I love modern AUs. This is me just bringing my AU dish to the AU potluck. Please enjoy!
For all intents and purposes Konoha is NYC. I've never visited NYC so please excuse any mistakes in my references and for my lack of abiding by the Big Apple's nuances that only personal experience can help you do.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, but I do own a violin ^_^
Itachi's dark eyes landed dubiously on the tickets his cousin Shisui just tossed on his desk.
"This is the event?" he asked, picking them up and inspecting them more closely.
"Yeah. Hope you didn't have a date or something else going on tonight. You're aware how important this client is. You have to go."
Itachi spared rolling his eyes at Shisui's "date" comment and merely lifted a brow at his last statement. Shisui fastened a pointed look at him in response before sliding back out his office door.
Itachi saw that the venue was Miller Theater at Columbia University. He then saw the price of the event.
It was genius of Shisui, really, to snag these tickets, but was it really worth $464 each? He's paid less for first-row-center ice seats at a Ranger's playoff game.
Itachi glanced at the performers' name. The Melting Pot. He had never heard of them, but the man whom they were courting for a business venture supposedly really liked this band. Itachi wondered if this didn't win the man over as a client, would flying him to Fiji on an all-paid vacation do the job?
But really, was paying almost thirteen-hundred-dollars, plus tax, food and drinks for one meet-up with a potential client and the risk of, in the end, the man not accepting their law-firm's services worth it? Itachi thought it was ridiculous, but couldn't argue the boost their firm would receive from placing the man's name on their list of clientele if it all worked out. Their firm was one of the most prestigious and established in Konoha, so adding a millionaire stock broker would only enhance their notoriety.
Itachi glanced at the clock. It was just after one. He had to meet with a group in Manhattan at 3:30. The event started at eight.
After coordinating with Shisui that he would meet him and the client downtown for dinner at six-thirty, Itachi decided to go grab a lunch when he realized he hadn't eaten yet. When he returned to his office he figured he had almost an hour to work on another new client's Blue Sky filings until he had to go to his meeting later.
The meeting, which took place in the Konoha Marriott Marquis hotel's conference room, was essentially a touch-base kind of get together - that Itachi found was a waste of his time - and he was thankful for his foresight to bring his laptop with him. He went to the lounge, got a scotch, and continued to work. At quarter-to-six he hailed a cab to take him to the restaurant. They hopped onto Broadway and went north all the way to Columbus Circle. He was meeting Shisui and their client at the Japanese restaurant Masa, which Itachi greatly approved of. Masa was one of the best places to eat Sushi in Konoha as far as he was concerned.
Since it was rush hour, on Broadway no less, it took them the forty-five minutes Itachi allotted himself to reach his destination, though it was only twelve blocks away from the hotel. He loved this city, but one of the many trade-offs was fighting through traffic, at any hour, to get where you're going. He did own several cars but never drove them through the city. The only time he would indulge in his favorite, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, would be to drive out of the city, like when he wanted to go up to his cabin. The firm he worked for had chauffeurs designed to pick you up from your residence and take you to work, but Itachi was simple in his wants. He craved his independence, so he got himself to work every day on his own dime, utilizing the wondrous transportation system of Konoha that was the cab driver.
The cabbie had a difficult time maneuvering his vehicle through the many human bodies traveling the pathways of the circle. It was obvious to Itachi who among them were the tourists. They looked all around themselves in awe, marveling at the strange new sights. Also, the flashing and flicking of cameras was a dead giveaway. He guessed it was a little unfortunate that Masa was located in Columbus Circle on the southwest corner of Central Park, two of Konoha's most famous landmarks. Tourists naturally congregate in this area, and the glee on their faces was clear, especially in light of Christmas being a few short weeks away; the circle and the Park were decorated in the spirit of the holidays.
Finally they pulled up to the restaurant. Itachi gave the man the fare and stepped out onto the street. It was the typical near freezing temperatures of Konoha in early December and Itachi watched his breath cloud around his mouth as he expelled a huge sigh. He wondered if Shisui was already there. Glancing at his watch, he decided to go wait inside. Like himself, Shisui was perfectly punctual and had probably already arrived and procured a table, or was just about to arrive since it was exactly six-thirty.
After giving his name to the maître d' he was escorted to where Shisui was sitting. His cousin was looking over the menu and spoke after Itachi handed off his coat and sat down.
"Right on time, as where our client is not," Shisui commented a little sourly.
"He's not a client yet," Itachi corrected, absently looking out the window and watching the passer-byes with disinterest. He already knew what he wanted to order. Moments later their waitress came over with the drinks Shisui apparently ordered. A slim bottle of Shōchū was placed next to his serving cup, then next came the pot of oolong tea Itachi liked to mix with it. Shisui decided to go the more less-concentrated route and ordered sake. The waitress, as per custom, poured the first servings of their beverages then left.
