Reluctant to Fall

Chapter One

Fired?

The purring sound of the sleek silver car cut out as the engine turned off. Grabbing her keys, Hinata stepped out of the Volvo in front of the recording studio where her band was recording their demo. She walked to the back of the car to take her guitar out of the trunk, swinging it onto her back before proceeding towards the double-doors, Chuck Taylors slapping against the asphalt.

The sun was bright today, almost blinding. Hinata cursed herself for misplacing her sun glasses. She had spent a good chunk of time looking for them in her apartment and now she was late. Sakura would be ticked.

The elevator ride to floor six was short. When the doors slid open she stepped into a hall lined with oak doors. Walking down the left side of the hall, she continued on until she reached a door with the numbers 604 engraved on a brass plate. Pushing down on the handle, the down swung open easily for Hinata, revealing the large studio.

Sakura, Ino, and Karin were standing together in the sound booth. It looked like they were discussing something. Sakura was waving her arms around making hand motions. Ino and Karin were bobbing their heads, obviously agreeing with whatever Sakura was saying, so Hinata decided that it she shouldn't be concerned.

Their manager, Tsunade, was going through some papers and doing whatever it was managers do. As soon as Hinata closed the door everything got quiet. Sakura, Ino, and Karin stopped talking and looked at Hinata as though they hadn't expected her. Their faces were a little surprised, that is, until Sakura blew up.

Running towards the adjoing door, she wrenched it open, walking right up to Hinata until their noses were almost touching.

"Where were you?" she screeched. "We've been waiting for you for almost ten minutes! I told you to be here at 9:00 sharp!"

Hinata took a step back. "I'm sorry, but I was just—"

"No excuses!" Sakura yelled. She let out a long sigh. "Just go and get set up."

She walked back to the sound booth with Hinata trailing behind her. Karin was tuning her bass guitar and Ino was adjusting the symbols on her drums as Sakura approached the mike stand. All of their instruments – and Sakura's mike – were a bright, florescent pink….with sparkles. Hinata unzipped her guitar case and pulled out her beautiful, black and white 1973 Stratocaster with gold pick-ups. She just had to marvel at it whenever she saw the wonderful instrument.

Slipping the strap over head, she turned to her band members. Each of them had a disdainful look on their faces. Sakura glared at the guitar in Hinata's hands but decided not to say anything.

Hinata smirked inconspicuously.

She knew Sakura hated her guitar. She said it would "stain" the band's reputation. Whenever they had a gig Sakura always made Hinata use the substitute guitar which was currently sitting in the corner. Like everything else it was pink and sparkly. Hinata turned to it. It looked so innocent sitting there all by its lonesome, waiting for someone to pick it up and gently strum out a few chords. So innocent, in fact, that no one would have guessed how truly evil it was.

The strings needed to be changed once a month and constantly needed tuning. The strings buzzed easily when played and it didn't react well to free-style finger picking. Not to mention the horrific color.

Glaring at the accursed contraption, Hinata growled under her breath, "I resent you." Never before in her life had she ever hated anything more than she did that guitar.

Once everyone was ready, Sakura gave Tsunade the thumbs up. Tsunade pressed a few buttons and flicked a switch. "Demo for Pink Dream, track one." She stated into the tape recorder. The red light above the window turned on and the band began to play.

(Piece of Me by Britney Spears)

I'm Miss "American Dream"
Since I was 17
Don't matter if I step on the scene
Or sneak away to the Philippines
They still got pictures of my derriere in the magazine
You want a piece of me?
You want a piece of me?

I'm Miss "Bad Media Karma"
Another day, another drama
Guess I can't see no harm
In working and being a mama
And with a kid on my arm
I'm still an exception, and all you
Want a piece of me

I'm Mrs. "Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Oh My God, That Britney's Shameless!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Extra! Extra! This just In!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "she's too big, now she's too thin"
(You want a piece of me?)

I'm Mrs. 'You want a piece of me?'
Tryin' and pissin' me off
well get in line with the paparazzi
who's flippin' me off?
Hoping I'll resort to some havoc
and end up settlin' in court
Now are you sure you want a piece of me?
(You want a piece of me?)

I'm Mrs. "Most Likely to Get on TV for Strippin' on the Streets"
When getting the groceries, no, for real
Are you kidding me?
No wonder this panic in the industry
I mean, please
Do you want a piece of me?

I'm Mrs. "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Oh My God, That Britney's Shameless!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Extra! Extra! This just in!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "she's too big, now she's too thin"
(You want a piece of me?)

