Summary: The first time Jun met Ninomiya, he was using the eighth-floor Risograph to print two hundred and seventy-six copies of a very officious-looking DANGER sign.
Disclaimer: All not mine.
Notes: Thank you forochel for looking this through and suggesting things! This is for darong, who asked for Matsumiya. Office!AU is entirely g_esquared's fault.
The first time Jun met Ninomiya, he was using the eighth-floor Risograph to print two hundred and seventy-six copies of a very officious-looking DANGER sign.
"You're not from this floor," said Jun warily, interrupting the other man's little caper of glee as copy one hundred and nine landed in the output tray.
The man turned around and shrugged. "Ours is broken," he said simply, giving Jun the sort of it happens grin that never failed to grate on his nerves.
"What's in danger?" asked Jun, pointing at one of the signs.
"Oh," said the man, before attempting to stifle a laugh. "We're going to paste these on every toilet door in the building."
"It's not the most inspired of pranks," said the man, "But at least it gives us something to do."
And he wonders why their photocopiers are broken, thought Jun. "Are you aware of the standard operating procedure for this?" he asked heatedly.
"Of course," said the man, gathering up his papers and pushing past Jun, "You enter in the number of copies and hit 'Start'."
The second time Jun met Ninomiya was two weeks later, after a live broadcast of the CEO's quarterly address that had begun with the question, "Why didn't we invent the ipod?" and concluded with an impassioned plea for everyone to "keep working harder". Considering that Jun's job involved the procuring of office stationery and ergonomic furniture, the link between his working harder and some sort of astounding technological breakthrough seemed rather tenuous.
"I'd suggest DDR machines on every floor, that ought to increase productivity," someone said loudly; when Jun turned around he saw that it was the danger signs man. He was saying this to one of the senior managers, Sakurai, who was also Jun's boss and who had only smiled once in Jun's three years there (when they'd received the company award for Most Productive Department, and even that had vaguely resembled a grimace).
"You need to do something with your life," Sakurai replied, without much venom.
The danger signs man paused in the middle of fiddling with his DS (his DS!) to flip the bird at Sakurai, who laughed and swatted him over the head with the month's Disposal report.
Jun wondered for a few horrified moments if he was hallucinating. Then Sakurai looked directly at him, and he realised that the alternative was worse.
Jun returned to the office to find Ohno sitting in his cubicle, cutting (what Jun hoped was) an old credit card into something that resembled a rather elaborate and bony fish. Their shared desk space was a wasteland of office art, a perfect tribute to mind-numbing boredom and the obscure craft of time-wasting. Pinned to Jun's notice board against his will were post-it bunnies and ducks; next to his desktop was a line of penguins assembled from empty pen refills and rubber bands. Ohno's side had been almost entirely overtaken by a network of linked paper-clips that were sorted by size, shape, and degree of rust.
"How do you get back so quickly all the time?" asked Jun, sinking into his chair and hoping madly that Sakurai had been too busy in the past three years to actually recognise him.
"I take a secret passageway," replied Ohno, rounding off a fin with the precision of a cardiac surgeon.
"You mean the emergency exit," said Jun.
"Haven't triggered any alarms yet," said Ohno. He scooted forward in his chair so he could reach over and attach the fish to Jun's notice board with a thumbtack. It poked out awkwardly beside the scrap paper kangaroo. "Oh, and someone asked me to give you this."
He handed Jun an envelope. Inside it was a leftover danger sign.
Fridays were dress-down, which saw Ohno turning up for work in his fishing gear and squelching about for the whole day. Sakurai did not believe in dressing down; consequently, neither did Jun.
He had just finished a meeting with a rather harried ink cartridge supplier when he encountered the danger signs man in the corridor.
"Hello," said the man. He looked like he'd been waiting for Jun. He was also wearing a hideous neon-yellow poncho over his normal work clothes. "Did you get my message?"
"What message?" Jun asked irritably. "That danger sign?"