"Kampai." Shisui held up his cup to Itachi, took a drink, then continued speaking. "It's pretty much a shoo-in. He called us and has already expressed a lot of interest."
Itachi couldn't argue with Shisui that they were likely going to sign the potential client on, but Itachi appreciated his cousin's thoroughness, nonetheless. This dinner and the extracurricular activity at the Miller was one of the reasons why Itachi preferred to work with Shisui. He did his job and did it well.
"What's the man's name again?"
"Hatake. Hatake Kakashi."
Itachi's brows rose. He was very well-acquainted with the name.
Shisui caught his expression and nodded affirmatively. "His firm is already involved in three hedge funds and he manages one of them. He's coming to us to start another."
"What about his current employ of attorneys? Why isn't he making use of them on a new venture?"
"The man doesn't like to put all of his eggs in one basket."
Itachi nodded favorably. Spoken like a true investor.
"Hey," Shisui said, his sudden change in tone getting Itachi's attention. "Will you lighten up, man? You're gonna scare the guy away." Shisui chuckled lightly.
"I still don't understand why you brought me here. You could have contacted his administrators and his manager and they're people could have contacted our people." Itachi put heavy emphasis on the 'you.' Once again, this was a waste-of-time type of meeting.
Shisui rolled his eyes. "You still don't get it do you? All you have to do is google this guy and you'd know exactly why he's so important," he stated unnecessarily. Anyone who was involved in the investing realm knew exactly who Hatake Kakashi was. "He says he knows us. Well, he knows of us."
"Who doesn't know of the Uchiha?" Itachi retorted, his tone taking on an edge of annoyance. He wasn't trying to sound arrogant, but anyone who wasn't aware of the name Uchiha has either been holed up in a remote village doing missionary work for the past century or seriously ignorant.
"You know what I mean. He knows you're one of the best in this field and even said so. That's why I wanted you on this with me." There was a short pause. "Man, ever since you and Michiko broke up you've had a stick up your ass."
Perfect timing Itachi thought bitterly, wondering why Shisui had a knack for bringing up his ex at the worst possible moments. If Shisui wanted him to 'lighten up' he was sure going about its achievement in the worst way.
"What's Mei doing tonight?" Itachi asked as a deliberate subject change.
Shisui heaved a sigh, knowing the topic of Itachi's long-term ex-fiancée was no longer allowed to be discussed at any length. "She's at that housewarming party tonight."
"You weren't invited?" Itachi asked with a snicker in his voice. He knew very well Shisui was invited, but conveniently had a client meeting that contradicted with those plans.
"It's Ao's," was all Shisui said, and Itachi's smile was wan and dry in response. When Shisui got the invitation a few weeks ago he let Itachi know exactly what he thought about the guy.
"You can't complain," Itachi said unsympathetically, pouring his tea into the cup to mix with the Shōchū. "You know they've been friends for a long time, even before you two got married."
"Yeah, well, that doesn't mean I have to like the guy," Shisui muttered, turning away. Itachi got the clue; that conversation was over.
"He's here," Shisui said suddenly.
Itachi turned and craned his neck to see a man with brilliant and artfully disarrayed silver hair and a black suit he recognized as Armani come strolling towards them. Itachi almost frowned. If it wasn't for what he was wearing he wouldn't think the man was a multimillion dollar broker, investor and hedge fund manager for one of the most renown firms in the world. His gait was slouched, almost appearing bored, and walked casually with one hand loosely tucked in one pocket and the other was holding what appeared to be a Nokia Vertu luxury phone. Hatake was reading from it as he walked.
Shisui stood and Itachi followed suit. When the man reached their table Itachi caught him sniggering at something he was reading. Then he pressed a few buttons and put the phone in his pocket.
"Hatake-san, it's nice to finally meet you," Shisui greeted graciously, but still maintaining a business-like tone. He held his hand out.
"Ah, just call me Kakashi," the man responded amiably, returning the handshake.
Shisui chuckled. "Alright Kakashi, I'm Shisui and this is my partner and cousin, Itachi," he said, gesturing towards him. Itachi's eye twitched a little. He could introduce himself for god's sake.
He shook hands with the peculiar gentlemen and noted the gleam in Kakashi's dark eyes. "Yes, yes. It's nice to meet both of you." His tone and expression said that he already knew about Shisui and Itachi on some level, just as Shisui suggested.
"Likewise," Itachi said as they all sat down. Not a second later the waitress returned to get Kakashi's drink order.
