AR fiction in which the scouts form a band. They'll be no Sailor Moon or Superheroes in this story, and I mess around quite liberally with names and ages, and familial situations… just about everything. I don't own Sailor Moon so don't sue me for using their likenesses. It would be pointless anyway because I'm broke. This is only the beginning, it's up to you whether I keep going. Enjoy!
All the Right Notes
A loud, strained, high pitched squeal filled the small auditorium, and it was all any one could do not to clap their hands over their ears. Finally, the sour note ended as the woman on the stage strangled the last bit of life from her guitar.
" Thank you, miss. We'll be making our decision this evening, and calling everyone tomorrow. Let's take a break everyone, but be back in fifteen minutes", said a burgundy haired woman. Raye Hino was a woman who commanded obedience and when she gave orders, everybody listened. Raye wearily dropped her clipboard onto the overflowing desk and turned to face her friends who were sitting in the row behind her. Mina Simpson sat to her left, her blonde hair flowing over her shoulders, and her long legs propped up on the seat in front of her. Next to her was Lita Makoto, the tall brown haired beauty who was cradling her head in her hands as though bored out of her mind. Beside Lita was the ever professional and ever immaculate Amy Anderson. Amy had short hair, dyed a dazzling blue as though in defiance of her more bookish leanings. And last, but not least, to Raye's right, sat another blonde woman. Serena Tsukino had amazingly long golden hair tied up into buns on top of her head, and deep blue eyes; eyes that were closed as she slept, curled up on the hard auditorium chairs.
" Serena, you meatball head! Wake up, this is important", yelled Raye, putting her hands on her hips. Serena's eyes snapped open and she focused on her fuming friend.
" Sorry, Raye. But those last few candidates were awful", Serena said, stifling a yawn.
" I'll second that. Are we sure we need another guitarist? I mean I was all for it before but it's been two days and we haven't found a single girl who even comes close to being good enough", Lita said, stretching in her chair.
" You might be right, this is taking way too long. Who'd have thought we'd have so much trouble finding someone as good as Meatball head?" Raye teased.
" Ha, ha. Very funny", Serena said sarcastically, but she was smiling anyway.
" Maybe I should learn. I mean, then we could continue being the five, fab, femme, fatales", Mina said loftily.
" Mina, you don't just pick up a guitar and start playing. Besides, you already have a place on stage", Amy explained.
" Then I guess, we keep looking for another guitarist and if that doesn't work, we'll just double the volume on Serena's guitar, that should even things out", Lita joked. The five band members of the group currently known as Raye of Hope, settled back into their seats and prepared for another long period of auditions.
They were still something of a struggling band, but were doing fairly well for themselves and improving every day. However, the kind-of music they played was mostly loud, edgy, and passionate, and for that they had decided they needed another guitar player to strengthen the band. So that was why this group of attractive, female, twenty-year-olds, were indoors on a hot spring day judging a large group of applicants.
Raye was considered the leader of the group, if there was such a thing. She had the passion and the talent to really turn the band into something big. Raye had written, at least in part, many of the songs they performed, and she was the singer of the group. Her low, almost raspy, voice could really belt out a song and she had a very strong stage presence. She also played the keyboard when necessary.
Mina was the back-up vocalist: her sweet, high, clear voice, complimented Raye's perfectly. She also sang solo for a few trademark songs - songs that were a little too slow and soft for Raye's style. Mina could play the flute, the saxophone, the harmonica, a triangle, and anything else the group needed, which gave the group a great deal of variation in sound.
Amy was the main keyboardist. She could play anything from the classics to their hit song 'Madness', without breaking a sweat. Amy diligently recorded their songs and put them to memory so that nothing was ever wasted. On stage though she became a different person, very alive and wild.
The drums were the backbone of the music, just as Lita was the backbone of the group. She'd been playing all her life and had a certain style that was uniquely hers, and very powerful. Sometimes she felt inhibited because no matter how much things had changed, female drummers still didn't get all the respect they deserved, but on stage all that mattered was the beat.
