-falls over- Here it is... Sorry for the wait, y'all. I'm sorry that this chapter is also kind of mundane and everyday-ish... The good stuff is coming, I swear
Sasuke was slowly growing to despise his alarm clock. Screaming a muffled howl of annoyance into his pillow, he reached blindly for his bedside table and grabbed his mobile phone which was currently blasting out angry Metallica music in attempts to rouse him from the dead. After fumbling around with it whilst his face was still in the pillow, he managed to locate the off button and blessed silence stole over his bedroom again.
Slamming the device back down on the nightstand, Sasuke planted his hands on the mattress to either side of his pillow and pushed his torso up off the bed, his spine creaking in protest. No matter how many times he went through this process (which was every morning from Monday to Friday, every week), he still despised it with all his being.
Sasuke was definitely not a morning person.
Shuffling out of the enticing warmth of his bed, he pulled the blind up on his window and glanced out at the car park to his apartment complex. Snow coated the sleeping cars thickly, the whiteness of the outside world almost blinding despite the fact that it was five in the morning and the sun wasn't due to rise for at least another three hours. This weather didn't really shock Sasuke though. He'd seen nothing but snow since he moved to this goddamn town.
He ran his hand through his hair, feeling the gel from the day before still clumping the strands at the back together, and immediately started to get his work clothes together before taking them with him into his bathroom and placing them neatly on the lid of the toilet. He turned the shower on, the water hissing as steam quickly filled the room, and then he stepped into the stall and groaned as deliciously hot water pummelled his body.
This was probably the best part of his day, the hot shower. Because honestly, Sasuke didn't like his internship at all. He'd been in Alaska for a month now, working eight till five every day, and it was safe to say that his job was ridiculously dull. He was already sick of the sight of the MUTARS tumour system, and he'd only translated about ten percent of the surgical techniques that existed for all the fucking implants within that system.
Surely most foreign surgeons nowadays speak English? He wondered irately as he lathered shampoo up in his hair, massaging his scalp as he did so. And isn't it slightly fucking worrying that they need instructions on how to use the fucking implants after all the training and school they've been through?
It wasn't just the translations that made work bad, though. Sasuke had been put in an office with quite possibly the most childish adult he'd ever met in his life. He had thought that maybe Naruto was just having a bad day on that initial day when they had met, but a month later the older man was still and cranky and whiny and angry as ever. That man really didn't know how to deal with stress.
He supposed that the rest of his co-workers were okay though. Neji had basically taken Sasuke under his wing and made a point of chatting to Sasuke as they worked, and often dragged the intern out to lunch with other co-workers (who for some reason were all female). Sasuke had also had the 'pleasure' of having lunch with the director of the company, Jiraiya Sannin, and had politely turned down all further offers after Jiraiya had done nothing but accost him for facts about England and the women that lived there.
Aside from Neji, Sasuke didn't really consider any of his co-workers as his friends, however. The main reason for this was the rather disturbing way all of the women seemed to fawn over him and ask him to say random words in his "adorable accent". It disturbed him because they all did it. Even Neji's virtually mute cousin Hinata who worked with Sakura in Export had asked him to say the word "tomato" after she had seen him cutting one up the other day.
Sighing and rinsing the shampoo out of his hair, replacing it with conditioner, Sasuke began to mentally prepare himself for his day. Although he was fluent in two other languages aside from English, translating all day long always gave him a headache and basically exhausted him. He returned home every night practically begging to get into bed. So far, he'd turned down every single invite from his co-workers to go out drinking.
It wasn't just that he was tired, or that he didn't consider himself that well acquainted with his co-workers. Sasuke couldn't hold his drink to save his life, and there was no way he was letting anybody find out that little secret.
Especially not Naruto. Not only was the man the crankiest, bitchiest colleague in the world, he had a penchant for riling Sasuke up. He knew exactly how to push Sasuke's buttons and piss him off, and it was only pure willpower that had stopped Sasuke from getting into an argument with him. Naruto was his superior after all, and could quite easily have him out of a job if he so wanted.
Eventually, Sasuke could find no more excuses to stay in the shower and he turned off the water, stepping out and drying himself quickly before the cold hit him. He pulled on his work clothes, a pair of smart black trousers and a polo shirt with the company logo on the chest, and then blow-dried his hair and styled it. Glancing at the time as he walked back into his bedroom, he decided he had enough time to check his emails before he left and turned his laptop on.
There was one email from his brother which he ignored for the moment, because he knew it would probably just piss him off and leave him in a bad mood for the rest of the day. He checked his Facebook and answered the few messages that friends from England had posted on his wall asking how he was enjoying Alaska and if he was coming home for Christmas and such.
Christmas couldn't come quickly enough in his opinion, but it was only October.
After procrastinating online for ten minutes, Sasuke turned the laptop off and pulled on his coat, scarf and gloves. Finally, he picked up his briefcase, checked he had his phone, keys and wallet, and exited the apartment for the day.
The bite of the wind was nearly painful on his sensitive skin as he emerged into the white darkness of the street. Snow crunched under his feet as he set off in the direction of the industrial estate, a good thirty minute walk from him.
