Portrait of Hinata
Summary~ Itachi-centric POV /AU/modern times with a supernatural twist…
Disclaimer~ The characters are not mine, (sigh) I wish they were… they belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
Rating~ T for language, possible dark themes just to be safe…
Dedication~ To Sil (Narya Vilya) for disagreeing with me in favor of hot chocolate over tea and for all of the funny/random emails you have sent me. Also to Am (Lady Crack) for recently sharing a chapter for a story that was so awesome it inspired me to write something new. Big hugs and thanks to both of you.
Sunny laughter floated by the solitary figure seated on the bench on the edge of the ice skating rink in Central Park. For the last few weeks he found himself continually drawn to the place. Without even knowing why he did it, he kept coming back…
After all, this place was as good as any other to spend an afternoon; it was not as if he had somewhere else he had to be anymore.
Glancing up when he heard a muffled thud, he saw a group of elementary aged kids collapse in a jumbled heap on the ice and the sounds of their shrieks and laughter filled the air.
Unexpectedly, a memory of him ice skating with his younger brother flashed through his mind before he dismissed it. Those happy days were long gone, almost as if they had never happened.
Closing his onyx eyes to remove the playful sight before him, he lowered them back down to the artist's sketchpad in front of him.
As always, the blank tablet mocked him and asked him who was he kidding. He was no artist - art was for people who were inspired and saw things and felt things. Not for people like him who were just existing.
No he wasn't an artist; it was only a hobby to him. It was just something he liked to do and when he was younger he used to be good at it. But his father didn't see any value in pursuing a skill as useless as drawing so he was ordered to stop doing it. And being the dutiful son that he was, he complied with his father's wishes… at least he did until a few months ago.
"Hn, I finally found you, we were beginning to think you were dead," Itachi heard his younger brother, Sasuke, say to him from behind the bench.
Deliberately ignoring him, Itachi continued to stare at the sketchpad in front of him.
At his brother's slight provocation, Sasuke kept his temper back with an effort.
Releasing an exasperated breath, Sasuke sat down next to his brother on the bench and waited for him to say something. After not seeing Itachi for two whole months and then having had to go to the extreme of hiring a private investigator to find him, he felt he was at least owed an explanation.
But, as usual with Itachi, none was forthcoming. It riled Sasuke that his so-superior elder brother never felt the need to explain anything to him.
Finally, unable to stand the rigid silence any longer Sasuke blurted out in a voice taut with emotion, "Why damn it? Why did you have to leave?"
Itachi went still for a moment before he looked away.
You still don't get it - do you brother? he thought sadly. Sasuke never did understand what it meant to be born first in their family. He was too busy striving for their father's attention to notice anything else…
If his brother had been paying attention he would have seen that earning their father's love and approval came at a heavy price. And Itachi had finally reached a point where he could no longer pay it. He no longer wanted anything at all from his greedy bastard of a father.
Because in the end, he learned the bitter truth that his father loved power and money more than he did him. All along his father had just been using him as a means to an end…
He remembered back to when he was younger and used to feel close to his father and wanted nothing more than to prove himself to him. Back then there used to be good times in their family, especially when their father would sit with him and Sasuke on the porch in the evenings after dinner and share their family's long and illustrious history with them. He shared with pride how centuries ago the family used to be a mighty clan of ninjas in Japan, before Madara Uchiha brought what was left of the clan to America over a hundred years ago.
Those times shortly became only fleeting memories because not long after Itachi's thirteenth birthday, his father began taking him to work at their small distribution company. It didn't take Fugaku and others long to realize that Itachi wasn't just smart - he was a genius. And when it came to business he was a natural at it.
So incredibly prodigious was his talent, that by the time he was only fifteen he was already making almost all of the daily operating decisions for the company. While his father publically received all of the glory and over the next few years began expanding the family business until it became a mega-multi-national corporation with over a couple of billion dollars in assets.