Finally, little Serena Tsukino, the as yet sole guitarist and group heartbreaker. Having learned classical guitar at a young age from her father, she was passionate about her playing and when you combined that with her exuberant personality, what you got was a wild child frequently described as being at odds with her serene appearance. Her father had passed away a year ago, and sometimes when she played you could tell that she was thinking of him. Still, Serena could draw you in with her playing and then break your heart when you realized she played for everyone, not just for you.
A short, black haired girl climbed onto the stage and nervously adjusted her guitar's strings. The amplifier whined and then she began to play. The girl wasn't bad, but she lacked confidence and there was no personality to her playing. Despite their differences, the five girls of Raye of Hope were friends because of their love of music and the respect they had for each other's abilities. They wouldn't think of letting someone join if they didn't play with feeling.
" Thank you, you play very well. Could we have the next applicant", Raye said, her voice ringing through the room. Serena could feel her eyes closing again, though she tried to stay alert for fear of upsetting Raye again. She knew how badly Raye wanted this to happen. Serena was a little afraid that they would find someone who could play way better then she could and that she'd be relegated to strumming the melody, but then she abandoned that idea as being ridiculous. Suddenly, Amy gripped Serena's arm, gaining her attention.
" What?" Serena asked.
" Would you take a look at that", Lita said, leaning forward as though a few feet would help her get a better look.
" Oh my", said Mina. Serena looked to the stage and, just like her friends, she stared in surprise. The guitarist was a man. And not just any man; his black hair shone in the lights, and his lean, hard body, and strong arms cradled his beat-up electric guitar with unconscious grace. He flicked the hair out of his face with a nervous hand, before making a few minor adjustments to his guitar.
" Any time you're ready, begin", said Raye, when she found her voice. The man nodded and started out slowly. His eyes were partly lidded as he strummed the strings of his guitar; producing the most beautiful sound they had heard that day. The music was clear and strong, and was almost tangible as it weaved through the space.
" He's really good", Amy whispered in wonder, never taking her eyes from his form.
" Yeah", muttered Mina. Lita just kept right on staring in complete rapture. The man continued to play, speeding up the tempo as he got more into the routine. He held the last note of his piece as though it was a caress and it seemed to hang in the air even as the guitar strings stilled.
" Thank you, you'll be hearing from us tomorrow", Raye said, slightly dazed. She turned to her friends, her eyes alight and her face elated. " He was fantastic."
" Yeah, but what about, you know", Mina said.
" Huh? What's there to discuss. He's the best I've ever seen. Except you Serena", Lita added hastily.
" But he's a guy!" Mina said. " This is a girl-band, isn't it?"
" We never said that the applicants had to be female. If he doesn't mind working with us, I don't think we should discriminate", Amy said.
" I can see what you mean Mina, but I think it might be just the thing we're looking for. That bit of something extra", Raye said.
" I agree. He's the right person for the job, guy or not", Lita said.
" So he's at the top of our list? That is, if you agree Serena. You're the expert after all. Do you think he'll work out?" Raye asked.
" He made the guitar sing", Serena said, her mind still replaying the notes in her head. Her father had always described her playing as a dream that sang and now she could understand what he had meant. She snapped out of her dreamlike state and stated with certainty, " He's the one."
" Darien Shields", Raye mumbled, reading over his audition form. Twenty-three years old, with two years of an arts degree at the local university, and ten years of guitar experience.
" And drop dead gorgeous" Mina said, reading over Raye's shoulder. " Wonder why he didn't put that on his application?"
" Because some people, unlike you, have some sense of modesty", Raye teased. She traced a big red star at the top of Darien's name, and then put his page at the top of the pile. " Next please", Raye said, although the entire band was certain they had found their sixth and final member.
At the end of the evening the group of young woman wearily stood and gathered up their belongings. They had two more possibilities to their list, but neither of them was as good as Darien had been.
" Hey, beautiful. How'd it go?"
" Chad! What are you doing here? I said I didn't mind walking home", Raye said happily.
