It was almost four when we arrived in the front of a bright grey and orange building. I was apprehensive all the way there at first because we were heading to the side of town I rarely venture to, but if this relationship is going to work I need to get to know Naruto's side of the family, adopted or biological does not matter. I had to be familiar with his life. I am not sure why but I really want us to work despite our shaky start.
In the car, right after Naruto turned off his engine, he turned and grinned at me.
"Welcome to Sannin Holdings, this is where my Godfather and his friends do their business, they own a myriad of businesses under the main company. If I finish my diploma with good results, they might sponsor for my degree, but I might have to work here eventually."
Then Naruto looked forlornly at the building and said, "Though I have to see, ummm on a daily basis. Ah I don't mind if it also meant being with Ero-sennin everyday. Come on let's go."
I frowned at Naruto, what was he mumbling about I am not sure but I'll find out later. I had hesitations, lots of it but I don't want to start asking questions right away. All the questions hovering in my head were about how this Godfather who had sprung out of nowhere was too good to be true, complete with an established business and promises about Naruto's future. I didn't want Naruto to feel overwhelmed if he was maybe just going to be abandoned again one day.
We embarked from the car and I took in the building, it was recently made up as the fences looked new and the paint was fresh. I think I have passed this building once or twice when I had to pick up my brother from the airport.
The building was narrow but scaled upwards, I just had to count the floors, seven of them. This Godfather, if he owned this building must be a really rich businessman. All the other business here were mostly names I have read about in the media except Sannin Holdings. Maybe Itachi knew Naruto's Godfather though I bet they wouldn't be in the same industry since Itachi is involved in the cosmetics business which not many male were involved in.
In front of the building was a couple of white delivery lorries and vans parked in the compound. One lorry which was closest to us had a face of a model on its side, it was a photoshopped picture of a man from head to waist. He was smiling like a cheshire cat, from ear to ear. The person looked mature and fair skinned, I am not sure whether it was a he or a she, but they had a fine head of waist length hair. The clothes he wore was white which didn't even indicate his gender, I wondered if it was a he since he looked too masculine but pretty. Generally cosmetics company use female or have both genders on their advertisements.
"Come on," Naruto nudged me away from the main entrance. I followed him towards a hidden side of the building where there was a tinted glass door. Pasted on the door was a sign 'Employee's Entrance Only'. Naruto took out a card from his wallet and scanned into a box beside the door knob, and pulled at the door's handle.
"Now come in, I wonder if Tsunade-Baachan is inside. She promised me that she would wait for me today before going to China for her business trip. I told her about you."
I let slip my thoughts to him, "Really?"
"Yeah of course. She nags me about dating, and that around the moment I asked you about us." Naruto smiled sheepishly and quickly led me inside.
Naruto continued, "She wants to meet you. Now, let's head to the elevator. She's my Godfather's best friend along with Orochimaru-san, the other owner of this company."
I always had this thought that Naruto wasn't serious about our relationship at all. But here he was telling me that he told stories about me to someone close to his father figure. I should really meet this Tsunade-san whom Naruto even referred to as a Grandmother. Is she that old?
We walked along a corridor and end up at a hall where there were three elevators. We took one and ascended to the third floor there was a large cutout of a blonde and busty woman at the entrance.
Naruto leaned closer to me and whispered, "That's Baachan, she might seem young here but that is a digital wonder. If you look closely you can see all the wrinkles which she hid well with Uncle Occhi's make up."
"Why are you whispering?" I asked him. There was no one but us.
Naruto chuckled and leaned away, "Baachan has an all seeing crystal ball so whenever someone badmouths her, she would soon discover and punish them for their crime. She forced me to babysit Nawaki, his younger brother, just because I told my Godfather that she went to Italy to research for new implants for her…. Hahahhaha."
I decided to let Naruto's words go unfinished. This guy was forever blabbering nonsenses, but since he was my boyfriend and I had the lucky job of being his partner I decided to humour him.
"So what did you both do? You and Nawaki?"
"We locked ourselves in his room and play minecraft the whole day. It was fun but I had to quit English class and Third Language that day."