After five minutes he reached the bakery he always bought his breakfast and lunch from, and stepped into the warm shop where the same girl as always was working behind the counter. She looked up when the door opened and a blast of cold air reached her, and smiled broadly when she saw who it was.
"Sasuke! G'mornin'!" Sasuke had to prevent himself from wincing at her ridiculous enthusiasm at such an early hour of the morning.
"Hi Karin. Usual please," he mumbled, pulling his wallet out of his jacket pocket whilst she went about bagging up a croissant and a cream cheese and salmon bagel for him. After a moment's hesitation, he grabbed a multivitamin juice from the fridge and set that on the counter as well.
"How are you enjoyin' the United States then, Sasuke?" Karin asked as she took his money and ran it through the register, whilst Sasuke put the food and drink in his briefcase.
"Fine thank you," he replied politely, although he was keen to get out of the shop as soon as possible. It wasn't that he was going to be late for work. It was no secret that Karin had a huge crush on him, one which was not welcomed.
"Have you made any friends since you came here?" she asked, leaning her forearms on the warm counter. "If you want, we can go for a coffee this weekend. I can show you around the town a bit."
"That's very kind but I... I have plans," he said quickly, hastily saying goodbye and stepping back out into the tundra. As the door shut behind him, leaving a rather baffled Karin behind the counter, Sasuke fished his headphones from his pocket and put them in his ears, putting his playlist on and setting off on the rest of the way to work.
Aside from the weather, he found he quite enjoyed the walk, enough so that he hadn't bothered buying a bike like he had mentally threatened on his first day. The company was situated just over the brow of a hill in the industrial estate, and as he ascended that hill every morning he always got the best view of the sunrise. He also found that whilst he walked he had the time to think, and he spent a lot of time plotting his novel during this commute.
He would never tell his family this, but he didn't really care that much for a profession in translation. What he longed for was to become a published author.
Ten minutes into his walk, he passed the lake which was frozen over and the ice covered in a layer of cake-icing snow. A few ducks sat on the banks, staring dubiously at what had been water a few months before, and as always Sasuke found himself inwardly smiling at their antics. Another thing he would never tell anyone – he found the local ducks positively adorable.
He arrived at work to find it surprisingly quiet. He let himself in with the key fob he now had and was baffled by the absence of people rushing about in every direction. The atrium, which was normally thronging with secretaries and Export personnel, was empty apart from Sakura and Hinata who were both stood at different printers and chatting as they waited for brochures to print out, coffees in hand as they nattered.
Sasuke frowned in confusion but headed into his office, finding Naruto to already be there. Neji's computer was off and his chair was empty, meaning he hadn't arrived yet.
"Hey," Naruto grunted noncommittally, eyes glued to the screen as he played Robot Unicorn Attack with the sound off. Sasuke rolled his eyes and hung his coat up on the back of the door, taking his scarf and gloves off and shoving them in the coat pockets.
"Where is everyone?" he asked, not really wanting to strike up a conversation with Naruto but letting curiosity get the better of him.
"Vacation," Naruto replied, cursing when the unicorn fell into a ravine and his final life ended. "Now that the Korean contract has gone through and the first major shipments and brochures have been sent to their agents, everyone's taken some time off."
"Oh," Sasuke replied dumbly, putting his briefcase on the floor next to his chair. "I never knew... Is Neji on holiday then?"
"Yep. Just me and you for the next week."
Naruto's face reflected the sinking sensation in Sasuke's stomach when he said this. Great, a whole week with this arsehole. What could be better? He thought sarcastically as he slumped down in his computer chair and booted up his computer. His in-tray had a few new documents in it with post-it notes from various people asking him for translations. Most of the documents were just patient forms or a paragraph for a newsletter, so he did those translations quickly whilst he was waiting for the computer to load up.
They worked in silence for the first hour, the eerie quiet of the atrium outside making Sasuke a little uncomfortable. Normally, he chatted with Neji for the first hour whilst they browsed through their emails, but Neji wasn't here today. Naruto was jumping between a powerpoint presentation and Robot Unicorn Attack on his screen, checking the door every now and then to make sure Jiraiya didn't come marching past and see him slacking off. Sasuke knew Jiraiya was at work today, partly because he had seen the man's car and partly because he could hear his laughter from across the atrium every ten minutes or so.
Nine-thirty rolled around, which usually marked breakfast time for their office. It was something that had grown to be a little tradition between the three of them, although Neji often had to coerce Naruto into actually eating because the blond was usually so stressed out about something or other that he forgot to eat.
Today however, Naruto closed all the windows on his PC, reached down and extracted a yoghurt and a banana from his briefcase, looking at Sasuke expectantly. "Breakfast?"
"Uh, sure..." Sasuke mumbled, grabbing his croissant from his bag and ripping open the paper bag it was contained in to use as a makeshift plate on his desk. Naruto got up and closed the office door and then sat down to eat.