" I couldn't wait. Do the rest of you need a ride?" asked Chad. Chad was Raye's boyfriend and the two of them had been together nearly a year. Chad ran a music store downtown and had met Raye one day when she'd come in for some supplies.
" Nah, I brought my car", said Lita, pointing across the deserted car park to a beat up, rusty, hatchback.
" Yeah, and she's my ride", Mina said. " So, what happens now? She would we meet up tomorrow?"
" I was thinking, that we should call everyone tomorrow to tell them they didn't make it but thanks anyway. Then we can ask to meet this Darien for a more personal interview. You know, to make sure he doesn't get on our nerves or something. If it all seems okay, we'll ask him to join. If not, then we'll call these other two girls", Raye said.
" You're getting a guy?" Chad said incredulously.
" Jealous?" Raye said teasingly.
" Should I be?" Chad teased back, taking her in his arms and kissing the tip of her nose.
" Ugh! Their doing it again, guys. Run, save yourselves!" Serena said in mock desperation as Raye and Chad started making googly eyes at each other.
" Right, we'll see you all tomorrow. Ciao!" Mina said perkily, as Lita began striding purposely towards her car. Lita waved as she got into her car and opened the door for Mina. Mina and Lita shared an apartment and were frequently leaving and arriving together. Although Mina was constantly stating that she was going to get a new car so she could escape Lita's rust-bucket, she never seemed to get enough capital to do so. Her job as part-time model only left her so much, especially with all the costs incurred by the band. Lita worked part-time at an all night bakery to pay for her bills, but, like Mina, any spare bit of money went into her drums and her music.
" Later dudes!" Serena said, feeling like acting a little silly after being cooped up indoors all day. " We'll be going too, you're still coming over tonight, right Amy?"
" Yeah, if that's still okay?"
" Amy, Amy, Amy. I keep telling you there's no need to ask. Besides, my mom loves having you over. Sometimes I think she puts up with me because I have such great friends", Serena said, laughing. Amy lived at home with her mother, but her mother was a prestigious neurosurgeon and frequently away on business. Right now, Dr. Anderson was in Sweden and would be there for another month at least. Amy and her mother didn't get along so well, even when her mother was home. Amy said it was because she was a musician, like her father, and because her father had left her mother after a messy divorce shortly after Amy's birth, Dr. Anderson saw it as a betrayal that her daughter would follow in this man's footsteps. However, Amy didn't see herself as following her father, rather she just loved to play. This resulted in Amy frequently spending the night at Serena's house or hanging around there because Serena's house was always warm and inviting, not cool and aloof like her own home. Amy and Serena had been best friends for as long as they could remember. Serena's mom had been Amy's babysitter while Dr. Anderson was at work, since Amy was two years old.
" Okay, see you later", Raye said vaguely, waving half-heartedly in their direction as she continued to stare into Chad's eyes.
" Come on Ames, let's leave these two love-birds alone. Speaking of love birds, please tell me you don't hang all over Greg like that?" Serena said, as she started to walk towards her own car. Actually the light grey Honda was the family car, but her mother was pretty free with letting Serena use it. Serena dreaded the day when her younger brother Sam, now sixteen years old, got around to getting his licence.
" Greg?" Amy said, a smile forming on her face as she thought of her long-term boyfriend. Dark brown, curly hair, and deep brown eyes that would light up when he saw her. She'd met him in her first year of high school, and instantly the two had become friends. The following year, they'd started dating, and now… well it would be their four-year anniversary pretty soon.
" Yeah, you know, Greg? Your one and only?"
" Greg is fine. Still working really hard at University. I can't believe I'm dating a want-to-be doctor after all I've gone through."
" You're living the dream! A gorgeous doctor who is madly in love with you and wants to marry you."
" What can I say? I lucked out", Amy said smiling. She climbed into the passenger seat next to Serena and fastened her seatbelt. Serena rubbed her hand roughly against Amy's head. Amy pushed her away, laughing. " What are you doing, you maniac!"
