Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Naruto are property of Masashi Kishimoto. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.
Dedicated to Crazy PurpleSage for giving me the kick I needed to work on this and post it. Thank you!
Alternative Universe- aka the real world, not Konoha. Warnings for language and smoking. These chapters aren't meant to be songfics, but each one will have a set of lyrics that inspired me- not something I usually do, but this time I couldn't resist :) This chapter's lyrics are Pink- Please Don't Leave Me. Taken in the context I was writing, they fit perfectly.
/ I don't know if I can yell any louder / how many times have I kicked you outta here? / or said something insulting? / I can be so mean when I wanna be / I am capable of really anything / I can cut you into pieces / when my heart is broken /
By Nanaki Lioness
Uchiha Sasuke was a man of decisive actions and few words. Few would ever question his authority or business prowess, simply working beneath him without question and never once uttering a word of protest when things didn't quite align in the ways they would expect them to. The single person to ever once dare to ask why their boss had started to cut back on expenses within the business had received a room full of incredulous stares, muting the poor girl into a silence that lasted the rest of the week.
The tea break expenses had been the first. Small and barely noticeable to most- only to those who were relegated into making the morning refreshments and distributing them silently to the many workers, receiving a nod of thanks only sometimes as the recipients continued to click click click their keyboards in haste.
The office party had been the next casualty. Every year an all-expenses-paid Christmas party was the highlight of the workplace, but it was hampered marginally that year when the crisp, cream invitations had gone out with an extra line tagged onto the bottom- 'drink expenses not included'. No-one had been stupid enough to complain that there wouldn't be an open bar- they simply accepted they had been fortunate enough to receive one for as long as they had.
Next had been the job cuts. It was a person here, a person there- they came from areas of the business that people generally accepted as overstaffed in the first place, but when the Uchiha had sacked his own secretary and let an answering machine take over her workload people had begun to wonder what was going on. Of course, said secretary was regarded as a waste of space since she spent all her time ogling her boss and chatting online, but that was beside the point. Her post hadn't been filled, which was the worrying part.
That is, until a cool Thursday morning a couple of weeks after the hasty departure of the secretary. Workers had begun to file into the building, dragging their feet and their briefcases with dreary moods to match the weather when they had laid eyes on the Uchiha's apparent new secretary. The more polite people carried on walking, eyeing the new arrival carefully out of the corner of their eye until it hurt to carry on looking. The less polite simply stopped and stared, eyes widened in confusion.
It was well known Uchiha Sasuke was a man of equal employment, but they hadn't expected the new secretary to be male. The ladies had been remarkably pleased to learn that fact, considering the new employee was awfully attractive with a smile that set their hearts on fire. He looked familiar to them- they couldn't put a finger on it, until Sasuke himself stepped through the sliding doors of the building clutching a paper coffee cup from a nearby chain store and bringing with him the air of thunder.
He stopped completely dead, almost as though he was a marionette that had just had his strings pulled taunt. He blinked once or twice, features slowly twisting into a look of surprise leaving him staring at the new arrival with lips shaped like a small 'o' and a haunted look in his eye. The ladies turned their attention to him before he snapped out of it, glaring at them until they scurried like frightened mice to watch from a safer distance.
"You," Sasuke eventually spoke, stepping towards the man at the desk.
The man gave him another one of his small, pleasant smiles and cocked his head to the side slightly. "Me?"
"You asshole!" Sasuke screeched after a second, earning the entire lobby's collective glance of surprise. "Why are you here?! Wait- how did you get here, Itachi?!"
Itachi simply continued to regard him inquisitively, amusement in his eyes. "I flew here."
The smile widened slightly, lighting up Itachi's face as it did so. "Aeroplane. Airborne craft designed to carry people from different destinations. The first test flight for such a vehicle took place in 1903, conducted by the Wright brothers-"
"I know what an aeroplane is you fucking moron!" Sasuke yelled at him, turning to glare at his workforce around them once more. They had given up pretending they weren't interested, halting to stand and watch. The front door was beginning to become crowded as people stepped inside and stopped dead at the sound of their boss apparently having a mental breakdown.
"Perhaps we should take this somewhere more private?" Itachi suggested, rising to a stand. "Where is your office?"
Sasuke continued to stare at him so a nearby employee helpfully gave directions, earning a frown so harsh from Sasuke for his interference that he almost fell over in fright.
Itachi simply beckoned, leading them both in silence until they were inside Sasuke's reasonably sized office, seating himself in Sasuke's leather chair and looking at ease. Sasuke watched him from the doorway, finally entering and closing the door behind him with a click when it became apparent Itachi wasn't planning on leaving.
"I'd ask for a coffee, but apparently you sacked your secretary," Itachi spoke up, indicating the cup Sasuke was holding. "Do you have any idea how many calories are in the average chain store coffee?"
