Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, so stop asking already.
*sigh* I hate it when I'm in a reading mood and there's nothing to read...
Oh! Before I forget! *ahem* ADVERTISMENT: If you love Rule 3, then be prepared for the wonderful upcoming story Penny for Your Thoughts written by yours truly! A modern AU about a snotty journalist who's about to receive the wake up call of a lifetime. Undercover agents, flaming newspaper articles, and an adorable little girl... what's not to love?! Will not be published until Rule 3 is complete.
Special thanks to 01Trycia-chan01 for being my brainstorming partner for Rule 3! Also thanks to PaulaWaula for one of the ideas in the chapter, without her help this chapter wouldn't be as NEARLY as hilarious as it turned out! And thanks to anyone who has reviewed/favorited in the history of this story!
...I think I enjoyed writing this chapter a little TOO much... *evil cackle* And yes, Itachi might be OOC... but I am two hours from doing an (unintentional) all-nighter and I'm hyped up on sweet tea, Dr. Pepper, and Smarties so you'll have to get over it. Cheerio me lads! Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha
"How long as Sakura been working here?" Itachi asked as he was busy writing some report or other. I shot him a strange look then glanced down at Taka who was playing under my desk, pretending to be a tiger in a zoo. My nephew just shrugged, he didn't know why Itachi was being random either... not that I expected him too. I turned to my computer and opened the digital employee registry, something Itachi could do if he wasn't being lazy today. After typing in Sakura's name I pulled up her work history and turned back to my boss, "A little over a month. Why?" Itachi finally looked at me, his dark eyes staring at my pointedly. I frowned, "What?" I questioned, a little defensively. I hadn't done anything wrong, so why was Itachi looking at me like I was an idiot. "Don't you have some pressing matter with my brother?" My boss asked. I frowned, "What matter?" Itachi shook his head, "Never mind. I'm going outside." He said shortly and got up to leave. I followed his progress as he practically stormed out of the office, through the lobby and to the elevators. Taka and I exchanged looks, my nephew looked just as confused as I did over Itachi's rare mood. I wondered briefly what was eating him, whatever it was it couldn't be good.
"What the hell is wrong with you?!" I screeched like a scalded cat when Itachi came back in smelling like cigarette smoke. Taka immediately ducked down behind my desk, his brown eyes impossibly wide. I should have known that Itachi would have been smoking. He didn't leave the office for just nothing. Itachi shot me a nasty scowl. If looks could kill, I'd be six feet under and nothing but bones right now. "Is that any way to speak to your boss?" He growled. "It is when he has been smoking!" I shot back, coming to a defensive stand, my hands planted firmly on my desktop, "I can smell the smoke from here, Itachi, and I'm five feet away from you!" I shouted. Itachi's anger simmered down a little, "Hn. One of the security guards was smoking rather heavily." His excuse was met with a flat stare, "Do you really really expect me to believe you? You're talking to me, Uchiha Itachi... You come in here reeking of cigarette smoke and you expect me to honestly believe you haven't been smoking!?"
Itachi glanced out to see the forming crowd in the lobby, Sasuke and Sakura standing at the front, all of them looking very stunned and confused, and slammed the door, causing the fogged glass windows around the doorframe to rattle harshly. Taka whimpered and pressed himself into the foot space under my desk so that I couldn't see him anymore. Not even those glares I received at the Akatsuki Conference could compare to the one I was receiving now, "When I say someone else was smoking, I mean someone else was smoking. If I was going to have a cigarette, you would not know about it, Ms Taihen no Ichigo." Itachi snarled in a cold voice, his dark eyes burning with rage. I knew I was treading dangerous waters the minute I heard my full name pass Itachi's lips. I opened my mouth to defend myself, and no doubt berate Itachi again, but he cut me off before I could form words, "And why, may I ask, are you so vehement against smoking anyway?" I could feel my blood boil. I was rarely ever this angry. Was he honestly that much of a hard head?! "Oh I don't know... THE FACT THAT YOU COULD END BACK UP IN THE HOSPITAL AND DIE THIS TIME!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, my fingernails digging into the edge of my desk.