" Just wanted some of that luck of yours to rub-off on me", Serena said, grinning. Turning the key, in the ignition the two set-off for Serena's home. The light was on in the living room and Mrs. Tsukino sat on the sofa reading a book from the library.
" Hey mom, we're home. Anything for dinner?"
" In the fridge, dear, just help yourselves."
Serena headed straight for the kitchen and began pulling items from the fridge. Amy got out plates and cutlery and soon the two were eating Mrs. Tsukino's wonderful cooking. Mrs. Tsukino entered the kitchen a while later. Serena's mother Irene was tall and slender with dark wavy hair, and a tired expression. Even though she'd been divorced from Serena's father for five years when he had died of cancer, she still felt grief over his passing. She was especially sorry for Serena and Sam who had always maintained a strong relationship with their father, though they chose to remain living with her after the divorce.
" Where's Sam?" Serena asked, helping herself to thirds.
" Out with his friends, supposedly", Irene said slowly, and then she smiled slyly. " I think, though, that he's meeting that girl again. I keep telling him it's okay to have a girlfriend but I know how you adolescents like to keep your secrets."
" I'm twenty mom, not a teenager anymore. Ugh, that's a depressing thought", Serena said.
" Don't worry, you're only as old as you act, and currently that puts you at about ten", Amy said, trying to keep her face straight.
" Everyone's against me!" Serena cried out and pretended to fall to the ground in despair.
" I'd make that eight, Amy" Irene teased. Soon the three of them were laughing as Serena continued to put on a production of false lamentations and hammy acting.
The next morning, Amy woke up and took a shower. She was here so often that she had her own towel and shampoo, as well as anything else you might need to get ready in the morning. Serena and her had considered getting their own apartment, but Amy only made a few dollars as secretary at the hospital and Serena made next to nothing at the arcade she worked at part-time. It was just easier to stay at home and, besides, Irene would miss having her children around.
Amy wandered back into Serena's room, towel drying her short hair. How Serena handled all of her hair she would never know.
" Hey, Sleeping Beauty. Wake up", Amy said, dumping her damp towel on Serena's sleeping face.
" Go away. I was having the most wonderful dream", Serena said, grumpily. Despite her protestations, she sat up and started rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
" Really? Some black haired, God-like man was playing you like he played his guitar?"
" Amy!" Serena said shocked. She also started blushing since Amy wasn't that far from the truth. " I don't have a boyfriend remember. I'm completely ignorant of what you're implying."
" Yeah sure. Whatever", Amy said, not believing her friend for a second. " Better take your shower. I'll call Raye and see where we're meeting."
" At least I don't have to work today", Serena mumbled as she headed for the bathroom. Standing in front of the mirror after her shower, Serena stared at the small face peering back at her. She definitely did not look the part of a rock and roll guitarist. With her gold hair and blue eyes, and the smattering of freckles across her nose, she was possibly adorable, but certainly not wild or sexy. Maybe she should dye her hair some unnatural colour like Amy had done. Serena dismissed that idea almost immediately and stuck her tongue out at her appearance. She'd just have to make sure that what you saw was definitely not what you got.
" We're meeting at ten, so you got a half-hour. Can I wear that black skirt of yours?" Amy asked through the bathroom door.
" Sure, I think it's clean." Serena said, coming out of the bathroom dressed in loose cargo pants, a snug fitting white v-necked T-shirt, and sneakers.
Amy was wearing a knee length black skirt with a split up the front of one leg, a white button up blouse, and black suede ankle boots. " Wow, you look nice. Not trying to seduce Darien are you?"
Amy laughed. " Nah, I'll leave that up to you. Greg called when I got off the phone with Raye. I'm meeting him afterwards. You really think I look okay?"
" Dah-leeng, you look fantastique", Serena said with a bad French accent.
The two girls arrived at the Cherry Temple Hill shrine where Raye lived right on time. The day was already warm so they sat outside on the steps with Raye and waited for the rest of the group. Lita and Mina arrived together as usual.