By the time he was twenty, Itachi was running the company and had earned his MBA from the Harvard School of Business. In his father's eyes he could do no wrong, while his neglected younger brother grew increasingly jealous and began to hate him. And his mother never saw him anymore… except for the times she would bring him some lunch or would try to hook him up with one her friend's daughters.
During that period in Itachi's life, it seemed like he never slept…he didn't have time to. All he did was work, sleep a little, go to meetings and then work some more. He didn't have time for people or anything else as he literally poured his life into his father's company.
Two years later, Itachi's star continued to rise and he was invited to become an advisor to the Commerce Department in Washington D.C. and did so incredibly well; he started receiving phone calls from the President as well as a few leaders of foreign countries.
His relationship with his father began to become strained when Itachi could no longer ignore his father's lust for power. When Fugaku began courting political power in Washington and pressuring Itachi to run for public office, that was when he began to reach his breaking point and finally told him no.
Still, Fugaku relentlessly pleaded with his son and when that didn't work he threatened to force Sasuke run for office instead. However, that ploy backfired when Sasuke point blank refused his father, surprising his him and everyone else with his show of guts.
Itachi smirked and knew that was a wise decision for his insensitive little brother to make. For if he was sent up to that festering cesspool of greed and corruption that made up the congress in Washington DC, Sasuke would have probably ended up telling all of them to go fuck themselves.
Even Fugaku realized the truth that Sasuke was not cut out for public office and never seriously entertained the idea; he was just trying to manipulate Itachi into doing what he wanted.
Finally giving up the dream of either of his sons running for political office, Fugaku turned his ambitions to expansion projects where he took to crushing the competition and buying out other companies for pennies on the dollar when they couldn't compete with them any longer.
Not having enough of a percentage of corporate shares in the company to stop him on his own, Itachi had watched with helpless anger as his father ruthlessly bought out an established and very well respected textile business near them that had been around for over seventy years. Itachi knew the owner well and considered him to be a mentor, almost a grandfather figure to him.
The disappointed look the old man gave him on the day he lost his company to his father made something snap deep within him. Itachi's stomach twisted in knots when he had to watch his old mentor turn over the keys to his father and then listen to the old man tell his son and grandson that he was sorry he no longer had a company to pass down to them.
Itachi still became angry when he remembered how his father just shrugged and tossed the keys in a bag with all of the other keys of the companies he had crushed recently before he walked away.
Itachi left the very next day. He knew if he stayed at the company any longer he would lose even the small amount of humanity he still had left within him.
Itachi finally turned to his brother and stated flatly, "I am not coming back, so don't bother to ask."
Sasuke nodded tightly, he had been dealing with their father on his own for the past few months and could definitely understand why his brother wanted out. But even though he was learning his father was a complete bastard, he still felt some loyalty toward him.
"Father says he will give you more authority to make decisions if you come back," Sasuke tried, and his shoulders slumped as he knew even though his father had him to help him run the company, his father only wanted Itachi back.
Itachi's eyes were firm; yet understanding of the uncomfortable position his brother was in. "Tell him I said no."
Sasuke nodded his head before he stared uncomfortably at the ground and released a harsh breath; it galled him that he needed to ask for anything from his brother, but he was in over his head with their father at the moment and was left with no choice.
"Help me, Itachi…" he gritted out in frustration, "father is making a fucking mess of everything and you're just sitting back and letting him do it. Both of you are really starting to piss me off."
Itachi sighed and knew his brother was right but in his mind he had honestly reached a point in his life where he couldn't care less if the company just shriveled up and died completely.
Maybe it would be for the best, he thought and then he looked at his brother's angry face and reluctantly knew he had to do something…Sasuke and their mother didn't deserve to lose everything.
"Do you still hate me, Sasuke?" Itachi asked him as he looked at him with calm eyes.
Sasuke turned away from his brother and a slightly guilty look passed over his face before he muttered bluntly, "Yes."
I know you do brother, it's alright, Itachi thought as the corner of his lip quirked into a sad smile. "Meet me here tomorrow around noon and bring with you the most recent reports and financial statements you have."
Sasuke nodded solemnly and was grateful for his brother's help but he did not thank him, nor did Itachi expect him to.