I'm Miss "American Dream"
Since I was 17
Don't matter if I step on the scene
Or sneak away to the Philippines
They still got pictures of my derriere in the magazine
You want a piece of me?
You want a piece, piece of me?

You want a piece of me?

I'm Mrs. "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Oh My God, That Britney's Shameless!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Extra! Extra! This just in!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "she's too big, now she's too thin"
(You want a piece of me?)

I'm Mrs. "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Oh My God, That Britney's Shameless!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "Extra! Extra! This just in!"
(You want a piece of me?)
I'm Mrs. "she's too big, now she's too thin"
(You want a piece of me?)

Oh yeah
you want a piece of me

Once the song was over the red light turned off and Tsunade entered the room.

"That was wonderful girls! Nice job!"

Hinata grimaced. 'This is the worst song since the creation of music!' she thought.

Sakura, Ino, and Karin all giggled to themselves.

"Thanks Tsunade!" they chorused together in sing-song voices. Hinata wanted to puke. You couldn't even hear the band playing over all the techno beats. And those voices at the beginning of the song, where did they come from? And…who the heck is Britney? She couldn't remember when this song was written. She must have missed that meeting.

Hinata was tuning her guitar and the band was getting ready for their next song when suddenly the door leading into the sound booth slowly clicked open. A girl with shoulder length, dark pink hair walked in. She was wearing huge black sun glasses that covered half of her face.

Sakura's face became worried and stressed. "Uuhhh…Tayuya, you're early."

Hinata looked at the new arrival, then at Sakura, and back. She could tell something bad was going to happen.

The girl, Tayuya, was wearing skin tight short jean shorts and three layers of alternating pink and white shirts. Hinata could tell just by looking at her that she was very confident and completely self centered, only concerned by her outward beauty. She was obviously given everything she wanted with the piles of cash her daddy probably raked in every year. Nothing was going to get in this girl's way.

Tayuya's smile was smug and mischievous. "I just wanted to check out where I would be working. Besides, I thought you said you didn't want me to be late."

"Yeah, but…" Sakura trailed off leaving her sentence hanging.

"Sakura…who is this?" Hinata asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

It looked like Sakura was going to start sweating as she fidgeted and looked at Hinata nervously. Taking a deep breath, Sakura tried desperately to compose herself.

"Hinata, the girls and I have been talking about your…position in our group." Hinata looked at her earnestly. "And we decided that you just don't cut it. You don't have the right attitude and you're not pretty enough. Plus you hate pink." Once she started the words just seemed to rush out. "You are tarnishing our reputation and because of you we're not attracting the right crowd. Tayuya is your replacement. You're fired." She said all of that in one, fairly even breath without a hint of guilt on her face, fists planted on her hips. Although it looked to Hinata as if her confidence was fleeting.

Standing stock still, Hinata took in the information.

Fired? Hinata had never been fired before. How was she supposed to react? It's not like she ever planned to stay with Pink Dream for the rest of her musical career. In fact, she was planning on leaving them to start her own band once she had formed enough contacts and had gotten a feel for the business. It was too early to be fired.

Not knowing what to do Hinata simply said, "Oh," her eyes still wide with shock.

Then she carefully packed up her guitar and left without another word, leaving the others to stare at her retreating back in confusion.

***************

Back in her car, Hinata had no idea where to go. So far she had settled for driving around aimlessly in circles, hoping to be struck by an idea.

Finally she decided to stop by her favorite ice cream shop and buy a cone to make her feel better.

After she parked the car in the parking lot she walked into the small shop, the sound of a small silver bell rang as she opened the door.

She ordered a small cone of mint chocolate chip ice cream, her favorite, and sat at her usual table by the window.

Now what? She had hoped to get some sort of insight once she had calmed down, but right now she had nothing.

Taking a lick from her cone, Hinata let the tip of her tongue linger on the frozen treat, feeling the cold.

There was no way she could go back to her father. He would only be too thrilled – and smug – to have her back. She wouldn't let him win, not this time.

Suddenly, the idea came to her. It was so obvious; she wondered why she hadn't thought of it before. She wasn't feeling very intelligent at the moment.

She pulled out her cell phone and scrolled down her contacts until she found the number she was looking for, and hit send.

After three rings a woman picked up the phone, her voice rich, smooth, and warm, like melted chocolate. "Hello?"

"Kurenai," Hinata replied, "I have a problem."

***************

This is my first multi-chapter story, so feel free to tell me what you think. If you've got any ideas for this story (or a new story in fact) I'm willing to listen!