A/N: With my longest running story having come to an end, I figured it was time to begin a new, slightly different, one. The story should speak for itself I suppose. I hope you enjoy the first chapter.
Warning: This story contains strong language as well as scenes of a sexual nature between two male characters.
Follow me on Twitter: /BrackenLight
I'm not the same as yesterday, (ooh)
It's hard to explain how things have changed,
But I'm not the same as before.
- E for Extinction by Thousand Foot Krutch
Obito Uchiha had already experienced his fair share of despair.
At thirty-years-old, he felt exhausted and withered every single day of his life, like a man far more than twice his age. It was unnatural for someone, still in his prime, to feel this way but it wasn't a choice or something he could control. He had experienced hell on earth. It had only been a few months, in reality, but he was so damn tired of it that it felt so much longer. Like his entire life had been this way.
However, people were growing tired of his 'depression', as they called it, and had told him he needed to move on with his life. Like they really understood. The Uchiha family were a bunch of cold-hearted bastards, pampered since birth and harbouring no true understanding of what it felt like to suffer. They had never lost someone…they had never had their lives destroyed…they'd never been left to feel like they were nothing…no one…
Despite his bitterness towards their lack of understanding, Obito didn't have the strength to argue with them anymore. Apparently they'd been giving him some slack but he'd 'used up the rope' and had to 'get over it'. He'd been given the past few months off work- something he was supposed to be grateful for- but now he'd been ordered back in with the threat of being fired. In truth, he didn't really care about keeping his job at Uchiha Enterprises- having only taken a job there in the first place for social interaction- but her family had convinced him it was a good part of the healing process.
Her family had some understanding…but they didn't know the full story…
Nonetheless, that dull, rainy and dark Monday morning was the one that Obito Uchiha finally left his home and made his way into the office building for the first time in a while.
It was the gasp of the receptionist which snapped him out of his thoughts first and he managed to find the energy to lazily roll his eyes over to stare at her shocked face.
"G-good morning…Mr U-Uchiha…" she stuttered. Her attempts to collect herself and try and act naturally were painfully obvious and Obito felt his jaw clench slightly in annoyance. A few months ago, the two of them actually got on very well. Obito would stroll in with a charming smile and spend ten minutes chatting and flirting with her, regardless of how late he was, which she would return with the giggling of a horny schoolgirl. Things were different now though. There was no adoration in her face, only shock laced with awkward tension…she didn't even bother addressing him by his first name anymore…
So he didn't bother returning her greeting as he marched into the elevator coldly. He had no interest in wasting his time on superficial vagaries or entertaining her falseness. She wasn't the same as before. She was an imposter. And Obito had no more energy to deal with imposters…
He could understand her shock, he supposed, but that didn't excuse any of it.
It was obvious why she wasn't attracted to him anymore. The way he was now, no one would ever have any positive feelings for him at all…ever again…
His face wasn't as handsome and perfect as it had been previously. The right side of it was now scarred badly. A constant reminder of what had happened. He couldn't even look himself in the mirror anymore and he no longer had any reason to flash his charming smile…
Her family had said it didn't look so bad, and maybe it didn't, but it still sickened him. A constant, visible reminder of everything that had happened.
"Nice to see you back." Obito glanced up from his desk quickly, eyes latching onto the man who greeted him so simply. He was actually relieved to find out who it was. It could have been so much worse, after all.
"Well, I suppose I had to make an appearance sooner or later." The scarred man muttered simply, attempting to add some level of cheeriness to his voice. He studied the other curiously, searching for any signs of disgust and disdain but he found none.
"Yeah, it's been boring without you. Sasuke took over most of your duties and, believe me, things haven't been going well." Itachi Uchiha said, leaning on the doorframe as he spoke in his forlorn tone.
"That right?" Obito managed a tiny smirk as Itachi filled him in, his spirits lifting ever-so-slightly. Itachi Uchiha, his cousin, was the only member of the Uchiha family who Obito had been able to stand the last few months. Itachi wasn't like the rest of the family. He was patient and somewhat understanding of Obito's situation. More than that, he didn't look at Obito with horror or shock or disgust. His eyes didn't linger on the scars. He always looked Obito straight in the face and was straightforward and honest with him. Itachi was the only one who was sympathetic but didn't treat him differently. He wasn't scared of him, nor did he pity him. It was a nice change.
