Standard disclaimer applies.

Summary: They were too young for a strip club, too broke for yakiniku and not otaku enough for a Maid Cafe. Obviously that left only one option.

OK, Karaoke

It was eight o'clock on a Friday night and Nikogaku baseball team had won their very first game against Megurogawa; the night was young and unfortunately so were the members. Being statistically the oldest of the group, Wakana had approximately five months, two weeks and three days left to go until he was legally permitted to enter a Pachinko parlour and/or a strip joint. This was a fact that he did not fail to rub in everyone's faces from time to time. Unfortunately, this minor age setback at this point still left all the members with limited choices for weekend activities.

Yagi was with them, so they couldn't plan a goukon. As a matter of fact, Shinjo who hated pretty much everything except Aniya, Yagi and occasionally the rest of the team was always with them, so that ruled out a goukon indefinitely. In fact, at that moment there was one particular unwanted hanger-on with them who sifted through everyone's suggestions (and rejected them) so fast it left everyone with absolutely nothing to do on that calm and inviting Friday night.

Well…there was one thing…

"Karaoke, guys!" hollered Kawato enthusiastically, either not hearing or just plain ignoring the moans and groans coming from the rest of the people present.

"Have you ever heard Wakana sing?" asked Hiyama in an almost weary tone. "If you had, you would never have even thought to suggest such a thing."

"What the hell are you talking about? I happen to have a lovely singing voice."

Wakana was simultaneously pelted by nine pairs of gloves.

"Yeah, just ask the neighbourhood dogs. I bet they'll vouch for you," said Sekikawa, tossing a rolled up piece of paper at his head in addition.

Wakana took it in his stride. "Remember the time we did strip karaoke?" he said, to a chorus of groans and a two pairs of raised eyebrows.

"Strip what?" gasped Kawato, but everyone ignored him.

"Since you were the one who lost and was thus, the only one naked, no one wants to remember," said Aniya.

"I say we just go home and sleep," suggested Okada, stretching his arms above his head.

"Let's watch a movie, nya!" said Yufune, skipping happily into the foray.

"We could use with some extra batting practice," said Mikoshiba.

Mikoshiba was simultaneously pelted by nine pairs of gloves.

"We should have a party!" rumbled Hiratsuka. When all eyes turned to him, earnest in their consideration of the suggestion, he added with a sleazy grin; "At Touko-chan's house. We can have a sleep over!"

Hiratsuka received one of Aniya's fastball straight in the face. This time, it came too fast and too unexpected even for his survival reflexes to kick in.

"Shut the hell up, fool. No one wants to hear your suggestion!"

"ANIYA!" growled Hiratsuka while trying to stem the blood flowing freely out his nose.

"Hiracchi, that's enough!"

"Sleep!"

"Movie, nya!"

"I'm all with Kawato on this one."

"I saw we all hold tryouts to get a new catcher and kick this tone-deaf idiot to the curb. Who's with me?" asked Hiyama, stepping up with an arm raised.

"Tone-deaf or not, at least I managed to hit a ball!"

"What did you say, you asshole?"

"Come on, you guys," said Mikoshiba exasperatedly, stepping in between Wakana and Hiyama.

"I say we take a vote," said Kawato, grinning. "As it stands, there's two in favour of karaoke; one for sleep; one for a movie; one for batting practice."

Mikoshiba was pelted with nine pairs of gloves again.

"Aniya, Sekikawa, Hiyama, Shinjo, Yagi, Imaoka…what are your choices."

"ARE YOU LEAVING ME OUT, KAWATO?"

"I don't care," scoffed Aniya.

"I wouldn't mind catching a movie," said Sekikawa.

"Anything that Wakana chooses, I'll pick the opposite," said Hiyama.

"Anything you guys decide," said Imaoka with a sheepish grin.

"So that leaves Shinjo and Yagi."

Wakana snapped his head around to stare almost imploringly at Yagi, as if he'd be able to telekinetically tip her vote in favour of karaoke.

