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09 March 2008 @ 11:10 pm
Under the Tree [The Office; Michael/Jan]  
TITLE: Under the Tree
FANDOM: The Office
PAIRING: Michael/Jan
SPOILERS: "A Benihana Christmas" (written before the airing of the episode)
RATING: PG
SUMMARY:


*****

Pink, yellow, blue, green, red and white; wrapped round and round, spiraling upward, painting the room in a warm, rich glow. Silver tinsel, cherished ornaments, and a red silk skirt completed the image. There was just one thing missing -- the scent of pine.

Jan hadn't had a real Christmas tree since she was a kid. Living in New York made it quite difficult to go out and purchase a regular tree. Lugging it up to her top-floor penthouse would be nearly impossible. So, she settled on the faux -- the plastic -- the pretend. Artificial, just like she had become. Christmas spirit and emotion had no place in her corporate world, these days. Especially not when she was still dealing with the aftermath of shutting down one of the branches she oversaw.

She was glad it was the Stamford branch. She had never wanted it to be Scranton; the look on Michael's face when she told him the news had been devastating enough. To actually have him pack up his entire life at Dunder Mifflin and leave with his severance would have been too much for her to bear.

And it had nothing to do with Jan's history with him -- there wasn't one -- or with the fact that she may have had or still had feelings for him -- she really didn't. Michael's psyche was just so fragile. She would've hated being the one to make him break. But she could never reveal this. Her corporate ice-queen reputation left no room for that kind of emotion -- any emotion, really. No attachment of any kind was allowed, in her book.

So here she laid, under her Christmas tree, her hair fanned out beneath her against the red silk tree skirt and her hands folded over her stomach. She laid wishing she was a child again, wishing she could still smell the scent of pine laying beneath the tree... wishing she could let her emotions out, just a little bit.

Jan had always done her best thinking laying under the Christmas tree. Ever since she was a girl. Sometimes she'd lay beneath the tree for hours... fall asleep under it... just wanting the peace and stillness to slowly reflect.

Michael had invited her to the Christmas party this year. He'd invited her last year, as well, while ardently refusing to give up on the fact that there wasn't -- nor would there ever be -- anything between them, despite what may have happened at Chili's... and in a dark hotel room. This year when he invited her there was no flirting, no innuendo, not even a trace of his normal jovial tone. Just a somber invite extended to her over the speakerphone, along with the promise that this year there'd be no Yankee Swap -- whatever that was.

The Christmas party was tonight -- was probably taking place in just another hour -- and Jan still had yet to get back to Michael with her answer. Did she want to attend? Attending events pioneered by Michael wasn't always the best idea, and pretty much never had the best results. The last time she'd accepted an invitation, she'd wound up playing the part of the third wheel. She had no desire to do that this time.

But she'd heard that Michael and Carol had split up. Pam had told her, nonchalantly as if it was part of their normal small-talk. So if she were to go, she most likely wouldn't be the odd woman out. Yet... this was Michael. Knowing him, he'd be dragging some Hooters waitress with him to the festivities tonight. Although, if he was upset about his breakup with Carol, there was a good chance he'd be attending the party alone. Completely alone.

Now that she thought of it, Jan wasn't so sure it was a good idea not to attend. Michael had a fragile enough psyche as it was. Add that to him breaking up with his girlfriend... well, it would be downright rude of Jan to leave him alone tonight.

She closed her eyes against the twinkling lights and took a breath. If she did attend, she'd most certainly stumble upon some alcohol, whether it be spiked egg nog or a bottle of vodka (or fifteen of them, like what Toby had told her about last year). And ingesting alcohol anywhere in the vicinity of Michael Scott was just damn dangerous. Although...

Jan sighed and opened her eyes again, picturing Michael... alone in his office, soft lips (that she definitely did not miss kissing) in a downward slant, somberly drinking vodka from a cheap plastic cup while wearing a Santa hat atop his head. All alone.

That was when she crawled out from under the tree and headed for her bedroom, telling herself the entire time she searched her closet for the perfect outfit that she couldn't let Michael drink alone.


*****

Nearly three hours later, when Jan arrived at Dunder Mifflin, she was utterly surprised by what she saw. The office was dark, save for the twinkling colored lights on the Christmas tree -- real pine, Jan noted with a twinge of nostalgia and sadness. And the office was eerily empty, as well... save for the suit-clad legs and torso sticking out from under the tree.