"So you'll be taking over immediately?" Itachi asked, adjusting his suit as any tension between the two men eased off completely.
"If I'm honest with you, Itachi," Obito began, knowing he didn't have to lie to his cousin. "I'd rather take up a different position in the company. I don't want to deal with people anymore. I don't want that much social interaction."
"I understand," the other man murmured, without any hint that it was just lip-service. "You're not the same social butterfly you were before but I suggest you just try it out. Maybe falling into old routines will help some. Besides, you can't possibly do any worse than my little brother has been. He's scared off plenty of potential employees with that abrasive attitude of his."
"I don't know if you've noticed," Obito began sarcastically, "but I don't have the same charm and charisma as before. Showing the new associates and employees the ropes used to come easy to me, but I simply don't possess the right skill-set anymore."
"Well, I don't plan on letting Sasuke continue. You don't have to make friends with any of them; just don't scare them off like my little brother." Itachi said, offering a small smile as he turned to leave the older man's office.
"Look at me, Itachi." Obito muttered seriously, his eyes darkening.
"Some people will be shocked by yours scars at first, but presumptions aren't important or meaningful. Don't get so down about it all. Keep your head up." And with that, the other was gone. He left before Obito could object or tell him how meaningless his optimistic and supportive words were. He left before he could get sucked into Obito's new way of thinking.
The fact is, Obito had been offered treatment and make-up for his facial scars several times over the last few months and the rest of the Uchiha family (other than Itachi) kept pressuring him into accepting it to 'get him looking acceptable'. However, other than the initial skin graph, he had declined everything. The scars may make it difficult to look in the mirror and may extract shocked gasps and looks from people around him, but Obito didn't like the idea of covering them up and pretending it had never happened. He had no intention of rejecting reality.
Nonetheless, his confidence had been knocked immensely and, as he pulled himself to his feet and prepared to go meet the new recruits, he felt a bitter emptiness envelop him. The former excitement and happiness that used to spread through him at the prospect of social interaction no longer rose up…and that pained him…
Naruto yawned loudly, ignoring the looks he got, and started yanking on his tie and collar irritably. He wasn't used to wearing suits and he really didn't like the way his neck felt so constricted. It was annoying him a lot. He didn't understand how all the people around him seemed so comfortable in the damn business clothes. They were like robots. Maybe he'd get used to it someday.
Still, he couldn't stop his leg from bouncing nervously as he sat there in the nicest room he'd ever been in. Uchiha Enterprises was amazing and the CEO was obviously loaded to get the building looking so fancy and cool. Naruto felt horribly out of place in his cheap suit. The place was incredibly decorated with modern design. He couldn't believe that this was where he'd be working.
"What time does this thingy start anyway?" The blonde asked the man beside him curiously. His ass was starting to ache from being sat on for so long and he was getting bored of waiting. When he'd signed up for the job, he didn't think he'd have to get up so damn early either.
"The orientation" the man hissed coldly, "should start any minute now. Just as soon as our supervisor gets here."
"Our supervisor?" Naruto blinked a few times, having never considered exactly what they were waiting for. "You mean an Uchiha is going to show us around?" He asked, starting to get excited at the prospect. The Uchiha were famous in Konoha but Naruto had only met one- to his displeasure. Sasuke Uchiha had interviewed him and there was no other word to describe him than 'jerk'. But Naruto still wondered what the others were like…
"Obviously," the man said, shaking his head in disbelief. "Is this the first time you've had a job?"
"No." The blonde spat angrily, turning his head to effectively end the conversation before he got fired for arguing before he'd even started. In actuality, this was the first office job he'd ever had in his life. He was used to working outside, so the idea of being stuffed into an office and having to use his head in new ways was daunting. However, when an opportunity shows up at Uchiha Enterprises, you don't turn it down. Naruto needed money- fast. That's why he'd applied. He was more likely to get good pay with the company than anywhere else. Still, how he'd managed to pass his interview he had no idea. Sasuke really hadn't liked him. Hated him actually. But still, here he was.
"Good morning, everyone." A deep voice sounded out loudly, so that all could hear him, as their supervisor finally arrived. Naruto turned his head to see whoever it was, but couldn't get a good look. He caught sight of an expensive-looking suit and black, spiky hair so it was obviously an Uchiha. Struggle all he could, he just couldn't get a good look. Which Uchiha was it?
