Author's note:

This is a yaoi fanfic. The pairing is Orochimaru and Sasuke. I suppose I should say 'don't like, don't read' even though that might seem obvious.

Yes, this is mostly silly cliché fluff.
This story is very AU, set in a modern-day city. The characters will probably (definitely) be out-of-character at times, the relationships between characters have changed as well. Oh, and I made the age gap between Sasuke and Orochimaru a bit smaller. And Sasuke's family isn't dead. Wow, is this even Naruto fanfiction anymore? XD

Rated M for mild language and sexual themes. Not sure if there will be a 'lemony' situation yet as I'm not sure I write such scenes well.

Thank you to Inge for the title! (I'm awful at coming up with titles.)

Orochimaru let out a contented sigh as he locked the door to his office and headed out of the building. The stress of the past few weeks had lifted somewhat after today's interview.

His previous assistant had fallen incurably ill suddenly, leaving Orochimaru with no one to help him out. He refused to get a temporary assistant – he was far too picky to just take anyone in. So his secretary, Kabuto, had scheduled some interviews with a few hopeful youngsters, none of whom had been promising in the least.

Until this afternoon, of course. Orochimaru found himself going over the meeting in his head as he pulled his car out of the parking lot and into the already-quiet street.

The young man walked into his office and sat down immediately. He gave Orochimaru a basic greeting, and then waited to be spoken to. The other candidates had all been overly friendly, too eager to impress. He wasn't looking for a chatterbox.

The younger male was wearing a white dress shirt but no tie, the top button undone and his sleeves rolled up.

"Sasuke Uchiha." Orochimaru addressed him by his full name as he read the document that had been given to him by Kabuto. It said the boy was twenty years old, and had no previous experience. Why had Kabuto even considered him? Orochimaru exhaled sharply, annoyed.

Sasuke ran a hand through his dark hair, looking out of the window.

Orochimaru wondered how obedient he could be, considering this attitude. "Why do you think you would work well with me?" Orochimaru asked, getting straight to the point.

The boy glanced back at him before looking out the window again and replying with, "I don't know you. Who knows if we'll work well together? This position would look good on my resume, though."

Orochimaru was pulled from his thoughts as another driver cut in front of him. He rolled his window down and cursed loudly as the other car raced away.

Sasuke Uchiha had been blunt when he spoke. Orochimaru liked that about him. He hadn't come there spouting bullshit just to get the position, just telling Orochimaru what he thought he wanted to hear. No. he had been honest, knowing what his words could have cost him and yet he was truthful anyway. It was refreshing. Orochimaru had told him to start on Monday, and he had agreed.

Orochimaru usually looked forward to the weekend, but now he could barely wait for Monday to see if his new assistant would live up to his expectations.

He pulled into the parking lot of his usual Friday night hangout – a seedy bar which he hoped was the last place people would think an upper-class businessman like him would be. It was discreet enough for him to be able to get away from it all for a while.

He had developed his own little tradition of having exactly one drink every Friday at this place, then going home to watch television. He found it was the perfect way to relax after a long week. Even though he often still had work to do on weekends, it was his favourite way to escape for a few hours.

Once inside, one corner of his mouth lifted, even though he tried not to smile. Two of the regulars, Tsunade and Jiraiya, were arguing near the bar. They were half the reason Orochimaru kept coming here – they were much better entertainment than going to a theatre or cinema.

Orochimaru took a seat next to the quarrelling couple. Although neither of them noticed him, he let his lips form another small smile. These two were the closest thing he had to friends besides Kabuto, although he often wondered about Kabuto because most of their relationship consisted of work.

The old bartender came over to where Orochimaru sat. "Orochimaru…"

"Sarutobi," Orochimaru replied stiffly.

The two had had a minor disagreement weeks ago and they still weren't back on the best of terms.

"The usual?" Sarutobi asked, wiping out a glass.

"The usual," Orochimaru confirmed, eyeing the older man as he scooped a few blocks of ice into the glass and then topped it up with the most expensive whiskey a place like that had to offer.

Tsunade and Jiraiya finally sat back down next to where Orochimaru sat. They both seemed surprised to see him, even though he was there every Friday around the same time, and so were they. They started chatting with him and he answered whenever necessary, taking small sips of his drink.

When he was finished, he nodded goodbye to everyone and took his leave, ready for a night of television and hanging out with his cats.

Sasuke opened the door to his flat, wiping at the sweat that was running lightly down his neck. It was a particularly warm night, but he had forced himself to go for his evening run regardless. He couldn't afford to slack off.

