The Office: Chapter One
A/N: I dedicate this repost to Gooddame. I know it's been a long time coming, and I thank you for everyone who's stuck with me, commiserated with me and messaged me on tumblr and here in order to get me to repost. If you'd like to follow me on tumblr you can find me at nurseholliday. ILY
"Once news gets out our stock price is going to drop dramatically." Caroline Forbes's brow scrunched as she scribbled down the information onto the starch yellow paper of the sticky pads on her desk. Her mind raced as she internally calculated the dollars to percentage ratio that her CFO was currently waxing poetically about. Her fingers pressed down hard as she made a rough down arrow next to her lilting script. "Losing the Westbrook account hit us a lot harder than we expected."
"Do you have any projections drawn up?" She asked capping her pen as she leaned back in her chair. The pen, poised against the thumb and middle finger of her right hand tapped idly against the polished wood of her desk.
"We do, I've gone ahead and added a cause and effect analysis onto it as well. I'm just about to finish up the last little bit." The man's nasally voice filtered through the receiver.
"Why don't you send me an email with what you have and I'll take a look?" She said. "We'll schedule a meeting for early next week to discuss how we plan to recover next quarter. Pass the news along that we're going to crowd-source ways to reduce both short term and long term costs."
"I'll have it to you by the end of day." Caroline's eyes flew to the corner of her desktop searching for the time. White numbers stared back at her, mocking the fact that though end of day was 5:00, it wouldn't be the end of hers.
"I'll expect it within the next fifteen minutes then, Mr. Saltzman."
She didn't bother with a farewell, simply moved the receiver from its place by her ear and dropped it in its cradle. A sigh escaped her and she scrubbed at her forehead furiously. With the addition of her head of finances cost concerns, that made seven portfolios she'd have to pore over, revise, reject or approve by Monday.
It was going to be a long weekend to say the least.
She turned towards the massive expanse of her glass wall taking in the skyline glinting brightly in the afternoon sun. With a calming inhalation she did her best to settle her racing mind. She knew this sight.
Over the years the landscape had changed, buildings and business had disappeared, new endeavors erected in their place; a glorious parallel to the cutthroat fickleness of the corporate world. Standing here overlooking Eleventh Street, she could easily close her eyes and give a detailed description of what lay before her. If she leaned to the right and squinted her eyes just so she could just barely catch a glimpse of the very tip of the Washington monument. When the sun was setting on the other side of the building the sky turned one of the most violently beautiful shades of blood orange. Her first memory was in this very office. She could still picture it, being a giggling child of five hiding behind her father's massive desk as he chatted on the phone to this person or that.
Twenty one years had changed many things, but Forbes LLC. persevered.
Her father had started his business in their tiny garage in Mystic Falls. There he had put his blood and sweat into cultivating something out of the nothing they had. What was once a mom and pop consulting firm quickly turned into one of the most influential corporations in Washington DC.
Forbes LLC. had their hands in a variety of things; from advertising powerhouses to portfolio management each of the 137 employees working for the company were invaluable, and Caroline would know.
When she was thirteen she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was meant to follow in her father's footsteps. She had told her mother one day after cheerleading practices that she was going to be the next CEO of Forbes LLC. Her mother had laughed, patted her on her head and then moved along to start dinner, chalking up her daughters protestations as the fancies of youth. It was her father that had looked at her with that twinkle in his eye and asked her if she were serious.
"I can do it." Her young voice echoed across the tile of their kitchen.
"I know you can. It will take a great deal of work Caroline. But if you work hard enough you can accomplish anything you set your mind too." She had taken those words to heart.
The next summer when the final school bell clanged and the halls emptied, things were different. While most kids her age were sneaking out and spending their free days escaping the Virginian sun near a body of water, Caroline was working 7:00-3:30 sorting mail. The reception desk came next, then being an office assistant for every department Forbes LLC. housed. By the time Caroline finished her Bachelor's degree she knew every office of Westbrook like the back of her own hand. Without blinking an eye she could recite the revenue index for the past five years and memorized what the sales pipeline looked for the next two. She interned directly for her father after that until she graduated from Princeton with her MBA. A year later, and 12 years working in every department she had been named acting CEO.
She'd been called a multitude of names over the years. Some good, some bad; driven, crazy, talented, bossy, obsessive, a workaholic, and neurotic to name a few. But without a doubt, until today she had never before been called boring.
"Two more showed up." The disinterested tone of her executive assistant slammed her back to the present. She turned back from the sprawling cityscape to gaze at the beautiful brunette standing before her in skyscraper heels.