"Yes," said the man, "Did you even look at it?"
"I glanced, briefly," said Jun, looking prim, "And then I shredded it. It's a waste of office resources."
The man smirked. "What a pity."
"And if you'll excuse me," Jun continued, pushing past him, "I have things to do."
"Wait," said the man, "I haven't introduced myself."
"Please, don't feel obliged," Jun told him in the iciest of tones.
"Ninomiya Kazunari," said the man anyway, "but you can call me Nino."
Jun frowned. "Matsumoto Jun, and I'd rather not, thank you."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," said Ninomiya, grinning with teeth. Shark, thought Jun.
"I'm afraid the feeling's not quite mutual," Jun informed him, "and your poncho is hideous; did you get dressed this morning with your eyes closed?"
"We need a hundred chairs," Sakurai said, when he met Jun in the corridor the following Monday.
"A hundred more chairs than we've already ordered?" asked Jun.
"Wait," said Sakurai, "Didn't I ask you to cancel that order and switch to the other sort?"
Jun felt his heart slowly sink. "What other sort?"
"I left a note," said Sakurai, in tones of great forbearance.
"Did you leave it with my deskmate?" asked Jun, and when Sakurai looked nonplussed he added, "Short, not very alert, brown..."
Sakurai considered this for a moment. "He was rather brown, yes."
"I will kill you," said Jun to Ohno, "I will kill you and throw you into Tokyo Bay."
Ohno nodded sagely. "Well, before you do," he said, "someone left you this."
Jun looked inside the plastic bag on his desk, which contained a bundle of neon yellow fabric. Pinned to it was a note: YOUR CUBICLE IS A FREEZING WASTELAND.
"I've revised my plan," said Jun. "I will kill you, and throw him into Tokyo Bay."
Everyone in the company knew for a fact that Aiba Masaki was a genius. He was the youngest Deputy Head of Design the company had ever had, and while the team hadn't had a breakthrough since 1995 everyone was certain that great things were going to come from him.
Jun, on the other hand, knew for a fact that this was a myth. He'd gone to school with Aiba Masaki. As a boy Aiba used to talk to snails and draw penguins in the margins of his Japanese textbook - he still did, actually, and his stationery requisition forms were decorated by lines of those blasted birds migrating from one annex to the next (Jun had the carbon copies filed in a giant folder).
"I like this one the most," Aiba was telling Ohno when Jun got back from checking the delivery of his hundred correct chairs. "It looks like a gecko."
"That's because it is," snapped Jun. "I wish you'd stop disturbing us."
"Aiba brought Pocky," said Ohno placatingly.
"Do not," said Jun, "think of bribing your way back into my good books with snacks, because it's not going to work."
"But it's giant mikan flavour," said Aiba, producing the box from Ohno's stationery drawer.
Never mind the snails and the penguins, Aiba was a devious, devious man; devious enough to find out what Jun's favourite flavour was and use it against him. For a moment, Jun was torn between seething with anger and accepting the Pocky. This moment did not last particularly long, because it was giant bloody mikan and he wasn't about to pass that up.
"I suppose I'll have to sample one, since you bothered to bring it," he said finally, sitting down at his desk. "Thank you very much."
"Oh, I'm glad," said Aiba, "but it was Nino-chan who gave them to me."
"Has anyone ever mentioned to you how weird and creepy you are?" hissed Jun.
They were standing outside the meeting room for the senior management; Jun was about to hand Sakurai the month's Acquisitions Report just before his presentation, and Ninomiya was, by all appearances, just skulking by the door.
"I'm sure my sister has, a couple of times... oh, and Sho," said Ninomiya, after some consideration. "But am I very?"
"You tracked down my favourite flavour of Pocky," said Jun, "and had it delivered."
"That I did," said Ninomiya. "And?"
"You don't even know me," Jun told him.
"I plan to rectify that," Ninomiya replied. "Though we have been introduced, you know."