My boss raised an eyebrow, his temper already cooling down, "Is that what this is about? Why are you so worried?" Itachi asked, his tone back to it's normal devoid self. I glared at him as my blush rose unbidden to my cheeks. There was no way in hell I would really tell him why I wanted him alive. I hardly even wanted to admit to it myself! But I would not tell him some lame answer that I was a loyal employee; I couldn't bring myself to say something so mundane when the situation was too personal. I jabbed my finger at my infuriating boss, "If you consider me as a friend, then what's to say I don't think the same way? As your friend, I am overly concerned for your health. As your employee it is my duty to make sure your life is easier, even if it means hounding you about your habits. As a human being, I care whether you live or die!" I snapped then slammed my palm back down on the desk, making Taka squeak in surprise under it, "And you still haven't told me why you were smoking, Uchiha-sama!" I finished. Itachi tilted his head, as if he were looking at a curious creature that he had just discovered. "You truly are a strange woman..." He muttered to himself before walking behind my desk. I took a step away to give him room, feeling my back hit the coat rack behind me. I didn't like being this close to him, it was hard to ignore my feeling then.
Itachi didn't seem to notice my sudden extreme discomfort as he bent over my computer, typing in something. What felt like hours, even though it was only a moment or two, later Itachi turned the screen towards me with a smug smirk, "Here is proof to back my claim, Ichigo." I shot the man a distrustful look but leaned closer to the computer screen. Itachi had pulled up the recording of the security camera in the front of the Uchiha Corporation building. The high tech footage reeled for a few minutes, showing some people walking in and out of the building, most carrying briefcases and wearing suits, be they woman or man. After a few seconds one of the security guards standing at the doors pulled out a cigarette from his shirt pocket. The camera was detailed enough that I could see the brief little flame from the lighter and the orange glow of the cigarette being lit, it even caught the light grey smoke leaving the security guards mouth.
I narrowed my eyes at the figure and turned to Itachi, about to snap that this was not proof when my boss grabbed my chin in one hand and forcibly turned my head back to the footage. Out came a miniature figure of Itachi, looking a little flustered for an Uchiha; which any normal standards wasn't very different than a blank expression, but I could tell. The security guards snapped to attention, much like the military, but the mini-Itachi ignored them. He instead calmly stood right next to the smoking guard, staring passively out at the city laid out before him. Itachi stood there for a long time, his posture calm and collected like it always was, but I could tell something was bothering him, even through the camera. I glanced at the real Itachi beside me out of the corner of my eye, he didn't seem flustered now, but then again, Itachi seemed more smug than anything at the moment. I glanced back at the screen in time to see mini-Itachi look straight at the camera, say something to the smoking security guard, and walk back in.
So... Itachi was telling the truth.
My boss closed the window and turned my face towards him, his grip more gentle than before. I immediately blushed, relishing too much in the feel of Itachi's long capable fingers pressing gently into my chin. But I didn't yank my head away from his grasp, I seemed to have forgotten how, especially when I saw the surprisingly tender look that filled the normally void spaces in his dark eyes, "I am grateful for your concern, Ichigo, but it is not necessary. I respect your wishes more than you think." Itachi said calmly, looking like a much different man than the won who had been staring daggers at me only minutes before. My blush deepened and I looked down, managing to break his hold on my chin, "I-I'm sorry... Itachi-san. I shouldn't have been so quick to jump to conclusions." I mumbled, now embarrassed at my overreaction. Itachi chuckled and headed for his own desk, "Don't be. It's that kind or reaction that keeps me from smoking. However..." Itachi glanced up at me as he sat down, that infuriating smug look back into place, "I think I should get something out of this."
I glared at him over my blush, "What do you have in mind...?" I growled. Itachi's smirk widened, "Just a favor. Nothing harmful." Itachi said dismissively as he turned back to his work. I shot him suspicious looks as I brought the windows Itachi had closed back up. I didn't like it when Itachi was in his teasing moods, they normally never boded well for me. We were both quiet for a minute as we started getting back to work, when a little voice I had forgotten was there asked, "Can I come out now?" I pulled mack my chair to peer under my desk at Taka. I could hear Itachi chuckle from across the room, "Yes, Taka. Sorry for frightening you." Itachi said, never once looking up from his paperwork. Taka scrambled out from under my desk and ran for Itachi, practically leaping into his lap. Itachi didn't seem to even notice that a four year old boy had suddenly appeared in front of him. I smiled at the sight as Itachi expertly wrapped his arms around Taka to continue working while my nephew snuggled up to the man. I turned back to my work, listening absently to Taka as he chattered away, happy that Itachi and my tempers had dissipated.
