The Office

Chapter One

It's just the holiday season, dammit. Why get so worked up over lights?

The office next to Uchiha Sasuke's was a lonely little room. That is, until she exploded into the office with her impossibly pink hair and her neon personality. Usually the formerly unoccupied office was dark, dusty, and even damp when the ceiling leaked after one too many neglected plumber's appointments. Then December rolled around, and Haruno Sakura became positively obsessive about decorating the most depressing place in the building, starting just three weeks before Christmas.

Sasuke was the anti-Sakura; he represented everything she combated with her holiday cheer. Although he was easily the best-looking man in the building, that didn't stop him from fervently repelling people with his reclusive, anti-social personality. He had even been called the office Grinch, named so by those feeling more festive than he during the holidays. Figures they gave him a name associated with hating Christmas. How appropriate.

To be honest, Sasuke couldn't care less about the petty names he had been dubbed. Even less did he care about the woman who had taken on that dark office so recently. Her festiveness was driving him to the edge; she hadn't even said a word to him and already she was annoying him to the point of madness.

The two offices, Sakura's and his own, had been constructed quite strangely when the building was first developed. They were two separate rooms, but there was a door in between connecting them in addition to each room's door leading to the main area. One might have thought the building used to be a hotel, had the rooms been larger. Sasuke's and Sakura's work rarely crossed, so that door never really had to be opened, but today she had decided to open both of her doors, giving him and everyone else in the building a view of what she was doing.

So here she stood in her office right in front of the open conjoining door, bending over at the waist to pick up another strand of lights, completely unaware of the covetous stares she was receiving from the male population of the workplace. That was another thing that annoyed Sasuke about her: she was so wholly ignorant about her surroundings and the people in them. She could get mugged and all she would probably do was smile and wish the guy a merry Christmas.

Haruno Sakura was nothing like the irritable hermit he had expected when he heard someone new was taking the joint office to his. From the moment she arrived, the bundle of energy quickly made her presence known, making friends with the shy girl from Accounting, and charming even that bitchy woman in the farthest cubicle down the room. What was her name? I-something. It had started with an I…

"Hey, Ino, can you please send for another box of clear lights?" Sakura called happily down the row of cubicles.

The slim, well-dressed blonde poked her head out from her cubicle, her vibrant hair swinging. "Sure thing," Ino replied, giving Sakura a tight smile. "Just a little busy, though, so it might take about twenty minutes for me to get around to making the call."

"No problem," Sakura answered, a knowing smile gracing her features. "It'll most likely take that long for me to finish with these strands, anyway."

Sasuke, annoyed that he was wasting his time watching the daily, pointless tasks of Haruno Sakura, cast his glance down to the paperwork he was supposed to have sent down two floors long ago. The paper's words arranged themselves into a smirking face the longer he stared at them, snickering at the fact that he would never make sense of them with a certain woman around. So far, he had yet to decipher the first paragraph. If only she wasn't standing where he could see her so plainly through the door…

"Oops," he heard Sakura say cutely, and he once again looked up as she clumsily let a Christmas ornament slip out of her hands. He let out a low, irritated growl.

Sakura pursed her plum-glossed lips when the ornament rolled out of her reach and under a desk. Sasuke winced as she settled down on her knees, reaching an arm under the desk as she fumbled around for the little round ornament. With a small triumphant grin, she pulled out the offensive object, a shockingly neon red ball held up by a cheap metal hook.

Paperwork. Concentrate on the paperwork, Sasuke told himself.

"Hey, Sasuke," she called cheerfully to him, and he gave a start as he realized that she had just caught him watching her.

"Hello," Sasuke gruffly replied, shooting her a frown to indicate that she should be concentrating on her work rather than on making her office seem less full of despair than it really was. It was a wasted effort.

"Are you going to decorate your office, too?" she inquired innocently. She must have known Sasuke was not the type to decorate anything; no one was that oblivious. She was either attempting to strike up conversation or finding another method of torturing him out of his mind. Lord knew it was working.


"Too bad. It could use just a bit of color." She poked her head into his office to survey the room. Although she did not voice her thoughts Sasuke could read them in the speech bubble appearing above her head; Pretty lights, ribbons, garlands, glitter, happiness! Any minute now and she would be adding rainbows and unicorns to the mix.

"Look, don't you have any projects to finish up?" He asked to deliberately interrupt her daydreaming.

Sakura shook her head, that bubbly, excited light never fading from her eyes. "I've had a pretty light workload lately, and so I've had plenty of time to do things like this." She gestured to the garlands now flamboyantly adorning her walls, and the small, perfectly office-sized tree in the right front corner of the room. Upon closer inspection he could see the miniature wreath pinned to the front of her door. She was turning it into a theme park.

Light workload? Of course she had a light workload. Although why it was so much lighter than Sasuke's happened to be a mystery.

Speaking of him not having a light workload…

"Can you close the door?" Sasuke asked, glaring at her. "I need to get work done, and all this sparkly junk is distracting me."