However, there were a number of odd murmurs, whispers and gasps from the front which made the blonde a little suspicious. Something was obviously up for people to be acting that way, but he shrugged it off as nothing. "Now, I appreciate that it's early and that I've kept you waiting, but if you pay close attention then we can get this over with quickly. Let's go."
No one made any move at all. They all just sat there awkwardly, with no signs of getting up. It looked like no one wanted to be the first one to follow but Naruto was all too eager to get off his backside and get started.
"Lead the way!" The blonde shouted excitedly, leaping to his feet and bounding to the front of the room, brushing off the weird looks he got. He wasn't really bothered if people thought he was weird. As long as the job wasn't entirely awful and he got paid then he couldn't care less.
Naruto stopped and stared.
Now he understood the awkward tension in the room and why no one was moving. Their supervisor was a little surprising and different from what anyone would have expected from the Uchiha family. The blonde was completely taken aback as the man stared at him blankly, both surprised and concerned by his enthusiasm.
The man was tall, well-built and handsome with an exceedingly nice and expensive suit which clung to every contour of his body. He had the typical black, spiky hair and pewter eyes of the Uchiha family and was actually rather attractive. However, the right side of his face was slightly different from the rest. It was scarred. Not in the cliché horror-movie-way, where the face was dramatically disfigured and fucked up- hell no. He was still good-looking but it was scarred enough to turn heads.
After just a moment to take in the guide's appearance, Naruto grinned broadly at him and waited for the others to join him. Sure enough, people eventually began getting to their feet as the muttering resumed. Well, at least Naruto had inspired the others to make a move. Not bad for his first day!
The Uchiha studied Naruto for a moment, his eyebrows furrowed in apprehension and slight disbelief, but he soon coughed and turned his attention to everyone else.
"My name is Obito Uchiha. I'm the supervisor of the sales agents on this floor. If you ever have any problems regarding your work or personal issues related to the workplace, I'm the person you're expected to come to. However, I'm also held responsible for all of you during your time of employment here. In other words, if any of you mess up or inconvenience the company in any way, I get the blame. So, although I don't really care about the company, it's in your best interests to work hard and act appropriately." The speech was short and blunt, straight to the point and empty of any humour. Naruto found it a little daunting but impressive nonetheless. Obito spoke with confidence and strength, his voice powerful yet somewhat aloof. "Now, let's get going."
And with that, the small group of new employees all followed their guide out of the room and on to their office floor. Naruto couldn't help but notice how the others were purposely hanging back and allowing Obito to walk a bit ahead of them and he started to feel a little bad for the man. Just because he had scars on his face doesn't mean he should be avoided like the plague. He actually had to work with these kinds of people?
"My sister told me Obito was unbelievably hot and charming. What's going on?" One of the new employees whispered behind the blonde, catching his attention instantly.
"He was in an accident or something. I dunno, the Uchiha family wouldn't say."
"It's creepy as hell. I was looking forward to having him as a supervisor but now he's just scary."
Naruto growled under his breath, growing more and more annoyed with them all, before storming ahead to catch up to Obito. The blonde was many things, but he was nowhere near as rude, nasty or judgemental as the other new recruits. He was sure Obito was a cool guy. And, in his opinion, the man was pretty good-looking.
"So…" he began awkwardly, feeling a little nervous about interacting with his new boss. "What do you like to be called?" The question was lame and stupid, he knew, but he just didn't know what else to say. He had to make conversation somehow! "Boss, big guy, sir, or what?" Obito glanced his way briefly, looking a little sceptical of Naruto's entire being, before proceeding to answer dully.
"You can call me anything you'd like, I'm not too bothered. Just avoid 'Mr Uchiha' at all costs." Obito muttered, earning a nervous laugh from his new employee.
"Sure thing!" Naruto tried to take it as a joke, but the black-haired man's seriousness made it sort of difficult to be as carefree as he usually was. Obito merely rolled his eyes slightly and turned to address the rest of the group.
"These cubicles will be where most of you work during the day- affectionately labelled 'the kennel' by the current employees here." Obito announced loudly, gesturing towards the many lines of cubicles they passed. A few people already working looked up and gave him a worried glance, others did their best to avoid looking at him at all, and it made Naruto feel even more pity for his new boss. "Your staff room is through that door, as well as the bathrooms. You can take bathroom breaks whenever you want and we're rather lenient about lunch breaks. As long as you get your work done and don't fall behind, you can co-ordinate your own time to a certain extent."