"'Tachi, will you marry me?" Taka suddenly asked. My fingers accidentally slammed down on the keys of my computer as I twisted to stare at my nephew in horror. Had that really just come out of his mouth?! I thought I told him that he could just go asking everyone to marry him, that marriage was something between- my thoughts suddenly cut off as I remembered that I had promised my nephew I would talk to him later about marriage. Itachi, however, didn't even stop working. The only sign that Itachi had even heard my nephew was the small suppressed snicker that managed to escape Itachi's throat. I was blushing fiercely as I tried to explain, "T-Taka... you can't marry Itachi-san. Y-you're too young and... and..." It was extremely hard to concentrate and explain something very embarrassing when my boss kept snickering. Taka stared at me with those large innocent eyes. As I struggled to think of something to say, Itachi finally spoke, saving me from the stress, "Marriage doesn't work like that, Taka. You'll meet a nice girl your own age when your older." Itachi managed to strangle out through his amusement. I glared at him hotly. He was not helping! Taka looked confused, "But I don' get why I can't marry you..." The little boy said pouting. That seemed to push Itachi over the edge and the elder Uchiha brother burst out laughing.
vvv Sasuke's POV vvv
My pen jerked to the side when I heard Itachi's laugh coming through the wall. Sakura looked up startled at the sound of my pen clattering against the floor, a line of ink trailing across the paper and onto my desk all the way to the edge. I ignored both her and the pen to stare at the wall that separated my office from my brother's. Sakura's pink eyebrows puckered worriedly as she picked up the pen and placed it gently on my desk. She reached out and touched my shoulder, jolting me out of my trance, "Sasuke? What's wrong?" Sakura asked concerned. I was so startled that I didn't even care to point out the lacking honorific. "Itachi... is laughing." I said stunned, staring at her to make sure she confirmed what I was hearing and it wasn't just my imagination. Sakura fell silent to listen then her sea green eyes widened impossibly large when she heard the laugh. "That's... Itachi-sama? What could he be laughing about? I thought he and Ichigo were mad at each other." Sakura said surprised. We both looked at the wall again. "I hadn't heard him laugh since he graduated from high school..." I said to myself. Sakura looked at me surprised, "Really!? But why?" I just shook my head, I really didn't know. Itachi wasn't one to open his emotions to anyone, even his younger brother.
vvv Ichigo's POV vvv
I was torn between strangling Taka for making the situation worse and standing there in the middle of Itachi's office, slack-jawed, as he laughed. In the seven years I had worked for him I had never ever heard the man laugh like that before. Maybe a chuckle here and a small amused snort there, but never a full blown laugh! And so far I was willing to let him keep laughing until he turned blue from the lack of oxygen. Never had I heard a more silky and rich laugh. Like everything else about the man, Itachi's laugh was something to die for. I could understand why girls fell for him so easily, laughter was normally just a sound of amusement, but Itachi's laugh... I shook my head to clear my thoughts before I went down that road and never came back. Besides, I had to deal with a certain nephew of mine whose new unintentional hobby was to kill me of embarrassment. "Taka... you can't marry, Itachi-san." I started, intending to end this before it got worse. I didn't care how embarrassed I got trying to explain to a four year old why he couldn't marry a twenty-eight year old man, I had to stop this!
Taka tilted his head, "Well if I can't, 'den can 'Tachi marry you? Dat way he's part of the famiwy?" Itachi's laughter cut off as if it had been severed by a knife. If I was trying to keep from fainting, or possibly dying, of embarrassment, I would have laughed at Itachi's surprised look. I stumbled back a step and gripped my desk hard, my knuckles turning white. "T-T-Ta-Tak-k-ka!" I sputtered, sounding like Hinata during high school when she had first met Naruto. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I wanted Tokyo to be hit by the largest earthquake in the history of the world and let me die in this building. I wanted a tsunami so large it managed to crash over the Uchiha Corp building and drown me. I would even take a Godzilla at this point! Anything to make me forget Taka's very innocent but very personal question. Even Itachi looked embarrassed. "Taka... marriage is something very important and shouldn't be taken lightly." Itachi said. I glared daggers at him, oh so now he decided to be serious! If he hadn't been showing off that sexy laugh of his then we wouldn't be having to explain to a confused four year old why there was no way in hell that Itachi and I would be marrying.
...Not by any choice of mine...
And now you see why I took a sick joy in writing this chapter. Mwahahahahahahahahahaha, I love torturing my OCs with their love lives! XD *evil cackle* Oh you lovely lovely Taka... Keep strong kid and keep embarrassing your aunt and her boss!
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