Summary: Jim meets Dwight on the latter's first day of work. Reads like a drabble, only with more words. Way pre-series.
Notes: First Office fic, but hardly my first time ficcing in general. That does not, however, stop me from being very nervous. Feedback is greatly encouraged. This is unbeta'd, so any mistakes are totally mine and you are free to point them out.
(I really wasn't sure about when Dwight and Jim started working together; it's never explicitly dealt with on the show. All we really know for sure is that Jim has been committing acts of malfeasance against Dwight for four years. I made a guess that Jim was there first. It's probably a bad guess. I may write a similar fic from Dwight's point of view just so that I can be sure that one of them is right. :)
Jim is running late this morning. The power had gone out and then come back on at some point in the night, which means that his alarm clock has reverted to its just-out-of-the-box settings. Technology has advanced pretty far, but not far enough to ensure that just-out-of-the-box alarm clocks know Jim Halpert has to be awake by 7:30 a.m. in order to summon up the amount of enthusiasm that is necessary to get up and be at work by nine. He hasn't overslept by that much (8:42 could hardly be considered a drastic lie-in), but it's enough to set him off-balance.
He gets to work at exactly 9:26 and flashes the receptionist an apologetic smile as he hangs up his jacket. Suzanne, who is in her mid-fifties and an unpleasant person on her best day, presses her lips together disapprovingly and rises from her seat. Jim pauses at her desk, his eyebrows raised inquisitively.
"Did Michael notice I was late?" he asks her.
She makes a face. "Michael never notices anything," she says dryly. He laughs softly, appreciatively, at what he assumes is a joke. Her expression tells him it isn't, so he stops. "You have a message from a customer"--she presses a square of the same rough, grayish paper she always writes messages on into his hand--"and the blonde one's replacement is here." Suzanne lowers herself back into her chair and picks up this week's romance novel.
It takes Jim a few seconds to recover from Suzanne's always-brisk delivery and take in the things she's told him. The blonde one's replacement. Miles quit two months ago to form his own company (well, that's what he called it, but really, he was going to open a golf course—Miles had been obsessed with golf; it was literally all he ever talked about. Jim has absorbed so much worthless golf trivia in the few months he's worked here that he could probably commentate on a match for ESPN today) and Michael has been having a hard time finding an adequate replacement. Jim understands why even if Michael doesn't; the words "paper sales" don't exactly jump off the pages of the want ads. But someone must have been desperate enough to come in for an interview, because when Jim looks over, there's a guy sitting at the desk adjacent to his.
As Jim walks over, he thinks that as long as this guy doesn't like something as hopelessly mundane as golf he will be an astounding improvement over Miles. He doesn't want much more out of whoever this person is.
The guy has a box in his lap and is rummaging through it when Jim stops in front of his desk. "Hey," Jim says, standing in front of the desk and clutching the strap of his satchel like it's the first day of high school and he's desperate to have someone to sit next to at lunch. Meeting people generally does not make him nervous, but he's going to be sitting next to this guy for, you know, eight hours a day, five days a week for an indefinite amount of time. He kinda wants to make a good first impression, and he is still silently praying that this guy has never heard of Arnold Palmer.
The replacement's head snaps up and he fixes Jim with an eerie, wide-eyed stare that is intensified by his thick, outdated glasses. He has one of the strangest, saddest haircuts that Jim has ever seen; parted down the middle in a way that draws attention both to his sizeable forehead and burgeoning bald spot. His mouth is set into a thin line and he regards Jim suspiciously, but doesn't say anything.
"I'm Jim," Jim tells him. This is not getting any less awkward; the guy will not stop staring at him. He wonders if he has something on his face; maybe he cut himself shaving or missed a smear of toothpaste on his chin. "Halpert. I, uh...I work right there." He motions loosely to his desk and attempts a friendly smile. His new coworker's lip twitches.
"Dwight Schrute," he says curtly.
He fixes Jim with an exasperated look. "Dwight Schrute," he repeats, over-enunciating every syllable as though speaking to a very small, very simple child. "That's my name."
Jim's eyebrows flick up of their own accord and he tries to assume a neutral expression. "Oh," he says. "Is...that German?"
It's a joke; like if someone says their name is O'Flaherty and you ask them if they're Irish. Admittedly, it's not the best thing Jim has ever come up with; he wouldn't use it in an audition for Saturday Night Live or anything, but Dwight doesn't appear to see that. He responds to the question as if he thinks Jim is actually curious about the origins of his name.
As Jim tries to appear interested in Dwight's vast Amish background and the resulting tangent about his World War II-vet grandfather (who Jim is pretty sure was a Nazi), he begins to wish for Miles.
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me. Except maybe the idea that Miles was a blonde golfer. If you want that, though, you're welcome to it.