"Whoa." Naruto was rather surprised by the whole thing. It wasn't sounding anywhere near as bad as he thought it was going to be. Then again, he did have a niggling feeling that the workload would make it difficult to squeeze breaks in so he tried not to linger on his relief and excitement.
"My office is at the end there. The desk outside is for my assistant, Zetsu. If you ever need to get hold of me and I'm not around, he's the guy you need to speak with."
"No way I'd wanna be his assistant." Naruto scowled as he heard the rude comment. He was now right beside Obito, so he was pretty sure the man had heard it too, but he showed no signs of acknowledgement or interest and merely carried on explaining the requirements and expectations of the workplace.
The entire time he spoke, Naruto couldn't help but focus his easily-distracted mind on him completely. He took in his boss's every word, absorbed every scrap of information and was the only one to speak up and ask questions. The deep, smoothness of Obito's voice, the strength and confidence it held on the surface, somehow relaxed Naruto and washed over him. But what it was hiding also interested Naruto. He wanted to know more about this man. He was naturally curious.
And the scars really weren't as bad as everyone was making them out to be. Maybe it's because Naruto didn't know what he looked like before, but they weren't worth any more than a brief moment of surprise. They were definitely noticeable. The skin was stretched and indented, wrinkled around the indents as a result of the damage. They covered the entirety of the right side of his face- from his forehead to his chin, from his ear to his nose. But the truth was, Naruto still found the man attractive. Maybe he was less superficial or something but he didn't understand how anyone else wasn't currently having the hots for their new boss.
"The rest of the Uchiha family is also very focused on appearances- they're just shallow like that- so you'll be expected to dress smartly every day and remain appropriately dressed the entire time you are inside this building." Obito said with a sigh. "If I see you with your ties loosened and sleeves rolled up while here, I won't really care, just make sure you adjust your clothing whenever you leave this floor. The last thing I need is a lecture. It's bad enough I have to dress in these suits."
Naruto chuckled slightly as his boss gestured to his expensive, three-piece suit. It was sort of ridiculous. Complete with a perfectly pressed shirt, vest and jacket as well as absolutely spotless shoes…Naruto couldn't possibly last more than a few minutes wearing something like that. It looked uncomfortable and Obito didn't seem to like it too much. That said, it clung to the Uchiha's body in all the right places- probably personally tailored- and added to his attractiveness.
"A vest and everything?" The blonde said, laughing it out before he could stop himself. The rest of the group all shot him nasty glares- the kind which told him he'd already made enemies. Obito, however, simply studied him curiously with the eyebrow on the scarred side cocked slightly.
"Precisely. So I don't want to hear anyone whining about their job, it could be so much worse." Naruto grinned at that, choosing to completely ignore his hateful colleagues and get in Obito's good books as soon as possible. "Well, that's the orientation done. I wish you all luck on your first day here at Uchiha Enterprises." And, with that said and done, Obito turned and strolled off to his office as quickly as possible- as though he wanted nothing more than to get away from the employees.
Naruto watched him go, eyes fixed on his retreating back with a small smile lingering on his lips. Obito Uchiha was scary and creepy and standoffish…but there was something special…something more to him.
"Nice sucking up, idiot." One of the other new employees hissed at him coldly, storming off with the others to take their places at their new cubicles. But Naruto wasn't about to start feeling guilty for being himself. Never.
"Any promising puppies joining the kennel today, Tobi?"
"I wish you'd stop calling me that." Obito muttered, glancing at his assistant briefly as he entered his office. "It sounds so childish."
"Hey," Zetsu said, feigning hurt. "I've called you 'Tobi' for as long as I can remember. I'm not about to stop now."
"Fine." The Uchiha gave up, knowing that he wouldn't win against his assistant's airy and carefree personality. Zetsu held a special place in his heart, one his accident and changes in self didn't alter. He and Itachi were the two people Obito could continue being close to without things falling apart.
"So?" Zetsu said with a smile, hinting at his earlier question.
"It's just a usual batch from what I can see, although…" Obito trailed off, glancing through the glass doors of his office at the loudmouth from earlier. "There was this one guy. The blonde one- far more enthusiastic than the rest."