Naruto was still laughing while I frowned at his words. I assumed that on the days that Naruto was gone, he was probably skipping classes here and there. And his words proved that my assumption was true. I'll have a talk with Naruto later concerning the issue of truancy. I know I sound like a mother hen, but I am extra concerned when it came to studies.
"But don't nag me about that. Jiraiya, my Godfather told me how women like to nag about things like that. I already met up with the lecturers and done the work I hadn't done when I skipped the classes."
"Why were you being so honest with the teacher?" I queried.
"Jiraiya is friends with Kakashi, and then with half of the lecturers in our faculty. It was a headache but also a plus point sometimes," Naruto explained his face in a grimace.
I didn't know how to respond to that. No wonder the lecturers were always smiling at him, he was like a son to all of them. I imagine Jiraiya holding a party for Kakashi and inviting all his friends and getting to know them there.
"They were all fans of my Godfather's book if you are wondering."
"So your Godfather is a writer?"
"Yes, but not the kind of book you'd read. It's only one of his job, mainly he produces animation for local and overseas tv station, also online portals. His office is on the fourth floor but he's out for now. But you can first look forward to a meeting with my mother hen. Ahh, here is her office."
Naruto led me into the floor. The office wall was olive and the floor covered in pale orange carpets from wall to wall. Then a timed aromatherapy spray scent vanilla wafts across the room and I was almost fainted from the overpowering smell. The room was decorated in a mish mash of chinese and japanese decoration. There were small red dragon statues on one coffee table beside a red couch. On the walls were framed bamboo paintings and some cat arts.
"I asked her to change her carpets into a much fiercer orange but she told me if I scored a GPA 4.0 in any of my subjects this semester she'd do it. I dream of that day," Naruto pouted.
I smirked, if she had betted against me she would have lost since I was in first semester. It was a childish bet but she sounded fun and her decorations showed that she wasn't a typical straight business woman.
"Does she believe in Feng Shui?"
"I don't know, let's ask her when she arrives in a bit."
I walked around the empty office and wondered where her employees were. Naruto was leaning on the armrest of a red couch while he looked at me moving around the office. I rarely get to roam around my brother's office like this, Itachi always told me that I should bother with my studies before thinking about bothering with his business.
My mind flashed to Naruto's words about us spending more time here later. The office had six empty tables meaning there are six employees but they were gone. So I asked Naruto about it, "Where is everybody?
"They are having a party at level 2 where the cafe is, I didn't want to join because... Ah looks like Tsunade-Baachan is on her way here. Let's enter her room first, I don't want to … um come." Naruto held onto my wrist and pulled me along. We entered another office and Naruto let go of my hand.
"You'll meet someone later. She is clingy but I think I must tell you that she is my former girlfriend."
"She works here?"
"Ohh." I hoped this ex-girlfriend isn't the type to trespass on my 'territory'. I felt a possessive streak appear.
"My Godfather's friend Orochimaru-san thought I should warn you before hand. He did want you to feel uncomfortable."
I perched on an armrest of a long red sofa. Compared to the mixed up decoration outside, the main office was bare. All the furnitures were purple.
"Naruto, tell me about this Godfather of yours. His name is Jiraiya Sannin is it?"
Naruto chuckled heartily and said, "This is what I like about about you Sasu-chan, you are so quick to catch up on things. Now, where'd you get the clue that his surname is Sannin?"
I stared at Naruto and arched my eyebrows, "It's on that huge organization chart outside."
Naruto laughed and walked beside towards me and then he pulled me down onto the red sofa. He planted a quick kiss on my cheek and bear hugged me sideways, and the door flew open.
"Now Naruto, what are you doing molesting your girlfriend in my office?"
"No, No. I am just giving her a loving gesture," Naruto said innocently while letting me go.
"So this is Sasuke? Welcome to our family. How are you?"
I shook her hand and smiled, "I'm doing good. I hope we are not disturbing you or anything."
"No, the only day I am ever here meant that I am finally free from work. Now, sit down properly. I want to see the girl who caught this brat's eyes.
