IT’S not like Shisui sat down at his desk one day in Algebra, overheard the girls a couple seats over gossiping about the new Backstreet Boys cd, twiddled his pencil, and set out to be in a boy band. It's not like that at all-- except, well, it kind of is.
In retrospect, it's all Sasuke's fault.
See, the thing you have to know is that Itachi is perhaps a little bit obsessed with pleasing his little brother. And well, the kid is only eleven- it's only normal that he's at that stage of his life where he's obsessed with all the new kids on the block (and yes, he does mean that band too), singing along to Everybody (Am I original? Am I the only one? Am I sexual?) in the shower at the top of his lungs- and Shisui will tell you, often times at length, that there is nothing quite as horrifying as coming over to brag to your best friend about the new holographic imported Clefable that you got in the mail to find your other baby cousin singing about sex.
It happens the day that Sasuke has roped them both into helping him erect the coolest lemonade stand this side of the South End- a construction that they had managed to piece together from mostly dry wood Shisui had risked life and limb to rescue from the river and half rotted two by fours that they'd liberated from the stack of lumber in Shisui's back yard. The paint, Shisui had stolen from his mother's hiding place in the basement, a refreshing green reminiscent of the flourishing grass beneath their sneakered feet.
And okay, Sasuke had spelled the word 'lemonade' with two m's and an a in place of the o, but that just made it more endearing. Right? And no one really needed to know that Sasuke was at an age that such a spelling mistake would be silly, because he looked like he was seven years old anyway.
So the lemonade stand was carefully crafted during long hours under the hot July sun, where Shisui mostly just sweated enough to completely drench his clothes and listened to Sasuke complain about it not being ready yet. The actual selling of lemonade was somehow even worse, because even though he was no longer sweating away with a hammer and instead planted atop a fold out chair in front of a miniscule hand held fan, Sasuke had brought out his brand new bright blue boombox and was using it to play a medley of boy band hits at a volume that was probably scaring potential customers off rather than welcoming them.
Which is how they got onto the topic of boy bands.
"Nick's my favorite," he's saying- and Shisui takes a moment away from staring longingly at the slip n slide set up a few blocks over to spare Itachi and Sasuke a glance. Sasuke has a wide grin stretched across his face and he's gesturing to the boombox next to them sporadically.
"He's obviously the best- unless you mean the other bands too. Then it's definitely Justin."
He pauses a minute, as if thinking about whether or not this is his final answer. He nods decisively. "Yeah, definitely Justin."
Shisui takes a minute to wonder what the kid would do if he grinned and said, "No way, Lance is totally the best," but ultimately, he thinks it's probably not worth it. After all, if the kid had an aneurysm and died, he's mostly sure that any chances of ever getting in Itachi's pants will be null and void. So instead he sighs, getting wearily to his feet and looking down to Itachi.
"I'm goin' in to get a diet coke. Want one?"
Itachi shakes his head. "Water, please."
Shisui nods and heads toward the house, only half paying attention to Sasuke's protests of "but we've got lemonade right here!" and Itachi's subsequent, "That's for the customers, Sasuke."
Being the only thing Sasuke was actually allowed to make, the lemonade is understandably terrible. That first sip of what should have been cool and refreshing nectar had Shisui spluttering quietly into his cup, mindful of the bright grin that Sasuke was directing towards him and Itachi. Somehow, Itachi had managed to down his with a straight face, and even go so far as to smile faintly and say, "It's quite good, Sasuke."
He doesn't get how his cousin does it. Perhaps it's some strange and mystical secret that is known only to those with adorable little brothers. In that case, Shisui is never going to know.
The kitchen is absolute paradise- the linoleum cool enough that he wants to kick off his sandals and just lay in the middle of the floor for the rest of the day, screw lemonade and Sasuke's annoyingly girly music.
But just as he's kicking off his shoes, Mikoto rounds the corner, cordless phone cradled against her shoulder. She gives him a quick smile, settling down at the kitchen table with the phone and a notepad.
So maybe laying down beneath the kitchen table wouldn't be the best idea. And at least the can of diet and thermos of ice water are cold enough that when he presses them to his sunburnt cheeks, he's at least a little bit refreshed.
When he steps back out onto the grass, it's just in time to hear Sasuke happily say, "You should be in a band, brother! I'm sure the girls would like you much more than Nick Carter."
It should be something that he laughs about in the shade of the porch, something that he can exchange an amused glance with Itachi over when he sits back down- but then he gets a good look at Itachi's face. He's got that look, the one he got before Sasuke's seventh birthday party when he'd singlehandedly managed to decorate the entire house (and yard), invite a plethora of first and second graders over, rent a jump castle, and somehow manage to obtain three fucking ponies.