" I've had it Lita. That is the last time I push that car down the hill to get it started. I thought I was going to get run over!" Mina argued.
" You always say that and yet you've never gotten a scratch. Besides, we could have just walked but no, you wanted to wear that skirt and those shoes in which walking is all but impossible." The three girls watched this little altercation with amused expressions. Mina was dressed to kill and Lita was absolutely right in thinking that Mina couldn't walk more then half a block in her outfit. Lita herself was wearing jeans and a tank top, and a baseball cap was sitting backwards on her thick brown hair.
" Hey guys!" Mina said sunnily, as though she had just realized they had an audience.
" Hey, yourself. Darien said he'd try to be here for ten. Think you can hold your breath for that long Mina?" Raye said laughing.
" Why would I have to… Oh, you've just forgotten what it's like to be single", Mina said blushing, tugging the edge of her skirt down just in case. " I don't really look that desperate, do I?"
" Nah, we're just kidding. You look great, as usual", Serena said.
The girls started laughing about the various things they'd done in high school in order to attract members of the opposite sex. Serena had known Raye almost as long as Amy. The two had met when Serena's mother had taken self-defence lessons from Raye's grandfather, a martial arts master. Lita had met up with Serena in first year of junior high. Lita had been transferred to that school after her parents had been killed in a horrible plane crash. She'd come to the area to live with a distant relative until she was old enough to move out. In high school, Raye had switched schools to be with Serena and that meant Amy, Serena, Lita, and Raye had all been together for those pivotal years, and it was there that they had met Mina. Mina was kind-of bubbly and an airhead, but she was so kind-hearted that she'd become part of the group without any trouble. They were very close, despite all their differences. Possibly that loyalty stemmed from the fact that they knew just about every embarrassing thing each other had ever done.
" She didn't", gasped Mina.
" She did, I swear", Raye said, voice quaking with laughter. " She told everyone about this hot new 'boyfriend' she was seeing, trying to get this other guy jealous. But somehow, everyone found out that this guy was her cousin and the best part, the guy was really a girl!"
" Can it, Raye. That was so embarrassing", Serena said, head in her hands. " Besides, Haruka put me up to it. How was I supposed to know it would backfire?"
" I don't get it, is this cousin really butch or something?" Mina asked.
" Well, Haruka is sort-of manly, I guess. Or at least she prefers people to see her that way. And the fact that she has a gorgeous girlfriend only furthers the illusion", Amy said.
" Michiru and Haruka are so in love. Sometimes, I think they've got the right idea", Serena said, lying back onto the grass and closing her eyes against the bright sunlight.
" Oh, I remember now. Michiru and Haruka; Michiru's that famous violinist right?" Mina asked. She had never met Serena's cousin before, or the famous girlfriend, but Serena had showed her their photo in a magazine once.
" Uh huh. They're in France right now, I think. Haruka accompanies her on the piano. She even promised to come play with us some time."
" I didn't think they would appreciate our style much", Lita said, thinking of the time she'd gone to hear Michiru play. Such beautiful classical music was a long way from the pulsing beat of their band.
" Totally not true. You should see Michiru with her electric violin when she gets going. And face it Haruka looks more hard core then any of us. She'd give you a run for your money on the keyboard, Ames", Serena said.
" That would be so cool", Mina said.
" Um, hi", said a distinctly male voice. The five women looked up surprised. Serena opened her eyes and looked at the dark haired man from her position on the ground. Even upside down he was to die for. Trying to act nonchalant, she rolled over and sat up, calmly brushing grass from her hair.
" Darien, glad you could make it. Sorry to get you here so early, but this was the only time we could all get together today", Raye said. She shook his hand in a businesslike manner.
" No problem. This is my friend, Andrew", he said, indicating the blonde haired green-eyed man standing next to him.
" I'm his groupie", Andrew said, laughing easily.
" He means 'goofy'", Darien said coolly, with only the hint of a smile. " Actually, he's a fan of yours and when he found out where I was going, he insisted upon coming. I tried to lose him, honest I did".