I felt like I was meeting Naruto's mother figure, but since she had no prior knowledge of Naruto I could see that me and Naruto's relationship, and her and Naruto's relationship were almost on the same level. I don't know why but I have a feeling that she would be drilling everything and anything about me when she had a chance despite her friendliness.
"Where do you and your family live? Me and my partner Dan, live in a house a few kilometres from here while Jiraiya stayed in the house upstairs. Orochimaru has a few houses around town which he stays according to his needs."
I thought that sooner or later they might know about me being related to Itachi, so it was better to tell her that now. "I live with Itachi, near Konoha Central."
"Itachi Uchiha? So you're sister of Orochimaru's current rival."
"Pardon me, but I am not sure about that."
Naruto butted in, "Orochimaru makes cosmetics and beauty products, he is envious of your brother for being the No.1 in the cosmetics industry."
Tsunade laughed and mused, "They aren't even in the same category then why do they envy each other I don't understand, Orochimaru's Komorebi cosmetic label is herbal based and only sold in health care pharmacies while the Uchiha's Hypnotic is sold in all department stores. They don't even share the same consumers so why is Orochimaru frustrated, I can't comprehend.
I didn't even know that they were trying to match each other, maybe I should butt in more in Itachi's business. Well, though I would be working with Itachi most likely anyway, my brother had no offspring he would be hand down his business anyway.
Anyway I tried answering in any way vague that I could, "Mesmerize, Itachi's cosmetic label's success is solely my brother's responsibility. I am sure he would love to work with Komorebi if their intention was in line with their objectives, which was to make everyone feel good."
"Really?" Naruto exclaimed before he continued, "I knew he was being overdramatic about it, Orochimaru was miserable just because your brother didn't reply his email and answer his call that one time."
The phone on Tsunade's table rang and she quickly answered it.
"She's here? I'll come down now, don't want to spoil it for his new girlfriend. Yes, in my room... Right."
Tsunade put down the phone and sighed. "Let's go down brat, before she barges in here. I don't want Sasu-chan to feel uncomfortable on her first day here."
Naruto kissed me chastely on the cheeks and ran after Tsunade's who was already out the door. He closed the door behind him. I sighed and wonder if the she that Tsunade didn't want me to meet was Naruto'sbex girlfriend. I looked at the office and leaned back onto the sofa.
Just as I was enjoying my quiet time a man barged into the office. He smiled at me and instantly I felt shiver ran down my spine, he could rival in Itachi in terms of looking deceptively friendly but was actually something else underneath.
"I'm Orochimaru Sama, you are Naruto's acquaintance?"
"Yes," I said.
Orochimaru was a really pretty man for someone middle aged, I wonder how natural his look was since he produced organic cosmetics. Or he was only organic when it came to cosmetics but not his look. He had shoulder length hair which was fashioned in soft layers just like Itachi, but my brother's hair was longer and he kept it in a loose tie most times. This other man was wearing a maroon pantsuit with a deep purple vest and purple tie underneath. His shirt underneath was white.
"Where is Tsunade? I came in to meet Naruto since I had not been able to meet him for a week now."
"They went outside for awhile, they'll be back soon."
Orochimaru looked at me and then he sat at the single seater sofa which was placed across the sofa I sat on. He looked at me and suddenly remarked, "You look really familiar, I am sure we have met somewhere. Are you one of Jiraiya's models?"
"No, I never knew him before this. I'm a student from Naruto's classroom."
"Would you like to be one of our models when we have roadshows?"
"Mr Sawa, I am sorry to decline this but I am not available anytime soon."
"Your skin is so flawless," he said as he stood and walked and then sat beside me. I could feel warning sirens going around me and I wondered whether I could defend myself if he attacked me.
"Maybe you could model for us later..."
I sat looking at the sofa Orochimaru was previously sitting, while he sat beside me looking at me in profile. He was looking eerily at me for a good few seconds before he burst out laughing, ""Ah, I should have recognized that profile anywhere. Aren't you Itachi Uchiha's sister? I should have expected that Naruto would befriend the sibling of the person I envied the most."
I stiffened at his words. I should have followed Naruto out when he exited. This was terrifying.
