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Title: Under The Cyclone (1/1)
Author: buffyx
Fandom: The Office
Pairing/Character: Ryan/Kelly
Summary: Basically Ryan's job just makes him want to die.
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers/Warnings: This takes place a little before and after the Valentine's Day episode from the second season.




The thing is, Ryan has friends, a lot of friends, and while a lot of these friends are attending grad school full time and are living off the lining of their parents’ pockets and student loans, there is a formidable percentage who also have jobs. They have jobs, like Ryan, except the difference is that their jobs don’t make them want to die.

Not the way Ryan’s does.

When he’s not in the office, he’s trying to repress. Much of the repressing goes down at Cheap Shots, the bar across town that he and his friends go to the nights he’s not attending business school. The problem is that apparently Kelly is friends with his roommate Cole’s girlfriend’s best friend, and after the first night she bumps into him there, she starts showing up more and more often, and she always manages to squeeze in right next to him, and.

It’s not like KELLY herself is the issue here. Kelly is—she’s okay. Better than okay. Yeah, she babbles endlessly and is more than a little vapid, but she also is pretty hot and when she turns her head to the side and laughs, her hair falls across her eyes and it’s. Well. It’s cute.

“Oh my god, Ryan, did you hear what Angela said to me in the breakroom during lunch?” Kelly stage-whispers, leaning in toward him like it’s a secret, and she doesn’t wait for him to answer before continuing all in a rush. “She was, like, freaking out because my skirt was quote-unquote ‘inappropriate for the workplace,’ and I couldn’t even believe it. It’s totally professional! So I told her I bought it at Express, and they’re so classy, and she was all, ‘I’m going to request to Michael that we update the dress code,’ and it’s so stupid, you know? Like, just because she’s all Christian and a prude or whatever doesn’t mean we ALL have to be. I mean, not that I’m the office whore or anything— not that we have an office whore— I don’t think people think I’m the office whore. Do you? God. I mean. I’m not, like, slutty on purpose or anything. You know?”

“Uh huh,” says Ryan, even though he stopped paying attention from the word “Angela” on.

He’s feeling—not drunk, really, but he’s finished a glass of Heineken and it’s enough to leave him decently buzzed; he moves to shift on his stool and almost slips and his hand braces itself against Kelly’s thigh, half on her black skirt and half on her skin, which is warm under his palm.

Kelly is blushing, and actually not talking for once, but her mouth opens and she takes a breath like she’s ready to launch into some other tirade.

So. He kisses her instead, because the alternative is listening to her talk, and that would be worse.

It succeeds in shutting her up, if nothing else, and he thinks maybe she’s surprised because she gasps a little at first. But then her hand flits up to his shoulder and she presses back eagerly, and it’s hot and kind of nice, even.

When they pull apart and she exhales this little breathless giggle, he tries to look at her and think of her as just, you know, a random hot girl with a cute laugh, rather than the girl from the place where he works that is slowly sucking out his soul forty hours a week.

It doesn’t really work.

Kelly asks him for a ride home, and he isn’t quick enough on his feet to think of some excuse as to why he can’t, so he gives her a lift. On the way, she switches his car radio to some top forty station that has a DJ with a grating voice, hums a Black Eyed Peas song under her breath, and he later will think that this was the first sign. You don’t assume you have license to change people’s radio stations just because of some drunken kissing. You just don’t.

Ryan parks outside of her apartment and they make out some more. For like fifteen minutes or so. It’s a little awkward with the arm rest between them, but she does let him get his hand up the front of her shirt.

It doesn’t suck.

“See you tomorrow,” she trills, smiling brightly as she shuts the passenger door and all but skips up to her building, and she turns to wave at him before going in.

As he backs out of the lot, the annoying DJ says something about Valentine’s Day, and puts on some croony poppy love song, and Ryan’s hands nearly spasm on the wheel as he realizes the date.

He is so fucked.

**

The day after Valentine’s, Ryan comes in five minutes late and goes straight to his desk. Yesterday’s time card is sitting on there with a Post-It stuck to the front from Angela, asking his to please correct the work codes which have changed since last month and resubmit the form to her immediately. The word “immediately” is underlined in black pen multiple times, for emphasis, and because Angela has a stick up her ass.

His e-mail inbox for the company account has seven new messages: two are spam, which he moves to the junk folder; one is the corporate newsletter, which he keeps but doesn’t really intend on reading; three are from Michael, all forwards, because Michael has decided that the company policy doesn’t apply if they’re only sent to the guys in the office and don’t involve derogatory sex jokes involving women. Animals still count, which Ryan learned the hard way. He deletes those without reading them.

The last one is from Kelly.

He wavers between moving it to the trash can and reading it, and decides to go with the latter. Turns out she’s just asking him if he’s updated the current client log yet, which he hasn’t, so he responds and tells her that no, it’s not up to date but it will be by noon.

