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09 March 2008 @ 11:03 pm
The Best Day [The Office; Michael/Jan]  
TITLE: The Best Day
FANDOM: The Office
PAIRING: Michael/Jan
SPOILERS: "Branch Closing" (3x07)
RATING: PG
SUMMARY:


*****

This was, quite possibly, the best day of Michael Scott's life. Though it started with him thinking he was out of a job, it ended with the 'enemy' branch being closed down... which in turn meant his job was once again secure. He still wasn't quite sure just what it was that he and Dwight did... but the point was, they won.

So he'd driven back to Scranton smiling the entire way, not even minding Dwight's inane droning about... beets? - paper products? Whatever it was didn't matter. It was the best day of Michael Scott's life.

When they arrived back at Dunder Mifflin, everyone had already gone home. He hoped they knew that they weren't in any trouble. He hoped they knew, like he did, that their jobs were secure. Dwight exuberantly jumped out of the Sebring and practically sprinted for his own car, calling a goodnight to Michael over his shoulder. Michael just smiled and saluted his eager ally, and was about to put the car in gear once more.

That was when he spotted her; the very woman that tormented him this morning with news of the branch closing... the ever-confusing, ever-infuriating, unspeakably-gorgeous Jan Levinson. Michael cocked his head and wondered what she was still doing here, sitting alone in her car just staring out the windshield. And Michael was never one to be left wondering. So he shut off his car, climbed out, and walked straight to hers, tapping on the driver's side window.

She startled back to life at the sound and turned her eyes up to his. Michael nearly jumped back at the fire that lit them the moment she saw him, and took several steps back when her door swung wide open and she got out, throwing it closed angrily. "Michael! Where the HELL have you been?!"

His eyes widened. "Nice to see you too, Jan. I think some praise is in order."

Jan folded her arms across her chest and narrowed her eyes -- those eyes that burned him like cigarettes -- to thin slats. "For what, exactly?"

"For saving the branch."

"What??"

"Dwight and me. We saved the branch today."

Jan shook her head, and for a moment Michael had to watch the curls bounce. She really was very lovely... despite the frequent - and may he say, VERY irrational - bouts of all-consuming rage. "You didn't save the branch, Michael."

He chuckled, as if she'd said the most preposterous thing in the world. "Uhhh, oookay, then who did if I didn't?"

"Nobody saved the branch. Josh at Stamford turned down taking over the region. And so, instead of moving all of you to Stamford for no good reason, we decided to close that branch... and keep Scranton. If anybody saved your branch, Michael, it was me for suggesting that course of action."

He nodded graciously. "Well, then you are an angel, Jan. Thank you."

"You never answered my question, Michael. Where the hell were you today? Pam said she didn't even know where you were."

"New York."

"Excuse me? What reason would you have for going to New York?"

"You didn't think to look for me there? Come on, Jan. I know you're unbelievably hot, but... I thought you were smart too. Y'know, the whole package? Beauty and brains-"

"Michael."

"We were looking for the CFO."

Jan closed her eyes, not particularly wanting to hear the reason. "Why?"

"To persuade him not to close the branch, Jan! Duh. But he never showed up."

"He's out of town."

"Well, where? It would've been helpful to know so we could've looked for him more efficiently."

"Michael, do you even understand how upset I am with you right now?"

He blinked, hardly fazed by this remark. "You're always upset with me."

"This has been, without a doubt, the absolute worst day of my entire life."

Michael found that hard to believe, since he was having such a fantastic day.

"I've driven something like 500 miles by now, I've experienced just about every possible human emotion-"

"You?" Michael laughed, stopping abruptly only when he caught what was known around his condo as Jan's 'death glare.'

"AND I'm utterly exhausted, Michael, so please... if you know what's good for you... do not try to push my buttons right now."

"That's what she s-"

"MICHAEL!"

He hung his head immediately, like a scolded puppy. "Sorry."

"God, you just - you don't - you just don't get it, do you? You have no idea what I've been through today!"

Jan aggressively took a step forward and Michael took a step back, fearing bodily harm though a part of him was oddly turned on. Her voice was rising steadily with every word out of her mouth, and it looked to Michael like she was very close to some sort of meltdown. The woman really needed a day off.

"I've driven all over the damned North East trying to figure out just how the hell to make all of this work out! Josh screwed everybody over by leveraging his new position to get another, better-paying job at Staples-"

"Bastard," Michael muttered under his breath. He knew there had always been a reason to hate Josh Porter. He just figured the reason would eventually be him trying to get into Jan's pants. Which just would never fly with Michael.