Jan tilted her head at the sight, fighting the smile as she recognized -- without seeing his face -- who it was. "Michael?"

The tree shook a little with his movement. "Jan?" He was trying to sit up, "ow!" and obviously forgot about the pine needles. "What are you doing here?"

When he finally managed to scoot out from under the tree (Santa hat and all), he looked her up and down -- not in a sleazy way, but a very cute, adoring way -- obviously pleased with her choice of outfits.

Jan had picked out a deep red, off-the-shoulder sweater that she always thought seemed perfectly tailored to her form. And she opted for her black pants rather than her black skirt. She didn't want to give Michael any ideas about getting back together -- not that they ever were together in the first place. Absolutely not.

"I decided to come this year." Jan took another look around at the darkened office. "Where is everybody?"

"Down in the warehouse, at the second party."

Her brows flicked upward momentarily. "Second party?"

"Pam and Karen won."

"Do I want to know what that means?"

"Pam and Karen threw one party, Angela threw another. Her party was lame, so everyone went downstairs to the other one. Including Angela."

"But not you."

Michael shrugged one shoulder and threw an almost longing glance back at the tree. "I just wanted some peace and quiet tonight, I guess." He pointed toward the door and shrugged facially. "You can head downstairs if you wanna get a drink, or... have fun."

Jan shook her head, emitting a small smile. "Quiet is good."

He nodded slowly, and Jan was momentarily mesmerized by the way his large eyes seemed to sparkle in the glow of the Christmas lights. "Good," he echoed.

He cleared his throat, then, and glanced back at the tree. "Uh, you were probably wondering what I was doing when you came in, Jan--"

"Actually, no. It was pretty clear."

"I know it's lame, but ever since I was a kid, laying under the Christmas tree has always been so--"

"Peaceful?" Jan finished, quirking one eyebrow.

Michael looked dumbfounded, as if amazed that the words had been stolen right out of his mouth. "Yes."

She nodded. "I've done that since I was a kid, too. It's good for thinking."

"That it is." Another longing glance was thrown over his shoulder before Michael looked at Jan and asked timidly, "Would you want to... uh, join me? Under the tree? We could... think together."

Jan fought desperately to hide her smile, but failed miserably. And how was it so hard to say no to him when there were no cameras around? "Sure, Michael."


*****

The glow of the large-bulb Christmas lights was soothing... mesmerizing... calming. A million things at once. It put Jan at ease and helped her to relax every muscle in her body. The sensation of lying directly next to Michael Scott, feeling the warmth of his body transferring to her from where their shoulders touched gave her a charge... electrified her... set her on edge in the best way. She hadn't felt polar opposites like that in well over a year.

They had been under the tree for what felt like hours, first having talked about who did the decorating... then the less-than-exciting events that occurred at Angela's party... finally settling into a comfortable, but charged silence. Jan almost felt relaxed enough to close her eyes and drift off...

"Carol dumped me."

Jan slowly swiveled her head and looked at Michael. "What?"

"Carol," he repeated, still staring up the tree. "She dumped me."

"Why?" she asked automatically. She folded her hands over her stomach.

"Oh, in a nutshell," he sighed, "I got a little crazy with Photoshop. You know how that goes."

"Not... really, Michael."

"Oh. Well, that's what happened. I really don't wanna talk about it."

"Okay."

They fell into silence again, Jan returning her eyes to the tree just seconds before she felt Michael's gaze on her. She didn't dare turn to look at him.

"Are you happy?"

Now she turned to look, with furrowed brows. "Excuse me?"

"Are you happy that Carol dumped me? Because you should be."

She closed her eyes and chuffed, fighting the smirk as she turned her eyes back to the twinkling lights. "No, Michael, I'm not happy."

"I deserve it, for what I did to you."

"What are you talking about?"

"I dumped you."

"We were never an item, Michael." She turned to see him rolling his eyes.

"Yeah. Right. Okay, Jan."

"We weren't."

"Whatever you say."

"Don't patronize me."

"Don't pretend like nothing was there when everything was."

They met each other's eyes, and Jan once again noticed how lovely his eyes were when the sparkle from the lights caught in them. Michael had bedroom eyes. "Michael..."

"You fight, and you fight, and you fight," he intoned slowly, softly. "You know, eventually, we're gonna end up together, Jan. It's inevitable."

"No, I don't know that. And it is not inevitable, Michael."

"It so is."