She’s sitting at her desk, tapping her pencil eraser on the desk and sneaking him little looks. She stands and touches her hair and takes a step in his direction, like maybe she’s contemplating approaching him. Before she can make up her mind, Ryan bails for the bathroom, where Jim is at the sink.

“Hey.” He’s scrubbing his hands with soap under the running tap. He pauses meaningfully. “So. You. And… Kelly.”

“Uh,” Ryan says, hovering by the sink, “yeah.”

“Good luck with that!” Jim tells him as he pumps some paper towel out of the machine. He starts toward the door, then leans back toward Ryan. “Oh, by the way. If Dwight asks you for a pen, tell him you’re out, will you?”

He doesn’t bother to even ask. “Sure thing.”

Later, he sees Dwight sitting at his desk and scrambling for a pen, taking each one out of his jar and scribbling it harshly on a notepad before chucking it in the trash. None of them seem to be working and it doesn’t take long for Ryan to realize that Jim must’ve taken the ink out of all of them. That’s kind of amusing, especially when Dwight catches on.

“You are an imbecile!” he hisses at Jim, who doesn’t even blink, keeps his expression perfectly passive. “This kind of mutiny is intolerable, peon.”

“Don’t blame me that you didn’t come to work prepared, Dwight,” Jim says neutrally. He finally looks over and purses his lips. “Maybe you’re just not pressing down hard enough with the tip. Maybe you’re not as strong as you think.”

“Question: Are you aware that the Schrute family line has always been naturally gifted with superior physical strength that some have considered almost unnatural?”

“No, Dwight,” sighs Jim, “I was, in fact, not aware.”

“Well, it’s genetically proven, thus rendering your theory ridiculous. Nevermind that this ballpoint was working flawlessly yesterday. No, you are the one behind this. You always are.”

Dwight scowls and Jim just raises his eyebrows, and the cameras are zooming in and Ryan can tell that one of the operators—Joe, he thinks his name is?—is trying to stifle laughter.

Yeah, it’s funny, but it’s also kind of sad, for Jim, because it’s obvious to Ryan that if he spent half as much time focusing on work he’d be promoted to corporate in less than two months. Jim’s a smart guy, but he also has his routine, and he apparently likes being trapped in a lame job he doesn’t enjoy, except for Pam—yeah, Ryan knows that, too, because he’s not an idiot and the guy’s got it bad for her.

Whatever. It’s not like Jim’s lack of ambition and dismal love life are any of Ryan’s concern or anything. He has his own shit to worry about.

**

A little before noon, Michael calls him into his office and closes the blinds.

“I’m meeting with Jan at Chile’s,” he explains from behind his desk. “It’s not a date or anything. You know. Strictly business. Unless discussing budgetary cuts turns you on. In which case, that’s a little inappropriate, don’t you think, Ryan?”

Laughing nervously, Michael pulls at his tie.

“Oh…kay?” Ryan trails off uncertainly. He has no idea where Michael is going with this.

Not that that’s a new feeling when it comes to conversations with his boss.

“So…” Michael leans across the desk between them. “Do you think…if I pay—or, tip at least, since that all goes on company dollar—does that actually constitute as a… date? What are the rules there?”

“I. I’m really not sure.”

“Apparently my phone voice was just too much. She had to see me in person. And sure, she was all, ‘Oh, it’s just business, blah blah, this kind of sexual harrassment is unacceptable, blah blah.’ But doesn’t that strike you as a front?”

“I… don’t know,” Ryan shrugs, then decides to just go with whatever will end this talk the fastest. “I guess.”

Michael’s fist pounds triumphantly on top of a stack of papers. “I knew it! She's jonesing for me, I can tell. It’s just, it’s so clear. Am I right?”

“Yeah… so. Is that it?”

Turns out Michael wants him to polish his shelf of plaques. According to him, this is clearly more imperative than keeping up with file maintenance and answering phones and everything else in the world, ever.

“Think of it this way,” Michael says before he leaves, squeezing his shoulder and standing uncomfortably close, “one day all this? It could be yours, buddy. Assuming I retire. Or die a horrible, tragic untimely death.”

He laughs heartily at his own joke, winks and hastens out the door, and Ryan can’t even suppress a shudder at the thought. Not of Michael dying, but of still being in the office when he retires. It’s like there’s this black hole opening up in his chest cavity, and he hates everything about this place. The idea of being stuck here makes him vaguely nauseous.

Ten minutes later, he’s sitting in Michael’s chair and rubbing absentmindedly at one of his stupid framed certificates with a cloth when the door opens and Kelly comes in. She closes and locks it behind her.

“Do you need any help?” she asks, fidgeting, eyes hopeful.

He shakes his head. “I, uh, actually think I’ve got it covered.”

“Oh.” Her face falls, but Ryan pretends not to notice. It’s easier that way.

Kelly bites her lip, turning to leave, but then she looks over her shoulder at him.

“So… wanna make out then or something?”

It takes about seven seconds for him to realize she’s serious.