"Whatever Yagi decides is fine," said Shinjo impassively, but he clearly seemed thoroughly amused at the situation.

"Well…karaoke sounds like fun, I guess."

Wakana whooped for joy. The whole Nikogaku team besides Yagi, Shinjo and Kawato groaned in dismay. Yagi and Kawato didn't know then what they'd just gotten themselves into and Shinjo really didn't care either way. He just enjoyed being around his friends. That and he always kept a spare pair of earplugs in his bag. He learned from past mistakes.

"By nights end, Kawato, you're going to regret this," said Aniya forebodingly.

"What are you guys talking about? This is going to be so much fun! Cheer up. 'He who sings frightens away his ills,' by Cervantes!"


Half an hour later.

The walls were rumbling. The ceiling was creaking. The wine glasses filled with soda were rattling. Proverbial dogs were howling in tune and you could almost hear someone's next door neighbour shouting out the window for the source of the racket to just shut the hell up.

Wakana was singing.

And it wasn't pretty.

"I never knew My Way could be violated in such a way," said Kawato sounding completely flabbergasted at the high pitches and soprano verses Wakana was tossing out where there should have been none. Kawato was always confident that his students could do anything, be anything if they put their mind to it.

That day, Kawato realized that there were some things that were well and truly unattainable. In Wakana's case, it was the aspirations of becoming a singer.

"Make it stop!" screamed Hiyama, leaping to his feet. His step faltered for a second as his consciousness adjusted to being vertical again. Either that or it was his eardrums' way of revenge for the torture they were being put through.

There were three working microphones in the room, one was being used by Wakana and two were in his pants.

"Make it stop!" shrieked Sekikawa.

"My ears are bleeding, nya!"

"He seems to be really feeling the song," said Yagi, trying to give at least one word of encouragement.

"Are you deaf or just an idiot?" asked Aniya. He had rolled up tissues sticking out his ears, but even that did nothing to muffle the sound.

"You're the idiot, Kei-chan!" said Yagi. "At least Shinjo-kun's not being a baby about it like the rest of you."

Shinjo was sitting in the corner of the room minding his own business as usual. He saw Yagi and Aniya looking in his direction earlier. Yagi said something and Aniya glowered at him a little. He didn't know what it was about, and he didn't care to find out. He'd attempted to remove the earplugs earlier, but the blaring of sound and Wakana's unintelligible attempt at the English lyrics hit him like a punch in the face.

Hiratsuka was fast asleep on his side on the sofa across from and facing Okada, who was trying to see how many peanuts he could toss into Hiratsuka's gaping mouth. Imaoka was looking between shaking Hiratsuka awake and joining Okada his game.

"I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

Someone bellowed suddenly, causing the Wakana to halt right in the middle of his high pitched 'My waaaaaaaaaaay,' and bringing all the side activities to a stand still.

It was Mikoshiba. Or at least it was a version of someone who had at one point been Mikoshiba before he was forced to listen to a perverse rendition of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer doing a couple of things to Santa that was probably illegal in major parts of the civilized world.

"This is…this is inhuman! I can't stand this anymore! I'm about to drown myself with this bottle of cola, sensei. Please make it stop!"

"There, there, Mikoshiba," said Kawato, pulling the almost frothing teenager to a sitting position and rubbing his back gently.

"Geez, talk about melodramatics," said Wakana with a huff. "Fine, fine, I'll give in my turn. You bunch of sissies."

"Thank the lord!" hailed Hiyama, and for once his words were not laden with sarcasm.

"My turn, nya!"

"What are you talking about; I'm clearly the best singer in the group. It's my turn!" said Sekikawa.

"Why don't you just sing a duet?" sighed Aniya exasperatedly. "Why don't we all just sing a duet? That way we can all go home earlier and never ever think of doing karaoke ever again!"

"Good plan, Aniya," said Kawato. "That's what we'll do, guys. Yufune and Sekikawa sing together; then Hiyama and Okada; third, Yagi and Mikoshiba then Aniya and Shinjo."