"You're ridiculous," said Jun.
Ninomiya shrugged. "And you're either oblivious, or infuriatingly coy."
"What is the meaning of that?"
"No, just furious, and if you'll excuse me again, I have a report to deliver."
He'd barely made three steps when Ninomiya called out, "What I meant to say was: can I take you to lunch this afternoon?"
"No," said Jun, quite, quite firmly, "You certainly cannot."
"I'll try again," said Ninomiya, the next day. "Would you-"
"He's quite clearly fond of you," said Ohno.
"Well, I'm quite clearly not," Jun replied.
Ohno smiled knowingly. "I wouldn't be so sure."
"Oh, go back to making your platypus," snapped Jun.
Aiba was waiting for Jun when he arrived at his cubicle on Wednesday morning.
"Moving in, are you?" asked Jun crabbily, nudging Aiba aside so he could collapse into his chair.
"Matsujun-kun," said Aiba, voice serious, "are you aware what sort of work Nino-chan does at this office?"
"Oh, you mean besides wandering around the corridors and engaging in general frivolity?"
"Yes," said Aiba earnestly, "besides that."
It was admittedly very difficult to remain grumpy when Aiba was around, but Jun endeavoured to do his best. "Astonish me."
"He's a software engineer on my team," Aiba told Jun. "A very talented one, at that, but since last Thursday he has done nothing but listen to old Amuro Namie albums and link paper clips together."
"And this concerns me... how?"
"It is very difficult," said Aiba patiently, "to design a groundbreaking holographic cellphone when my chief software engineer has entered, to put it in his words, 'an endless vortex of despair'."
Sakurai's office was even more of a freezing wasteland than Jun's cubicle, because somewhere along the line one of his predecessors had dictated that an extra airconditioning unit was necessary for continued productivity. It was not in Sakurai's nature, however, to admit defeat to anything, and so he battled these periglacial conditions by wearing gloves while word processing and bundling up in a variety of winter clothing.
There were bumblebees on Sakurai's scarf the morning Jun was called into his office. They looked rather fetching, but Jun wasn't sure how well Sakurai would take it if he mentioned this.
While Sakurai opened the folder of invoices for the quarter, Jun cast his gaze on the mug on Sakurai's table that said, 'I AM VERY BUSY AND IMPORTANT'. It was one of his favourite things in Sakurai's office, in addition to the rather gorgeous framed photograph of Onjuku Beach in the evening (taken by, as rumour had it, their company lawyer Kato Shigeaki) and the neat little stacks of multicoloured post its.
"The thing is," said Sakurai, setting the documents down on the table.
"Well," said Sakurai.
"Is there something wrong with the invoices?"
"There is nothing wrong with the invoices."
"You did not look at the invoices."
"I do not need to look to see if they're okay; they're always okay," said Sakurai.
"That is... good?" said Jun, looking at Sakurai quizzically.
"Yes," said Sakurai, looking very much as if he had something else to add.
"Will that be all, then?" asked Jun.
"...yes," said Sakurai.
What Sakurai had meant to say was revealed to Jun two hours later, when a rather agitated-looking instant message popped up on his screen.
>> Bloody hell, Matsumoto, it's just lunch.
"The only reason why I'm here is because Sakurai Sho is my boss," announced Jun upon entering Ninomiya's office.
Ninomiya glanced up from the tower of tissue paper packets he was currently building. "Oh, it's you."
"Do you do this often?" asked Jun. "Harass the random men that you meet in the photocopying rooms?"
"Only the attractive ones who glare disapprovingly at me," Ninomiya replied.
"I'll have you know now," Jun told him, "that I do not appreciate being pursued."
"Well, neither would I," said Ninomiya, "especially if it were by ninjas or zombies."
"Please be serious," snapped Jun, "and at least turn off Sweet 19 Blues when I'm talking to you."