" Well, fortunately he tracked you down", Mina said, eyes going wide. Apparently, Darien was completely forgotten as she calmly approached Andrew and shook his hand. " You must have been a boy scout".
" Always prepared, that's for sure. For instance, I have a piece of paper and a pen in my pocket that would be perfect for your autograph", Andrew said, eyes twinkling. Mina giggled and scribbled her name down, along with her phone number. Serena rolled her eyes in disbelief at the corny lines between Andrew and Mina. She glanced at Darien and noticed he too was shaking his head in disbelief. He caught her eye and they both smiled at the antics of their friends.
" We were totally impressed with your music yesterday", Lita said.
" Thanks, I was kind-of nervous. There were three other guys there who were going to try out but they chickened out when they all the girls. That's not a problem, is it? That I'm the only guy?"
" Not for us, is it for you?" Raye asked. Darien considered before answering.
" Nope, not really. I just want to play. I've actually never heard of your group, but Andrew said you were good and that I should go for it."
" He's never heard of us, Raye. We have got to get some better publicity", Amy exclaimed. " Well, maybe we should introduce ourselves then. I'm Amy Anderson and I play the keyboard."
" Oh, right, we should have done this first", Raye said, slapping her forehead. " I'm Raye. Raye Hino. I sing".
" And writes, and nags, and bosses us around, and…" Lita started. She was cut short when Raye kicked her lightly in the shins. Unfazed, Lita continued, " See what I mean? I'm Lita Makoto. I'm the drummer". The way she said drummer made it sound like she was daring him to contradict her. Fortunately, Darien didn't do anything but nod.
" I'm Mina", Mina said, tearing her gaze from Andrew long enough to shake Darien's hand. " Mina Simpson. S-I-M-P-S-O-N", she enunciated clearly for Andrew's benefit.
" What instrument do you play?" Darien asked innocently. Mina's eyes took on a dangerous gleam and Raye stepped in before Mina went way too overboard.
" She plays the flute and the saxophone, and backs up my vocals".
" And I'm Serena Tsukino", Serena said, standing up and brushing off her clothes. " I'm a guitarist".
" You play the guitar?" Darien said sceptically. If there was one thing Serena wouldn't stand for, it was someone questioning her musical ability.
" What's the matter? Don't think girls can play the guitar?" Serena said angrily, crossing her arms over her chest.
" That's not what I…"
" Don't think I could possibly play as well as you? Think you'll just take over now?" Serena said approaching Darien. It annoyed her greatly that he was so much taller then her, since it was hard to intimidate someone when you had to look up to meet their eyes. Amazing midnight blue eyes, which looked like the sea at night after a storm…
" If you'd let me explain instead of jumping down my throat like a hysterical lunatic, you'd know I was merely wondering what you needed me for if you already had a guitarist", Darien said icily, staring back into the blonde woman's face with dark intensity. Serena willed herself to face that penetrating gaze. Gradually, the immaturity of a staring contest worked its way into Serena's brain and she smiled.
" Oh, well that's okay then", she said. Darien blinked in surprise; realizing there was need for him to be so stubborn he broke off his penetrating look. He was almost sad to do so - she was quite beautiful to look at. " We wanted two guitar players, I play too soft, and that's why you're here".
" Apology accepted then", Darien said. Apology? She most certainly had not apologized.
" Apology accepted? Well, thanks sooo much", Serena said sarcastically. How arrogant he was to assume that she felt remotely sorry for daring to contradict him! She was about to begin yelling again when Lita grabbed her and pulled her back.
" Excuse us for a moment", Lita said, easily hauling Serena away. Lita, Raye, Serena, and Amy formed a group out of Darien's earshot. Then Lita sighed and went to drag Mina back to the group as well.
" Wow, is Andrew hot or what?" Mina said.
" Oh, you like him? We hadn't noticed", Raye said sarcastically. " But seriously, do we think this is going to work with Darien?"
" He's a jerk", Serena said petulantly.
" Serena, we are not going to base this decision on your petty jealousy", Amy said.
