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Not Sorry At All

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     He wouldn't even be here if he didn't have to pick up his harp from the repairman (couldn't trust a gopher with his baby, yeah?). Nobody'd asked Tobi to come along, and Deidara hadn't planned on babysitting a hyper Uchiha when he'd woken up this morning. But what was he supposed to do, leave the kid to wander off on his own? (Okay, maybe "kid" was a misnomer, since Tobi had three years on him, but he sure as hell didn't act like it.) Deidara figured... as long as he was here, and his harp wasn't gonna be ready for another hour, he might as well make sure Itachi's cousin or whatever didn't die of stupid.

     So he pushed up his sunglasses and pulled down his hat and ducked down yet another alley after the fiddle player. Thank god for GPS. He'd never know where they were otherwise. And maybe the brat had the right idea, wearing a mask when they performed. He'd said the mask was just because he looked so ordinary, a nobody face with nothing brownish hair that'd get lost on stage, but Deidara had a mind Tobi did it so he could go out barefaced like this and nobody had any clue they were seeing somebody from Akatsuki.

     If only they'd all thought of that.

     Too late. Everyone on the scene knew all the rest of their faces now.

     "Where the hell are we goin', anyway?" Deidara hissed at his bandmate's back.

     "You'll see!"

     He heard before he could see. The rough strains of Team 7's latest hit echoed out of the next alley, leading up to a warehouse. Deidara didn't know which one. He had a policy of not knowing the name of any song on the Top 40. Except... their own... of course. That was hard to avoid. But he didn't know any other songs in the Top 40. He had standards.

     "Do you have a reason for spying on Itachi's little brother?!"

     Tobi jumped from foot to foot, to the side of a grimy little window where nobody could see him. "Because! Because! Because! Because! Because...!" Then he giggled and did a friggin' box step. "... Because of the wonderful things he does! Ya-da-da-da-da-da-da!"

     Punching was too good for that moron.

     "Do you work at being this annoying," Deidara muttered, "Or is that natural?"

     "I learned from the best."

     "But seriously... why are we here?"

     They both nosed up to the glass. There wasn't anything odd Deidara could see. Itachi's pink-haired girlfriend jamming on her guitar, Itachi's pissy little brother strumming his bass, Itachi's blond, de facto brother-in-law growling into his microphone, Itachi's old... All-State invitational pen-pal or some fuckin' thing... playing drums. How the hell anybody expected the media not to call nepotism when Team 7 came out as Akatsuki's opener on the next tour, Deidara had no idea. The slick-faced prick on keyboards was the only one Itachi wasn't sweet on, not even counting how Akatsuki's so-called leader, "Pain", gave his okay the minute he heard the vocalist had trained with his old mentor, Jiraiya.

     Did it matter that Naruto'd trained with Jiraiya on drums, and he wasn't even playing them? Nope! Not to Pain! (Although Kakashi was no slouch. His beats'd given this one guy actual-facts blisters on his ears this one time! Now that was drums, yeah?)

     Okay, so maybe Itachi wasn't the only fan. But was that a crime?

     Deidara poked Tobi in the shoulder. "Oi. Answer the question. Why are we here?"

     "Sasuke's been a naughty bo~oy..." the other Uchiha cackled under his breath. "But don't worry, Sassy-kins! Obi-tobi's here to straighten you out." He put his hand up to whisper at Deidara. "That's what he used to call me, you know. When he was two, and trying to say 'Obito'. He hates it when I tell people that."

     Near as Deidara could tell, living with Uchiha Madara made you fuckin' cracked. Gave you fuckin' crazy-eyes, too. The way they gleamed like a hawk when Tobi slid the window up three inches made Deidara's skin crawl. He revised his reason for coming along from 'Make sure Tobi doesn't die of stupid' to 'Make sure Itachi's cousin doesn't kill Itachi's brother before the concert'.

     The last bars of their jam powered through the window. "Okay, Naruto," Sakura called out. "You ready for the new one?" She reached for her water, while the keyboardist (Sai? Deidara thought that was his name, anyway...) sat down and picked up a bag of popcorn with a grin.

     "I'm telling you, Sasuke's better for that one."

     "And I'm telling you, I won't sing!" Sasuke yelled back. "I don't want to sing!"

     Sakura rolled her eyes, dropping her head into her hand while the two boys yelled so hard they bumped chests and didn't stop yelling. Kakashi, creeping around his drumset towards the front, tried not to catch either of their eyes.

     "If you're not gonna step up, then stop telling me I'm not doing it right!"

     "You're not doing it right! The whole fucking thing needs clearer tonality! Do you even know what the notes are?!"

     "I'm singing the notes, dickwad! Or do you not remember how you tried to prove me wrong with the oscilloscope and I handed you your ass? What you don't like is that I don't have your goddamned opera voice. If you want it 'smooth', you do it! That's not my sound!"

     With a sigh, Kakashi stuck his hands between them and pulled them apart. "Naruto, get some water before we start in. Sasuke, why don't you just... show us how you want your song done, and we'll figure something out together? The rest of us don't know what the problem is."

     "Just listen to it!" Sasuke snarled, turning his back to the band so only the spies at the window could see his face boiling.

     Naruto slugged down his water and gripped his mic stand. Words ripped out of his throat, hitting razor sharp on a more complex beat than Deidara had given the kid credit for. "I watched your back all along as you faded into the skies..." he sang, and it was on, although the melody had a... a... raw delicacy to it that made Deidara figure Sasuke was right -- the kid had chops, but it'd sound better done cleaner somehow. "Oh, let my sight never waver once, till all my tears run dry..."

