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21 September 2007 @ 02:37 pm
Five Things Jan Would've Done Differently On Casino Night [The Office; Michael/Jan]  
TITLE: Five Things Jan Would've Done Differently On Casino Night
FANDOM: The Office
PAIRING: Michael/Jan
SPOILERS: Series
RATING: PG
SUMMARY:


******

01. She should've dressed up. Yep. She knew that the moment she stepped into the warehouse and saw everyone dressed to the nines (some to the sevens and eights, but still). Especially when she was coming down the stairs and smiled at a tuxedo-clad Michael. She remembered being struck by how oddly distinguished he looked, and how... (she hated to admit this, even to herself) dashing he looked. And when his eyes flicked over her, she briefly thought he looked a little disappointed. Perhaps if she'd dressed up, he wouldn't have paid so much attention to Carol. It wasn't like Carol dressed up or anything. Yes, Jan decided if she had dressed up, things would have turned out very differently...

She smoothes out her dress and toys with her hair for just a brief moment before deciding she has to do it -- be brave and go down into the warehouse. She looks good; her dress is simple, but effective. A short black dress with a low V, enough to show some cleavage but not too much. Her hair is curled and pulled back into a low, messy bun. She's worn her most expensive dangly earrings and decided to forego the necklace -- Michael would pay enough attention to her chest, most likely.

She starts down the stairs in the warehouse, fingertips lightly tripping along the railing as she descends. Then, it's just like a movie. Michael, as if sensing her, turns away from that blonde woman he'd been talking to and meets her eyes. She feels like she's gliding suddenly as they hold gaze. He looks surprised... amazed... speechless. Jan decides she likes him this way. "Hello, Michael," she greets, still keeping her tone carefully neutral.

"Jan..." he breathes her name and she thinks it's the most lovely sound she's ever heard. He's finally succeeded in draining her of all common sense. "Uh... you look, uh..."

Both Jan and the other woman are watching him, waiting for a reaction, but nothing comes except for a head shake. "Uh, yeah," he lamely finishes, and Jan doesn't even mind the lack of eloquence. Michael's said plenty without saying hardly anything.

"Thank you, Michael," she smiles at him and sees him step closer. Oh God, he looks like he's going to kiss her.

Then he gives her a look that says, 'play along' and kisses her once on each cheek. His lips on her skin is a sensation she's just realizing she missed terribly, and she tries to gather the strength to smile when he pulls back, questioning him with her eyes.

"That's how we do it in the paper biz, right?" he teases, and his green eyes are practically sparkling.

Her heart dives down into her stomach and she decides, as dangerous as it is to be here, she's unbelievably glad she decided to accept his invitation. "Right," she finally responds.

Michael briefly introduces her to the woman he'd been chatting with when she arrived -- Carol, his realtor -- before he holds out his arm chivalrously and queries, "Drink?"

Maybe it's the dress, maybe it's the uncomfortably high heels, maybe it's the scandalous undergarments she'd chosen to wear under her dress; whatever it was, she couldn't be sure, but something makes Jan throw caution to the wind and loop her arm through Michael's. Let the games begin. "Sure."


...Yeah, it definitely would've been better if she'd dressed up.


**

02. She should've shown up a little earlier. She knew Michael didn't have much of an attention span, but... having two "dates" to Casino Night, she figured the first one to arrive would be the one to hold his attention longest. That's how it had really happened anyway. Carol arrived a few minutes before her, so Carol held Michael's attention for much of the night. And Jan had even left work early, gone home to change, and she still showed up a little late. Damn the traffic on the expressway. All it would've taken was maybe five minutes. If she'd been five minutes earlier...

"Jan! Hey." Michael's smile is infectious as he comes to greet her at the bottom of the stairs.

She smiles back and watches Dwight briefly intercept, murmuring something in Michael's ear that sounds suspiciously like, "Lan Jevinson has arrived. Still keeping an eye out for code name 'Re-Max.'"

Michael looks a little embarrassed and pushes Dwight away, then smiles at her again. "Sorry about that."

Jan dismisses the apology with a flick of her wrist and looks around the warehouse. "Wow. You did a nice job, Michael."

"Really?" His eyes are glittering and she forgets sometimes how childlike he is. It's cute.

