Totally out of nowhere. Seriously.
For ceru and all of my awesome reviewers, because I've been really busy with finals and the start of this new semester (lost my binder, fifteen minutes late to class, evil new science teacher, not a good start), and I haven't been able to reply to your reviews and PMs. But I promise I'll get to it as soon as I can! As for now, just bear with me, kay?
Akaya was pacing back and forth, back and forth, muttering something to himself. The regulars watched him warily, as they usually did; it was either Akaya pacing, or Akaya ponderous, or Akaya happy. Any of those led to imminent chaos, and they always tried to do everything they could to prevent it.
Not that it ever worked, but still.
"Akaya, what are you doing?" Yukimura inquired.
"SING auditions," he said hurriedly, then went back to murmuring to himself.
Yukimura's expression instantly cleared, but Sanada cleared his throat. "What might that be?"
"Really, Sanada," he scolded. "You're a third year, and you still don't know what SING is?"
"If it hasn't got to do with tennis . . ." Marui pointed out. Yukimura chuckled.
"Very true," he agreed. "SING is an annual musical that RikkaiDai does," he added, addressing Sanada. "Students audition for singing roles in the play, but it's very competitive, and not many people get in. I prefer not to do the acting myself; I was always more of a director, if I do say so myself."
Marui nodded. "Yeah, I was in it last year. This year too, actually; I'm in the art crew, and I'm in charge of music."
Niou sauntered up to them. "Talking about SING? Is that why the kid is so fidgety today?"
"I guess he's auditioning," Jackal inferred, looking vaguely amused.
"Jackal," Sanada greeted. "Are you in SING too?"
"No," he admitted. "Neither are Yagyuu and Yanagi, actually. The new semester is coming up, and we've got a lot to adapt to."
Yukimura smiled. "I agree, although it's too bad. You're quite good with digital arts, are you not? We could use another art director."
Marui grinned. "Jackal will be the other art director."
Jackal gave him a funny look. "Please stop volunteering me for things."
The seven of them all turned to look at Akaya, who was muttering frantically under his breath.
". . . it's unfair . . . and I was like . . . the judges don't . . . hands on the bars . . . the car swerved . . ."
They exchanged a look.
Yagyuu was the one to break the silence. "Do I really want to know?"
"I don't think so," Yanagi answered.
There was a moment of silence, then Akaya burst out, "WHAT IS THIS FEELING, SO SUDDEN AND—"
Marui choked on air. "Stop singing!" he ordered. "I am sick of you bursting into song! First that cheerleading incident, then the Juilliard incident, damn it Akaya, act normal."
Akaya paid him no mind and continued hollering at the top of his lungs.
Yukimura smiled. "Akaya, dear," he said gently, quietly, "please stop for a moment."
Akaya smiled brightly and whipped around, giving his teammates his most innocent grin. "Okay."
Marui gave Yukimura a long look, then decided he was better off not asking.
"Is that the song you're singing for the auditions?" Niou asked, smiling slowly. "From Wicked, that musical, right?"
Akaya nodded wildly. "Yeah, I've been practicing all day! There are a lot of guys who want the same role I do, so I have to be perfect!"
"Which monologue are you reading?" Yagyuu inquired. "I wrote the monologues myself, actually. Perhaps I can be of service."
Akaya handed it to him. "It's the one about this kid who's misunderstood during some weird gymnastics test thing."
Yagyuu nodded. "Right, I remember that. The one where the competitor rants about the competition being unfair, and how one must play by the rules?"
"Then you must be auditioning for the role of Kosuke," Yukimura inferred. "The misunderstood athlete."
"Yeah!" Akaya repeated, sounding increasingly excited. "Can you help me with it?"
Yukimura put a finger to his lips thoughtfully. "I just don't know if Kosuke's role is really for you," he replied slowly. "Sure, you're very much like him in real life, but onstage, I can see you much better as another character. You'd probably get that role much more easily; I'm certain you'd beat out all the other competitors."
Akaya's eyes lit up. "Really? 'Cause I really want to be in SING!"
Yukimura smiled warmly at him. "Of course."
"What do you want him to audition for, anyway?" Niou asked curiously. Yukimura whispered something to him—something Marui probably overheard, because he instantly burst into another choking fit—and Niou bared his teeth in a smile. "Let me help."
With Niou involved, the situation was admittedly much more frightening, but so long as it got him a part in SING . . .
The actors and roles for SING had just been announced, and Akaya looked like a peculiar cross between ecstatic and infuriated as he stared at the cast. As it was, he just looked confused.
"Can someone tell me," he began, "why I got put in the role of Megumi?"
Jackal snorted. "Cause you were stupid enough to believe a word Niou said. And you know how weird Yukimura's tastes are."
"Wait," Yagyuu interjected. "Megumi? Her role—isn't she the ditzy schoolgirl whose attention is vied for by the entire male cast?"
Akaya nodded slowly. "Yes, yes she is."
Marui rolled his eyes. "It's not that shocking," he pointed out. "Think about it. Which song did you sing for the auditions?"
"White Horse by Taylor Swift," he admitted. "But Mura-buchou said it was a good idea!"
Marui ignored him. "And recite the monologue you auditioned with."
Akaya took a deep breath. "Like, oh my God, you have no idea who I ran into at the mall this morning! Okay, so like, there's this totally amazing store, right? And like, everyone goes there—including Jenna and her boyfriend, and you just know how Jenna hates me. So like, we ran into each other, and like, it was such a—" He pulled off the ditzy schoolgirl voice disturbingly well, and Marui cut him off.
"The reason you ended up with that role," Marui said, "is pretty self-explanatory."