to shake. Then she pulled out her binder, clicked open a purple gel pen, and looked round at the table. All eyes were on her, of all the Spice Boys – minus Sasuke – and their manager. Her roomies for the next three months.
She hated her life.
"Well, then," she sighed. "Let's get started. First, a few questions…"
INTERVIEW WITH THE SPICE BOYS – FAILURE ONE
Transcript provided by the unfortunate interviewer.
Note: No last name was provided for Sai, AKA Smiley Spice. As such, his statements are denoted with, simply, 'SAI'.
Haruno Sakura (HS): All right, let's start with the basics: what got you into singing?
Uzumaki Naruto (UN): Girls.
Inuzuka Kiba (IK): Girls.
Hyuuga Neji (HN): Why shouldn't I share my talent with the world?
UN: I can think of a few reasons…
Rock Lee (RL): I read an interview once given by the maestro himself, Gai-sensei, and he said that the explosion of youth was best captured by—
[inset; Sakura: "Um, sorry, but we have a 5000 word minimum /or/ only fifteen minutes of film for this portion, so we're gonna have to cut you off there."]
IK: Dude, shut up.
RL: That isn't very polite, Kiba…
IK: Bad boys get the girls. Right, Sakura?
HS: Ahem. What about you, Sexy—Sasuke? Sasuke. Yes.
UN: Elle oh elle.
HS: (over the bickering of Dumb and Dumber) SASUKE?
Uchiha Sasuke (US): (broods. No, really.) There is someone I must defeat…
HS: Um. Wait, what?
RL: Sasuke-kun gets a bit touchy over his brother sometimes.
UN: Please ignore the emo behind the curtain.
HS: You mean your brother? I love him!
US: … (glares)
UN: I'll protect you, Sakura-chan!
SAI: My commune elected me to explore the outside world, and this was the easiest way to acquire a large sample for my social experiment.
HS: Oh, uh, how interesting. So, how did you guys—
SAI: And Penis.
IK: Ignore him. It's a bad habit.
HS: Okay, so, um, moving along…
RL: Sakura-san! You forgot Sleepy!
HS: …The dwarf?
UN: Nah, the lazy ass over there.
HS: Oh my God, he isn't moving!
IK: He's just asleep. I'll go wake him.
HS: Wait, don't—
IK: (kicks Shikamaru in the rib)
Nara Shikamaru (NS): …Ow.
IK: I rock. Do your thing, babe.
HS: …Shikamaru, what got you into singing?
NS: (yawns) Nothing. I'm not into it.
NS: Nah, but it got me out of school, so…
UN: You are a disgrace to our Spice Rack.
"All right, then," Sakura said, as she turned the camcorder off, and slipped the gel pen she'd been using to take notes into the spirals of her binder, after making a mental note to call the Censorship Bureau. Sai's comments—clinically delivered as they were—could be too much for the PTAs of the world to handle, and the last thing her father needed was a class-action law suit. Perhaps, they could—
"Hey! Hey! Sakura-chan! Are you listening?"
Sakura's eyes slid sharply into focus as she was jerked back into the waking world by one Uzumaki Naruto, alias, Silly Spice.
"Sorry," she said, making an honest effort to sound appropriately apologetic. "You were saying?"
He pouted, and Sakura had the sudden feeling that he was unused to being ignored. Oh well, she thought, reaching into her purse to pull out her BlackBerry. Her Father would want an update, after all.
"I said," he sing-songed, drawing the word out so it lasted four beats instead of one, "I said that we needed your help with something."
Oh," Sakura replied, arching a brow, as she clicked Send. "And what might that be?"
"Well," Kiba drawled, eyeing her in what he must have thought was a seductive manner, but Sakura only found faintly unnerving, "you see, babe—"
Sakura wrinkled her nose at the diminutive, but was saved from a scathing retort by another interruption from Naruto.
"We're making a music video," he said excitedly, bouncing on his heels. "It's gonna be awesome."
"It will not be 'awesome,' as you say, Naruto. 'Awesome' is plebian—beneath us. Or well," he said after a moment of consideration. "It's beneath me, anyway. No, no, Naruto. This endeavor will be pure eurhythmy at its completion—its every moment will be an artistic triumph. They will call us vanguards of a new era in music, forerunners of a cultural revolution that will ultimately bring about a—"
Sakura marveled at the way Neji could say so much in just one breath.
Naruto and Kiba's reactions, however, were much less quiet.
"Oi," Kiba yelled irritably, missing the way Sakura's lip curled distastefully at the sight of him cleaning his ear with his pinky finger. "Shut up, Neji."
"Yeah," Naruto echoed. "Shut up! Or if you won't, then talk normal like the rest of us!"
Neji sniffed in distaste.
"I make every effort to speak normally, Naruto. You, on the other hand, do not seem very inclined to attempt to understand me. Or perhaps, it's simply a question of capability. I shouldn't blame you for your mental deficiencies."
"Are you calling me dumb," Naruto said, as his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
It was at this moment that Sai chose to remind the room at large that he was still in it.