"Listen," Kakashi said as soon as the waitress turned to leave. "I understand this meeting was more for pleasantries and a pretense of sniffing each others' asses to see if we're agreeable, but I already know I want your help on my next hedge. I've already informed my manager and they'll be contacting you next week," Kakashi said in his voice that matched his almost-bored demeanor.
Itachi couldn't help his eyes widening a little. The man sure knew what he wanted.
"Excellent!" Shisui smiled enthusiastically. "Well, as it were, I already have your offering documents...you know, just in case...and we can get the ball rolling."
Kakashi nodded approvingly. "Great. I'll sign them and forward them onto my manager. You know, I've lived in this city my entire life and I've never eaten at this restaurant. So, what's good here?"
Itachi was somewhat dumbfounded. So that was it? No selling of the firm's reputation? No convincing that they'll do a great job? Shisui seemed equally astonished, but quickly shook it off, like if he pondered on it for too long then Kakashi's resolute decision would vanish.
The rest of the dinner was spent discussing the minutiae of what he and Shisui would be handling. They would meet with the manager, go over some of the more logistical items that were ever-changing in this field, and then they could start trading the funds. That was the fun part, because then Itachi was responsible for a plethora of different things, such as drafting letter agreements to the other investors involved, filing 13Fs, preparing the manager for the commodity pool operator audits, etc. It was all a part of the job and Itachi loved it.
"Are either of you involved in your own hedges?" Kakashi asked, pouring Shisui's sake and then Itachi's Shōchū before topping off his glass of Sapporo. Itachi admired the man's class. He may drink beer in what could be considered a relatively important business meeting, but won't swig from the bottle. And he was pouring their drinks, contradictory to business custom. Itachi already knew he would like working with this man.
Itachi was rather taken aback by the whole experience. The three of them hit it off immediately. It was almost like three buddies going out for a drink and dinner rather than three professionals making a business transaction. Kakashi had a laid back personality that seemed to make the world around them automatically slow down, like they were secluded in their own bubble of obliviousness. Itachi discerned that was the power behind the infamous Hatake Kakashi. It wasn't the suit, the expensive phone or seemingly compulsive need to act in charge like many people with a lot of money demonstrate, but the subtle yet effective way of his carriage. He was confident, aloof yet still presenting an intelligent mind to the conversation without being truculent or overbearing.
"I am, but Itachi's not," Shisui responded.
Kakashi looked over to Itachi questioningly. "Why is that?"
"Personal preference. I conduct all of my own investing."
"Is that so?" Kakashi asked incredulously.
Itachi wondered why he seemed so surprised, but shrugged. "Sure. Besides being an attorney, investing is sort of a hobby of mine."
"Hm," Kakashi said, taking a long drink of his beer. "I find investing more than simply a hobby. How do you find the time?"
As if Itachi's phone heard Kakashi's question, the tell-tale ding of a stock update got his attention. Itachi pulled it out and checked the stats quickly before putting it away.
"When does he have time for anything else?" Shisui answered for him. It was a rather irritating habit of his since he was the older cousin and all.
Itachi stiffened ever-so-slightly. Shisui's statement hit a certain chord within him, but he quickly dismissed it.
Kakashi chuckled. "I'll say. And you said you're involved in hedge, though?" he asked, directing his inquiry to Shisui.
"Yeah. I co-op with the mayor, another cousin of ours, and a NHL player."
"No shit," Kakashi said, almost spitting out his beverage. "Mayor Tsunade?"
Shisui nodded, smiling.
"I honestly can't say whether I'm happy for you or feel sorry for you."
Shisui laughed while Itachi shook his head knowingly.
"Eh, lets just say it has its moments, but we've been successful so far."
"Well, here's to more successful endeavors," Kakashi lifted his cup and they all cheered.
Despite his unwillingness to participate in the meeting Itachi was very pleased with its outcome. Itachi felt like they met all of the expectations and criteria that typically should be met in these types of meetings. He had a nice, warm buzz while he suspected Kakashi was leaning more toward the tipsy end of the scale. They all received their coats and hopped in a cab that was, once again, going along the Broadway traffic towards Columbia University.
"I've never heard of the band we're seeing tonight," Itachi admitted, watching the hoards of people walk along the street, looking freezing in the wintry weather.
"Well, it's not a band, per se," Kakashi said, a slight slur in his voice. "It's more like a group of people that get together and play tributes."
Itachi blinked. What? They were paying over $450 a ticket to see something that couldn't even be classified as a band perform songs that other bands have performed?