"Oh?" Zetsu glanced out at the new employee with interest, watching as he yanked on his tie angrily. The assistant gave out a little chuckle. "Seems promising."
"I said he was enthusiastic but he lacks intelligence. He'll probably be gone by the end of the week." Obito murmured, dragging his eyes away from the blonde.
"You've been so negative lately, Tobi. It used to be you who brightened up the office, but maybe this new puppy can do it instead. Maybe if the office brightens up a little, you'll start smiling again." Zetsu said nonchalantly, watching as Obito took his place at his desk.
"People change, Zetsu. That's part of life. Get used to it."
"You used to be such a good boy." The assistant said, exaggerating his sadness by holding a hand over his heart and pouting. His boss just smirked and shook his head at the antics, having grown used to Zetsu and his…quirkiness by now. "So what's this new guy's name?"
"Didn't catch it. Wasn't interested."
"Come on, Tobi." Zetsu said encouragingly. "He looks like a fun enough guy. If work becomes a chore around here then I'm gonna start getting really annoying."
"Implying you're not already." Obito said, cocking an eyebrow.
"You've developed a very cruel sense of humour!" The assistant protested, feigning hurt once more.
"Hm." Obito acknowledged, eyes trailing over to glance out into the 'kennel' once more. He couldn't see the talkative blonde anymore, presumably he'd found himself a cubicle, but his thoughts lingered on him for a moment. For one reason or another, the younger man reminded Obito of the way he'd been just a few months ago. That broad grin, excitable nature and enthusiasm for life in general were all traits he once possessed…
Those traits all seemed rather immature and meaningless to him now- the traits of those who haven't grown up- but he still found himself intrigued. What made his new employee tick? How much would it take to break him? To make him the way Obito was now…?
Naruto sighed in exasperation, fingers running through his hair as he scratched his scalp repeatedly. He'd only been an official employee of Uchiha Enterprises for less than an hour and he was already struggling. He'd picked out his cubicle, tried to make it more homely, then immediately been given some work to do. The problem was, he had no idea what he was doing! They'd stuck him at a computer- and he really didn't get on with computers- and asked him go through some stuff. Apparently it was 'basic stuff' that he needed to get done before he started his work on the phones but Naruto was at the end of his rope. The social interaction of speaking with clients on the phone or meeting them in person was what Naruto was convinced he would be good at and is why he applied for the job but computer stuff wasn't his cup of tea.
He'd glanced around at the others, only to find them getting on with it like it was no big deal! Filing and cataloguing and doing whatever the hell Naruto was supposed to do right now! He couldn't do this. He needed help now before he lost his mind. He'd tried asking the guy in the cubicle beside him but he'd just received the cold shoulder. It looked like his co-workers weren't going to be much of a blast.
So what were his options? Well, Obito had said he was his supervisor and had claimed to be responsible for him…so it made sense to go ask him for help. But the guy was also kind of intimidating and Naruto was a little worried about rushing in to ask for help so soon after starting. What if his boss fired him for being incompetent? But then what if his boss fired him for not getting through the basics?
It was those thoughts which drove a reluctant Naruto to shuffle up to Zetsu's desk with a shy smile. Glancing to the side, the blonde caught sight of Obito at his desk chatting to someone on the phone, and gulped nervously.
"Can I help you, puppy?" Zetsu, a rather pale man with dark hair (looking almost green in the light), cooed softly from behind his own desk. Naruto dragged his eyes away from the Uchiha and furrowed his brows in confusion and shock.
"Excuse m-me?" He asked nervously, blushing slightly as the odd man observed him with a sneaky smile.
"The cubicles," Zetsu began, waving towards them. "are referred to as the 'kennel', remember?"
"Oh," Naruto's mouth opened slightly in realisation. It was some weird, fucked up metaphor and one he really wasn't fond of. "That's…cool…?"
"So, what can I do for you?" The boss's assistant asked with a sly smile, leaning over his desk.
"Erm…I was hoping I could speak with the boss." The blonde muttered, avoiding the other man's gaze awkwardly. "I sorta…need help." He admitted weakly, not knowing exactly what to say or do. He felt so damn pathetic.
"Well…yeah…" Naruto admitted, his blush deepening as Zetsu chuckled at his expense.
"Tobi's a bit busy on the phone right now," Zetsu explained, ignoring the confusion that crossed the blonde's face at the nickname. "but if you tell me what's wrong, I'll do my best to help."