"I want Otsuka Ai's Sakuranbo, nya!"

"What? No way in hell I'm singing that pinky girl song. The Gazette, Taion. Now that's what you call music!"

"On what planet? It's just a bunch of growling, nya! Sakuranbo!"

"Taion!"

"Sakuranbo!"

"Taion!"

"Holy crap, just sing what the hell ever!" shouted Aniya. "I want to go home!"

"Just sing Pride by High and Mighty Colour," suggested Shinjo from his secluded corner. "Yufune can do Maki's part and Sekikawa can do Yuusuke's rap."

There was a moment of silence as Shinjo's words registered. Sekikawa considered his suggestion; the logic behind it far outweighed the utter weirdness of Shinjo giving them song choice advice.

"That sounds great, nya."

And so Sekikawa and Yufune sang. Yufune was able to keep a decent note throughout the song. Sekikawa sounded like someone strangling a cat.

"That was great, Yufune-kun!" said Yagi receiving his high-five. "Sekikawa…umm, you kept to the tempo."

Wakana snorted. "And you guys were ragging on me? Sekikawa sounds like he got his fly stuck in a zipper."

"Shut the hell up, Wakana. You're one to talk about bad singing."

"What did you say, bastard!"

"Okay, Hiyama and Okada next!" said Kawato with a clap, ignoring the tension brewing between Wakana and Hiyama. Tension was always brewing between the two.

"I'll pass," said Okada. He'd drawn a bull's-eye on Hiratsuka's forehead and was currently using his face for peanut target practice.

"Oh yeah! Listen up guys; this is going to be the most amazing performance you'll ever see."

"As long as it's better than your batting attempt," scoffed Wakana.

Surprisingly, Hiyama seemed to be in too good a mood to retort. He was keying in his song choice into the computer and a few second later some up-tempo song started up. It wasn't a song Kawato was familiar with, but everyone else seemed recognize. Yagi giggled, Aniya laughed, Shinjo looked amused. Even Wakana slapped a hand on his knee and guffawed out loud.

"Naruto Ondo!" sang Hiyama as the lyrics appeared on screen. He sang the first couple of verses before Yufune jumped up and joined him.

Before long Imaoka, Sekikawa joined them, having grabbed the two extra microphones that had previously been the occupants of Wakana's pants. They dragged along Yagi who did Sakura's part as a duet with Yufune.

Mikoshiba sang a long from his seat beside Kawato. Kawato wasn't familiar with the song, but he enjoyed seeing his students have fun. Even Aniya was smiling by this time and Shinjo had shifted from his secluded corner into the middle of the room.

Halfway through the song, during the conversation part, Hiyama stopped and said, "As long as you're singing backup…" he said, beckoning Wakana to join them up front and Wakana was only too happy to oblige.

"Now aren't we having fun?" said Kawato with a self satisfactory grin.

The song ended in laughter and backslaps as Wakana said the final, 'Rasengan!'

Kawato clapped. "That was great, you guys!"

"So next is Mikoshiba and Yagi, nya."

"I think I'll pass," said Mikoshiba. "Yagi, why don't you sing something?"

"I don't know," said Yagi. "It's going to be pretty bad."

"Please, after hearing Wakana, the sound of someone getting their shoulder popped back into socket would sound like music to our ears."

"Well…"

"Yagi, Yagi—" cheered Sekikawa as the other chimed in.

"Okay," said Yagi. "Don't get mad if it sounds horrible," she said, as she keyed in her song choice.

A soft piano music rang out before Yagi started singing. Her voice was soft and almost soothing. Compared to Wakana's singing it was so far from bad it could have been in another continent.

The text on the screen said 'Best Friend by Kiroro.'

Everyone was captivated by her singing. Even Okada was taking a time out from peanut launching at Hiratsuka's face to enjoy the performance; that was, everyone besides Aniya, who seemed almost pointedly looking everywhere besides Yagi's way.