While Ninomiya upset his tower and overturned three boxes of paper in search of the remote control for the stereo system, Jun looked at the stray DANGER sign pinned onto Ninomiya's noticeboard and wondered just how he had gotten himself into this mess. The man was quite obviously not normal, in addition to being short and weird and kind of winsome. And Jun was, bizarrely, finding it very difficult to dislike him, despite the fact that he owned a neon yellow poncho and looked a lot like a mouse. It defied logic. It also made Jun want to vomit a little bit, but not literally.
"The answer is yes," said Jun over the music, after close to five minutes of fruitless hunting.
"To lunch," said Jun. "Just lunch. But only if you finish Aiba's phone design."
"I finish- what is this, a shonen manga?"
"Only you," said Sakurai, "would think of a bargain like that."
Jun tried not to look overly smug as he opened his fifth box of thank-you Pocky from Aiba.
Weeks passed. Ohno and Jun did a spring cleaning of their cubicle and threw out fifteen of Ohno's origami komodo dragons. Ninomiya's poncho had since been turned into a temporary chair cushion. He only saw Ninomiya once during that time, at the company tennis tournament, in which Aiba's department turned up in their fuchsia Team Aiba shirts and proceeded to be thoroughly defeated by Public Relations; Ninomiya had been wearing glasses and looked as if shaving had become a foreign concept for him. In May, they acquired a new Risograph; Sakurai acquired a pet kitten with a hideous temper.
He only realised how much he had been waiting for it when he saw the newspaper clipping on his desk.
SCIENCE FICTION COME TO LIFE - Holographic Cellphone Set To Create A Storm Throughout The World
Attached to it was a post-it: Friday?
Lunch took place in a small soba restaurant some way from the office, which Jun was surprised Ninomiya knew about.
Ninomiya cleaned up quite well, which was also surprising, but Jun assumed this was so he would look good for the press releases when the phone was launched. He also seemed aware of what Jun's favourite soba was, which was nice, if not a little bit weird.
Then Jun saw the occupants of the adjoining booth, and was surprised no longer.
"Stop hiding behind your menu, Satoshi, I can see you," snapped Jun, while Ninomiya looked on in horror. "And you too, Aiba Masaki."
Slowly, sheepishly, Ohno and Aiba slid out of their seats and shuffled over to Jun's table. There was a long pause in which they all just stared at each other.
"I don't suppose you'd believe us if said we were here for the soba?" asked Sakurai finally, as he, too, emerged from the booth.
"I'll go ask the waiter if he'll let us join our tables together," announced Aiba, bounding off.
"I am sorry," Ohno said pleasantly, sitting down next to Jun and helping himself to their green tea, "but it seems as if you're about to get cockblocked."
"It's perfectly fine," said Jun, ignoring the fact that Ninomiya looked as if he was about to die and his own (rather unwelcome) irritation. "After all, I thought it was clear that no cocks would be involved in this."
"I brought discount cards," Sakurai added, in an effort to placate Ninomiya. "That way you can buy us all lunch."
Ninomiya buried his face in his hands. "My cock," he groaned, "is being blocked so bad."
"So," said Jun, when they were in the parking lot and Sakurai had loaded the other two into his car and driven them back to work.
Ninomiya was still wearing an expression of abject dismay; it was rather attractive, Jun found. They stood in front of Ninomiya's Pajero for a moment, saying nothing, while Ninomiya fiddled with his cuff-links (a nice choice, Jun thought, even though he knew they belonged to Sakurai) and studied his feet.
"Thank you," Jun told him, "for lunch."
"Just lunch," said Ninomiya morosely, "but you're welcome."
"If you're not too busy," said Jun, "we could have just dinner."
Ninomiya's head jerked up immediately. "Tonight?" he asked, a grin creeping onto his face, and Jun began to seriously doubt if he'd be able to survive this acquaintanceship. "How about just breakfast, after that?"
"Don't push it, Ninomiya."
Continued in I Like You, But I Don’t Think It’s Working Out