This one's kind of sweet, and a little bit sad. Anyone who's ever had a crush on the 'dorky' guy at school can emphasise with this one. Funny at times, but sort of a tear jerker. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own 'Less Than Perfect' and its characters, nor do I own Mac, Gucci, Prada, or J.C Penny. The characters Fern, Timothy Cowell, and Brent Steiner are mine.

Rating: T, for language and adult themes

Category: Owen/Irene

Coldness in the Warmth

By LTP-girl

Irene sat at her desk typing frantically.

Oh God, I've got to get this report finished, she thought to herself frustrated.

It was Monday morning, and the report wasn't due until Thursday. But that was Irene, she was punctual. She felt that if the report wasn't finished by that afternoon, she wasn't going to get anywhere in this world, especially since she had been working as a lowly temp on floor sub-basement-ten for the past eighteen months.

Her friend and colleague, Fern, looked up from her own monitor.

'Cool down, Girl,' she called over to Irene, taking a sip from her low-fat-decaff latte. 'You're typing so fast you're Mac is about to explode. Anyways, I thought them reports Steiner gave you weren't due 'til Thursday.'

Irene stopped typing for a moment. Well, she was nearly finished.

'I know Fern, but I want to hand these to Mr. Steiner as quickly as I can, so that I can show him what a good worker I am.'

Fern placed her feet up on the desk and chuckled, slightly amused.

'You know what a nice guy Steiner is. You'll get your promotion,' she reassured her, as she poured a sachet of equal into her cup. 'You know Timothy Cowell who used to work in shipping? He has only worked here for six months, and Steiner promoted him to secretary on the 2nd floor.'

'And yet I hold an MBA from Wharton, have worked here for nearly two years, and have hardly gotten a leg up.' She replied frustrated.

Her friend thought for a moment. 'Oh, right. Well, I'm sure Steiner will come to his senses once an appropriate position comes up for you.'

'Did I hear my name being mentioned,' Brent Steiner called out, as he entered the dank office.

Fern sat there indignantly folding her arms, 'Yeah, Mr. Steiner, we just were discussing promotions, or the lack of them.' She replied, with slight humour in her voice.

Brent Steiner was a middle-aged, plump and surly man, with stumpy fingers, and a balding crown. He had a friendly and down to earth personality, and easily got along with his colleagues and employees, even though many described him as lazy and out of touch. Ever since his wife had left him, his managing job at GNB was the only thing that kept him sane and away from the bar.

He laughed, ignoring her sarcastic criticism, or rather not picking up on it in her voice. 'Well, as a matter of fact, I just got a message from Ida in reception,' he began. 'She said she got a call from personal saying they have a position for a temp on four.'

Irene stood up from her chair with excitement. 'Really,' she asked, her eyes widened. I'm getting a promotion?

Mr. Steiner smiled slyly. 'They asked if they had any employees I could recommend for try-out, and I recommended you, Irene.' He took a breath for a moment. 'Then I said don't bother giving her a try-out, this dynamo is the best worker we've seen, she may as well be on twenty-two.'

Fern interrupted. 'Yeah, but does she have the job, Mr. Steiner.'

He lowered his enthusiasm. 'Yes, congratulations, Ms. Stoner, you have the job.'

Irene got off the elevator, and made her way to her new office. Holding a box full of her personal items and desk equipment, she walked down the sleek hallway; her J.C Penny heals clicking on the floor. She noticed the walls where a neutral beige and had chocolate coloured boarding, with a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge overlooking the New York City skyline hanging to the left. Charming looking pot plants were placed in corners of the room, and the clean smell of fresh paper and the sound of phones ringing from office cubicles filled the room. It was certainly a lot more cheery than the previous floor she used to work on.

She came across a wooden door at the end of the Hallway.

This must be it, she thought to herself.

She entered quietly. A man sitting to her right looked up at her.

'Hey, you must be here for Claude's old job,' he said smiling up at her.

She recognised him, it was Owen Kronsky.

Oh God, why does he have to be so nice to me?

Her heart began to race, and she could feel the box in her hands begin to slip as her palms began to perspire. She placed the box on the empty desk beside her. She looked him up and down. He was wearing a lavender coloured shirt with a matching lime-green tie, with Gucci black slacks and Prada shoes.

He's so cute in that shirt.

She felt her cheeks turn beat red, her nervousness reaching a new height, but talked herself into remaining calm.