Jan sighed and looked up the tree, closing her eyes as she wished herself back to her penthouse. Maybe this was a really terrible idea. And there wasn't even any alcohol involved this time.

"We always somehow wind up together. Valentine's Day... Casino Night..."

"You were with Carol at Casino Night, Michael."

"Yeah, and obviously that was the biggest mistake of my life, bringing her. I just... you said no, Jan. For the eighty-thousand-trillionth time."

"I don't think that's an actual number."

"It is. It's huge."

"I haven't said no to you that many times, Michael."

"How much rejection do you think a man can take, Jan?"

"I guess I just hoped you would get the idea by now. It's not going to happen."

"Yeah, but that's the kicker. It IS going to happen."

"How can you even be so sure of that, Michael?" She really should not have asked him that. She knew she wasn't going to like the answer. It'd just give her more butterflies, and make the air between them more charged, and... Jan wasn't sure she wanted that. Why did she come?

"Because I just... know, Jan. It's hard to explain. But now, I finally know what they're talking about."

"Who?"

"People."

"What people?"

"The people that say, 'Oh, when you meet The One you just know.'"

"The One," Jan repeated, staring up at the lights. Her stomach was somersaulting like crazy and it was making her uneasy. Since when did Michael do this to her?

"Yeah."

Since when was she 'The One' in his eyes?

"You've always been, Jan. I've always kind of known at the back of my mind."

Her head snapped to the side to stare at him, her eyes wide. Did she say that out loud?

Michael's smile gave it away. Yes, she did. Damn her.

She had to get away from him. She was growing too warm, her stomach was still fluttering, and... why did he have to look at her like that? She hated it when he gave her that look like his entire world revolved around her.

"Michael, I don't think we should be talking about this anymore." She started to scoot out from under the tree.

"Why? Does it scare you?"

"Yes!" she was quick to shout, then placed a hand over her eyes as she sat up. "I mean... no, it doesn't, but--"

"I think it does."

"What?" Her hand fell back to her side.

"Scare you."

"No, it doesn't."

Michael just grinned. Damn him. "Scaredy-cat."

"Michael, stop it." She stood up and brushed a few errant pine needles off of her pants and sweater. "I shouldn't have come here tonight."

"Jan, wait."

"No. This was a really stupid idea."

"Jan..."

She shook her head and looked around for her coat. Where the hell had she put it?

"Did you ever think that maybe you showed up tonight because a part of you wanted to see me?"

Jan stopped with one arm halfway through her coat sleeve. "Michael..." He really had this annoying habit of wearing her down.

"You knew that Carol and I had broken up, didn't you? You knew before I told you."

She averted her eyes. "Pam may have... idly mentioned something in regards to that."

"Uh-huh." He stepped closer, and Jan had to both hate and enjoy the way her heart jumped in response.

"But I just wanted to make sure you weren't... drinking alone."

"You didn't want to see me, even a little bit?"

His voice was cajoling, and... dammit, there was the puppy-dog look. Could Michael Scott really be right about something? Was resistance futile?

"Michael..."

"Because I wanted to see you."

"Stop. Please." The second arm went into the other sleeve and she headed for the door.

Predictably, he followed. "Jan, it's Christmas."

She whirled around in the doorway. "So?"

His eyes were focused somewhere above her. "So there's mistletoe over your head."

Jan looked up, and sure enough, a sprig of mistletoe dangled just above her head in the doorway. She kept her head lolled back as she sighed frustratedly. "Oh, for God's sake."

Michael smiled at her in that way that made her want to either wrap herself around him, or strangle him... or sometimes both. "Don't you dare try to mess with tradition, Jan."

"Michael..."

"Come on, it's Christmas. One kiss, I promise. If you absolutely hate it, I promise it'll be quick."

"I've never hated kissing you, Michael," she admitted, and... why the hell did she just admit that? Michael took away all her sense.

His eyes lit up accordingly. "Ah-ha, so now the truth comes out. Well, then this is your lucky day, Jan!"

She rolled her eyes...

"Okay. Seriously." He stepped close and placed his hands on her hips. "One kiss. I won't ask for anything more than that."

Jan placed her hands on his upper arms as they wound around her waist slowly. There went her fluttering stomach again. "Promise, Michael?"

His eyes twinkled. "Promise."

"Okay." She supposed she could consent to just one kiss, as long as that was all it would ever be.