" Of course not. We're going to base this on looks, and you're all smitten", Serena said.
" Oh knock it off Serena, and be fair. Do you honestly not think you can work with him?"
" He's a jerk", she said again. The rest of the group sighed. Serena could be very, very, stubborn. " But he's a talented jerk. And I think he's the right person for the job", Serena admitted with a sigh.
" Very mature, Serena. Now let's ask him before he changes his mind. And not another word out of you until we get this settled", Raye said, taking charge yet again. " Okay, Darien, if you're still up to the challenge, we'd like you to work with us. Whatever money we make after we've paid expenses, we split six ways. You have three weeks to practice our songs and learn them before our next gig."
" I'm in", Darien said simply. " Though I would like to ask something."
" Yeah, I'll bet you would, you selfish…" Serena muttered. Lita frowned at her and Serena stopped mumbling and smiled innocently.
" Can I hear you guys play?"
The group jumped into action. One of the rooms in the temple had been reconverted into a practice room, and their instruments were there too. They spent a few moments adjusting their equipment, but they were ready pretty soon after the request was made. Darien and Andrew sat on the temple floor, right in front of the band. Serena double-checked that her guitar was primed since she wanted Darien's first impression of her playing to be as perfect as possible. She couldn't bear it if she gave him reason to tease her.
" We'll play 'Madness', don't you think girls?" They nodded. This song was sort-of their signature song. It was loud, insightful, fun, and showed off all their individual skills well.
Lita hit her drumsticks together and called out, " One, two, one, two, three, four". She hit the drums and settled into the beat with ease. Serena began to play her part and thanked her lucky stars for having hit every note dead on. She grinned up at Lita, who shared her smile. Since both the drums and the guitar were more readily associated with male players, Serena and Lita felt a certain kinship towards each other when they were on stage and playing. Amy's subtle keyboarding skill held the melody as Raye approached the mike. Mina crooned in the background and tapped a cymbal in time with Lita. A resounding meeting of guitar key and drum beat signalled Raye's key to open, and she did, pouring emotion into the words, and basically having a good time being the centre of attention. She sang the words clearly but rapidly, and as the song progressed, it was easy to tell why the band was willing to suffer a lot to continue playing together. They loved what they did. It almost didn't matter if you didn't understand the words to the song, because you could 'feel' what they wanted to say.
" You were right", Darien whispered to his friend. " They are good. Really good", he said, and then turned back to watch the group. He liked the lyrics; he liked Raye's voice, and Mina's echo. He was impressed with Lita's drive and he appreciated Amy's talent. He was swept away by the pounding rhythm and the intensity of the song. But all of that paled in comparison when he considered his counterpart, Serena. The guitar was like an extension of her; she need not have worried about competition from him. Technically speaking, he might play better, but there was more to music then just the notes and Serena had that certain something extra. The song came to an end and Darien and Andrew broke into applause. Or at least Andrew did; Darien just nodded.
" That was great! Consider me your new number one fan", Andrew said.
" Too late, that's my position", Chad said, coming into the room. " Went up to the front door, when I heard you playing I came down here."
" Glad you did", Raye said, giving him a quick peck on the lips. " Chad this is our new guitarist, Darien Shields, Darien this is my boyfriend Chad Carter." The two men shook hands as the introductions were made.
" I think I know you. Don't you work at 'Take Note', that music store downtown?" Darien asked.
" Yeah, that's me. I thought you looked familiar. So you guys about finished here?"
" I guess so. What kind-of schedule do you have Darien? The sooner you get the songs down, the sooner we can start making appearances", Raye said, wondering how this was going to work. Every member of the group suddenly started looking at anything other then Raye or Darien. They might love to play, but spending their free time teaching the new guy was not their idea of fun.
" I'll do it Raye", Serena said, when she saw that their reluctance was making Darien uncomfortable. It wasn't like her to be so abrasive to people, and she knew most of it was because she was worried about being replaced in the group, and not because Darien was a bad guy. She made the snap decision to be nicer to their new member. " Who better to show him the guitar parts then me? I'll give him a crash course and then we can all meet up and practice together, say, sometime next week?"