As he turned to leave, his brother's voice stopped him.
"How is mother?"
Sasuke smiled wryly for the first time since seeing his brother again, "She has been going around telling everyone she knows you are vacationing in South America."
Itachi's eyes lit with amusement as that sounded like something their mother would do.
"You should call her," Sasuke told him over his shoulder as he began to head towards his car parked on the side of the road.
Itachi decided he would call her soon, maybe even tonight as he watched his brother walk away from him. As he took out his briefcase (one of the few things he had kept from his old life) he placed his sketchbook inside and closed it quickly when he saw a few snowflakes land on it.
Glancing up at the sky he noticed for the first time that ominous dark clouds had rolled in blackening out the afternoon sun. Anticipating a snow storm was about to blow in most of the people had already left the park and only a few stray people still straggled around the area.
Lifting his wrist up he consulted his watch in a businesslike manner and noted it was after lunchtime. He decided to stop by a deli for a bite to eat on his way back to his apartment.
The snow was beginning to fall heavily now and he was just about to leave when a movement on the ice caught his eyes. At first glance he saw it was a young woman who appeared to be a few years younger than he was.
He took a closer look at her and in an odd dreamlike way he felt himself nearly arrested to the spot he was standing on as he couldn't seem to take his eyes off of her.
She was one of the loveliest things he had ever seen.
Through the flurry of falling snowflakes that fell all around him, his intense black eyes captured the enchanting scene in front of him and seared into his memory every detail of her long flowing black hair and pallid skin. Her skin was so white and pure it was only a shade darker than the snow around them. His hungry gaze lingered on her delicately molded face and he found himself enchanted by the way it lighted with a child-like innocence as she lifted it to the sky and tried to catch snowflakes in her mouth.
He became amused by the cautious way she glided over the ice; he noted her eyes were constantly looking down as though she was afraid of falling. Itachi's mouth quirked when he saw a rueful grin flash across her face after she abruptly straightened herself after almost slipping on the ice.
Out of nowhere, she chuckled to herself and Itachi felt his breath catch as the laughing smile that lit her face filled it with such warmth and charm, he felt something more than the usual desire for a beautiful woman stir within him. Perhaps it was a need to smile with her.
He did not, instead his legs finally became unfrozen and he found himself slowly moving toward the ice as he felt compelled to speak to her.
Just as his foot stepped onto the edge of the ice and an eerie ringing sound from the dilapidated clock tower near the entrance of the park made him stop. He turned to the side and stared at it with perplexed eyes.
The bells in the clock tower rang one more time before it was silent again.
A small frown formed on his face when he realized he had been living near the park for nearly two months and this was the first time he ever heard it ring; he thought it was a little strange that it happened now. He wondered if it was just because it was so old and broken down that it probably just went off on its own at random times.
Turning back toward the ice skating rink his eyes widened and his stomach clenched when he looked all around the rink and couldn't find her. His eyes darted from the ice to the sidelines and then to the concession stand through the blanketing white snow and saw no one was around.
She was gone.
For several minutes he continued to search the area before he picked up the briefcase he had dropped and headed home…
Author's Note: I have had this story in my head for a while and couldn't resist the call of this particular muse any longer. This story is based very loosely on an old black and white classic film called, "A Portrait of Jennie." I also felt some inspiration from the song; Your Love is a Song, by Switchfoot. The lyrics are simply beautiful.
Manga Spoiler Alert (Ch 513): Hmm, first off Naruto's ability to remain oblivious no matter what the hell is going on around him is still incredibly annoying to me, not at all funny and cute as Kishimoto probably intended it to be. He needs to stop it because if he wants to be Hokage he cannot be dumb as a post. Anyway, I am glad to see Deidara still has his personality and wasn't zombieish, *wiping a few tears away* I am so glad to see him back. Again, Naruto's character is still annoying but Killer Bee and the way he says Motha Fucka kinda makes me laugh. I am looking forward to next week's chapter to see how this all plays out with the Tsuchikage and Kabuto/Deidara.