"Ah, I'll see what I can do."
Naruto felt a mix of relief and disappointment wash over him as Zetsu agreed to lend him a hand and jumped onto his feet. He was glad he'd finally found help and didn't have to rub his incompetence in his boss's face but he had actually secretly been looking forward to spending a little bit more time with Obito and figuring him out properly. Maybe he was too eager too soon- but that was the kind of person Naruto was.
The blonde thanked the man genuinely, glad he wasn't gonna get the sack, and glanced once more through the glass doors. There was a brief moment when he caught Obito's eye, but he was still chatting away on the phone and soon turned his chair around completely.
First day was gonna be fine.
"You have two calls." Zetsu announced over the intercom suddenly, snapping Obito out of his thoughts once more. The Uchiha shot him a slight glare through the glass but nodded his head expectantly. "Rin's mother on line one, Itachi on line two."
That certainly put a bad taste in his mouth. But he remained calm, too emotionally numb to respond in any other way. With a sigh, he reached up to absentmindedly stroke the scarred side of his face before responding confidently.
"Cancel line one- say I'm in a meeting. Put Itachi through." Obito said bluntly, sounding far more business-like than he liked. Fugaku Uchiha would be proud and that thought sent a jolt of ice-cold loathing through him. He wasn't a business man. And, even with his new self, he didn't plan on becoming one.
A brief moment of silence followed as Zetsu went about his duty, before the phone on Obito's desk buzzed. Lazily reaching over to put the call on speaker, Obito rested his chin in the palm of his hand, fingers running over the scars thoughtfully.
"Itachi," he greeted simply.
"How's the first day back going?"
"A little slow but fine, I suppose." Obito responded, cocking an eyebrow at the out-of-character question. Itachi wasn't the kind to check up on people. It didn't fit.
"Good. Anyway," Itachi began, cutting straight to the point as he always did. "I have some bad news and you're not going to like it."
"What?" The scarred man muttered, eyes glaring at the phone slightly as an odd feeling of suspicion filled him. Was this what he thought it was…?
"Fugaku has signed you up with the company therapist, you start next week."
And there it was.
Exactly what Obito had been expecting all along. He was well aware of Uchiha Enterprises' company therapist and he'd been fully expecting to be sent off to her as soon as he got back to work. Fugaku wouldn't want his 'mental instability' damaging the company's reputation after all. However, he managed to suppress his bitterness and irritation and let it all out in a dark sigh.
"Alright, thank you." Obito said simply, pressing the button to end the call before Itachi started asking him if he was really okay with it. If he was going to pretend he was fine with this whole thing then he couldn't have people actually asking him about it. He'd go to the stupid therapy session, humor the woman for a while and then get on with his life. It was as simple as that. If Fugaku wanted to treat him like damaged goods then so be it. He could keep pushing and pushing Obito as much as he wanted to- you can't break glass which has already been smashed to dust. And Obito had been dust for some time.
"I just got off the phone with Rin's mother and she asked me to give you a message." Zetsu informed him with a sigh. "She wants to meet up with you at some point."
"Absolutely not." Obito muttered, shooting a look through the glass to let his assistant know that he was serious- that this wasn't the time for any of his jokes.
"That's what I thought."
Naruto let out a satisfied breath as he took a gulp of cooling soda and moistened up his throat as quickly as he could before a smile stretched across his face and he carried on as before.
"You see, a lot of our clients don't actually realise the deals they're entitled to as part of their contracts until they receive a call like this." The blonde explained with a grin, his voice as happy as it could be while working. He really was enjoying it so far. Ever since Zetsu had helped him get through the boring, initial computer stuff, it had been nothing but awesome!
He'd been calling up clients all afternoon, just chatting and going through different deals he was reading off his computer monitor. Social interaction came naturally to Naruto, so it was actually kinda fun and the headset he was provided with to make the calls was so cool!
The job was a breeze so far. The sales agents had a database of people to get through during the day but, thanks to the headsets, they were able to wander round the 'kennel' socialising and hanging out as well. It was pretty lax from what Naruto could tell. It would be better if the other employees actually liked Naruto enough to talk to him, but he was sure he could win them over eventually. After all, they couldn't hold a grudge against him just because he was nice to their boss, right?