Jan ignored him, still neck-deep in her tirade... now pacing back and forth in front of Michael with her hands on her hips. Michael kind of had to watch those hips... how could he not, really? "And to top that ALL off, I had NO idea where you were ALL DAY, and I really needed to-"

"Were you worried about me?" Michael broke in, brows furrowed. There had been something in her voice...

She swung around to stare at him. "What??"

He took a step forward. If Jan hit him, so be it. It probably wouldn't be that unpleasant. "When you couldn't find me... were you worried about me?"

"Oh for God sakes Michael, do not start this with me right now. Do not," she warned.

It infuriated him that she was still hiding from this. She ran away from him this morning when he talked about how badly he'd hurt her... and now she was going to run from the fact that she'd been worried about him. Did she really think he was THAT big of an idiot that he couldn't see right through her? He was the one she cried all over and fell asleep on. As much as he knew she hated it... he knew her; very well. "I know that I hurt you-"

"And don't start with THAT again, either. I'm not in the mood."

"Jan, you were worried about me. Not knowing where I was... how I was handling the branch closing and being out of a job... did you think I'd do something to myself or something?"

"No."

"You didn't think I might, even for a second?"

"No."

"Jan-"

"Michael, I just... I needed to talk about the new developments in the situation with you and you weren't there. That's all. God, just let this drop, now. Please." She covered her eyes, practically whining out, "I'm so tired..."

"Then why aren't you going home?"

"Because I'm TOO tired, Michael!" she shouted, irrational rage back.

Michael briefly wondered if Jan would be the type of person to have rage blackouts. "I'm sorry."

"I've driven all over the damn place and I had no idea where you were and had no idea what to do with everything, and I just... I..."

Michael looked up when he heard her voice break, and all at once he had to step toward her. Tears were rolling down her cheeks, and her hand was over her mouth. "Jan... oh, Jan."

"I've just... I've had a really awful day and I just really need to be left alone right now, I think."

"No." He reached out to her and grasped her elbow, gently tugging her toward him. "No, that's the last thing you need."

Jan tried, in vain, to yank her arm out of his grasp. "Don't touch me."

"Knock it off, Jan. Jeez. As tired as you are of me bringing up the question of 'us,' I'm TWICE as tired of you pushing me away. Just knock it off." He pulled her into his arms and wound one around her waist, gliding his other hand through her hair.

To his surprise, she didn't kick him in the crotch like he suspected she would and run for her car. Instead she sunk against him and cried, for the second time, against his shoulder, occasionally whimpering, "I'm so tired, Michael."

"I know you are," he whispered each time, and covertly pressed a feather-light kiss in her hair. "I know, baby."

"Don't call me that," she ordered, voice muffled against his shoulder.

"Sorry." He ran his hand through her hair again and rubbed her back gently. "It'll all be okay, Jannie."

Through her tears, he was surprised to hear a faint chuckle. "Don't call me that either, Michael."

"Okay."

There wasn't much else he could say. He just let her continue crying out her frustration, doing what he could to console her and calm her down. When she had finally calmed down enough that her sob-induced hiccups had stopped, he pulled back and framed her face in his hands. His thumbs stroked away her tears. God help him, through the whole Casino Night debacle, through the whole thing with Carol and almost getting married to her... God help him, he still was in love with Jan.

"Let's get you out of here," he whispered.

"Right, where?" she sniffled, extracting herself from his embrace a lot more gently than he would've anticipated.

"How about you stay here in Scranton for the night? Get some sleep."

"I'm not staying with you, Michael."

"Oh, I know. That'd be too dangerous." He led her back to her car, guiding her with his hand on her back to the passenger side, and opened the door for her. "You can stay at a hotel for the night."

"Michael, I don't think-"

"Jan. You said you're too tired to drive home, so why do it? Get in."

"This is my car."

"I know. I'll drive you to the hotel and get you settled in."

Jan complied and climbed in, buckling herself into the passenger seat. "How will you get back?"

He grinned at her - sometimes she was just too adorable not to - and shut her door, going around to the driver's side and getting in. "Jan, I know you think this is, like, the boondocks out here since you're the big city gal, but... believe it or not, we have these things here in Scranton called 'taxi cabs.' They're kinda nifty. They'll get me back here."

"Michael-"

"No arguments. Just... let me do this for you."

Surprisingly, she said nothing in response... just stared out the window.


*****

Michael led Jan into the Best Western -- hardly a Hiatt or Mariott or even Hilton, like he knew Jan was accustomed to -- and pulled out his credit card before she could so much as reach for her purse. "We'd like a single for one night, please."

"Certainly, sir." The concierge went about swiping his card and setting them up with a room, and Michael the entire time kept his hand on the small of Jan's back, feeling her sway slightly, exhaustedly, and not wanting her to fall.