You can do this without making a fool of yourself, just smile politely and introduce yourself. He's just a person.

She realised that he probably couldn't see her rosy cheeks under the thick layer of makeup she was wearing, and felt a little more confident.

'Hi, I'm Irene,' she greeted, and stretched out in a hand shake.

She was surprised how calm the words flowed out, because in reality she was nervous as hell.

*****

A few months had passed since Irene had been placed in an office in which she shared with Owen Kronsky and Ramona Platt.

After all the years of loneliness there he was, contracting the muscles of her heart, with each dimpled smile, with every stray curl that fell into his eyes. She let her eyes schism over his lanky frame in her mind, once again, wandering just what he would feel like lying next to her, holding her close, what his long fingers would feel like caressing her hair, and what his laugh would be like as she splashed him with water as they shared a tub together.

She tried to never let her feelings for Owen show, and it seemed to be working. He appeared to brush off every blush, every shy giggle, and hardly raised an eyebrow each time she got a little too close to him to smell his cologne or hair. Although, he probably had noticed, he was just too much of a gentleman to say anything.

'Morning, Irene,' Owen said as he came into the office, his briefcase in his hand.

Irene jumped, startled by him entering the room. 'M…morning Owen,' she stuttered, her thoughts being broken.

He sat behind his desk and started up his computer. 'Sorry I startled you,' he apologized. 'You seemed miles away.'

'Th…that's okay,' She replied softly.

He looked up at her from behind his desk. 'Are you alright, Honey? You seem… distant?'

Auuughhh! He called me Honey. She felt her face flush with heat. In that sweet voice.

'Is something on your mind?'

'No, no, I'm fine. I guess I'm just tired.'

He smiled warmly. 'Okay,' he replied sprightly, as he started up his computer.

She smiled back. She wanted to tell him right then and there how he made her feel. The way the twinkle in his eyes always washed over her, making her feel contented, safe and respected. It was as if whenever he looked at her while she spoke he was paying attention to everything word.

She had just remembered she needed to review a minority report for personnel, which was located in the filing cabinet behind Owen. She got out of her seat, and made her way behind his desk, finding it a little difficult to squeeze behind him.

'You all right, you want me to move?' he offered as he shifted to the side.

'Yes. Thanks,' she replied quietly. 'I need to get a report.'

Owen slid his office chair away from her, giving her room to access the filing cabinet.

He looked up at her, a gentle gaze in his eyes, watching as she nervously rummaged through the drawer.

'You know, I was thinking, you should come out to the bar with us one night,' he suggested. 'I mean, we all spend ten hours together in this office, and Ramona and I still hardly know you. And I've always thought it was important to know the people you work with.'

She glanced over at him. 'Yeah, I guess it is,' she replied softly. 'I'd like that.'

*****

Irene gazed dreamily at the coffee stand, watching Owen as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

'Don't get me started on that cue,' Fern said indignantly, as she took a seat next to her friend. She looked over at Irene, curious as to why she had such a goofy look on her face. 'What's with you?'

'Huh? Oh.' Startled, she straightened herself as she pulled her head out of the clouds and back to reality.

Fern took a sip of her bottled water. 'Come on, spill it,' she said, cottoned on to her friend's odd behaviour. 'Who have you got crush on this time?'

Irene looked at her shock. 'I don't know what you mean,' she retorted.

An amused grin played on Fern's lips. 'I know that look. The faraway look in your eyes, your signature 'I'm in love' face.'

Irene looked down shyly. 'Okay, you got me, but you must promise not to tell anybody,' she pleaded.

'I knew you had a thing for someone. So, let me guess, is he that hot Latino intern, the sporty cafeteria manager, that chic new accountant.'

'It's not any of those people. It's this guy I share my office with.'

'Oh, okay.'

'Owen Kronsky,' she finished.

Fern made a slightly grotesque face. 'Owen Kronsky?' she repeated with shock. 'It can't be. He's such a dork.'

'Far from it,' she defended.

Fern was surprised to find that someone found Owen Kronsky to be at all desirable, let alone her best friend.

'Why do you like him for?' she laughed, still digesting the humour she found in it.

'Okay, I know you think he's kind of a nerd, but he's other things as well, a lot of nice things,' she began. 'He's gentle, and sensitive, and a good listener. I've never met a guy like him before.'

What do you think so far? Please review, as it will help me with my next chapter!:-)