Authors Note: I needed to comfort myself by writing something familiar. So here it goes. Armed only with the jumbled thoughts floating around in my head… I've been meaning to write for days now, but I've had no inspiration.
Then I read the Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella…
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, only the story. Sadly.
It is so fascinating watching Uchiha Sasuke do something ordinary – like combing his hair. He's the type of person that is seen only ever thinking business and working. What's his home life like? Nobody knows. Nobody has seen him not at the office.
I gaze openly in awe as he comes out of the bathroom with only a pair of faded red plaid pajama pants on. His hair is still wet, clinging to his forehead in places and dripping onto his shoulders.
Apparently, he is human after all. I couldn't have dreamed even in my wildest fantasies that he had showers like a normal person. He just... is always magically clean.
He grabs another towel off the dresser and rubs it on his head, spraying little drops of water onto the floor. Next, he opens the closet and reaches for a clean shirt. He slips first his right arm into the sleeve neatly, then his left. Half way through buttoning it up, he looks at me.
His expression is blank, solid. But his eyes are different. His deep, dark, beautiful eyes have an itsy bitsy, teeny weenie glimmer of curiosity. Almost like they're whispering, "What are you looking at?" He doesn't move, his hands perfectly still on the middle button.
I realize my mouth is hanging open and I close it quickly then look down and away. When I sense him moving again, I glance up and watch him, completely mesmerized, finish buttoning his shirt.
Then he combs his hair. I actually get up to watch him do this. I'm standing four feet away from him when he sighs and puts the comb down.
"What is it, Sakura?"
"N-Nothing." I can't just tell him I think he's the most beautiful creature I've ever laid eyes on. He'd take that as an insult, I'm sure. Oh God, look at those eyes. I'm suddenly dizzy.
"Have you never seen somebody comb their hair before?" He asks, smirking slightly. "Surely you do it every morning." I regain my balance and glare up at him. My mouth set in a firm line, I try to come up with a comeback.
"Of course!" I say. That's the best I can come up with. I've just never seen you comb your hair before.
Normally, he would be doing all these ordinary things alone. Obviously. Away on business, here to go to conferences, take notes – basically, do all those business-y things businessmen do while away for work. He was sent to one of the nicest hotels available in this part of the country – and he doesn't have to pay!
Normally, he wouldn't have to deal with me.
Sasuke and I don't exactly get along. To be honest, we downright hate each other (but that doesn't mean I can't think he's the most gorgeous person alive).
So what am I doing here? Sitting in the same hotel room, watching him come out of the shower? In the same hotel room?
Actually, our story is rather funny. Hilarious, in fact. You'll probably laugh a lot. We didn't (well, okay, I allowed myself a little titter while Sasuke was showering). But I'm sure we will in the future. That's how embarrassing things end, right? It's horrid for the first bit, but in a few months, I'll tell all my friends and laugh my head off.
You see, we both happen to work for this huge top-notch publishing company. Sharingan Publishing Company (SPC). Sasuke's older brother Itachi (or Mr. Uchiha as we simple employees must call him) owns the business – he inherited it after their parents died. But Itachi wants to step down soon, (an early retirement at 31! Lucky!). Obviously, Sasuke owns part the company since he's family, but only part. Mr. Uchiha wants Sasuke to take over completely soon… And, to make a long story short, Sasuke has to do all the grunt work under Mr. Uchiha until he believes Sasuke is fully able to run the corporation on his own. Or so the office gossip says.
I'm a novelist undercover as a secretary slash assistant… Okay, maybe not. I'm a secretary who wants to be a novelist. I haven't actually gotten around to writing a novel, but I'm planning on it. Eventually. So anyway, I'm a secretary… Which is a fancy way of saying an errand girl. It really sucks, I promise. So I didn't mind, when I was younger, being in a job where I had to kick the copy machine just to get it working – in fact, the idea of that once excited me, go figure. And I also didn't mind, really liked actually, the idea of always being needed everywhere. Seriously, I once thought it would be so neat to be needed. Needed all the time.
But then I got the position as The-Only-Person-Who-Can-Actually-Work-The-Copy-Machine… And started always getting asked to help people with that, and at first it was really great. I got popular so soon after getting hired… Then my boss, Nara Shikamaru (he's an editor FYI), got angry because he said it looked like I wasn't doing my job – but I'm a really nice person and have trouble saying no to people… and straight to the conclusion, it just got really bothersome.