"Michael, you shouldn't do this," Jan warned him, though it was a half-assed attempt, if he did say so himself.

"Whatever, Jan. You're tired, and quite frankly I'm kinda tired of you bitching at me about how tired you are, soo...." He gave her a little grin to make sure she'd know he wasn't completely serious.

Jan met his eyes and couldn't help the smile. God help her, sometimes she still had a thing for Michael Scott. Through all the obnoxiousness and the Casino Night debacle and him throwing his relationship with Carol in her face... God help her, she still cared for him.

After receiving the key card to Jan's room, Michael led her upstairs, his hand making its way from the small of her back around to rest on her hip. Jan would have protested, but... she was just too damned tired. That was what she told herself, anyway.

When they reached her room, Michael unlocked the door and Jan allowed herself to lean against him in that brief moment, until he ushered her inside. Then, she made a beeline for the bed and flopped, quite ungracefully, onto the mattress.

Michael chuckled as he watched this and shut the door behind himself. "There you go."

Jan groaned, her face obscured by the pillow. "Michael, I never want to have a day like this ever again. As long as I live. There aren't enough cigarettes in the world to bring me back from this."

"Oh, Jan. Jan, Jan, Jan."

"What?" She rolled over, onto her back, and folded her hands across her stomach.

Michael took a seat at the foot of the bed and quirked a half-smile, looking over his shoulder at her. Jan really would've told him how handsome he looked in that moment... if she wasn't too damn tired to do so. "You don't need cigarettes."

Jan closed her eyes in preparation for what would come next... the sleazy innuendo, the annoying but oddly sexy leer... and she sighed. "I don't?"

"Nope. Just sleep."

She opened her eyes. "That's it?" He really could still surprise her.

"Yes. You've had a shitty day, so sleep it off. And if that doesn't work, call me and I'll come back and get you good and drunk." He grinned.

Jan couldn't help herself. She actually laughed. And Michael, to say the very least, was surprised by this unprecedented turn of events. She opened her eyes again to find him staring at her wearing an expression oddly akin to awe. "What?" she giggled.

"Nothing," he gave as explanation. "Just... you."

"Me what?"

God, she really was tired. She was getting that flirty-Jan tone she got the last time they were in a hotel room together. "Nothing."

"That's your response to everything?"

Yes. Until he could figure out just how to approach when she was acting this way... yes. "Jeez, Jan, you are really tired. I don't think I've ever heard you laugh at my jokes before."

She closed her eyes against the overhead light in the room and threw her arm over her eyes, further blanketing her in darkness. "I just don't really let myself," she told him honestly.

Michael furrowed his brows, sliding up a little further on the mattress. He still had to turn over his shoulder to look at Jan, who was laying against the pillows... but his neck didn't hurt any more from craning it so far. "Why not?"

"Because," she chuckled, and peeked at him from under her forearm. "I try my best not to encourage that kind of behavior from you, Michael."

"Well you should. I'd love to make you laugh. As often as I could. It sounds beautiful."

Jan closed her eyes again and pressed her arm tight against them. "Stop that."

Michael, further encouraged by her typical avoidance tactics, slid up until his back was against the headboard, and he was looking down at her lying on the pillows. "Why, Jan? It's the truth."

"You being truthful and me is just... not a good combination." She turned on her side, facing away from him, and took her arm from across her eyes, stuffing it beneath her head.

"I think it could be."

"Michael, I'm very tired," she argued.

"So sleep. Who's stopping you?"

She barked a laugh. "You are!"

Michael shrugged as Jan turned over her shoulder to look at him. He threw his hands up in emphasis of his shrug, letting them fall to his lap after. "I'm just sitting here."

"Well don't."

"It's a free country, Jan."

"It's my room."

"Which I paid for."

"So you think I owe you something now?" She was starting to sit up, preparing to stand and... probably start pacing again.

Michael grasped her arm before she could get too far. "No. Jan, just... talk to me."

"I'm tired."

"So you say, and yet you're still awake."

"Because you won't shut up!"

"Talk to me and I'll shut up."

"What is there to talk about, Michael?" she sighed, and flopped down on the bed again.

Now she hovered just centimeters away. Their shoulders brushed as she leaned back against the headboard. When Michael turned to look at her, he could smell her shampoo. That scent had always been so damn hard to place, but today it hit him in a matter of seconds -- lilies.

"Were you really worried about me today? And tell me honestly this time."

"How do you know I wasn't telling you honestly the last time, Michael?"

"Jan. Come on. After a year together, you think I don't know you by now?"

Jan closed her eyes and shook her head. "We haven't been 'together' for a year, Michael. We haven't been together at all."

"You know, I like the whole denial thing, Jan. It's kinda cute."