"Now, now, don't get me wrong, envy is healthy in business, it's how you grow and compete with each other." He smiled and got up and walked to Tsunade's table and grabbed for the phone on her desk. "I noticed that Naruto haven't served you any drinks? What would you like to have? I'll send someone here."
"I'm… " my voice was croaky. I cleared my throat by feigning a cough and quickly turned to him, "I'll have juice please." I suddenly felt that I should be polite with my brother's foe in business.
"Ok, let me call my assistant. She'll be right up. Ah, honey could you please bring four packs of juice to Tsunade's office." Orochimaru toyed with some ornaments on Tsunade's table before unbuttoning his blazer and putting a hand on one hip and listened on to the phone. He ended the phone call with a nod before saying, "Thank you dear."
"Now, tell me how you knew Naruto from?" Orochimaru sat back on the sofa he had perched previously. I sidled to the side of the sofa so I wouldn't be sitting in front of him.
"We studied for the same course at Uni."
"Ahh, it's good to have a partner with the same interests. All my partners never understood my passion when it comes to cosmetics. Either that or they think that I ought to be their sugar daddy, how ignorant. I am just fine. Tsunade, Jiraiya, and now Naruto are all I need now."
"How long have you been selling cosmetics?"
"Almost twenty eight years, if you count from the day I sell them at the night markets. But if you ask about this company, we are only ten years old. I sold under my own little company before we merged and help out each other grow."
I nodded and waited for his next words.
Orochimaru looked at me and smiled again, "I never thought that I would have my rival's sister sitting in my office building this soon. I was just planning to write a proposal to your brother about a special product I would like to create with him."
"Hmmm." I looked at him trying to appear interested.
"This new line of product will hopefully catapult him into the organic cosmetics market, while I will be able to break into the mainstream market. Truthfully, we never had to advertise until five years ago you know. Now we buy views on social media platforms and our direct sellers no longer have to come to the store to get their supplies, everything is done via electronic."
I listened on to Orochimaru's rant. Actually I was a little ashamed that I didn't know anything about my brother's business since he told me to finish my studies first before I think about knowing past the cosmetics he had given me these past years. I never even knew how much we made last year, what our factory looked like inside nor do I ever ask about the company's future plans. Itachi had always treated me like a child when it comes to real life. He was always trying to shield me, by saying that how can I think about working when I had gained a B for Statistics and egged me to work harder. I had always been an obedient child when it came to studying and every single A I gained was celebrated with a nice lunch or day out with Itachi san his hand phone. After every lunch or day out, Itachi would be burning the midnight oil apologizing to his clients for being absent for a period. I was grateful for Itachi, but I also wanted to prove my own worth.
"Where do you plan to have your industrial training?" Of all Orochimaru's words, those caught my wandering attention.
I looked at him pointedly thinking about how dare he ask that kind of question. Still the curiosity for interning with a company older and more down to earth than Itachi's worldwide one was tempting. Seems like I had a little rebellious side to loyal me.
"You don't have to give an answer now, Naruto already chose to intern with Tsunade despite Jiraiya's refusal. But the stubborn boy does not want to write about stuff like…"
The door flew open and a whirl of blonde and tan skin jumped into Orochimaru's sofa, "Uncle! I want to tell her about that first, don't spoil the secret."
I looked confusingly at Naruto as he jumped out of the sofa armrest and onto the space next to me. "Come Sasuke, let's head to my Godfather's office. He'll arrive in minutes. Anyway Uncle Ochi, did you order any drinks?"
"Oh, of course I did. Where's Tsunade?"
"Oh, she's settling things at the cafe. It's Miss Kurenai's baby shower they were having. Come, let's head there now."
Before I could escape with Naruto, Orochimaru offered his hand for me to shake. As I shook his hand, he came forward and smiled, "Think about my offer and see you around soon."
Orochimaru's offer to intern with him sounded nice, but what do I do interning with a cosmetics company when I could be part of a broadcasting station, be a journalist or one of Itachi's friend's advertising agency? I'll have to think hard about it though my course would only have the internship programme three semesters from now. Itachi wouldn't be pleased but he doesn't control me.