Sasuke was confused. Naruto was being remarkably civil today. More civil than he ever was when Neji was around, in fact. And once the door closed, Naruto actually struck up a conversation with him. They had never had a proper conversation in the month they had been working together!
Was Naruto... trying to pretend to everyone else that he didn't like Sasuke? Or was he just less stressed out now and trying to make up for his bitchiness recently? Either way, Sasuke found that when Naruto wasn't being a total dick to him, they actually had a lot in common. The blond was only three years older than him, although Sasuke looked younger than twenty-one so the age gap appeared to be bigger. They liked the same music, they both were avid video gamers, and both of them practised a martial art of some kind (Naruto took karate whilst Sasuke practised tae kwon do).
It was a shock to the system for Sasuke to realise that Naruto was actually quite a nice guy. And whilst some of the blond's personality still got on his nerves (Naruto was a constant ball of energy, something Sasuke could not get used to), he actually thought that Naruto was the type of person he could end up being really good friends with.
Once they finished breakfast, they worked in relative silence for the rest of the morning, although Naruto made the effort to chat to him every now and then. It was unnerving but nice, and far less awkward than chatting to Neji. Sasuke and Neji were both pretty socially awkward, which didn't make for very interesting conversation usually. Now, Naruto did most of the talking, which he seemed happy with, and Sasuke was happy to let him talk.
He wouldn't say it out loud, but Naruto had a nice voice.
When lunchtime rolled around, Sasuke was unsure as to what to do. He usually ate with Neji in the staff kitchen, along with all the women from Export, but he didn't exactly feel ready to face the females alone, nor did he want to pass up the opportunity to talk to Naruto more. If he could build up a good friendship with the blond in this week, perhaps this internship wouldn't be quite so bad for the rest of the year.
Naruto answered his dilemma for him when he got up and put his coat on. "Fancy going to the Italian down the street? My treat."
"Are you sure?"
"Mmm. I don't really like eating with Jiraiya much, he tries to talk business with me when I'm supposed to be on break."
Sasuke shrugged and got up, pulling his own coat on. "Sure, why not?" He didn't want to admit it to himself, but his stomach was fluttering curiously at the thought of eating lunch alone with Naruto. The guy was a looker after all, even with the near permanent frown that he had on his face. His skin was a rich tanned brown, a few freckles dotted across his face to add a slight boyishness to his appearance, and his eyes were such a striking blue that Sasuke had caught himself staring more than once over the past month. Not to mention, Naruto's hair was ridiculously bright. He certainly stood out in a crowd.
The restaurant was literally just around the corner from the company building. Sasuke had been there once or twice before with Neji and the women, and liked the food there enough considering he wasn't a huge Italian fan. When they arrived, a waitress took their coats and then led them to a table in the corner, taking their drinks orders before leaving them with the menus.
"I always go for the pizzas here," Naruto said eagerly, turning immediately to that page in the menu and scouring the list for something suiting his tastes. Sasuke snorted.
"That's pretty stereotypical, don't you think?"
Naruto glanced up over the top of the menu, one eyebrow cocked. "What? I'm American and I like pizza?"
Sasuke shrugged. "Yeah. There are a few jokes I could make right now, considering all the times you've taken the piss out of my accent."
"I take the piss out of your accent because it's freaking adorable," Naruto said absently, waving his hand as if brushing the subject off. "You can't make pizza jokes because I'm not fat."
He's got a point there, Sasuke thought, surreptitiously giving Naruto a once over. His black work shirt was fitted enough that Sasuke could tell he worked out frequently, and while his arms weren't ridiculously buff, they were definitely quite toned and muscled.
Sasuke trained his eyes back on his menu before he started entertaining the idea that he had the hots for his colleague. That was a bad idea and he knew it. His eyes stared at the list of dishes unseeingly and he tried not to think about how he was in a restaurant alone with quite possibly the most gorgeous specimen of the male species he had ever encountered, who for once wasn't being a total douche to him.
"What're you gonna have?" Naruto asked after a minute of silence, setting his menu down on the table.
"Um, the tuna I guess," Sasuke mumbled, not meeting Naruto's gaze as he did the same with his menu. Naruto's eyebrow raised again, but he didn't comment on Sasuke's sudden bashfulness.
"Hey, listen," he said once they made their order and received their drinks from the waitress, "Sorry I've been such an ass since you met me. I've been super stressed out and... I guess I assumed the worst of you before I got to know you. I thought you were just a stuck up rich kid until today."
Sasuke snorted and took a drink of his soda, deigning not to tell Naruto that he was a stuck up rich kid. "Well, if it's any consolation, I thought you were a bitchy arse on your man period."
Naruto laughed loudly, throwing his head back in a true laugh that made a woman at the next table jump with its volume. "I guess we're even then. How about we start again?" He held out his hand across the table, a lopsided grin on his face. "Clean slate?"
Returning the grin with a smirk of his own, Sasuke took Naruto's hand and they shook firmly. "I suppose I can put up with your idiocy from now on."
Naruto's hand squeezed his tightly, warm and large compared to Sasuke's smaller, cooler one. "I think we'll get on just fine, Sasuke."