"It's not as lame as it sounds," Kakashi swooped in, attempting to mitigate Itachi's obvious disbelief. "They're really good."
"They'd better be," Itachi mumbled. Kakashi, in his near-drunken state must have not heard him but Shisui did. He felt his cousin's elbow hit his arm.
The same discontent he was experiencing before the meeting was creeping back in. Now that it was confirmed Kakashi would be working with them, Itachi wondered if it would be considered rude if he backed out of going to see the band now. He'd rather skip this and go home to spend the rest of the evening working on his other cases, but Shisui would probably tear him another so he decided to just endure it.
When they arrived to the theater there was already a long line extending all the way around the block, waiting to get inside. This piqued Itachi's interest and gave him some semblance of hope. If this many people were coming out for this thing than the performers had to be half-decent, right?
Luckily, the tickets Shisui purchased granted them automatic VIP status and not only did they not have to wait in that incredibly long line but they were sitting at tables set up down in the orchestra pit right next to the stage. Either this was very good or very bad. They had a front-and-center viewing of either a really lousy performance or a really great one. Time would tell.
Walking to their seats Itachi took notice of the stage that was covered with various musical instruments. A huge grand piano took up much of stage left. Two sets of drums, several keyboards, a group of neatly arranged electric guitars all gleaming and pristine, and a few instruments he would have never considered, like those that people who play in an orchestra might use: a few violins, cellos and bases. Also, those that you would see in a marching band: saxophones, trumpets, trombones and others he didn't know the names of. He was shocked to even see a set of steel pans that would normally be used to Calypso music in the Caribbean.
There were microphones galore. He could see them standing upright in the back and edges of the stage, the metal glinting off the bright light of the auditorium. There were a few scattered in the front where the performers would take place. There were a few things Itachi saw that made him tilt his head in question. Propped up next to the mics near the front of the stage were what appeared to be teleprompter type machines; a computer screen placed on a platform being held up by a skinny black pole. There were four of them by the mics and others off to the edges of the stage, as well. Itachi wondered briefly what those were to be used for.
Lastly, opposite the grand piano as if being on the other side of the stage from the large classical instrument was demonstrating their uses on the other end of the musical spectrum, sat turn tables and a synthesizer.
They found their table, sat down, and Itachi was pleased to see that, again, because of the tickets and seating they were going to be served drinks instead of having to go to the bar. Starting off with a tab - which probably wasn't going to bode too well for Kakashi sooner or later - Itachi ordered a Heinekin, Shisui a Bud Light, and Kakashi a Long Island Tea.
The place was already packed with people filling all of the accompanying tables surrounding them, and Itachi glanced up at the seating behind them and then the standing room that was the balcony. Kakashi followed his line of sight.
"It won't take long for the mob to start tearing it up, up there," he said tipping his forehead in their direction.
Itachi was surprised that they would place the standing room in the back instead of where they were currently located. And then Itachi wondered why they would start 'tearing it up' as Kakashi stated. What kind of music was this sort-of band going to play? Itachi didn't quite know what to expect, but wasn't really in the mood to see or hear some serious thrashing and head-banging music tonight. He briefly considered checking out the kind-of band on his phone but didn't want to appear bored with his company or rude.
Their waitress returned shortly carrying a wicker basket. She placed three scraps of paper and three pencils on their table.
"Alright gentlemen, are any of you familiar with how things work with the Melting Pot?" she asked.
Kakashi nodded eagerly. "Yes, I am, but they are not."
"Okay," she said, divvying up her attention between Itachi and Shisui. "Write your requests here on the sheet of paper and the band will try to play it tonight. It's that simple. You don't have to put your name down, unless you want to. It's kind of pointless anyways because the band doesn't read who requested the song aloud."
"What kind of request?" Itachi asked, taking the piece of paper and leaving his pencil suspended above it. Kakashi was already jotting his down.
The waitress made a face. "Anything you want."
This only confused Itachi more. "What genre does the band have proclivity in?"
At first the waitress answered his question with a flat stare, then she said, "Anything," real emphatically.
"This band will seriously play any song requested...from any genre...any era...literally anything," Kakashi broke in. "See?" he said, holding his paper up. Itachi read "Spoonman" by Soundgarden.
Itachi wondered how that was possible. A group of people that weren't really a band having the ability to play...anything?
"The thing is you have to put down a song that you think will trip them up. Something that they won't know, but chances are they already know," the waitress said, placing her free hand on her hip in a display of impatience. Her posture was radiating with, 'Hurry it up!'
Well that sure made things a whole hell of a lot more interesting. That was probably why there was a vast array of instruments available...and it just occurred to Itachi the use of the teleprompters; for the band members that didn't know a song. Was it possible that the computer contained music to every song that existed? It was certainly implausible.