"Why are you here?" Sasuke asked once more as Itachi started to explore his desk, picking up items and regarding them curiously before moving to the next one. He stopped on a packet of cigarettes, picking it up and glancing up at Sasuke with an eyebrow raised.
"Do I need to lecture you on the dangers of tobacco?"
"You're a fucking hypocrite!" Sasuke argued as Itachi opened the box and swiped one, eyes sparkling with mirth.
"Ah, but I'm the older brother and you're the younger brother," Itachi explained, his tone leaving no room for complaint as he searched the younger Uchiha's desk for a lighter. "Which leads me to why I'm here. I don't suppose you have a light, do you? I had to ditch mine before getting on the plane."
Sasuke tossed the lighter from his pocket onto the desk carelessly, glaring at Itachi once more. "You abandoned us all to move to Spain six months ago," he bit out, the bitterness in his voice staining the air around them.
"I took a lucrative job prospect," Itachi corrected. "But we're not here to talk about me."
"You have a tan," Sasuke pointed out, seemingly impressed by such a small feat before he quashed it, the resistance to the sudden intrusion returning to his eyes.
Itachi chuckled at that, lighting the cigarette in his hands with a casual shrug. "Well, I've been living in a hot country and we've just had a nice summer. I'd be surprised if I hadn't."
"You have time in your lucrative job to go and relax at the beach-"
"Hardly, Sasuke," Itachi attempted to interject, but Sasuke spoke over him.
"-but you didn't have the time to come and visit?" Sasuke finished, finally sitting down opposite his brother in the fawn coloured client's chair and setting the paper cup he was holding down.
"Unfortunately my job leaves me with little to no time for recreation, let alone visits to another country," Itachi sighed, looking wistful as he leant back in the chair. "I took a reprimand for taking unscheduled time off for this visit, actually."
Sasuke's hard expression melted slightly, finally giving way to a mild glance of concern. "You did?"
"Dad called," Itachi replied quietly. "He asked me to visit you."
"So you came to satisfy his ridiculous whims?"
"He tells me you're having problems," Itachi continued, ignoring the jibe. "With the business. You realise sleeping three hours a night and existing on nicotine and coffee isn't healthy, don't you?"
"There you go again, being a hypocrite," Sasuke muttered. "I know you do the same thing."
"Let me rephrase that," Itachi replied, exhaling smoke and eyeing Sasuke carefully. "There's a difference between what you do and what I do, and that's I do my job and you're doing twenty jobs. You shouldn't have sacked your secretary."
"She was a worthless waste of space taking up resources."
"An answering machine is not a reliable substitute. It's going to hurt your business even more if people call and can't speak to a live person."
"What's it to do with you anyway?" Sasuke snapped, folding his arms and not meeting his brother's enquiring eye. "You deal with your business and I'll deal with mine. Now fuck off back to Spain and leave me alone."
"¿Qué te pasa?" Itachi finally spoke, tapping ash into Sasuke's glass ashtray and narrowing his eyes in concern.
"Do you expect me to understand that? Don't get cryptic with me."
"What's wrong?" Itachi clarified, accepting the point. "Swallow your pride, Sasuke- I'm here to help you because your business is failing."
"You can't just swoop in and save the day, Itachi. You're my brother, not a superhero."
"You thought I was a superhero when you were a kid," Itachi replied kindly, reaching over and tapping Sasuke's forehead lightly. "Forgive me for thinking I might have a chance to help you."
"I don't need help," Sasuke scowled at him, rubbing his forehead lightly. "Dad's overreacting."
"I don't believe that for a second. You've been cutting costs and laying people off- that's a sure sign things aren't going well. Let me speak with your accountant."
Sasuke glared at him resolutely, eyes hardened as he shook his head sharply. "I run this company, not you. You have no authority over me."
"Then allow me to act as your secretary," Itachi offered, giving him a firm glare that suggested he would be wise not to argue.
"What about your real job? You know- the one you cared about so much you abandoned us all overnight for."
"You're still bitter about that?" Itachi sighed rhetorically, looking troubled by that fact. "It's been a great experience, Sasuke. Can't you just let it go and be happy for me?"
"What does Spain have that we don't?" Sasuke disputed, clearly unwilling to drop the topic as suggested.
"Sun," Itachi replied easily. "But to answer the real question you're attempting to attack me with, it holds the opportunity to experience another part of the world. Do you have any idea how difficult it was trying to get by on only high school knowledge of Spanish?" He tapped more ash into the glass tray, a hint of a smile on his lips. "It's amazing how quickly you learn when you realise the only phrases you can remember are are 'hello, my name is Itachi and I am twelve years old' and 'can you please tell me where the bathroom is?'"
"Maybe you should have thought about that before moving there."
"I didn't say it was negative," Itachi countered, putting the cigarette out and glancing up at Sasuke with determined eyes. "It was an enlightening experience. Look- we aren't getting anywhere, are we? Think about what I'm suggesting here. If I'm offering to be your secretary, what does that mean?"