Sakura's smile faded, much to his satisfaction, and she set down the string of multicolored lights she was holding. She muttered something barely audible that sounded like "grouch" before walking over to the door. Sasuke felt the smirk slip right off his face.

"You know, you could at least try smiling once, Grinch," she commented with a childish roll of her eyes. Had she been younger she might have stuck her tongue out at him.

"I've got an image to uphold," he told her matter-of-factly. "Since I'll never get around to stealing Christmas with this amount of work I can at least look the part." He glanced at his watch to unsubtly indicate she was wasting his time, and it was clear their conversation was over. The last thing he saw before Sakura shut the door on him was her exasperated, deflated look. He had punctured her happy little bubble, even if just a little. Good.

Sighing, he gathered his paperwork together, clunking the bottom edges of the paper against the hard oak of his desk to straighten them. He hadn't made a single dent in his work, nothing since he started that morning. If little Miss Haruno couldn't keep her bright lights and cheerful mood on her side of the door, then he would have to take action. She called him the Grinch, but she didn't know the half of it.

Without warning, the regular door to his office flew open.

"Sasuke, I really need you to pick something up for me—" Ino started, barreling through the door and lowering Sasuke's tolerance level for the day considerably. "Oh. You're busy?"

"Aren't I always?" Sasuke snapped. Politeness be damned; he was about to show the same ferocity as a coffee addict without his morning latte. Speaking of, he hadn't had his coffee today either. Ino seemed to sense this, and took a tentative step backwards.

"If it's not too much trouble," Ino continued cautiously, drawing a pattern in the carpet with the toe of her Prada shoe (how did she ever afford those?), "I'd really appreciate it if you could pick up a pack of clear Christmas lights I just ordered—"

"No," Sasuke quickly cut in, glaring. "I am not going to get involved with Sakura's little holiday program. You want to help her out, go pick them up yourself."

"You know, Sakura's right, you really are a Grinch," Ino said immediately, wagging a perfectly manicured finger at him with a coquettish smile. "Someone really ought to schedule your doctor's appointment early just to see if your heart really is two sizes too small."

"Out," Sasuke replied savagely. This woman was testing his patience; sometimes he wondered whether she did it as a hobby. It was like seeing how close a person could hold a match to a fuse without invoking the wrath of the bomb.

Wordlessly, Ino left, any possible protest she could have had dying on her lips at the sight of Sasuke's scowl. She shut the door behind her, those annoying heels of hers clinking with every step.

Sasuke wondered how many other people had heard about the nickname Sakura had so graciously given him. Oh, sure, he deserved it, but no one was allowed to admit this but him. The only person he had let get away with calling him that so far was Sakura, and he wasn't about to let it slide the next time it happened. Sasuke somehow knew that it wouldn't be the last time she inflicted her dim-witted holiday humor on him.

"Hey, it was a small favor," Sakura suddenly said as she came through the side door, frowning at him. "It was just some lights. What was the big deal?"

"Funny; it wasn't quite mentioned in the job description that I would be required to run pointless errands for my underlings," Sasuke said smoothly, concealing his irritation solely because she got riled up more easily when he was cool and collected—and he definitely enjoyed riling her up.

It worked. She was so predictable. "First of all, it's not a pointless errand, though it was the simplest thing in the world. Second of all," she gave a fierce glare that could rival his, which was a rather impressive achievement, "Ino asked you the favor for me. And I am definitely not your underling."

Sasuke smirked, leaning back in his chair. "You've been on the job for only two weeks now and already you're reprimanding me? Haven't you heard of establishing good relations with coworkers?"

"Good relations? You?" Sakura folded her arms. "Don't even start," she said dangerously. "I'd rather not have another day ruined by the great Uchiha Sasuke."

Despite the fact that Sasuke's inner voice was spitting, I don't have time for this, he was up for a good verbal sparring match. "Oh, this isn't the first time?" he asked with a terrible impersonation of innocence. "I'm flattered." Sasuke raised a hand to his navy blue tie as if her words had truly touched him. He knew Sakura was used to his type—all mocking and no true bite behind his words.

"I'll get the lights myself. Happy now?" Sakura said. Sasuke was a little disappointed, because her sentence was a cue that she was ending the battle so soon.

He furtively stole a glance at his inbox. Nothing was getting done, and he was about to dismiss it as a lost cause anyway. It was worth sacrificing a little just to fight with Sakura a while longer.

"You know, I think I'll go get the lights," he said as he sat up and groaned a little as his stiff muscles protested. He had not moved all day, and now he was paying for it. He had to grin at Sakura's surprised expression.

"Y-you will?" she sputtered, clearly wrong-footed. His half-smirk revealed all the smugness he felt.

"That's what I said, wasn't it?" He raised a sardonic eyebrow at her. And without bothering to explain why he was doing such a thing, he headed out of the office.

Sasuke's paperwork was a lost cause.

And he was out of his office.

Damn her.