He considered asking Shisui what he was writing, but then thought it would be more fun to guess later on if it was played. With a few moments of thought he wrote down one of his favorite songs and threw the little piece of paper into the basket, handing the pencil back to the waitress. When all were collected she turned without a word and went to the next table.
The three men spoke casually amongst themselves and Kakashi, the first one to need another drink, ordered a Blue Moon. Itachi hadn't realized, despite the size of the crowd, how subdued it was until the lights suddenly dimmed significantly and it seemed the entire theater abruptly erupted into cheers and applause, signifying the start of the performance.
People scrambled about to take their seats, then the theater went almost dark and a single spotlight flashed on the stage. As if the raucous sounds of the crowd wasn't enough, it went positively deafening when a lone figure started to make their way out. It was a woman and she stepped up the mic and adjusted it to her level, waving to the audience and grinning hugely.
Shisui leaned over to Itachi and yelled in his ear, "Is she kidding with that hair!"
Indeed, it was quite an unusual color. Pink. But not punk-rocker hot pink. A softer, more subtle pink. Shisui's comment insinuated dislike. Itachi thought it looked natural and suited the woman. She was wearing a pair of black boots that went to mid-thigh with extremely thin and dangerous looking heals covering a pair of jeans. Her top was sleeveless and wine colored. Her long pink hair was styled fashionably in waves that fell over her shoulders and was adorned with a white flower above her left ear. She wore deep red lipstick. Only one word came to mind in regards to the woman now standing before him on stage: lovely. But even then he was sure that one word was painfully inadequate.
"Hello! Welcome to the Miller Theater!" she intoned passionately into the mic.
She was about to say something else but the crowd's overzealous enthusiasm overshadowed her and she waited until it quieted some.
"If you're not here to see the weekly performance of the Melting Pot, please don't be hasty in your escape! We have something that everyone will enjoy! For those of you who are familiar with what happens, you know that we're basically a group of misfit musicians that like to get together and bang our pots and pans for your entertainment and ours! The way it works is you ask us to play a song and we try our best to get it done!"
The crowd, swelling and humming with excitement, shouted with enlivened exuberance.
"We play all kinds of music, from Metallica to Justin Bieber, from opera to rap, and play any instrument from the guitar to water glasses!"
There was another explosion of merriment from the audience.
"There are a few rules, however..." the woman trailed off in acting ominousness, the crowd's decibel levels lowering in tandem. "One, we didn't pick the songs...you guys did...so please refrain from booing and tomato throwing if there's a particular selection that is unfavorable to you..." She said this with another winning smile and a mocking lilt so it was evidently in jest.
"Two, it's inevitable that a crowd this large will request the same song or multiple songs from the same artist. For the sake of diversity and fairness we collect said songs then pick randomly from the pile. We only play one song from each artist. We apologize beforehand if your requested song does not get played. Also, the last rule is...enough with the Lady Gaga requests, please!"
Everyone collectively laughed and cheered all the louder and the woman bowed slightly.
"We're the Melting Pot and hope you enjoy the show!"
She walked off the stage and in Itachi's periphery he saw Kakashi staring determinedly after her. He turned to face him completely and the man was practically drooling in his lap.
Before Itachi had a moment to process this revelation, the stage was suddenly being occupied. People were picking up instruments right and left, and his eyes automatically scanned the little group for...
There she was, walking over to the...guitars!...She strapped it on herself and strummed, testing whether the instrument was in tune or not, Itachi guessed. Various matchless and discordant sounds echoed throughout the theater as the other performers did the same with their own instruments. He watched, riveted, as she smiled to herself in satisfaction and sauntered directly the mic she spoke into only moments before...the lead mic.
"I love you, Sakura!" Itachi heard to his left and he looked over. "Sakura, you're the best!"
It was a group of women sitting a table over, standing along with many of the other patrons in the seating area, cheering, clapping and throwing their hands in the air, like at a concert. That's what it felt like to Itachi...like he was at a concert.
He glanced back up to the stage. Sakura. A namesake for her hair, he surmised. He wondered if that was her real name or just a stage moniker.
The lead singer...Sakura...leaned into the mic. "I'm sure most of you will recognize this first song without any introduction..." She stepped away and looked behind her to see if the others were ready. "One, two, three, four...!"
The band burst into the first bars of what sounded like an alternative-rock song. At first Itachi wasn't familiar with it, but then knew immediately when Sakura started singing.
"I'm in the business of misery...lets take it from the top!...she's got a body like an hourglass that's ticking like a clock...!"