"Michael..."

"Hot, actually. But one of these days, you're just gonna have to give up and accept the fact that sometimes, I know you better than you know yourself."

"No you don't, Michael."

"Don't challenge me, Jan. Seriously. I will totally own your ass." He paused a moment, back-tracking. "Well, I won't own your ass as in your actual ass, but I'll own... you. Not that I think that I would own you, or would ever look at you as a piece of property. I'm just speaking figur-"

"Michael."

"Yes, Jan."

"Stop talking."

"Right-o."

He felt her look over at him, but knew if he turned his head they'd be just way too close for him to bear. He just waited to hear her voice, soft as it was. "I was worried about you today."

Michael knew it to be true -- like he told her, he knew her better than she knew herself -- but he was still unable to keep the shock out of his voice. "You were?"

"Yes. God help me. I saw that you didn't take the news very well, and... when I came back and you weren't there, I got a little... freaked out, I guess you could say."

Michael wasn't sure how to best respond, so he settled on a neutral, "Hmm."

Jan, obviously way too tired now to even hold her own head up, laid her head on his shoulder. "You base your life around this job and these people, Michael. And, while that's good in some ways, in others it's very bad."

"I know. I guess I don't really... have anyone else to occupy my time. I mean, since Carol broke off our engagement and stuff..."

"What?"

"Oh." He cleared his throat, remembering his inner vow not to hurt this woman again. "Um, nothing."

"When were you and Carol engaged, Michael?"

"You know, maybe we shouldn't get into this. You're tired, Jan." He put his hand over her eyes, forcing them closed. "Nighty-night."

"Michael." She shoved his hand away and lifted her head from his shoulder, and Michael kind of wanted to cry out at the loss.

She met his eyes, repeating, "When were you and Carol engaged?"

"Oh, just, y'know..." He shrugged one shoulder as if it was no big deal. "At the whole Diwali thing. I kind of asked her to marry me, and she... said no."

"Oh."

"But Jan, listen, I was kind of in an odd frame of mind that night-"

"Michael, you don't have to explain to me. Why do you always feel that you have to explain yourself to me?"

"Because every time I'm with Carol - or, was with Carol - I... kinda felt like I was cheating on you."

"But Michael, we-"

"Aren't really together, I know, and we haven't been. I just..." He shrugged again and wanted to pump his fist triumphantly in the air when Jan's head hit his shoulder once more. "I can't really explain it, Jan. That's just how I've felt this whole time."

"Oh."

Michael pressed his lips together. She wasn't really so good with the words when she was tired, apparently. "Mm-hmm."

"So... you realize if you asked her to marry you and she said no, that you were never really engaged."

"Maybe technically."

"Not technically, Michael."

"Okay then."

He heard Jan sigh and looked down at her, smiling to himself softly at the sight of her dark blonde hair sprayed across his shoulder. Just a year prior, he was in this exact same position with this very same woman. How far they'd come in just a year... to end up in the same place.

"I want this day to be over," she murmured with eyes closed.

Michael dared to brush a few stray locks of hair away from her face. "As soon as you fall asleep, it will be."

"Will you still be here?"

Michael froze, unsure as to whether or not the question was asked hopefully or with a twinge of dread. Carefully, he replied. "If... you want me to be."

"Mm-hmm."

He could sense her drifting. "Was that an answer, Jan? 'Mm-hmm' you want me to be here?"

She started to yawn and covered her mouth, mumbling something incoherent behind her hand.

Michael decided not to push his luck and just take her incomprehensible responses as half-assed approvals of his being there. "Alright."

He craned his neck to watch her eyes slip closed, long lashes fluttering as she settled more firmly against him. He put his arm around her and was pleased when, instead of pulling away, she snuggled against him just like a year ago.

"I'm glad you were worried about me," he murmured against her forehead, as her breathing deepened.

She just barely uttered a response.

"I'm glad because it means you were thinking of me. And I always figured you tried your best not to think of me. It's probably easier for you."

Her chest rose and fell steadily, and her hand found a place over his heart. The heart that was technically hers, and had been for a year.

"And I know that I hurt you, Jan, with the whole thing with Carol," he continued, knowing she was pretty much gone but still needing to say it. "I know that I hurt you and I'm sorry. I never wanted to. And using the excuse that you hurt me first won't cut it, I know. I'm going to make it up to you someday."

He carefully settled them down against the pillows, mindful of not waking Jan. Waking her broke the spell a year ago. This time, he didn't want to screw it up.

So he kissed her forehead and leaned his head on hers, closing his eyes. As sorry as he was that Jan had such a crappy day, well...

It was still the best day of Michael Scott's life.


FIN