“Um.” He stares. “Okay?”

She hoists herself up onto Michael’s desk, careful not to sit on any of the papers or folders, and crosses her legs. The look she is giving him is downright sultry, and he never really pegged her as the vixen type. Maybe she’s not as clueless as he’d assumed.

Her perfume is spicy and masks the smells of glass cleaner, toner and after shave, and he likes the feel of her mouth open against his. Her legs uncross and open so he can step between them. He unbuttons her shirt just enough to see her bra.

“Your bra is purple,” he notes stupidly, and she just smiles, kind of bashful, kind of devious. It’s cute. Kelly can be cute, sometimes. A lot of times.

“Actually, it’s more magenta, I think,” she corrects him. “Or maybe fuschia. I’m not totally sure. But, like, I don’t want to call it pink, because it’s too dark, but not dark enough to be purple, which I would’ve gotten but they were out, so I just got this and two black ones ’cause it was buy two get one half off and who doesn't—”

He kisses her again and she makes a sound in her throat , but her eyes close and she roams her hands through his hair and he’s grateful for her silence. Apparently this is the only way to get her to ever shut up. Or, at the very least, the only way he’s figured out as of yet, anyway.

**

The blinds were shut, yeah, but Kelly walks back to her desk with her shirt buttoned wrong and lip gloss smeared. He comes out two minutes later, his hair kind of messier and his tie askew, and the cameras are in his face from the second he opens the door, like they know what just happened.

Whatever. People will probably figure it out anyway, and he’ll have to suffer disapproving looks from Angela and Dwight might make a note of it to forward to Michael, who will likely ignore it anyway. But Ryan doesn’t really care. What are they going to do—fire him?

Haha.

Jim is at Pam’s desk—big surprise there—fishing through the candy dish and whispering something to her that makes her cast Ryan a curious look, and whatever. Jim knows, obviously, because Kelly told him, and after this she’ll probably be trumpeting it to the masses. If he snuck a look at her web browser history, he’d probably find out she’s already scoped out hotel prices for their honeymoon.

Or Googled for baby naming websites.

Oh god.

**

Around two-thirty, Toby from HR pulls him aside.

“Can I talk to you for a second?” he asks, and he has that sad, droopy dog face that Ryan finds hard to lie to because it’s just too earnest, so he goes into Toby’s office instead of coming up with some flimsy excuse to weasel out of it.

Once inside, Toby tells him that Kelly informed him of their… relations.

“Um, it’s not—” Ryan swallows. “It’s not, like. You know. Serious. Really.”

All Toby does is blink at him, and the camera is still focused on him, and so he keeps going.

“Uh, I don’t know if you want to call it a relationship, even.”

Dear god, he does not want to be having this conversation. Not with Toby, or cameras, or anyone in the universe. He is in hell. Obviously.

“I know,” Toby finally says. “Kelly said the same thing. Except it took her an hour.” He pauses and sighs a little, like this all makes him incredibly tired. “If you could clear it up with her, my schedule and I would appreciate it.”

**

He’s able to avoid Kelly for awhile, and Michael’s pitiful collection is shiny and clean, and he even got some actual work done—enough to warrant some time surfing through MySpace.

It’s only when he pours himself some coffee on his last break (coffee that is gross decaf and tastes like stale styrofoam) and sits down at the table that she corners him.

“Whatcha reading?” Kelly asks lightly, leaning down over his shoulder.

“It’s for business school,” he explains. It’s a book on cause-related marketing. He’s got an exam next week, and every day he spends here, the more he’s motivated to ace each and every assignment.

Her perfume is kind of distracting.

“Business school, nice,” she comments, sits down and drums her fingers on the tabletop even when he gives her a look. “I had a cousin who was in business school, but then he went into male modeling, and my mom thought he, like, threw his life away, and I was like, ‘God, Mom, this is America! Chill out!’ Like, right?”

He nods but doesn’t say anything. Just stares at his book and takes another sip of his drink. She notices his silence and stops, looks at her hands and then back up at him.

“So, um, what are you going to, like, do? I mean, business-wise. Like, what kind of company do you want to start?”

In all of the time Ryan has worked at Dunder Miffin, no one’s ever shown any kind of interest in his business pursuits, unless to belittle him for his lofty goals. His friends, even, don’t really care, which is okay, because they’re them, and that’s not why they’re his friends, but. Still.

He’s so surprised that the question has actually been posed that it’s been hanging in the air for awhile before he speaks.

“Funny you should ask,” Ryan replies, and smiles, a little. And Kelly looks surprised at the fact that he’s smiling like he means it, but she beams right back.

And for the first time, he wants to die a little less. So. That’s something.

Small mercies, or whatever it is they say.


++end

A/N: First fic of mine for this fandom, which I am very new to having mainlined most of season two in, like, four days. So, the voices might be kind of sketchy, and if I screwed up any canon, it was purely by accident. Forgive me.

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