" That okay with you?" Raye asked Darien.
" Sounds fine", Darien said with a shrug. He wasn't accustomed to relying on other people and it was making him uncharacteristically nervous. The sooner he got into the group's routine, the sooner he could stop feeling like a burden.
" Great, you can work out the details between yourselves then. Feel free to stay here if you want. Chad and I have plans."
" I've got to work", Mina complained, looking at her watch. " I'll have to go home and change too. I know I whined all the way here Lita about your car, but can I get a lift home?"
" Yep, but if the car doesn't start, can you guess who's pushing?" Mina shot Lita a dirty look before beaming a mega-watt smile at Andrew and exiting the room. Lita grabbed her stuff and hustled after her. " I'll call you later Serena", she yelled through the door as she left.
" Where you meeting Greg, Amy? Do you need a ride too?" Serena asked.
" That's okay, it's not far away. I think I'll stay over at my house tonight too, so don't wait up. I'll call you tomorrow morning."
" Sure thing. Say hi to Greg for me", Serena said.
" Will do. It was nice meeting you Darien. I'm sure you'll fit in just fine", Amy said politely, before leaving. Before Serena knew it she was alone with Darien and Andrew. An awkward pause started to grow in the silence of the practice room.
" So, are you busy right now?" Serena asked slowly. It was silly, she knew, but there was something about Darien's presence that put her on edge – made her want to blush and stammer.
" No. I work at 'Much More Music' at the Southside mall, do you know where I mean?"
" Yeah, I think I've been there a few times."
" Anyway, I work shifts and I get today and tomorrow off. So if you're not doing anything, do you feel like practicing now?"
" Sure. Did you bring your guitar?" Serena asked, getting excited thanks to Darien's enthusiasm. Music; so long as they kept on this common ground she could relax.
" Damn, no. I didn't think I would need it. Andrew, do you think you could give me a ride home?" Darien asked. Andrew wasn't listening. He was still staring off in the direction Mina had gone. Darien began snapping his fingers in front of Andrew's face until Andrew came back from dreamland. Andrew looked at his watch, and blanched. " Damn, I was supposed to be at work half an hour ago. Catch you later", he said, sprinting out of the room.
" What a moron", Darien said softly. " He's my best friend but he's still a moron." Serena smiled, thinking that if that were true, then Mina and Andrew were a perfect match.
" Come on. I'll give you a ride and I also volunteer to answer any questions you might have about our band. We'll have to walk to my house first to pick up the car, but it's right near here."
" Okay", Darien said agreeably. Serena locked up the temple room and indicated the direction they were headed. The sun beat down on them as they walked and Serena breathed deeply and gave a little sigh of contentment. " So the name 'Raye of Hope'. How did that come about?"
" Well, 'Raye' because Raye was the one who started this whole thing, and 'of Hope', I guess because it went well with Raye. Actually, we want to change the name but we haven't gotten around to it yet. Raye doesn't think she should be billed as a headliner anymore since we all work about equal. Can I ask you something?"
" Sure", Darien said.
" You really don't mind working with a bunch of girls?"
" You're all musicians, and good ones at that. I think that's really what matters", Darien said.
" Very liberated of you", Serena said with a smile, her opinion of Darien going up another notch. Her cheerful expression triggered something in Darien's aloof exterior and he found himself smiling back at her. Serena bit back her gasp of surprise at the transformation that came over his face: from stunning to breathtaking.
" Okay, here's a tough question. What do you think is going to happen with this band? Honestly", Darien asked.
" Truthfully, I don't know. I suppose anything is possible", she said. " Anything is always possible", she repeated, almost to herself. Serena wondered if she was still talking about the band.
Okay, how awful was that? Please tell me if I should continue this or not. And I need help with a band name. So far I've come up with 'Rose Rhythms', 'The Singing Senshi', and 'Sailor Tune'. I'm kidding! I would never call them something so stupid, but that's why I need help. Please?