He didn't know much about The Empress, other than he was hired to play in one of her performances. The weeks leading up to the debut were brutal, the diva's demands for perfection keeping the entire production later and later with each passing night.

"She's crazy, but I'd do her." Aomine remarked during a cigarette break.

Shintarou had looked at him with appall but Kise was quick to jump in with a reproachful Aominecchi! In a way, however, Shintarou understood, even if his own fantasies weren't so completely vulgar. Her diva status was well-deserved, her stage-persona a mysterious and exotic one that drew crowds of spectators and sold out shows. Off-stage, she was as terrifying as she was alluring, presence undiminished. The gaze of her slanted, mismatched eyes was disconcerting and full of appraisal, a look that seemed to deem all unfit to look upon her. Shintarou found himself shifting his gaze to the ground whenever he met the pierce of those powerful eyes.

She spoke to no one but the production manager, who conveyed her needs, her dissatisfaction, and Shintarou wondered if it was to preserve her voice.

Opening night starts off well. Shintarou is an experienced enough pianist that he is little else beyond a bit restless, high off of the energy of the band and a vocally engaged audience.

Beneath the stage lights she burns like wildfire, long crimson hair flaring with life of its own like wispy silk flames, stark against creamy skin. Her voice is at times soft and velvety, other times bold and full of fanfare, but always the centerpiece, even among the blare of brass instruments.

The closing number is a classic and a complete crowd-pleaser. She comes out, literally sparkling, glittering diamonds roped around her neck, her wrists, and pleated into her hair, and Shintarou is unaware of how he's practically ogling until the split second before he is cued in on the piano.

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental.
She bends and displays her hand exquisitely, light catching the rings on her fingers prettily. The satin of her dress hugs tightly to her form, the swagger of her hips exaggerated as she slowly sweeps the stage.

And then she disappears from the peripherals of Shintarou's vision. He glances up for confused moment because the audience is suddenly worked up for some reason and he quickly realizes why. The Empress was perched on top of the grand piano, long, long legs extending into the air as she leans to lay across the polished frame of the piano. Shintarou's staring again, but no one could blame him. No one could blame the way he eyed the creamy strip of skin that peeked teasingly from the high slit of her dress, or the way he gawked down the plunged neckline as The Empress rolled onto her stomach, face-to-face with the increasingly flustered pianist.

Diamonds are a girl's best friend—

A wave of terror washes over him when he finds The Empress staring right back at him, all charm and cunning. She's so close that he can see the muscles of her throat undulate with each sustained note, and he is prompt in averting his eyes, fixing his gaze on the ivory keys beneath his fingers.

It becomes a game of let's see how well this gentleman here performs with pressure and distractions! The spectators are having a fit as she cards fingers through his hair, as she sits up and coyly leans into him, cleavage mere inches from his face. Shintarou misses a note and clashes a wrong chord, but the audience is only entertained by his mistakes and Shintarou's too desperately focused on staying on track to feel indignant. She swings off of the piano as she belts the last line and he can feel the warmth of her body behind him as small hands come to rest on his shoulders and a voice comes humming, through the cheers and applause, into a red ear.

"Third dressing room on the left. Find me." It's more of a command than a suggestion, but Shintarou's still trying to process what just happened and what he's done to deserve this sort of attention.

The backstage is buzzing with activity, and Aomine's the first to run up to Shintarou, brass instrument still in hand.

"The hell was that?" He starts to holler before he's even reached the pianist, and other musicians silently gather as if to second Aomine's exclamation.

"Hell if I know." Shintarou replies, slowly finding his words. "She told me what room she was in." Or had that been on some other plane of reality?

"Well, shit." Aomine hissed, looking thoroughly outraged with Shintarou's inaction. "The fuck are you still doing here, then? Get over there."

Numbly, Shintarou ambles his way to the third dressing room on the left. It's not until he's standing before her door that the full weight of the situation hits him. He's a calculating man, exactly the sort who would not be standing here and considering such a proposition.

"Enter." Calls a voice from within the room, and Shintarou jerks with surprise but an obedient hand automatically slides to twist the doorknob.

She's stretched luxuriously on a sofa as if she were half feline, all length and limbs. She certainly wears the expression of one, draped loosely in a thin robe as vividly red as her hair. The jewels she previously worn were gone, stage make-up removed, tousled hair casually framing the slyness of her facade. She utters no instruction, but her gaze is enough to draw Shintarou forward.

"I can't afford diamonds." He mumbles without much thought, and he reddens at the sheerness of the robe she's wearing. He can see two dark rosy buds beneath the fabric and he wonders if there's any true function to the piece besides instilling the desire to tear away at it.

"I know." And there seems to be silent addendum of it's okay. She reads his doubt and pulls him down on her. "It is but a tune I sang. Now let me sing you another." And it is a tune that twists his stomach tight with desire.