Michael flicked a smile back at her, genuinely happy, and breathed, "Okay."

Then, his eyes went to her lips, she gulped back the rest of her sense, and watched as he got closer. She watched his lips near hers and felt her heart fall all the way to her feet and bounce back up again. She'd forgotten just how lovely his lips were up close. Not that she missed kissing him or anything. Because she didn't. She was only kissing him because of tradition. Because of mistletoe. Not because she wanted to.

Michael's lips brushed hers and she silently amended her last thought. Okay, so maybe she did want to kiss him. Maybe she didn't properly remember just how uncharacteristically talented he was at it... not counting that very first kiss, of course. She didn't remember how pliant his lips were, how they yielded to hers and anticipated her every want and need before she could find the words to voice it.

Michael gently parted her lips with his own and his tongue greeted hers timidly. It was then that that one kiss quickly spiralled out of control. Soon his arms were locked tight around her waist, her fingers had plunged into his hair, and their bodies had fused tightly together. The kisses deepened and grew softer over and over again, all without breaking. They both knew that as soon as their lips ceased to touch, that one kiss they'd promised each other would be over.

Jan gasped into Michael's mouth when she felt them moving, switching positions so that she was now leaning against the wall near the door. They were no longer under the mistletoe, but did that stop them? Of course not. Their one kiss wasn't over yet, after all.

Michael's hand slid up her side, just barely grazing the side of her breast, and Jan moaned into his mouth. It was suddenly very warm, and very hard to breathe. Especially with Michael's other hand traveling across her stomach, left bare from where her sweater had ridden up.

When oxygen became an imperative, they broke the kiss, both panting harshly. "Jan..." Her name slid from his lips like a prayer, and the mere sound of it made her knees start to shake. Since when did Michael have this intense power over her?

"Michael..." she echoed, brushing her thumb across his lower lip and watching as he gave it a kiss. She couldn't help but smile a little at the affectionate gesture.

His arms were still bound tightly around her waist and she was still leaning against the wall, her pelvis connected to his, but... for some reason, she saw no point in complaining. Plus, Michael was adoring her with his eyes, staring at her as if amazed at what transpired between them. Who was she to break that spell? "One kiss..." he murmured.

"Uh-huh." She saw it in his eyes, heard it in his tone, and it matched perfectly what she was thinking...

"It wasn't enough."

That was it right there. She shook her head in agreement. "No, Michael, it wasn't."

"Kinda stupid to think we could just kiss once, huh?"

Jan smirked, just a little. "I guess so."

Michael met her eyes with his -- those kind, fathomless eyes -- and all of a sudden Jan's heart flip-flopped. She knew. She knew what Michael had already known. She didn't know exactly how she knew, but -- it was like 'they' said -- she just knew.

She knew that no matter how often he pissed her off by showing off for the cameras and trying to get everyone to like him, that she would always find something about him unbearably attractive. She knew that she would always want him to look at her the way he was looking at her right now. She knew that one kiss from him would never suffice. And she knew that somehow, for some reason, she always wanted to spend an evening with him at Christmas lying under the tree and watching the glow of the lights.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

His voice, soft and honeyed, drew her from her thoughts. "I don't know." She stepped further into his arms, looped her own around his neck, and asked with a smile, "What are you thinking?"

Michael was still adoring her with his eyes, hands stroking the small of her back, as he replied, "I'm thinking I've never made out under a Christmas tree before."

Jan feigned pensiveness. "Hmm. Neither have I."

"It could be kinda romantic. You know, with the lights..." He threw a longing glance toward it.

"Uh-huh..."

Michael took a step back from her and held out his hand, quirking an eyebrow and asking in a rather suave tone, "Care to join me?"

Jan giggled. She actually giggled. She hadn't done that in so long. But, that was what being around Michael did to her, aside from taking away her senses. She placed her hand in his. "Just once, Michael."

He nodded emphatically as he led her back over to the tree. "Of course. Just once."

They laid down underneath the tree and Michael rolled onto his side carefully, mindful of the pine needles, while he slipped an arm around her waist. He added, "Here."

"What?"

"Just once here. Right? Because there's also a tree at my house, and... do you have one at your house?"

Jan rolled her eyes and cupped the back of his neck in her hand. "Just kiss me, Michael."

"Absolutely."




FIN



 
 
 
Hadarsupertvjunkie on April 23rd, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
All I have to say after reading this is I love tradition.
Awesome fic :D