Naruto let out a happy sigh as the call ended and he managed to land a sale. He'd been lucky so far, having only dealt with one rude customer who had sworn at him before hanging up abruptly, so he was in high spirits. With the exception of the computer issues he'd had earlier, his first day had gone well. Glancing at the clock, he could see that he didn't have much longer left to go. He may as well have a bathroom break and then head on home for some well-deserved leisure time. Damn, he was proud of himself!
Naruto Uzumaki, sales agent of Uchiha Enterprises! Could things get anymore awesome?
"Hey, blondie." One of his fellow new recruits greeted, leaning on his cubicle with an unpleasant smirk on his face. It was the guy from earlier- the one who'd snapped at him for calling the orientation a 'thingy'.
"Can I help you?" Naruto hissed, trying to stay as polite as possible.
"We got off on the wrong foot. Last thing I want is any tension between co-workers." The man said casually, shrugging it off. Naruto may be oblivious to many things, but that horrid smirk told him that it wasn't a genuine gesture of friendship. The guy was up to something. "I couldn't help noticing you getting buddy-buddy with the new boss earlier."
"So?" The blonde snapped childishly, getting a bit more defensive than he probably should be.
"Look," the man began, reaching up to run a hand through his brown hair. "I appreciate you're a friendly guy, but haven't you heard the rumors about Obito Uchiha?"
"No…" Naruto said, trailing off as his impatience grew.
"Well, he used to be this awesome, happy guy who could charm the fucking pants off you no matter what the hell you were into." The brunette whispered, though a little loudly considering his inappropriate language. "Then, a couple of months ago he took some time off work and this is his first day back. That's why everyone's surprised by that mess all over his face." The man said, pointing to his own right cheek to emphasize his point. "And he's acting completely different. Everyone came here expecting the Obito Uchiha to be their supervisor. They'd all been told how cool he was. So you can understand why everyone's a little pissed that we get that instead." He jabbed a thumb in the direction of their boss's office.
"He's not a 'that', you know." Naruto muttered angrily, glaring at the infuriating man. "Something bad obviously happened to him, you guys are all just being jerks." A sigh was the response he got.
"Look, I'm not trying to be a jerk. I was just trying to explain where everyone's coming from so you don't misunderstand us here. It's not that we don't like the guy or anything; he's just not what we were led to expect."
"That's still no reason to whisper horrible things." The blonde pouted, glancing across the room at Obito's office. He didn't like the thought that people could be so judgemental and nasty for no reason at all. It wasn't fair. But, at the same time, he could understand where this new stranger was coming from. Naruto hadn't heard anything about Obito before he got the job- he wasn't exactly friends with anyone inside Uchiha Enterprises- but he could sort of see that people who had been led to expect something only to be let down would be a little annoyed by it.
"They're just adjusting. Anyway, friends?" The brunette reach across the cubicle wall, offering his hand to Naruto. This time his smirk was gone and he seemed far more genuine that he had just moments before. Maybe something Naruto had said had gotten through to him, or maybe the blonde had just misinterpreted his earlier expression.
"Sure." Naruto said, taking the hand firmly. He chose not to voice his opinion that 'friend' was a bit of a strong word. "I'm Naruto."
"Kankuro." The brunette introduced himself, that smirk returning. Naruto changed his mind; he had definitely not misinterpreted that expression. This guy was up to something. "Anyway, I'm gonna clock off for the day. See ya around, Naruto."
"Yeah." The blonde watched him go, eyeing his back with pure suspicion and distrust. He had a feeling that 'Kankuro' (what sort of name was that anyway?) was going to cause some problems for him in the future. There was no way they had genuinely just become friends.
Sighing heavily, Naruto climbed onto his feet and stretched his aching body. Despite the option to wander around the floor whilst talking to clients, he'd remained at his computer so that the information he needed was right in front of him. He needed to get a little more used to the job before he began wandering. But, he was eager to do his best to improve and actually succeed at this job. With a smile, he pulled off his headset and put it on his desk, before rolling his sleeves up to his elbows and making his way over to the employee bathroom. He'd adjusted and loosened his top button and tie long ago- as soon as the orientation finished, actually- so he was all set.
He shot Zetsu a smile and wave on his way to the bathroom and tried to see if his boss was in his office but couldn't get a good look. Shrugging it off, Naruto couldn't stop beaming happily as he entered the men's room. He was so happy to finally have a decent job. He couldn't get over how lucky he was to be at Uchiha Enterprises!