"Yes." Then she notices everyone's attire -- including Michael's. She looks down at herself and wishes her house wasn't so damn far away.

Michael, damn him, can always read her mind; is always tuned in to her. His voice is honeyed as he tells her, "You look great, Jan."

She looks up at him...

With a shrug, he smiles boyishly. "I mean, you always do. But... especially tonight."

Jan's heart is fluttering in time with the butterflies in her stomach. She's suddenly in need of something to help calm her nerves... and she doesn't want to stink of cigarette smoke. "Open bar?"

Michael quirks a smile and points toward the makeshift bar set up on one side of the warehouse, and Jan heads for it eagerly. As she waits for her cosmopolitan, she sees a blonde woman come down the stairs, smiling at Michael. Jan tries not to be a jealous woman, but... who the hell is that? And what is she doing smiling so nicely at Michael?

Once Jan gets her drink, she thanks the bartender and makes a beeline for Michael and the other woman. As she does, she notices something she'd missed in her bout with jealousy -- Michael's eyes never stray far from her. And when she gets closer, his smile grows wider. Jan allows herself to relax.

"Carol, I want you to meet Jan." He says it like he's proud to be around her. Almost like a husband introduces his wife, but she tries desperately to push that thought away.

So Jan shakes Carol's hand. Looks to Michael with a question in her eyes. And Michael winks at her. She's got his attention for tonight.


Yes, showing up earlier would've definitely swayed the odds in her favor.


**

03. She should've flirted with Michael a little more. Cameras (and proximity of other Dunder Mifflin employees) be damned. They all pretty much knew there was something going on between her and Michael; partly because Michael kept broadcasting phony escapades and details of their relationship that had never actually happened. How much more damage could flirting with him really have done? Not much.

"Come on, lucky eights! Give me an eight!"

"You got an eight the last time, Michael," Jan teases, passing off her empty cosmopolitan glass to one of the waiters going by. "And it was an easy eight, too."

"Well what do you suggest I try for, Jan?" Michael's tone borders on flirtatious, and despite the proximity of Dwight Schrute and the croupier, Jan feels the need to respond.

Especially when she sees Michael turn to smile at Carol, who's standing on his other side and looking horribly bored. Jan impulsively seizes his arm and effectively grabs his attention again. She tips her head downward just slightly, looking at him through her lashes, and gives him a sexy smile. "Try for a
hard eight."

"Hard, huh?" Michael's brows lift for a moment; he's obviously surprised she's flirting back, and he grins. "Hard eight it is, m'lady." He starts to shake the dice in his hand, then promptly stops and turns to her. "Blow?"

"That's what she said," Jan shoots back effortlessly, and holds his gaze through her lashes as she blows on the dice.

She watches Michael's mouth drop, and she's not sure if it's because she tossed his classic line at him, or because she chose to blow on the dice rather provocatively. Either way, she has his undivided attention.

He doesn't even notice when Carol mutters something about needing some more wine and walks off. He just rolls the dice, watches them hit the other end of the craps table, and lets out a whoop of triumph when sure enough, he gets two fours -- a hard eight.

He grabs Jan, ecstatic, and hugs her tight. Almost like that night outside Chili's, and he swings her around. When he sets her down, he's got a look in his eyes like he wants to kiss her. And Jan wants to let him, but... she has to maintain
some modicum of control tonight. Dwight's looking at them kind of funny anyway.

As potentially self-destructive as flirting with Michael would've been, it would've definitely taken his eyes off Carol for a little while.

**

04. She should've told him how she felt (or was starting to feel), however disarming it was at the time. Her therapist had already told her she had to be more honest with herself, so why didn't she listen when Casino Night rolled around? Things would've most definitely turned out for the better. And if the cameras were around, so what? The cameras caught the Chili's kiss (something she had been none too pleased about and actually reamed the cameramen for -- to this day they were still scared of her), as well as the Valentine's Day kiss in the elevator. What was one more kiss going to do to her already-tarnished reputation?

"Jan, where are you going? Wait, don't leave!" She hears his hurried footsteps on the pavement just yards behind her, and she wishes she'd moved a little faster toward her car.

"What, Michael?"

"I don't want you to go."

She decides to tell it like it is. He's used to that from her, anyway. "I didn't think you'd even notice."