Itachi couldn't help but be impressed. She really knew how to rock out! She wasn't shy about it either. She played and sang like she wrote the song herself, bobbing her head at the appropriate times, twisting and turning her body as it fit the song. She made her entire performance, from playing the guitar to singing look and sound incredibly easy and effortless.
Itachi looked over and saw Kakashi really enjoying the show. He suddenly remembered that Kakashi had been to this performance before and liked the band. Itachi leaned over to get his attention and Kakashi complied.
"Who is she?" Itachi had to yell over the din of the music. He pointed up to the stage, but he was sure Kakashi knew whom he was referring to.
"That's Haruno Sakura! She's amazing! She can play every instrument known to man! I've seen her even sit at the drums before! She's great! Another time I was here she even played the dueling violin in the Devil Comes Back to Georgia!" Kakashi threw his head back and laughed. Itachi laughed, too, picturing it in his mind.
He felt Shisui besides him and then his other ear was occupied with the sound of his voice. "Is that who I think it is!" he asked Itachi, incredulity lacing his tone.
He was pointing up to the stage, like Itachi had, but didn't have a clue at what.
"Who?" he yelled at Shisui.
Itachi's eyes found the transparent circular shape that was the bass drum and he studied the crazy man going wild behind it. His blonde hair flew all around as he pounded away. He had a cloth wrapped around his forehead that looked peculiarly like a ninja headband.
"Is that...?" Shisui queried.
"Uzumaki...!" Itachi responded.
"Yeah!" Kakashi called, over-hearing their conversation. "He's known as the drumming ninja!" Kakashi laughed again.
Well that explained the headband.
"We know him!" Itachi yelled back. "He is friends with my brother!"
Kakashi shot him a look with raised brows. "Small world!" he shouted back.
Itachi hadn't seem him in years. Ever since Sasuke moved to Los Angeles he hadn't communicated with his brother as often as he used to, but he never talked about Uzumaki. He wondered if they were still friends.
The remainder of the song was spent with Itachi watching Sakura like a car aficionado seeing their first Vanquish. In another word, she was amazing, just as Kakashi said. Itachi tried to guess her age. She looked young, but not too young. Mid to upper twenties perhaps? With the similar way Kakashi was eying her Itachi didn't want to be too obvious and ask him if he knew how old she was. He wondered what Kakashi's age was. Shisui probably knew. Kakashi had to be at least forty, since Itachi was aware that he's been in investing for at least ten years. He glanced at Kakashi surreptitiously through the corner of his eye. He looked too old to be a likely candidate for Haruno Sakura...
And Itachi had to balk at his own thoughts. He looked back up at the pink-haired performer and then back at Kakashi next to him. Was he really just sizing Kakashi up to see who was a comparable person for her?
Itachi shook his head minutely, disgusted with himself. There were too many levels of wrong with this whole scenario. For one, he had never met Sakura, and two, Kakashi and himself were business partners now. Itachi was the hired help. If Kakashi was interested in Sakura then for the sake of his professional relationship with the man it wouldn't be prudent for Itachi to step in the way.
He shook his head again. This was insane.
He looked back up at Sakura and his eyes scanned her face, her neck, the swell of her breasts just above the guitar she was holding, her shapely hips, her long legs he was sure were slim and feminine inside those ridiculous boots.
"You okay, man?" he distantly heard Shisui ask in his ear.
When Itachi didn't answer right away, his cousin prompted with, "Hello?"
It was after another few moments of discombobulated thoughts that Itachi finally turned toward Shisui. The look Itachi saw in his eye and on his face was not appreciated.
"What?" Itachi asked irritably.
"Nothing," Shisui said in return, the quirk of his mouth blooming into a full blown smile.
"You're an ass," Itachi told him, to which Shisui responded by laughing. It sounded a little too maniacal for Itachi's liking.
At this point the song had ended and ear-splitting hoots, hollers, 'woo-hoos!', and whistles gushed from the rest of the audience. Itachi stubbornly kept his eyes on the stage as his cousin continued.
"She's cute, ain't she?" he asked in a nonchalant voice that was anything but. Itachi didn't answer. There was only one person in the world that read him too easily, and that was the man seated next to him with the same last name. Shisui was just a few years older so they were naturally close their entire lives. They had experienced everything together. They were best friends, and at times Itachi was nothing but grateful for that fact, but at other times, like now, he loathed it.
"I didn't know you liked the color pink so much," Shisui said in another casual tone. Itachi ignored him.
