Word Count: 2,000
Spoilers: "Business School"
Summary: Sitting roughly four feet away from Kelly from nine to five -- take one. (Godspeed, Mr. Howard. Godspeed.)
Author's Note: This started spilling out of my brain while I should have been getting ready for class this morning, and then decided to be temperamental and not let me finish it until tonight. Meh. On the plus side, Ryan and Kelly really just make me happy.
Kelly laces her fingers through his as they step into the elevator.
"Oh, Ryan," she breathes, beaming at him. "This is going to be the best day ever! I just know it."
"Yeah," he says awkwardly. "But, hey, listen, it's still work. We still have to get stuff done. We can't just sit and talk."
"Well, yeah, of course," she agrees, her tone immediately switching to one that resembles that of a sane person. "I just think it's cool you're going to be sitting there. That's all."
"Okay," he says, and squeezes her hand. "Good."
For fifty-seven minutes he kinda thinks maybe it'll be okay.
Oh that's cool. :)
why are you iming me when we're like 2 feet away from each other?
Cuz you want me to silly. ;)
You asked me earlier
if i could not talk
so you can focus on work and stuff!
but I couldn't just not talk to you!!!1
you look sooo cute today. :) :)
kelly, i'm still trying to work.
it's so cold and snowing!! Why is he taking his clothes off?/
kelly i really have to get some work done
Ok fine. :(
BUt you will watch it later, right??
Oh Ryan you're the best boyfriend ever!!
i should go now
Ok but i'll miss youuuuuu!!
kelly i'm right here.
i looooooooooooooove youuuuuuuuu, ryan!!!
rhoward has signed off.
"Oh my God."
She says it low, and just once, and right away Ryan is struck with panic because this means that there has to be something really, really wrong. She sounds just like she did the time when she tried to make Ramen in his apartment and then didn't remember she'd left the burner on until like an hour later when they were at the movies.
"What?" he asks quickly.
She doesn't turn to face him. "I can't believe this."
"What?" he repeats, insistent. "You didn't try to cook anything, did y--"
She points to an image on her computer screen, and he's overcome with momentary relief that his apartment isn't burning down and Brangelina probably just broke up or something. His immediate thought after that is to wonder why the hell Kelly would be googling skinheads.
And then he spots the headline.
"Britney!" Kelly cries in agony. "She's ruining herself."
"Oh," Ryan says blandly.
"I can't even believe it," Kelly announces miserably. "I feel like I'm going to cry. Seriously. What is she doing?"
"Kelly," he says as patiently as he can, "next time don't do that unless it's a real emergency, okay?"
"How is this not a real emergency?" Kelly demands, turning to glare at him. "Britney Spears has no hair, Ryan!"
"But you don't even know her," Ryan points out.
"Please!" Kelly scowls. "I have her first three albums. And Crossroads on DVD."
"Oh," he responds weakly, and feels a little sick at the notion that her movie collection sinks to disastrous lows he's never even contemplated before. For all he knows, now she'll make him watch it.
"God," she sighs, shaking her head. "Sometimes I don't get you, Ryan."
She spins indignantly in her desk chair and stares determinedly at her computer screen, like he's not even here anymore.
"Right back atcha," he mutters darkly.
On the plus side, she doesn't talk to him again for another thirty-two minutes.
"No, I completely understand. Um. Thanks anyway. For your time. Have a nice day."
He hangs the phone up and tries not to pay attention to the stupid sick feeling that settles everywhere in him all at once. Kelly's actually working, which sucks. He sort of wishes she would hit him with some annoying celebrity trivia right about now. She is nothing if not distracting.
He straightens some papers and takes a sip of his coffee (it's cold) and listens to her without meaning to.
"Dunder Mifflin, this is Kelly! How can I help you today?"
She sounds great when she does it -- cheerful and confident and helpful. You wouldn't know that she's clingy and insane and still likes Nsync, listening to her from the other end of the line.
"You wanna talk about it?"
"Talk about what?"
"The thing that's obviously bugging you, duh."
"Nothing's bugging me."
"Whatever, Ryan. I can totally tell when something's bugging you."
"Nothing's bugging me, Kelly."
"You keep sighing and shuffling your papers over and over. You're sad."
"I'm not sad."
"You're so sad!"
"Is it about the sales call?"
"Because I just know that one of these days you're going to--"
"Kelly. Just . . . don't, okay?"
"Fine. But I'm just trying to help."
"Yeah, well, don't bother."
"God, why don't you just go back and sit with Jim and Dwight? Because you obviously like them more than me."
"How's it going sitting next to Kelly?" Ryan repeats. He can't really do anything except stare at the camera, and finally responds bleakly, "How do you think it's going?"
He doesn't add the part where it's probably going a little bit worse than that.