Anyway. I bet that you're thinking, "Gee, that's not very embarrassing." And it isn't! The embarrassing thing that happened was – well, why don't I start at the beginning. The whole story is rather interesting, actually…
Part One: Chapter One
"Hey, this one is rather cool!" I say picking up a tiny cell phone. My best friend, Hinata, and I are cell phone shopping. I recently got a job a some posh publishing company (how I ever managed to land it, I'll never know. All I can think of is how lucky I am, seeing as my rent is due soon). Hinata asked me in her quiet way if I was going to need a cell phone.
And honestly, I have no idea. I'm going to be a secretary. I've done office work before, but only for small companies. I was always on call just in case, and I did happen to get a few phone calls while I was at home. So then I decided, since it's a larger company, with fifteen floors, I figure, why not? Investing in a cell phone might result in a raise. If I can get calls at home, or shopping or wherever I am at the time, and come rushing into work, it will show that I'm serious about my job (and I am).
I want to make all the right connections for when I finish writing my book. The one I haven't really begun writing yet… Well, I've started writing a book, tons actually, but I have so many ideas swirling around in my head, I can't decide which one to write first! Then when I do feel like writing, I end up starting a completely new project…
So here I am, in the electronics section of a department store, browsing cell phones. I have no idea where to start first. I've never needed a cell phone before. Are you supposed to be able to play music on it? And do I really need a package that includes funky ring tones?
I guess, since it's business, I should stick to something simple. Not boring, but effective (those ring tones are really neat, actually). It's not like everybody is going to see my cell phone all the time. Not really, anyway.
"This one is kind of nice." Hinata says quietly. I look over her shoulder at blue and silver phone she's holding up. I shrug.
"I kinda wanted a flip-phone." I say walking
around her and staring at a selection of black phones that, in my
opinion, look all the same. Hinata is looking at me. "I had a
friend once," I explain, "she had this phone, and it wasn't a
flip phone. She was putting it away in her bag, and her wallet
pressed some buttons." I pick up a bright pink phone and put it
back down again. I don't need a colored phone, do I?
"It called her mother. She told me later that her mum picked up, and could hear her talking to who she was with at the time." I flip open another phone that I kind of like.
Actually, I really like it.
"So, to avoid extra expenses that I don't know about, I want a flip phone." Hinata nods. "I like this one. Hey look, it's waterproof." I glance at the price tag. "Not too expensive either." Until I include everything else you need when purchasing a phone, anyway. SIM cards or whatever they are. Among other things.
"Excuse me, ma'am, can I help you?" A friendly man wearing an electronics nametag is standing beside me. "Would you like to purchase that phone?" I nod my head.
"Yes, I think so." The man nods his head and says "right."
Okay, so maybe that far into the beginning is a little much. So I bought this awesome new waterproof cell phone... To shorten it for you, let me jump ahead in the story a bit.
Over the next few days at my new job, a secretary slash assistant for one of the head editors, Nara Shikamaru, I discover I have a talent.
I'm the only one who knows how to work the photocopier! I've always wanted to be that person – the one that is always on demand because nobody else can get it to run properly. The next few days are great! It seems that every five minutes I have to leave my desk and kick the machine down the hall in just the right place for somebody else – the company is nearing a deadline for a number of books, and everybody is in a kafuffle (and needing to photocopy obviously important documents).
However, in all that rush, I miss a number of phone calls and a high profile author (some pig named Yamanaka Ino) had been waiting in reception to see Mr. Shikamaru for half and hour. When I finally got around to letting her into his office, and explaining to them both why it took so long, my boss seemed gracious. I was so relieved. Then the author left and I discovered that he was just being polite.
He really was furious, and threatened to fire me if I didn't stop messing around for other people. Hey said:
"These offices have survived without your aid for years! Stop being so troublesome and stick to your job!"
I took what he said to heart. Well, I tried. But people kept asking so nicely, and I didn't want to disappoint them. I tired teaching a few of the other personal secretaries where to kick the machine, but they just couldn't figure it out. Honestly, the machine will only work for me.
I think Mr. Shikamaru found out, because suddenly everybody stopped asking me for help. Which leads me to believe that he doesn't actually want to have to get rid of me. I asked him about that, and he said he just didn't want to go through all the troublesome effort of finding somebody else to work for him.