However, that grin of his faltered slightly as his eyes scanned the bathroom. He'd taken a couple of trips to relieve nature's call that day, so the luxurious men's room wasn't completely unfamiliar, but it had been empty every time he'd gone previously. It wasn't empty this time.
His boss was there.
He didn't know why he was so shocked by that- maybe he'd expected Obito to have a separate bathroom from the other employees or something- but he actually had to blink a few times whilst stood in the doorway before he could gather himself and stop staring like an idiot. It was a good thing the black-haired man was at the sink, rinsing his hands, or Naruto's staring would have been noticed and catalogued as plain weird. Still, clearing his throat awkwardly, the blonde headed over to the decorative urinal which stretched all across one of the walls to allow room for tons of people to use it at the same time.
"Hey," he said gracelessly as he passed the other, not knowing exactly how to speak to him but feeling it too rude to just say nothing.
"Hm." Obito hummed his response, rubbing soap into his open palms and between his fingers. Naruto watched him curiously as he stepped up and unzipped his fly, turning away a bit so his boss wouldn't see anything if he happened to look up into the mirror. He was so grateful he'd come in after his boss had finished his business or there may have been that awkward choice between standing beside him or heading into a cubicle to avoid him. And even if Naruto had chosen to use the urinal, when there's only the two of you how far away do you stand? Too far away seems rude but too close is creepy. And whatever distance, Obito would have just had to glance his way and he'd have seen everything.
Naruto shuddered at the thought as he pulled himself out of his fly and did his stuff, making sure he was twisted in a way which hid it from view. It wasn't that he had anything to be ashamed of- oh no- he just didn't want to give anything for his boss to judge him by. Naruto often rushed in without thinking, but at other times he tended to overthink things. Right now he was overthinking this whole situation. If he boss was bigger, maybe he'd look down on Naruto and laugh at him behind his back. And if Naruto was bigger, his boss might start hating him out of jealousy. He didn't want to jeopardize things already over something as stupid as that! Ugh, he really was giving this too much thought.
"Have you enjoyed your first day?" The black-haired man asked suddenly, taking an unreasonably long time to wash his hands. However, that deep voice of his washed over Naruto and soothed him, successfully calming his racing thoughts a great deal. Something about its depth, confidence and expressiveness was reassuring and dependable.
"Yeah, working here is awesome." Naruto said back with a massive grin on his face, despite the fact his boss didn't look up at him once.
"Glad to hear it. Last thing I need is grumpy employees complaining and getting me in trouble." Obito replied, his voice implying he was joking, as he turned off the tap and ran his hands under the dryer.
"Don't worry!" The blonde shouted over the noise of the hand dryer. "I've got nothing to complain about!" He finished up, shook himself off, and tucked himself back in. Zipping up, Naruto slid past Obito to get to the sink and went about washing his own hands. He noticed the Uchiha cocking his eyebrow in his direction, as though he were studying Naruto to determine the meaning behind his words or something.
"Well, your shift is over." Obito muttered, heading for the door. "I'll see you around."
And he was gone.
Naruto's smile grew broader as his boss left, a warm feeling washing over him.
'I'll see you around.'
Hearing Obito say it gave him a reason to be happy and something to look forward- much better than when Kankuro had said it just a few minutes before.
Naruto really was gonna love working here.
A/N: And that was the first chapter of- what I hope to be- a long and enjoyable story. It took a bit of thought when considering where to set an AU story featuring this pairing but I finally decided on a company workplace. I couldn't imagine Obito, with his new personality, really getting to know someone enough unless he was forced to or if doing so aided him- that's why I used the workplace as an excuse to force Naruto and him into each other's lives. I also had to go back and rework a few things because, originally, Obito was coming across too mopey and feeling sorry for himself- which doesn't fit him at all.
It's hard working with this version of Obito after featuring his more friendly, good-natured self in another story of mine but I enjoy it. Over the next couple of chapters, his character should develop more and his interaction with Naruto will grow and grow. I have a pretty clear idea of where this is headed so far, it's just a matter of getting there.
Anyway, I hope this chapter has enticed some of you to follow this story and see what's ahead as we embark on a pretty awesome, but flawed, relationship between two of my favorite characters from the series. LEave a review and let me know what you think of the foundation of this story and this first chapter.
Much appreciated :)