The stage was being set up for the next song. People were switching places and a man this time was now standing at the mic Sakura had just occupied, holding his own guitar. She stood behind one of the keyboards, Uzumaki stayed at the drums, but others disappeared from the stage and others came on to replace them. Itachi watched with great interest as Uzumaki started up a conversation with Sakura, as the keyboards were closer to him. In response to whatever he said her laugh was full of mirth.
Itachi couldn't help but feel a little...envious?
It was a foreign feeling for him. Not many times in his life did he ever feel like he wanted something someone else had. Perhaps covetous was the correct word. He frowned as he watched Uzumaki interact with Sakura and she kept laughing along with him.
"Maybe our boy Naruto can get you an introduction," Shisui commented offhandedly, taking a swig of his beer.
Itachi's teeth ground together. He wished his cousin wasn't so observant.
What was left on stage was Uzumaki at the drums, Sakura on the keyboards, a rhythm guitarist, a base guitarist, a lead guitarist that was standing at a mic, and a background singer holding a tambourine, also standing at a mic.
"For you Fleetwood Mac fans...this is "Go Your Own Way!"" the man spoke into the mic and the crowd went wild again as the music started.
"Are you talking about Sakura over there?" Kakashi piped in. It was Itachi's luck his other companion was also observant.
"Yeah, Itachi-" Shisui began to say but abruptly stopped when he saw the glare cast his way from his little cousin.
"Ah, well, I know what you mean," Kakashi said. "But she's untouchable."
Itachi hated feeling disappointment at that statement. He presented an indifferent countenance towards the conversation, but was actually really curious as to why she was "untouchable."
Thankfully, as if Kakashi could read his mind, he said, "It's not because she's with someone or anything. Trust me. I tried to figure this out myself. But she's a mystery. She's just not...interested in anyone."
That was good to know, Itachi guessed, but it still didn't satiate his need for understanding.
"She's in the music biz, right?" Shisui asked rhetorically. "She's probably really busy, ya know, traveling around and stuff." He shrugged.
"Well, she only plays with the Melting Pot once a month, but I presume she is busy with all of the other stuff she does," Kakashi added.
What Kakashi was saying was not fulfilling Itachi's desire to know more about this apparently enigmatic Sakura, but provoking his curiosity further.
"Other stuff she does?" he asked.
"Oh yeah!" Kakashi said with great flair, as if knowing what he was saying would finally make Itachi join the discussion. "She's very involved in the music scene in this city. She's apart of a lot of different organizations and does - well, I guess you could call it free-lancing, but she also does performances for like weddings, anniversaries...you know, stuff like that."
Itachi was skeptical of the truthfulness of Kakashi's information, considering his state of sobriety, or lack thereof, but that meant Itachi had to get to the bottom of things himself. He was, once again, feeling a little - or maybe more than a little - jealous that Kakashi seemed very well-acquainted with Sakura.
The next hour whizzed by as Itachi, pretending to be into the music, was really lost in his own thoughts. He vaguely noticed the change of the stage sets to accommodate the next songs, the switching places of the various performers, and the songs themselves. A rap song was played, another punk rock song, Kakashi's requested song was performed, a country song, an Adele song, and even a Justin Bieber song. The crowd, made up of only 21's and over, both groaned and cheered en masse with that selection.
It wasn't until Sakura came back out (she was absent the last three performances) and she walked up to the mic that Itachi was back at full attention. The other band members were still getting ready for the next song.
"Whoever requested this next song...I love you," she said softly but with a huge grin, then she quietly walked off the stage. She passed a man with an acoustic guitar strapped to him and lightly touched his shoulder. Itachi's brow dipped, perplexed. Wasn't she performing the song?
The stage lights all dimmed and the man who was apparently singing stepped up to the mic and was basked in the glow of the only visible spotlight.
"This is "Daydream" originally sung and performed by Lovin' Spoonful," the man said and started strumming the first chords.
Itachi's heart started to drum faster in his chest. The person whoever wrote this song down on a little piece of paper was loved...by Sakura.
"Hey! You requested this song, didn't you?" Shisui asked, laughing and clapping Itachi on the back. Shisui knew of Itachi's love for oldies. "I guess it's fate then, right?" Shisui laughed again, very amused.
His entire life Itachi wasn't completely convinced of God's, or a god's existence. He was a very practical man and believed when you row hard for the shore, you are what gets you there. There are circumstances and experiences in life, however, that may prove the work of a Higher power, or Providence, or karma...one of which was this moment. Itachi believed that fate - as Shisui appropriately suggested - or a life force bigger than himself was pulling the strings here, and now he couldn't stand back and do nothing with such an obvious sign. Internally, he raised his glass to the Higher Power in thanks for the opportunity. Itachi had spent the last hour all but convincing himself that he was being nonsensical in considering Sakura, but now he knew it was his turn to finish rowing towards the shoreline after this little push.