Shinjo was the only one who really noticed it though, the small, fleeting glances she would shoot the inattentive Aniya's direction. This almost made Shinjo want to toss some peanuts in Aniya's direction. Maybe even a chair…or the karaoke monitor in front of them.

As the song slowly dwindled down to an end, everyone gave Yagi a standing ovation. Kawato almost had tears in his eyes.

"That was amazing, Yagi!"

"Thanks, guys," she said, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear.

"Okay, coming up next the most anticipated performance of the night!" said Sekikawa in the manner of a boxing match announcer. "Ladies, gentlemen and Kawato, I present to you…dun, dun, dun…Aniya Keiichi and Shinjo Kei! Yeeeeeah!"

Everyone whooped and cheered until Aniya steadied them with a glare.

"I'm doing T.M Revolution's Meteor," said Aniya

"Whatever," said Shinjo.

"I think you should do Seishun Amigo," said Yagi. "From Nobuta wo Produce. You remember, the drama we watched together last summer."

Aniya had a bug-eyed gaze and looked like he was about to leap over and clamp a hand over Yagi's mouth before she could do more damage. "Idiot, why the hell would I sing a song from that stupid show?"

"Well, you liked it when we watched it; the show and the song."

"No I didn't!"

"You borrowed the DVD from me after."

"Shut up, idiot!"

"Nobuta wo Produce?" asked Shinjo with a raised eyebrow.

"Shut up," growled Aniya. He then shouted back to Yagi, "As if Shinjo knows that song."

"I'm touched that you care about my feelings, Aniya. But don't worry; I'm familiar with the song."

"Since when did you start being on her side?"

"Since everything seems more amusing on that side of the fence."

"I hate you."

"The music's starting."

Aniya vowed never to go karaoke ever again.

Ten seconds into the song and everyone was silent. Sekikawa and Yufune were gawking. Hiyama and Wakana looked like deer caught in headlights. Okada's eyebrows currently resided in his hairline. Imaoka was in complete awe. Hiratsuka was still snoring. Kawato and Mikoshiba were doing near perfect impressions of a couple of guppies on dry land.

Shinjo was singing.

Shinjo was singing really, really well.

Hell, Shinjo was singing the song better than the people who originally sang it.

Even Aniya stopped in mid sentence to gape openly at Shinjo.

"Are you lip-synching?" asked Aniya skeptically. Someone tossed a half eaten bun at his head and told him to shush.

Shinjo ended up singing the whole song himself as everyone looked on in shocked awe.

"Holy cow," said Wakana as the song ended. "When did you start singing this good?"

Shinjo gave a disinterested shrug.

"Sing another song, Shinjo-san!" said Sekikawa.

"Yeah, Shinjo! The night's still young and our ears need nursing," said Okada. He'd finished two bowls of peanuts on Hiratsuka's face alone.

"Yes, Shinjo-kun. You're amazing!" cheered Yagi. Aniya pouted a little at this. "You were great too, Kei-ch-Aniya-kun. Why did you stop?" added Yagi when she saw the crease on Aniya's forehead.

Almost like an inflating balloon, she could see the way his shoulders and ego expanded in unison.

"I'll let Shinjo have his time to shine. I'll shine on the baseball pitch," he said.

Shinjo coughed.

"Come on, Shinjo-san. Encore! Encore! Encore!"

"If I do this, would you guys leave me alone about it?"

"Sure thing, Shinjo," said Hiyama unconvincingly.

"Fine."

The screen lit up as the title of the song came on; Tachitsukusu Kanata by some guy called Shirota Yuu.

Shinjo ended up singing five songs that night, and the karaoke session only ended because he'd walked out without a word.

Everyone left the karaoke lounge in leaping spirits but still in complete awe at this unexpected side of Shinjo they'd never seen before.

No one saw Hiratsuka for the duration of the weekend. Turns out, he'd developed an allergy rash because of all the peanuts he'd been wearing that night.

The end.

A/N: If you want the songs mentioned, I have the story posted on my Livejournal with download links. Just let me know.