That look, is quite frankly, completely fucking terrifying. It is the look that Shisui's nightmares are made of- the look that lurked in the shadows of his room after he'd watched Gremlins- it is that look that causes that fateful thought, two days later while Shisui's doodling all over his equations, to cross his mind. It is that look that prompts him to think, "Maybe if we start a boy band, Itachi will like me."
OKAY, he never said it was a good idea. In fact, a year and a half later when they're sitting with their manager discussing their second cd, Shisui will realize just how bad of an idea it was.
SEE, the thing is, being famous is actually really fucking hard. And being in a boy band- well, it's worse. Shisui can't even smoke in public- can't risk tainting that ridiculous boy band image, can't let the kiddies see him smoke and think that maybe it's cool. If it were any other band it would be fine- he could smoke to his little heart's content- pick up chicks in clubs that play bad techno music, but like this? Nope. It's like being in a Disney movie. Except it's their life.
Getting two other people to join had definitely been the hardest part- after all, everyone knew that boy bands had four or more members. Hell, Savage Garden had made it work- but everyone thought they were gay together anyway.
They'd managed to talk two of their cousins into it, in the end. They weren't a bad sort- and seriously, who didn't want to be famous when they were seventeen?
The first time that they make the tabloids, it's because Itachi and Shisui had been stupid enough to get into an argument outside of their high school. It had been something stupid, about Itachi riding the bus versus just letting Shisui take him home, but as always, the media had taken it out of context. Rapid fire speculation ran through the U.S. Was the band breaking up? Did a girl come between them? Did Shisui get someone pregnant? Did he make her abort the baby?
And those were only the mildly offensive rumors. There were nastier ones.
But the worst bit of it was how wrong he was. It was a simple mistake. Get famous, and his crush should like him, right? But no, that doesn't quite work out when the crush is a) another boy, and b) famous with you. They're in the spotlight all the time- doing something like making a move would bring their career to a crashing, nasty halt.
At this point, it's not like Shisui actually cares about the fallout that would occur. I mean, sure, they'd be those guys who got all incestuous and failed as celebrities, and they'd probably never actually get hired anywhere once they graduate, but hey, these things happen. And he'd have Itachi. Which would be a helluva lot more than he has now.
But if there's any upside to the whole thing, it's that Sasuke is ecstatic about it. Shisui can tell that it's getting to Itachi a little, not really being able to see Sasuke, but whenever they do see him, the kid's too happy to really say much.
They get some time away in October, and spend nearly the entire time with Sasuke. The kid shows them his gel pen collection and grins when he cracks a pink leopard print slap bracelet around Itachi's wrist, giving him strict instructions to wear it to all his concerts, so it'll be like Sasuke's there with him. On Halloween, they try to take Sasuke trick or treating, and it's worth getting stopped at nearly every door with questions asking if they're really them and please oh please, my daughter's out, but can I get your autograph? for how much candy Sasuke hauls home.
THE day before they leave, they manage to take Sasuke and a few of his friends to the Discovery Zone. Shisui would say that he's ashamed of the way that he dragged Itachi in, an arm around his cousin's hips and the other on the zip line- giving a kamikaze shout as he propelled them into the ball pit, but well, he isn't ashamed at all.
THEN there's the time that they come back for Sasuke's twelfth birthday, and spend the entire day getting asked questions about their identities until Shisui finally caves and just shoves some skates on Itachi's feet and gets them out onto the rink.
Sasuke, for one, is completely ecstatic about this development- skating over to them so fast that he nearly goes headfirst into a wall. The kid kind of makes a fool of himself, half dancing to the ridiculous music they've got blaring through the speakers, including the same Chumbawamba song over and over again. Itachi's pretty good about it though, even if he kind of sucks at skating in general. And anyway, Itachi nearly tripping every time they curve around the rink just means that Shisui totally has an excuse to laugh fondly at him, and curl their hands together.
To his relief, Itachi doesn't protest, just squeezes tightly before he manages to take Shisui down with him.
Later, when Sasuke is shoveling birthday cake into his mouth and Itachi's picking at too greasy pizza, Shisui will tug him away into the arcade and they'll play Mortal Kombat and Skeeball until someone recognizes them and they have to hurry back onto the rink again.
The day's long and trying, and when they get back to their condo they'll have a three hour long meeting with Danzo about the changes that they're planning on making for their third cd. It won't be fun and Itachi will spend the entire time eying his phone, probably hoping that Sasuke will call.