     Then it clicked in Deidara's ear. He totally knew that tune. It sounded more finished now than the half-baked theme he'd heard come out of Itachi's violin a month or two back, but he wasn't gonna forget a melody like that. And it definitely needed to be sung with more... fluidity. Yeah. That was it. Legato, and flowing like it'd come out of Itachi's strings.

     After a breath, the guitarist jumped in on the accompaniment, and the singer pushed up to the mic again. "The trails of--"

     "Stop." Sasuke called out, and the room paused. Shaking his head he stomped over to take his place at the mic. "You want to hear? Fine. But this is just for demonstration." The kid nodded at the guitarist, who started in new for him. "The trails of anguish running over, like a scar cannot disappear!" Sasuke sang, full of the molten vocal gold he got from his mother -- the kind that should've gone too classical for Team 7's sound, but with an edge like glass that made it right somehow. And killed the melody solid, too, taking it somewhere booming that Itachi's more subtle version hadn't found. "Oh, let me not forget -- to you, I swear! I'll take to the air upon my broken wings. I'll show you how I wipe away the past years whole! You'll find me running out towards my waiting someday, on and on and on until the final bell does toll!"

     Sakura let out a thundering riff, then fell still and silent like the rest of the room, staring at Sasuke. "You're right," she said, puzzling up her face. "That does sound better. Why aren't you singing it?"

     "See?!" Naruto yelled.

     Sasuke yelled back, "Because I don't want to sing!"

     "Too late!" the keyboardist said between bites of popcorn. "You popped your cherry on that duet. All the girls are drooling for you to do a lead now. Some boys, too. I bet Naruto would cr--"

     "You can shut up, Sai," Sasuke spat.

     Shaking his head, Kakashi whirled one of his drumsticks around his finger. "Naruto's vocal style is nothing like that. If that's the sound, you'll have to do it, or we can't do it at all."

     Tobi leaned up to the window and called out, "Come on! Your brother would love it," throwing his voice so it echoed out of the back of the warehouse.

     The littlest Uchiha reared over to the synth. "I told you to shut up, Sai!"

     Through a mouthful of popcorn, the keyboardist mumbled something clearly meant to indicate that he hadn't said it.

     "What does Itachi have to do with this?" Sakura asked.

     The way Sasuke said, "Nothing," told everyone in hearing range that he actually meant, 'Everything'.

     Stretching his arms over his head, Naruto grumbled, "Nothin' you got to hide, you mean."

     Leaning up to the window again, Tobi made his voice higher pitched and threw the words, "Now you've got to tell us, Sasuke!" to a different corner of the room.

     Sakura looked up and all around for the disembodied voice. "Okay. That was not me." She narrowed her eyes at the bassist. "Although you do have to tell us. What's up?"

     Popcorn aside, Sai threw in, "If you don't spill, she'll just ask Itachi herself."

     "I wouldn't!" Sakura yelled.

     Whatever Naruto and Sasuke were screaming while the vocalist held the bassist back from rushing the keyboards was too garbled to hear.

     The rest, they weren't looking at. A door slammed two feet away from them, and Kakashi called out, "I knew it. Obito, a word?" He was standing there, tapping his foot and staring at them. Deidara hadn't even seen him leave the band, yeah? The guy was a freaking ninja.

     And he'd called Tobi, 'Obito'? Nobody in the biz knew that was his proper name! Deidara narrowed his eyes at his bandmate. "Wait. You two're friends? Since when?"

     With a grin, Tobi strolled toward the door. "Those were the days, right, Kakashi?"


     Everybody knew fucking everybody, like from birth or something. Deidara was starting to wonder if there was some kind of in-crowd list he wasn't on. But whatever. He followed them in, while Kakashi pushed Tobi by the shoulders to face the music.

     "Say you're sorry."

     "But I'm not sorry!"

     "Obito?!" Sasuke hissed. "It was you! I wasn't going to tell them about that!"

     "Clearly," Deidara muttered.

     Sakura sighed and checked her strings. "You still haven't told us anything. And just a guess? All our lives are gonna suck until you do."

     "Yours especially," Sai added. "I bet Naruto won't suck you--"

     The vocalist smacked him. Like you do.

     But Sasuke buried his face in his hands and dragged a deep breath in. "Fine. Okay. Itachi kind of wrote half the melody. Then he said he couldn't get the ending right so he was tossing it, and I asked if he'd give it to me, and he did, and I kind of wrote a song about him. Are you happy now?" He peeked out from between his fingers. "Somebody say something."

     The band traded looks around. For the fiftieth time today, Deidara wondered why he was even here. Tobi looked like he was gonna cackle all the way back to the studio.

     Finally, Kakashi broke the silence. "Everybody who's for Sasuke singing it, raise your hands." Kakashi, Sakura, and Naruto put their hands in the air. "Everybody against?" he asked, and Sasuke raised his.

     The keyboardist grinned. "I think we should deliver Sasuke to Akatsuki in a birthday cake so he can sing it."

     "No," the whole room answered. Representatives of Akatsuki included.

     While Deidara checked his watch and debated with himself whether he could just walk out and wait at the repair shop for his harp, Sasuke finally growled and huffed his way back to the microphone. "All right. I'll do the song. But just for this tour."

     Kakashi counted in and all the music started up, Naruto pulling some kind of a slap drum out of nowhere, then Sasuke dove into the vocals.

     No way in hell were they letting him get away with 'just for this tour'.