He went straight to his refrigerator, took out an ice cold bottle of water and gulped it down in one go. He wondered vaguely if he should do something celebratory since he'd landed a job at such an esteemed company. He still had no idea how he'd managed to pull that off. A week ago, he'd been working in a café.

He smiled to himself as he started up his laptop and logged into Facebook. He was on the site every day, yet rarely posted any comments or status updates. He just… observed.

Should he post a status update mentioning that he got the job – just to rub it in Itachi's face? Would Itachi even read it? Would he care? It wasn't even a great position but the company itself was quite a feat – especially for the inexperienced Sasuke – and he would be working directly with Orochimaru…

He decided against announcing it. Perhaps it would be better to at least wait until Orochimaru decided whether or not he was fit for the position.

Sasuke sighed deeply as he scrolled past things he didn't care about. Something caught his eye, and he blushed when he realised what it was.

Sakura had posted a photo of herself and a few friends. Most of them didn't matter. The one whom she had her arm draped around in the photo did, though. Naruto…

Dammit! He should have blocked Naruto from his Facebook and hidden all of Sakura's posts but he just didn't seem to have the heart to do it.

Sasuke clenched his fists tightly and forcefully blinked back tears. It had only been one night but it had been the only time he had ever felt that way – so connected to someone. He had been attracted to Naruto ever since they had met in their teen years, but Naruto had always wanted Sakura...

After all this time, seeing a photo of Naruto still made him feel things he'd rather not. He was angry at himself more than Naruto, for believing that there could have been something more between them. Regret made his chest ache as he thought about it all.

He tried to push the thoughts from his mind and closed his browser. He wandered over to the window, opened it, and lit up a cigarette. It was a habit he was trying to kick, but right now he really just needed something to help him calm down.

Sasuke exhaled and watched as the smoke dissipated into the night. Would he ever find anyone to heal the wound left by Naruto Uzumaki?

Orochimaru slopped cat food into two bowls and then threw the spoon into the sink. The two cats at his feet meowed loudly.

"Yes, yes," he told them, setting the bowls on the floor and heading toward the already steaming hot shower.

Every morning, the two tabby cats would wake him at exactly five o'clock and order him to give them their breakfast. This morning, for no apparent reason, they had waited until six-thirty, and now he was late for work.

He stepped into the shower, thinking of his new assistant. What would he be like? Orochimaru didn't mind his attitude but hoped the boy would at least be obedient. He recalled the way that Sasuke had run his hand through his hair and gazed out of the window so nonchalantly during their interview.

Orochimaru realised he was getting a little too excited by his thoughts. Had he only given the boy the position because he found him attractive?

"I don't have time for this," he muttered to himself, squeezing water from his long hair and trying to ignore his arousal as he dried himself off. He really needed to leave soon, and didn't want to think about the fact that thoughts of his new assistant were making him feel this way.

He got dressed as quickly as possible and made his way out of his luxurious flat, petting both cats quickly on the way out. "See you guys later," he cooed.

Both meowed in response as he closed and locked the door, and then rushed down to his car.

Sasuke felt nervous but was determined not to show it. He had been sitting outside of Orochimaru's office for an hour already, but his boss had not shown up yet. Kabuto was at his desk, working without even as much as a glance at Sasuke besides a quick greeting when he'd come in.

Sasuke had gone shopping over the weekend and bought some smart clothing for work. Before, he hadn't even owned a tie and had used his only smart pair of pants and shirt for the interview. He hadn't seen much of a need to own such clothing when all he had worn before were his casual clothes at home and the uniform of whatever job he was clinging to at the time. He'd asked his friend Gaara to go shopping with him since he was no good at these things.

Gaara had been more than willing to help him – in fact, he'd kept Sasuke shopping for much longer than he intended to – but Sasuke couldn't help but wish Sakura had been the one to go shopping with him, like they had always done when they were younger.

Sasuke tried to think of other things, and luckily at that moment Orochimaru came through the door, sweeping right past Sasuke and straight into his office.

Sasuke stared wide-eyed at the now-open door, unsure of what to do.

Kabuto cleared his throat and said, "You should probably go in there and see what he needs you to do." He smiled at the younger man and went back to his work.

Well, there was no point in being shy about it. Sasuke was pretty sure that Orochimaru would prefer it if he was ready to take orders at any time.

His knees felt a bit weak as he walked into Orochimaru's office but he refused to let it show. "Good morning…" He trailed off. Should he refer to him as 'sir'? Or just by his name? The fact that he kept his surname so secret didn't help. Everyone just referred to him as Orochimaru. Surely it would be fine to just call him by his name, then?