"That you want to rescue the princess and save the day," Sasuke replied shortly, eyes flicking between Itachi and the smouldering remains of his cigarette. "I live in a house, not a castle- sorry to disappoint."
"Your hair might not be long enough to throw out the window, but I'm still willing to try and climb the building for you."
"You assume I even need your help?"
"Sasuke, I'm willing to come home and bail you out," Itachi responded sharply, narrowing his eyes slightly in displeasure. "I don't expect you to be grateful because I'm aware that's going to hurt your pride, but you could at least be pleased to see me."
"Why would I? You left."
"Are you jealous?" Itachi asked airily, reaching out and taking Sasuke's neglected coffee in his hand. "I get to sip cocktails on the beach and you're stuck in here drinking mochafrappelattewhatevers in a dingy office. I get it."
He took a sip before Sasuke snatched it from him, slamming it back on the desk. "Get out of here, Itachi."
"I was being sarcastic, but I can forgive you missing that," Itachi replied idly, standing up and regarding Sasuke with narrowed, mildly anguished eyes. "You don't want my help?"
"I thought I'd made that remarkably clear."
"You're stubborn as always. You realise that's going to be what costs you?"
"You can't fix everything you touch!" Sasuke yelled at him, pointing at the door. "Go back to your cosy little world and don't lay a hand on mine!"
Itachi stepped slowly past him, leather shoes padding softly on the worn carpeted floor as he made his way to the indicated door. He paused, laying a hand on the chipped painted doorframe as he looked over his shoulder.
"You realise you aren't the only one having issues with this meeting?" He spoke slowly, almost as though he was tasting each word before speaking it. "I wanted my first visit back to be a casual one. I didn't want to come in and attempt to walk all over you and your business, but Dad tells me he tried the gentle approach and it didn't work."
"It didn't work because I don't need help."
"I'm not like this," Itachi continued, sounding marginally hurt by his own admission. "I don't like treating you like this, but if I have to do so to get through to you, I will. I'll do anything I can, Sasuke."
"I don't like to repeat myself," Sasuke warned him. "You're not a superhero. You're an overstressed businessman with an addiction to caffeine and nicotine that can rival my own. We're the same, you and I. I don't need your help to become you because we are already so similar."
Itachi turned, regarding him with building curiosity as he leant against the white frame. "If we're so similar, why do we blend like oil and water?"
Sasuke gave him no reply, seating himself in the vacant seat Itachi had left and pointedly ignoring the presence in his doorway. Itachi watched him for a moment more before reaching into his pocket, flicking a card across the room. It landed on the shabby carpet- woollen white against besmirched brown.
"I leave tomorrow," Itachi remarked, unsurprised that the card lay ignored. "That's my number. If you change your mind, call me and I'll resign over the phone and start that hour. You don't have to pay me. If you want me to help in any other way, I'll do that too- I promise you I'll help you fix this, if you'll let me."
"How do I say 'get out' in Spanish?" Sasuke asked, placing his elbows on the table and resting his chin on his hands.
"I suppose you could use 'quitarse de en medio'," Itachi replied after a moment. "Though I prefer 'te quiero'."
"They sound rather different."
Itachi gave him a tiny, tormented smile. "Perhaps you should look it up, then."
He turned and left the room, closing the wooden door behind him so lightly it barely made a sound. Sasuke watched the space where his brother had been moments earlier before turning to his telephone, picking it up and dialling an internal number.
"Is that the international affairs department? This is Uchiha Sasuke," he spoke slowly when it connected, eyes flicking to his cold coffee. He lightly touched the side, feeling very little heat in it- how long had he been wasting time with his brother?
"It is- how can I help you, Sir?"
"Do you have somebody I could speak to for a moment who can translate some Spanish for me?"
"I can do that, Sir. Would you like to e-mail me the-"
"No," Sasuke cut in. "Just tell me. What does 'te quiero' mean?"
The man on the other end of the line seemed stunned for a moment, recovering swiftly and slipping back into his professional attitude and speaking words that made Sasuke's blood run cold in his veins.
"Certainly Sir," he answered as Sasuke turned his eyes to the business card on the floor, the upturned side illegible at the distance he was at. "It means 'I love you'."
/ please don't leave me / please don't leave me / I always say how I don't need you / but it's always gonna come right back to this / please, don't leave me /
/ I need you /
/ I'm sorry /
Author's Note: I know the true meaning of the lyrics, but don't take them that way- take them in a Sasuke's-an-idiot way (as usual)! I've had a rough, unrefined version of this sitting around for a while and it's thanks to a conversation with Crazy PurpleSage that I finally got around to sorting out. Thank you! Thank you all for reading as well, and I hope you're enjoying so far :)
I wasn't sure if I was going to leave this as a one shot, but I decided not to. I like this universe too much and I felt the need to resolve the issues presented!