"Look, I'm sorry, I--"

She holds up a hand to stop him. "Michael, don't. I told you before that you didn't do anything wrong, and I mean it."

"I... kinda feel like I did, though." Michael's nothing if not open and honest at every turn, and Jan wishes she didn't find that so endearing. It'd probably make this whole disaster of a night hurt less. "You know what I mean? It feels like... we're breaking up or something. Or having a fight."

"Michael, we're not--"

"Together, I know," he finishes, and just how long has he had the ability to read her mind?

He ducks his head and shuffles his feet, hands in his pockets as he confesses softly, "I wish we were."

Jan sucks in a breath, stares at him as he stares at the pavement. It feels like an hour goes by and Michael doesn't look up, doesn't even acknowledge that she's still there. He just continues to gaze sadly at his shoes. So she takes a step forward, gets a little bit closer, and takes the advice given to her by her therapist -- she is brutally honest with herself. "I wish we were, too."

This definitely gets his attention. His head raises, as do his eyebrows, and his hands remain in the pockets of his dress pants as he takes one step toward her in return. They stare at each other, everything out in the open. Every single one of Jan's defenses has been destroyed, every wall knocked down and turned to dust; all by this infuriating, unbearably-handsome, sweet man in front of her.

She's not sure which one of them moves first, but before she knows it, they're striding quickly to one another and she's suddenly in his arms. Their lips are getting reacquainted, and it feels both awkward and familiar at the same time. When they pull apart, their foreheads meet and Jan can't keep herself from smiling. This is what Michael Scott has done to her.

"Please stay," he begs, and she can do nothing but nod against his forehead.

"Okay."

They go back inside with Michael's arm around her waist, and Carol (as well as the cameras) are forgotten.


Well, maybe it wouldn't have turned out exactly like that (that was maybe too fairytale-ish for even Michael to conjure up), but... it was a nice thought. It gave Jan butterflies.


**

05. She should've said yes to begin with when he first asked her. That would've bypassed the whole 'Carol incident' (as it was known around Jan's penthouse) altogether. It would've saved them six months of constant fighting, of being mad at each other... of dancing around what had been there the entire damn time.

"I thought you were their fearless leader," Jan says, when Michael informs her that everyone wants to see her (their 'fearless leader,' as he'd put it) at Casino Night.

"Yes, but you are the Eva Peron to my Cesar Chavez," he comes back with, and sometimes Jan can't even begin to think where he got his history lessons from.

But then she gives it a few seconds' thought. He's definitely been on her mind a lot more than she'd like since that impromptu elevator kiss on Valentine's Day. And she's said no to him so many times already. How many more before he would give up and focus his attention on another woman?

She sighs. Acts like it'll kill her to go, and tells him (in a begrudging way), "Alright, Michael. I'll go."

"Great!" She can practically feel his giddiness through the phone lines. "That's great, Jan. Thanks."

What sort of man says 'thanks' when a woman accepts a date? ...Michael Scott. Damn her, she's really in for it. "You're... welcome?"

"I can't wait to see you."

Her heart practically aches at the tone, one not heard since the morning after Chili's -- his sudden "I miss you" that nearly undid her completely. She promises him in a tone almost as soft, "I'll see you soon."


Yeah, accepting the invitation would have definitely changed everything. There would have been no Carol. Jan almost wished to go back and redo it. But after a moment's thought, she decided she wouldn't have had it happen any other way. Because flirting or not, kissing or not, arriving early or not... it didn't matter. None of it did. Because Michael wasn't with Carol anymore.

Carol wasn't the one he took to Jamaica. She wasn't the one waking up in his arms every morning. Carol wasn't the one chastising him for too much PDA at work functions. She wasn't the one Michael wanted to have a house or picket fence with, or ketchup fights.

Carol wasn't the one carrying around a photo of the two of them in her billfold. She wasn't the one watching him sleep beside her and twisting the gold wedding band on his finger, smiling to herself and marveling at the pure, wonderful irony of it all. Carol wasn't the one with the matching wedding band on her own ring finger. And Carol wasn't the one cradling their newborn daughter between them in their bed.

No, that was Jan, and only Jan. And Jan was rather content now with the way things turned out, Casino Night and all.



FIN


{x-posted to michaelandjan}