I still think he just likes me and wants me to thrive in my new working environment.
Over the next few weeks, we started to get on really well. He upgraded his "good morning" glare to actually saying good morning to me and giving me only a brief look of annoyance. Only brief of course. Though, at first, this really bothered me, then I saw how he looked at some of his longtime co-workers, and even a few of his clients.
After working with Sharingan Publishing Company for three months, I still had not met the head honcho, Mr. Itachi Uchiha. Another employee, Chouji Something (I'm not too sure what he actually does) said that I was lucky to have lasted so long without running into him. Or Sasuke, another editor named Rock Lee had added. Rumor has it that the younger Uchiha looks like he has a pole crammed up his – well, you know... Apparently, mind.
I had seen the famous Brothers Uchiha in the newspapers, and read their names on and inside books, but I had never seen them in person. Apparently, their offices are on the top floor, and the receptionist Ten Ten swears on her job that they do, in fact, come in every morning and leave in the evening.
"They're workaholics." She had said happily to me one morning after I asked about them. "They come in before anybody else, and leave late at night. Sometimes even before me!" She's gathering a clump of official looking papers into a clip. "Why?"
"I don't know." I sigh, signing in for the day. "It's just, I kind of want to know who I'm working for." Ten Ten gives me a strange look as she files the papers away.
"You know who you're working for." She says finally. "You work for Shika!" I shrug.
"You work for Mr. Itachi Uchiha, have you met him?"
"Of course!" She smiles. It looks a little forced.
"What's he like?" I ask, leaning on the counter.
"Well," the taps her chin with a ballpoint pen. "He's really handsome. He's really… strict?" she offers. "Sasuke is a little better. He's really gorgeous too!" she leans towards me on her elbows. "He's got the most mesmerizing eyes!" I shake my head and head towards the stairs.
I would take the elevator, but I can't stand small, closed in spaces. Well, to be fair, the elevators here aren't that small. They're rather huge, actually. But there aren't windows. And all I can think about in them is getting trapped. And I get motion sickness since I can't see where I'm going. Besides, taking the stairs means that I'm getting exercise. And everybody needs to exercise, right?
I cross the hallway and head for the big, dark door on the end with the gold plate that says "Editor Nara Shikamaru". Inside, all the walls are a light cream color. There is a small reception area with four, dark blue plushy seats against the right wall. On the left is my desk, all big and beautiful: band new, shiny mahogany wood. I even have my own gold nameplate, which reads "Miss Sakura Haruno". I like to polish it every morning. Scattered around the room are large prints of clouds in thin black frames. When I first got the job, I decided to make the place homier, and added a few plants, like a mini palm tree-like fern in the corner by the seating. At the far end of the room is another dark door, which leads to Shikamaru's private office.
I sigh happily and walk around to my desk. I take off my jacket and drape it over the back of my chair. I kick off my shoes under the desk. Once seated comfortably, I reach for the small, black diary where I log the day's events. For today, it says:
Meeting with Yamanaka Ino – 10:00AM
Meeting with Hyuugi Neji – 11:30AM
Lunch with Uchiha – 1:00PM
Hang on, I didn't write that in. Lunch with Uchiha? I realize suddenly that the writing is not in my neat printing, but in Shika's hurried scrawl. Shikamaru is having lunch with Uchiha! Which one, though?
Just then, the door opens and Mr. Shikamaru slowly walks in, hands in his pockets. As he comes up to my desk, he glances down his nose at me.
"Good morning, Haruno. Not being troublesome, I hope."
"Morning sir! I was just going over today's agenda!" I hop out of my chair and hold up the little black day planner. "You have a meeting with Miss Yamanaka at ten." He wrinkles his nose. A client he does not particularly like. "And, sir, you're having lunch with Uchiha?" He looks at me and nods shortly before heading for the door to his office. "Which one?" I add suddenly. Curiosity got the better of me. He whips around giving me a glare so fierce I sit suddenly down in my chair.
"Who else?" he asks, and I swear he smirks, as he disappears into his office. Damn. Obviously, Shikamaru is allowed to make notes in the planner. It is for planning his days, after all. Nevertheless, I wish he had told me about this particular little note. Clearly, since I hadn't known about it, it had been arranged last night after I had gone home.