"Are you deaf, Naruto-kun," he inquired politely, that fixed smile ever present. "Because I am standing on the opposite end of the room, and I heard him from here. Maybe instead of a codpiece, you might prefer a hearing aid? I think that considering our line of work, fixing your auditory sense is more important than allowing you the dignity of pretending you have a pen—"
As this—arguably unintended—insult began another round of shouting, Sakura allowed her attention to drift to other occupants of the room. Lee, who'd left immediately after the interview to go for a jog with his mentor, had yet to return, and had left his bright orange leg warmers in concession to the heat. They were folded in two perfect squares near the foot of one chair, and for a moment, Sakura wondered whether he shared Neji's tendency towards OCD.
Her eyes followed Hatake Kakashi as he walked out of the entrance to the kitchen, and stopped on Shikamaru. She watched as he rolled his eyes, and gave up the battle he'd been waging to stay awake. The interview seemed to have taken a lot out of him, and really, when it came down to it, it wasn't as though his narcolepsy was something entirely controllable. The research she'd done on the band before hand proved itself most invaluable in his particular case.
Finally her eyes landed the last member of the group—Uchiha Sasuke.
She'd known herself long enough to know when she wanted something, and her earlier faux pas only confirmed it. Sexy and Sasuke sounded the same didn't they? They vaguely rhymed—sort of—and both words started with the letter s. Really, she thought, smirking slightly as she watched him brood they're all but synonymous.
Still, one could only take so much Drama, and Sakura had enough in her life to add him to the mix. She had a feeling his Issues came in spades.
Not that she could blame him. Uchiha Itachi was, in more ways than one, a hard act to follow, and everything from the school records she'd examined, to the popularity polls she'd pored over seemed to indicate that in every way that mattered, Sasuke had come second to his elder brother. An inferiority complex the size of her mother's third estate was the last thing she needed to deal with.
Besides, she had a job to do, and she would not allow Sasuke, sexy or not—oh, who was she kidding?—or his stupid dark eyes, and his stupid toned arms, and his stupid tight…
Well, in any case, he would not be a distraction.
Sakura nodded to herself surely. Daddy was counting on her, and she could not—would not—buckle.
"Guys," she said so sweetly, and so suddenly, and so clearly, that even Shikamaru seemed to make a sincere effort to turn to her in his sleep. The attempt ended with the slight thump that told everyone present that he'd fallen to the floor—again. After a brief look to see whether he'd broken any major appendages that would prevent him from going on tour, and thus, slow the progress of group as a whole, Sakura continued.
"I have an idea for the music video," she said, "I mean, if you don't have any already."
Sasuke arched a—perfectly plucked, she'd bet; at the very least, waxed—brow.
"You," he said, making the word sound like something foul. "You have an idea for our first music video?"
"Yes," she began to hiss, before then stopping short. She needed to sell this. They had to buy it. It wouldn't do to rouse any suspicions from stupid boys who were too stupid pretty for her own good.
"Yes," she said again, more normally this time. "That is, if you wouldn't mind an outsider's view of things."
"And what would you know about it," Sasuke asked. His voice was blank enough, but the distaste in his eyes was almost palpable.
"Yes, do tell, Haruno-san," said Neji. Our target demographic—that means people we wish to appeal to, in case you didn't know," he explained condescendingly, as though she hadn't broken her back doing course work on exactly that subject. She could tell him what it meant in twelve different languages, but Sakura held her tongue.
"I know what it means," she said instead. "And it's women right? Between the ages of what—thirteen through forty? Fifteen through fifty?"
"Yeah, something like that," Naruto added, apologetically. "So sorry, Sakura-chan. You wouldn't really be able to help us. But thanks anyway!"
Kiba slapped his forehead loudly with his palm.
"Idiot," he groused. "What's she look like to you?"
Sakura tried very hard not to grit her teeth too loudly when Naruto paused to consider her, before he stood to circle her.
"Hmm," Naruto murmured. "Hmm…hm!"
"Moron," Sasuke muttered. "She's a woman," he said, almost grudgingly.
"Thanks so much for noticing," Sakura said bitingly.
"Well if you dressed a little better, maybe it wouldn't be so difficult to remember," Neji said pointedly, bringing Sakura back to the unfortunate confrontation that had almost cost her this opportunity. The thought of it prevented her from replying directly to Neji and his priss, and instead, she chose to direct her next words to the room at large.
"As Sasuke was kind enough to note," she started dryly, "I happen to be a woman. Even better I'm a teenage girl on the brink of adulthood, and so I have both my formative tweenie years behind me, and my Dirty Twenty ahead. In short, boys, I know what women want," she finished triumphantly.
"Midol," Naruto said, unthinkingly. Sasuke snorted inelegantly at this, while Neji contented himself with an eye roll.
After a brief twitch borne of repressed hostility, Sakura shook her head, visions of monogrammed LVs and Damier canvas, dancing in her mind.
"No, Naruto. Not Midol."
"Then what," Kiba asked.
"I have two words for all of you," Sakura said, pausing for dramatic effect. She glanced around the room; she had their full attention. Excellent.
Sakura took a breath. "Two words," she repeated, "glimmering werewolves."