"Thank you." She reached out grabbing the two folders and placing them on the ever growing stack on her desk.
"That looks like a drag. You should run out of here and find something entertaining to do with your boy toy this weekend."
A sting of pain shot through her at her friends words, the statement bringing full force in her mind exactly what had occupied her mind just before. "We're not really seeing each other anymore."
"No?" The dark haired woman plopped down expectantly in the chair across the desk from her. "Good I never liked the guy in the first place."
Caroline couldn't resist the snort that escaped her. "Good to know."
"I hope he wept when you dumped his sorry ass." Katherine, or to the few people she deemed close enough to call her friend, Kat, said impishly beginning to examine her fingernails, her painted mouth pulled up into a smirk.
"Actually, he kind of broke up with me…" Caroline trailed off, averting her gaze. She knew that if her eyes were too meet with the intuitive woman across from hers she'd instantly recognize the hurt within their depths. Sure Tyler had been a bit of a tool, and sure she wasn't all that sure she really liked him all that much. Regardless of the reasoning behind the split, it was a huge haymaker to her confidence.
"Kind of?" Kat's voice was hard, skeptical.
Caroline had met Katherine at Princeton. They had been both pulling an all-nighter studying for an economic midterm when an over entitled frat guy got a little mouthy. One minute she was ignoring the asshole hoping he'd get the picture and walk away, the next she was staring at a petite brunette making a man twice her size cower with the force of her words. They had been friends ever since. Kat wasn't only just a spitfire, she was shrewd, highly intelligent, a brilliant businesswoman, a fiercely loyal friend, and more often than not the rock anchoring her sanity.
"Do you want me to kill him?" She said earnestly.
Caroline laughed, wiping a hand over her face. "In those shoes? Hell no. He isn't worth it."
"Damn right he's not. He still wears Polo's in public. You could do way better."
It took a great deal of effort for her not to react to that sentiment. Instead she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath trying to buoy her mood. After almost every boyfriend there was the same answering chorus of reassurances from her friends and family. You can do better, he is obviously intimidated by your success Caroline, there has to be something wrong with him. If it was only one, she could understand the reasoning behind their logic; but as the number began to climb it became apparent that it might have something to do with the only common factor in all of her relationships. Her.
"What exactly did he say?"
"He was rambling for a bit but the gist of it was that I'm too boring for his taste." Kat scoffed as if it was a personal remark to her own character.
"Apparently he's never seen you at spring break." An answering laugh bubbled from her lips and a fission of tension eased itself from the concrete set of her shoulders.
"I'm serious. Sounds like a cop out to me. I knew he was going to be a sleaze ball, I could tell by the way he gelled his hair."
A picture of her boyfriend, well, her ex-boyfriend now surfaced in her mind. She crinkled her nose at the memory of his gel soaked locks painstakingingly spiked up. "It was pretty bad."
"It was awful!"
"Half the time it took him longer to get ready than I did."
"Exactly." Kat said, playing the dutiful best friend. "But that body though…"
Tyler was built like a god, and he knew it too. He worked out religiously. Every morning at six am he was in the gym like clockwork. He never took a day off and it showed, there was no way to describe the way he looked without his clothes on. When Caroline had met him there had been an instant attraction, how could there not be? And admittedly she didn't wait as long as she should have to make sure that she really liked him and not the fact that he could put an Abercrombie and Fitch model to shame. She swore that the first time he took off his shirt that there were angels sobbing somewhere. He had it all, a great job, a killer car, a body that could make her salivate – there had been just one little problem. "Too bad he didn't know what to do with it." Sarcasm dripped like venom from her tongue.
"Right? It's a national tragedy." Caroline nodded her head in agreement.
Nothing could explain the disappointment she felt when a man that got her halfway to an orgasm just by looking at her, couldn't figure out how to get to her to home. Needless to say, she was left unsatisfied. Every. Single. Time.
"Maybe I should interview the next one?" Katherine offered. A barking laugh escaped Caroline as she thumbed through the folders on her desk.
"I'm sure that won't be awkward at all."
Kat reached forward snagging the nail file from the pen cup perched on the corner of her desk. "I'll start working on it Monday. Question one: Do you go down?"
Her brow furrowed as she took count of the work she needed to do that evening. Her eyes flew once again to the clock to see that is was already 5:20. Kat continued to wax poetically. "Number 2: How big is your dick?"
There wasn't enough portfolio's on her desk.