"Orochimaru is fine," the older man said, as though reading Sasuke's thoughts. "Good morning, Sasuke. I need you to help Kabuto file those documents over there." His back was turned towards Sasuke as he rummaged through some files.

Sasuke looked over to where a huge stack of paper stood. He barely managed to stop an irritated sound from escaping his mouth. He held his tongue instead and walked over and picked up the heavy pile.

"After that, I'll need you to run some errands around town, including hand-delivering an important document. I'm sure you can at least handle that," Orochimaru added, his tone sarcastic.

Sasuke wondered briefly if this was how the man always acted. He hadn't even looked at Sasuke at all, in fact, it seemed as though he was avoiding doing so.

It certainly wouldn't be the first time that Sasuke had been blown off and barely acknowledged by those around him.

'First day working at OrochiMed done and dusted,' Sasuke typed. He stared at it for a moment and then hit backspace. It seemed too casual – he hadn't even told anyone he had the job yet.

He let his fingers hover above the keyboard as he thought, and then typed, 'I officially have a job at OrochiMed! First day went well…' No, that also didn't sound right. He hit backspace again and leaned back in his chair, staring at the ceiling.

Truthfully, his day hadn't gone all that well. Orochimaru had barely looked at him, barking orders for him to run around town, delivering and fetching things. Although what had Sasuke expected? A kind boss and simple office work?

It sure was easier to work in cafés and pizza shops, but this would put him on the right path. He would no longer be the black sheep of the family with 'no real job or ambition'. He would finally live up to his family's expectations and standards.

He'd never worked in an office environment before so, admittedly, hadn't known what to expect. He found himself hoping that Orochimaru always needed him to run errands because that way he wouldn't have to be around the sullen man all day.

He decided that Orochimaru was kind of an asshole. Although I can't really complain since he's so hot. His eyes flew open as he realised what he was thinking.

Sasuke smiled to himself. Fine, he would admit that he found the older man incredibly attractive. He would only ever admit this to himself, though.

Orochimaru was probably quite a bit older than him, he presumed. Like… thirty-five, maybe? He also probably had women falling at his feet – he was gorgeous and rich, after all, so everyone probably wanted a piece of him. Sasuke wondered what the chances were that Orochimaru was into men…

Oh my god, this is my boss that I'm thinking about. Get a grip, Sasuke!

He laughed out loud. He'd seen one photo of Naruto and now he was falling for the first nice-looking guy he came into contact with. Three years later and that damned blonde could still turn him into an emotional wreck.

Sasuke eyed the pack of cigarettes on his desk but decided it was time for his evening run. Exercise helped him forget that he wanted to smoke, and also would probably help him forget about the two men on his mind.

The weather was slightly cooler this evening, with rain clouds threatening above Sasuke as he jogged down the familiar streets. As he rounded a corner, he saw a flash of yellow hair. He panicked for a second, until the man turned around and Sasuke realised it was a complete stranger.

He picked up his speed and pushed himself harder as he continued on his route. It seemed that these days he just couldn't escape his past.

A tear rolled down his cheek and he angrily swiped at it, and then at his forehead, so that it would seem as though he was just wiping sweat from his face. He hated the fact that these feelings kept resurfacing.

Cool drops of rain began to spatter on the sidewalk where he ran but he didn't care until he almost ran into a dark-haired woman who was coming out of a jewellery store.

The woman stepped back, her hand pressed against her chest. Sasuke looked up, right into the eyes of his mother.

"Sa-sasuke," she stammered, shocked to have bumped into her second son.

"Hello, mom," Sasuke mumbled awkwardly, trying in vain to fix his damp appearance.

The woman put her hand on his shoulder regardless. "How have you been? I haven't heard from you in weeks."

Sasuke wanted to mention the fact that she hadn't tried to contact him. He always had to make contact first, and just hope that whichever relative he was trying to communicate with would respond. He saw this as an opportunity to give her the news. Perhaps Itachi would realise how Sasuke had grown up if he heard the news from their mother. Would it seem like it was no big deal to Sasuke that he had gotten such an amazing job?

"I have a new job," he told his mother as they stood under the awning of the store, "at OrochiMed."

Sasuke's mother frowned as she asked, "Oh really? Doing what?"

Did she even believe him? Sasuke's heart sank as he realised that it was probable that she thought she was just playing along with him trying to fit into the family. "Just… uh…" he trailed off.

"Sasuke…" his mother started, reaching toward her son again.

"Forget it," he mumbled, shaking her off. "See you whenever." He started jogging again without even waiting for her response.