But when Sasuke does call later, at least it means he's honest when he says it's the most fun he's had in three years.
"I can't believe you don't know how to play skip-it. How has Sasuke not taught you yet? The kid taught me and he hates me."
Itachi doesn't even look up from scribbling random lyrics onto the curve of his wrist.
"Sasuke does not hate you, Shisui."
"You're kidding me, right? He snuck firecrackers into my bag when I wasn't looking last month. Lit ones."
The corner of Itachi's mouth quirks, but only just.
"Perhaps he just wanted to liven up your day."
Shisui glares at him and huffs out an affronted breath. "Anyway. Skip-it. He never taught you?"
This time Itachi does look up, rubbing the bridge of his nose and slipping off his glasses. "No, Shisui, he never taught me. I think the time that he taught you was the day that I was at the orthodontists."
Shisui grins. "Ahh yeah, the braces day. Man, that day was awesome. I couldn't believe how different you looked without them."
Itachi goes back to inking lyrics up his arm with the candy apple red gel pen Sasuke had dubbed him worthy of. ("Here big brother- it's my favorite. But you can have it cause it's your birthday.")
Says, "Yes, well."
Shisui taps a finger against his lips. "Y'know, I don't think I've ever actually seen you eat ice cream since then. Were you really so sick of it?"
"That and soups and beans and sticky rice. Braces are evil."
"Yeah, I can imagine. Good thing my teeth are better than yours."
Itachi narrows his eyes. "Just you wait," is all he says.
It's a Sunday. The sky is bright-- blue with fluffy clouds and swaying green trees- the perfect day to be outside. And they're stuck in their nasty condo, waiting to hear from their manager. At this point, Shisui's about to suggest hopscotch. He rocks back and forth on the kitchen stool, idly flicking ashes into the ash tray before him. He lets the silence pass for a couple more minutes before he stubs his cigarette out and springs to his feet.
"C'mon-" he says, grinning when Itachi looks up from his wrist, startled. "I know we have a skip-it around here. I've gotta show you. Sasuke would be ashamed- having a brother who doesn't know how to skip it.
THE roof is windy, but it affords them more privacy than the street would. He can see the headlines now- "Front runners of Bitter River have psychotic break- forget their age." Shisui can only imagine what they'd think if they got hold of his card collection or the Tamagotchi Itachi got him that's still stowed away in the back of his closet.
"This isn't a good idea."
Itachi's frowning at him, hair windswept, messy, and already half out of its ponytail. The ring around his ankle is neon orange- the same one that Sasuke had pressed into Shisui's hands ages ago with a dubious look, saying, "Just keep it, you need the practice."
His shins already ache from the remembrance of that bulbous end smacking into his legs. His counter had never gotten into the double digits- something particularly grating since Sasuke's had a tendency to get into the hundreds.
He grins. "Nonsense. Come on. Move your ankle- no, Itachi, the other one, why would you move that one? The one the ring's attached to."
Reluctantly, Itachi does so.
And promptly gets smacked with the bulb.
"No- Itachi you have to skip it- swing it- yes, now move the other leg-"
"Shisui, I am not doing this."
"You really are. Now come on, try again."
Itachi catches on a lot quicker than he did, but then again, he hadn't really expected anything else. When the counter starts creeping up to the 30s between screw ups, Shisui stops him. "Alright then, I think you've got it."
Itachi throws him a smug look over his shoulder and keeps skipping. His voice is completely flat when he speaks. "Oh, but Shisui, I thought that this was just so fun, I don't know if I can stop myself."
Shisui frowns and slumps back against some piping. "Okay, okay, I get it. I created a monster."
It's hard not to watch him. Usually so reserved, it's a little bit strange to see Itachi with a smile playing around the edge of his lips, his face flushed with exertion. After a couple more rounds, he kicks the ring off his ankle, struggling to manage his soft smile into something passive. Shisui wishes he wouldn't.
When Itachi reaches him, he leans next to him- still fighting to get his breathing under control. Shisui nudges him. "C'mon, this can't be worse than running around stage for hours. You should have way more stamina."
Itachi rolls his eyes.
They watch the skyline- the play of the sunlight over the rooftops, listen to the sounds coming from the streets below. Someone in their building has their radio on too loud- and with amusement, Shisui realizes he can pick up the sounds of his own voice. That figures.
"Guess the second cd was a success."
Itachi glances over at him. "Guess so."
Shisui sighs. "We should have gotten into the grunge scene. We could have been the next Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love."
Itachi raises an eyebrow, sending him an unimpressed look. "Does that mean I'd have to kill you?"
"Oh come on, you know that's just speculation. No one wants to admit that the dude could have killed himself, so they blame the wife."