"Number 3: How do you feel about spanking?" Caroline broke in across her.
"Are you sure this all of them?"
Kat stopped filing momentarily, crinkling her brows as she looked at Caroline, then the files. "Uhhh, yeah. That was everything that was delivered. "
She thumbed through them once more; Sales, reorganization schematics, inventory audit results, defense mobile contract, Alaric Saltzman was emailing his… Her mind internally checked off as she cataloged each project until one was left glaring at her in her mind's eye.
"Which one are you missing?" Kat said curiously, resuming sawing her fingernails to points.
"The Annaehauser-Busch campaign." Her mind raced trying to pin point the specific details. Tight blonde curly hair, blue eyes, combined with the distant echo of an unmistakable British accent instantly cropped up in her mind. "That's Mikaelson right?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Huh." Was Caroline's only response. The Annaehauser-Busch campaign was worth a ridiculous amount of money, and it wasn't a client she wanted to take a risk making unhappy by delivering late presentations. With the loss of the Westbrook account they couldn't afford any other significant hits or they'd be reporting losses for next quarter as well. She was going to have to call a meeting on Monday to figure out what the hell was going on downstairs and if she'd have to have a one on one conversation with Mikaelson regarding his output.
"So are you going to let me take you out and get you shitfaced now that you're newly single?"
She eyed the folders on her desk, if she did them tonight they'd be finished and she could attempt to have some semblance of a weekend. Her dirty laundry pile was starting to get seriously out of control as it was, and if she didn't tackle it soon it was going to be become an epidemic. Then again, getting drunk certainly sounded appealing. Katherine must have read the struggle waging a war across her face.
"Fine. Don't stay here too late and if you need me for anything, call me."
Caroline gave her an apologetic smile. "Raincheck? Tomorrow?"
"I'm going to hold you to that. And if you stand me up I swear to god I will lock you out of this building."
Caroline held her hands up in defeat but couldn't help but roll her eyes. "Cross my heart and hope to die." She made a show of crossing her fingers and making an X across her chest to signify her promise.
Kat stood throwing her a stern glance she reserved for making interns cry.
"Night, I'll call you tomorrow."
"Talk to you tomorrow." She said before waving her goodbye and watching her friend walk out the door. Taking a steadying breath she flipped open the sales forecast. It was going to be a long night, she better settle in.
It had happened once or twice while working at Forbes LLC. that he wasn't able to meet his bosses' impossibly stringent deadlines.
Well, to give himself credit, this time he almost met it.
Just four or five hours on a Friday later than he had anticipated. The Virginian sun had long ago sunk behind the mirrored shining surfaces of the other office buildings and said goodbye to the occupants of the building who had left promptly at five o'clock, eager to get their weekend started. But no, not Niklaus Mikaelson. He had spent the last four days pouring every waking moment of his time into the new advertising campaign, hoping beyond hope that the CEO would like them. This time. Seven years of combined art and business school, and for what? For a project that he didn't even like the first time around to get scrapped. Reworking wasn't the problem. It was the principle of the matter. Klaus was good at his job, damn good.
The thick leather portfolio felt heavy in his hand as he pressed his finger against the round 'up' button on the elevators bank. The arrow glowed as the tell-tale cranking and whirring of the car's arrival signaled and a faint ping echoed around the empty offices as the door parted. Light poured into the dark room and he took an easy step inside, letting the glow swallow him. His long index finger quickly pushed the highest button on the panel. Top floor. The executive offices.
Forbes LLC. had several different departments, but Klaus had been drawn to advertising since he had been in secondary school. It was the artist in him. Bill Forbes had started the company when he was Klaus's age, and watched it grow to the elite of the professional world. It was the kismet of a person's career to work for Forbes, and without a doubt Klaus relished his role within the company. It had not come easy.
The car rushed up the shaft, the faint tinkling of soft jazz tickled his ears as it ascended to the top floor. With a smooth stop, the doors pinged open and he stepped out into the muted darkness of the executive floor. He barely thought as he walked purposefully through the desks towards the sprawling back office. There was no particular reason to.
It was simple. Drop off the folder, get out of this infernal suit, and hit the Local for a pint or two. That was the plan.
But as he pushed the heavy wooden doors emblazoned with Forbes in metallic golden letters, his plans took a nosedive. Scratch that, he'd have to keep the suit on. The likelihood that he'd be job hunting come tomorrow was pretty high.
Sitting behind the imposingly magnificent desk, in the dark of her office was none other than the CEO herself, Ms. Caroline Forbes.