"Great choice," Kakashi nodded in commendation.
Itachi nodded back in silent acknowledgement. It was one of his favorites. Now being back to strategizing, maybe he could make Sakura aware that he was the one who wanted the song played. He supposed someone else may have written it down, but it was unlikely.
When the song was over, surprisingly, another of Itachi's favorites was performed. The stage remained dark, and four figures emerged into the spotlight with four cellos in hand. Itachi blinked in surprise when Sakura was among them.
"Woo-hoo!" Shisui cried, fist-pumping the air, joining the liveliness of the rest of the crowd.
Itachi leaned over toward his cousin. "Yours?" he asked.
"Hell yeah!" Shisui proclaimed with another fist-pump.
The quartet sat down on the chairs provided for them and began tuning except for Sakura. There was one mic left on the stage and she leaned into it.
"This is "Nothing Else Matters" originally created and performed by Metallica. We're performing Apocalyptica's rendition."
With that, Itachi watched as one of the other cellists started plucking at the strings. He had heard the song before but only Metallica's version. He was eager, and not just because it was Sakura playing, to hear this arrangement.
Just like the original, the song was melancholic, mellow and straining in emotion. The audience quieted accordingly except for a few random cheers or whistles by individuals.
Itachi was completely transfixed. Sakura was talented, that was obvious from the first song she played, but it never occurred to him the magnitude of her musical abilities. She played all kinds of instruments tonight, but watching her rock out with this particular instrument - a cello, no less...Itachi didn't think he had seen anything sexier.
All around him cell phones were flipped open or turned on and the entire theater was swaying with dots of glowing light. The ambiance it created was ethereal. Shisui and Kakashi joined in with their own devices and for the first time that night his older cousin stood with many others in the crowd. Itachi was also moved by the emotion of the music and he was compelled to his feet, as well.
When the song ended it seemed the entire assembly was standing, clapping and cheering. The group bowed and waved to the crowd before making their ways off stage; everyone except Sakura. She laid her cello on its side on the stage floor and stepped up to the mic.
"We have one last song for you tonight. I hope you had as great of a time as we did. Thanks for coming and have a good night."
The mood of the evening with the last song had tempered the atmosphere and instead of loud yelling and applause there was only light chatter as Sakura went over to the grand piano and sat down, the spot light following her. Itachi watched her intently as she got comfortable, placing her hands on the keys and her feet on the pedals. She sat in thought for just a few moments before she took a deep breath and started playing.
The crowd, once again, broke out into spirited applause and cheering. Itachi recognized the song right away.
"Some people live for the fortune...some people live just for the fame..."
Her performance was fervent and stirring and she seemed to have broken off into her own world, like she wasn't playing in front of a crowd of hundreds but was by herself. She hadn't opened her eyes since the first note rang out. Her body swayed to the rhythm of the music and she shook her head passionately, as if touched by what was happening to her. Her voice was the perfect soprano; clear, controlled and at the right times rising with passion. She hit every note correctly with utter confidence. It was one of the best live performances Itachi had ever seen.
He had never heard of this woman before. Why wasn't she on the front page of Rolling Stone and at the top of the Billboard charts? When Kakashi used the word 'mystery' that didn't even begin to describe it. Now, more than ever, he wanted to get to know the beauty in front of him.
When the song ended everyone stood, hands coming together heartily, cries and shouts of pleased declaration, and whistles of delight ringing through the air. In his periphery Itachi saw Kakashi place two fingers in his mouth and let out his own whistle.
The dichotomy of how he felt now between how he felt earlier about this whole event was almost completely mind-blowing. To think he wanted to skip this!
The whole ensemble came out onto the stage. Itachi counted 22 performers, many of them of varying ethnic backgrounds, which accounted for being able to play the different genres. Itachi couldn't picture Sakura rapping to Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass."
All of them stood across the front of the stage, holding hands or with their arms around the people next to them. As one they took a bow and the audience continued with expressing their opinion of the performances.
Shisui leaned over to him and spoke in his ear again. "What do you say about getting Uzumaki to introduce you to Pinkie up there?"
*Imagining Itachi, Kakashi and Shisui in power suits*
Anyone out there a Justin Bieber fan? Anyone?
*cricket sounds ensue*
Is it possible for musicians to be able to play requested songs on the spot? In my story it is :p
I have a few musician friends that seem to know EVERYTHING there is to know about music and makes my very limited knowledge look downright pitiful. Eh.
Let me know what you think of my little experiment here! I love love love reviews...just as much as I love Apocalyptica playing "Nothing Else Matters."