Itachi hums under his breath, stooping down to grab a rock off the ground. "That's not what cousin Obito would say."
"Yeah, well, Obito's Obito. And anyway, I think I could totally rock the grunge look. How badass would I look in flannel?"
"And would you be just as bad at skateboarding as you are at Skip-It?" Itachi asks mildly, tossing the rock between his hands. Shisui scoffs.
"I would rock the skateboarding shit too."
"No really, I would be fucking amazing. I would rule the half pipe. You could even be my little pot head groupie."
Itachi chucks the rock clear off the roof, then turns toward Shisui. "That's assuming I would want to be your groupie." A pause. "Or smoke pot."
"And hey, I'm sure you could really churn out some angsty lyrics. I have no idea how you come up with half the girly shit you do."
"It's a talent," is all he says.
The roof is quiet for a minute. Somewhere on the street below, someone's shouting about oranges.
"You ever wonder if things could have been different? If we hadn't done this? I mean- you'd probably still be the whiz kid in school and I'd still be that dude your parents warned you about."
Itachi smiles. "I wouldn't really call you that."
There are clouds rolling in- gray, bloated things that reek of rain. Shisui wants to say something- he's not really sure what. 'I've had a giant crush on you since we were twelve years old and you bought me that X-Men yo-yo' sounds pretty dumb, but it's not like he can just announce that he would really kind of like to make out right about now.
A raindrop strikes his shoulder, and he's just opening his mouth to suggest that maybe they should head inside when Itachi turns around, slides a hand up along his jaw and says, "You do it like this, asshole."
And then he kisses him.
It's not really fireworks or anything. Sure, there's a crackle of thunder in the distance, and maybe for a second Shisui's heart seizes in absolute confusion, but it isn't the scenario he's been working up in his head for years.
He'd be lying if he said he didn't like it though.
SEX isn't exactly the fireworks he'd been expecting either. It's messy and a little silly, filled with lots of awkward laughter, bumped elbows, and badly timed jokes on his part- and okay, maybe they don't actually have the balls (or the stamina) to go all the way yet, so it's more of Shisui trying to suck Itachi off, kind of failing at it, and then mutually jacking each other off, but it's something.
And anyway, the next time is way better.
THEY record their third cd two weeks before Valentine's Day. The album has a suitably silly title, and almost every single track is Shisui wailing about partying, or the girl that got away, or in the case of track 5, something that sounds oddly like a male version of The Spice Girls hit single 'Wannabe'.
(He'd wanted to record a twelfth track called 'Dear Journal' as an ode to the princess of pop's most unappreciated number, but their manager had been very clear when he'd told Shisui that they would get their asses sued faster than they could say "oh shit.")
They're sitting amongst the sheets, mostly naked with the exception of a wayward sock or two, and Itachi's got a gameboy color in one hand, partially propped against his clavicle- so close to his face that Shisui's itching to fumble his way over to the bathroom and fetch Itachi's glasses for him. But he kind of has his hands full.
"Pastel green with glitter or royal blue with... little pink hearts?"
Itachi doesn't look away from his battle with one of the eighty million Bug Catchers he's bound to encounter in the game. "Hearts."
"Hearts it is, then."
The color's really quite pretty on Itachi's nails, makes the whiteness of his fingers really stand out. He wonders what Danzo's going to have to say about Itachi's little habit, but hey, they can always just say that it's a ploy to increase the sales of nail polish around the U.S. He'll probably buy that.
"So, I wrote a song for you," he admits, gliding the brush up along the curve of the nail. Itachi gives him a strange look. "Why?"
He shrugs. "I got you for that secret Valentine's Day thing that they're making us do."
Itachi pauses his game. "You do know that they're doing that just so we can donate the proceeds to charity or something, right?"
"Yeah, well, I made you music, so joke's on them."
The game's still paused, and now Itachi's looking at him a little more softly, the look he gets right before he tugs Shisui in for a kiss. Shisui somehow manages to get the brush back in the bottle before Itachi does just that.
It's a sweet kiss, as far as kisses go. It makes him think of doing this in the sunlight, somewhere they don't have to hide. When Itachi pulls away he laughs a little- soft, a puff of breath against Shisui's lips that makes them tingle.
"Please don't sing it to me. There's a reason that I write all the lyrics."
Shisui thinks about being offended, but well, yeah, they are kind of bad. He grins.
"Okay," he chirps, flopping back onto the pillows. "Can we just have sex instead?"
Itachi's smile widens, and he reaches down to turn the gameboy off. "Deal."
AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. OR SOMETHING.