He heads for the kitchen with a cheesy pita and a sense of recklessness, because it would be strangely satisfying for the toaster oven to send Dunder Mifflin up in flames. As of right now, he's all for tempting fate.
Except then, hand pushing against the door, he hears her voice and freezes.
"And he's just so mean to me," Kelly is lamenting inside. "And I know that I'd be able to help him if he'd just listen, but he's being all stubborn and stupid and he won't even consider the possibility that maybe I could actually be right about stuff! God, sometimes I think relationships aren't even worth it, you know?"
"Um, yeah," Oscar says awkwardly. "That sounds . . . really hard."
"It so is." Kelly sighs. "God, Oscar, aren't boys the worst? Seriously."
"Sure, Kelly," Oscar says.
Ryan turns and heads right back out again. Lunch and probable destruction suddenly don't seem so important.
He spends the next half hour just wandering around, which is . . . really sad. Jim's already at his desk. And okay, it was Jim's desk in the first place, but still.
"Hey, man," Jim says, his eyebrows raising curiously. "Homesick?"
"Something like that," Ryan answers dully.
"Oh, boo hoo," Dwight sneers. "You should have thought of that before you betrayed Michael, because you have been banished from this area of the office. Indefinitely." He contemplates this for a moment, then amends in a low snarl, "Permanently."
Which he should have seen coming. It's like he's losing his ability to perceive exactly how crazy these people are.
"Right," he says, and walks away.
kkapoor has signed off.
When he goes to get more coffee, Michael's in the kitchen too.
"Uh," Ryan says, "hi."
Michael's eyes narrow. "Hello, Ryan."
He spits out his name in this way that sounds like he's saying 'Toby.' Then he turns and walks out, and slams the door behind him really loud.
Ryan decides while he's pouring his coffee that it's a good thing, because for a long time he hasn't really wanted anything more than for Michael to randomly decide that he hates him.
So really, it's a positive development.
It takes an hour and five minutes, but finally the opening strains of Goodbye My Lover spill form Kelly's computer speakers. About twenty seconds after that, she starts sniffling. He doesn't turn around or anything, but he kind of has to try not to smile.
When she turns around to talk to him again, he's got a tissue ready to hold out. She takes it and dabs at her running mascara. "Oh, Ryan," she sighs, "that was so romantic."
"And I love that song!"
"Yeah, I know."
She casts a wistful glance back at the computer screen.
"I wish I was her," she decides after a moment, quiet and sort of reverent. "He loves her so much he can't even live without her. And those lens flares look sooo pretty. And meaningful, you know?"
Part of him wants to point out that he wasted three minutes and fifty-six seconds of his life watching that sappy piece-of-shit video just so she'd talk to him again. But he kinda doubts she'd get it.
"It's just a music video," he says instead. "Real life's never like that."
She looks at him and then the computer screen again, and finally just sighs. "Yeah."
Her phone rings before she can say anything else, and this is the part where he's supposed to feel relieved about that.
"You wanna come over to my place tonight?" he asks as he hands her her coat from the coat rack, then reaches for his.
"I'm not sure," she responds thoughtfully. Her nose crinkles a little bit as she frowns. "We did just spend all day together."
"Um," he says, and tries not to pay attention to the camera guy who suddenly seems to find them really interesting. "Okay. That's cool."
"And besides, I totally have to stop neglecting my beauty sleep," she prattles on as they head out the door. "I've got these super-ugly big circles going on under my eyes."
"You always look great," he contradicts dutifully, and she turns and smiles at him. The door's closed behind them -- they're out in the hallway and the camera guy didn't follow them, so he smiles back.
"I guess I could maybe come over," she surrenders, slipping her arm through his.
"Yeah," he says, nudging her lightly and smirking. "I thought so."
She rolls her eyes, but he can tell she's trying not to smile. "Oh, so you're just saying nice things to me so you can use me for sex? Nice, Ryan."
"Like that's not what James Blunt's doing," he retorts.
She gasps, offended. "That song is really romantic!"
"That's what he wants you to think so you'll sleep with him," Ryan points out. "Plus, he sings really high."
"Yeah," she agrees after a moment, realization dawning on her face. "I guess that is sort of weird."
She leans into him a little bit as they step into the elevator.
"So," he asks, and this morning feels like it was about two weeks ago, "Best day ever?"
She considers it for a second before responding, "Not really."
Which is cool of her. He likes it when she doesn't sugarcoat things. It doesn't happen a whole lot, but when it does, things have this way of making sense - like the reason they've been together for a year isn't because he's a coward and she's desperate, but maybe because they sort of work together. In a weird way.
"But," she adds brightly, "tomorrow totally will be. I can feel it."
Close enough, he figures, and kisses her as soon as the elevator doors shut.