Suddenly a telephone rings. Instead of the professional ring of the office phone, it's the happy ditty of my cell. I reach for my purse, which is still strapped across my shoulders, and pull it out. The display reads "Shrgn Publ" I flip it open.
"Hi, Sakura?" comes Ten Ten's voice.
"Why are you calling my cell?"
"Well, you left a post-it note on my desk requesting that I use your cell phone, to make things 'funner', or something."
"I left that two months ago." I said opening a drawer on my right and rummaging for a pen. Ten Ten is silent for a minute.
"Well, the lines are full right now." she says, sighing. "Anyway, Yamanaka Ino is down here, should I—"
"What?!" I cut her off. I reach for the journal that is still open on my desk and double check the appointments. "She's not scheduled until ten!" That pig! She came early just to tick me off, I bet.
"Well, she's here now. And already heading for the elevators – Miss Yamanaka! You can't go up there yet!" The phone goes dead. Great.
I pick up the office phone and press the code for Shika's room.
"Mr. Shikamaru, Yamanaka Ino is here early this morning and on her way up. Should I send her in or make her wait?" He's silent for a long moment. He sighs and mumbles something about 'troublesome' before he answers me.
"Send her in when she gets here."
I'm only just putting the phone down when something purple and blonde bursts into the room dramatically.
"Good morning, Ino!" I say as cheerfully as I can. Her long blonde hair is done up in the same boring, high ponytail that it always is. Her purple suit (who knew you could get suits in that shade of purple?) is smartly ironed, not an inch of fabric out of place. Her shoes are outrageous, all thin straps crisscrossing each other with a tall, pointed heel on them. They match her outfit. "You're a little early," I say, "but Mr. Shikamaru will see you right away." She looks at me, surprised.
"Oh! You still work here!" She gasps in mock-surprise. "I thought you would have been gone by now, what with that huge forehead." She laughs to herself and prances into Shika's office. "Fat, ugly, no-good pig." I mumble to myself after the door is shut.
That woman hates me with everything in her. If I said I didn't know where that hate came from, that'd be a lie. Because I'm pretty certain it comes from the fact that when we were in the same junior class, the boy she had a crush on liked me better. And that I got into all the classes I wanted in college, whereas half of hers were full by the time she got her courses in. And that I got the job she applied for without even an interview. Then I quit a few months later, and they still didn't hire her (I don't even remember what store it was).
The hours slowly creep by. Once I finish sorting the paperwork that Shikamaru had left on my desk, and adding appointments to the planner, (and fetching Shika a cup of black coffee and Ino a glass of mineral water – errand girl, see what I mean?) it's ten. I leave a note on my desk saying that I am out for a coffee. When I get back fifteen minutes later, I thought surely Ino would be gone. But as I sit down, I hear them start yelling at each other. Ten after eleven a disgruntled Ino comes marching out with a frowning Shikamaru in toe. She yanks the door to the hallway open with a huff, startling another secretary on her way to the copying room, I wonder absently how much trouble she's going to have. I can still hear Ino stomping towards the elevator as Shikamaru shuts the door swearing under his breath.
Shortly after, Neji arrives, right on time for his appointment with Shikamaru, and I go out for lunch at a small Chinese restaurant down the road from Sharingan Publishing. When I return, the offices are quiet. Shikamaru is standing and admiring one of the cloud prints above the seating area. He says nothing to me when I come in, and I only glance at him as I walk around my desk. I sit down and start going over the reports I have to file from the two appointments this morning.
"He will be here shortly, you might want to…" Shika is saying, I look up from the papers. "Powder your nose, or whatever you troublesome girls do before something important." Did he seriously just tell me to powder my nose? I raise an eyebrow. "Never mind," he grunts, "you look fine." There's a soft knocking at the door. "Be on your toes." Shikamaru says to me. "Ah! Mr. Uchiha! Good afternoon!"
In steps Mr. Itachi Uchiha himself. All tall and dark and handsome. I feel a sudden urge to bow and address him as "his royal highness". He nods to Shika and turns to me. Oh my God, his eyes are such a light shade of brown they look red. It's probably just the lighting.
"Ah, Miss Haruno. Nice to finally meet you." His voice is friendly, but has a cold undercurrent. He doesn't wait for my reply, but turns back to Shikamaru. "Shall we?" and strides out of the office.
I sit down in a daze when the office is empty.
He knew my name.
I never didn't even think of the shiny nameplate sitting proudly on my desk.