Category Linkin Park
A Question of Trust
A/N. Wow. New story up. Middle of exams. Is this really sensible? Dunno. Don't care. Lol. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: If only...
The alarm sounded shrilly through the soft blue gloom of the room. It was ignored by the inhabitant of the single bed. After a minute of ineffectual beeping, the small clock gave up and the only sounds left were that of sleep-induced heavy breathing and the constant whirring of a computer.
The dark haired man smiled slightly in his sleep and turned over.
The peace was soon shattered, however, by a much louder sound. The man in the bed groaned and threw the covers over his head. This time around, however, the alarm was persistent and varied: it was not going to give up.
Michael Shinoda groaned again and sat up, his hair tousled from sleep and his eyes bleary from lack of. He threw a half-hearted glare at the computer, which was now trumpeting a fanfare, and fumbled for his glasses on the bed-side table, inadvertently knocking over a glass of water.
He swore, groped for his glasses, found them, and shoved them on, before turning on the small light by the bed. He surveyed the damage in distaste, the large pool of cold water slowly seeping into the blue carpet, and grimaced.
He got out of bed, his bare feet carefully avoiding the puddle, and moved to the computer. He swiftly typed “SHUTUP” on the keyboard and the room became still once more. He typed another command and his inbox flashed up on screen, declaring he had two new emails. He opened the first one and smiled wryly at the message from the firm that employed him, Ling and Drasco, warning him about keeping his computer files safe from hackers.
“If only you knew,” he murmured under his breath, shaking his head.
He opened the second message and swore at the contents: James Drasco Jr. requested his presence at a private meeting at 8:45.
“Sonovabitch,” he swore, looking at his watch. It was 7.52.
He ran out of his room and across the corridor into the bathroom. He knew there was no time for a shower so he just turned on the tap and splashed cold water into his face. Shivering, he relieved himself, then towelled his face off. He turned back to the basin and grabbed his hair gel. He squirted out a liberal amount, then ran his hands through his black hair, going for speed not perfection.
He hurried back to his room, stripped off the boxers he had slept in, then changed into something resembling respectability: plain black trousers and a white work shirt. His hand hovered over his pitifully small collection of ties for a moment, before deciding against it: if his boss thought he could discard formality by calling a meeting and giving him less than an hour’s warning, he sure as hell wasn’t going to make a special effort.
He grabbed his bag and made his way out into the kitchen, glancing wistfully at the coffee machine as he went, knowing there was no time for his morning caffeine fix but comforting himself with the idea of getting something on the train. He went into the hall, got his jacket from where he had thrown it the previous night, grabbed his keys and went out the door, slamming it behind him.
He made his way out of the apartment block, nodding to Ted the doorman as he collected his mail, then jogged all the way to the station, praying that he could get there for the 8.05 train.
Mike skidded onto the train, out of breath, coffee in hand, just as the doors slid shut behind him.
He sighed in relief, glad that he wouldn’t have to face his boss’ wrath so early in the morning – well, not for being late at any rate. Mike knew that it was extremely likely that the meeting had been called specifically so that James Drasco Jr could express his dissatisfaction with the job his Chief Designer was doing – or how he was behaving – or how he was dressing. The list went on and on.
Mike cradled the cardboard cup carefully to his chest and started making his way down the carriage, looking for a spare seat – he didn’t care too much for the prospect of standing up for the entire half hour duration of the journey. His chances seemed small, however: the earlier time placing him directly in the middle of the rush to get into the city on time.
He cursed his boss under his breath, willing to take a bet that the man had orchestrated the timing just so that Mike would have this very problem. The son of the founder of the company seemed to take a sadistic pleasure in hassling him and Mike hated him passionately for it. He wished he didn’t have to work for the arrogant, spoilt little –
Mike was forcefully jerked out of his trail of thought when something hard collided with him, winding him and almost knocking him off balance.
He looked up, startled, and stared at the dark-haired man in front of him, not comprehending why the man would have a large, dark stain blossoming on the front of his white shirt and navy blue tie. A stain which looked suspiciously like…
“Oh crap,” Mike muttered, and stared accusatorily at the empty cup in his hand. This was all he needed.
“Jesus, dude, I’m sorry…”
“Asshole! You fucking blind or something?” the man spat out through gritted teeth, glaring up at the half-Asian man, whilst trying, ineffectually, to keep the sodden material off his chest with his fingertips. “Fuck, that burns like a bitch! Keep an eye on where you’re fucking going next time!”
Mike stood still for a moment, taken aback by the man’s outburst and considering telling him that using “fuck” in three consecutive sentences wasn’t big and certainly wasn’t clever. However, after glancing at the irate man again, he reconsidered: having no desire to turn up to the meeting with his face smashed in.
“I’ll think you’ll find it was you who crashed into me, man.”
“You should have seen me coming and got out of my way.”
“You should’ve stopped!” Mike said, indignantly. “This isn’t a one-way system. Why the hell should I have to get out of your way?”
“IT’S YOUR FUCKING COFFEE!”
Mike took a deep breath and tried to refrain from yelling back at the block-headed idiot.
You’ve probably just managed to give the guy third-degree burns, he reasoned to himself, and it’s not even half eight yet. He has every right to be pissed at you, Shinoda.
“I know,” he said, levelly. “And I tried to apologise to you for that.”
The other man’s eyes bulged angrily but Mike ignored him, critically eyeing the soaked shirt that was dripping with the beverage that was meant to be getting him through the day instead.
“Hang on, I think I’ve got some…”
He unslung the bag from his shoulder and unzipped the front pocket, delving his hand in and triumphantly coming up with a packet of tissues. He ripped the plastic off them and held them out to the coffee-splattered man.
“Here. They should help.”
The man paused before snatching them from him, ungraciously, and began dabbing at the stained cloth. Mike stood awkwardly, watching the man’s actions, unsure of what he was meant to be doing.
“Is there anything I can – ?”
“Not unless you’ve got a spare fucking shirt,” came the short reply.
Mike resisted the urge to tell the man to chill.
“No. Sorry,” he retorted, sarcastically.
He glanced about him, not failing to notice how everyone in the carriage was watching the confrontation. He felt his face heat up and he scowled slightly, turing back, almost with a sense of relief, to the other man, who was still trying, ineffectually, to clean his shirt with Mike’s tissues and muttering obscenities under his breath.
It suddenly occurred to Mike what the proper course of action was when faced with a situation like this.
“Hey.” He rummaged around in his jacket pocket and brought out his wallet. He flipped it open and carefully extracted a white card from the mess of credit cards. “Here.” He held it out. “That’s me.”
The other man looked at him as if he was mad.
Mike struggled to explain. “Get it dry cleaned and send me the bill. It’s the least I can do.” For you knocking into me, he added silently.
“It is,” the other man agreed and reached out to take the card.
His fingers enclosed around it and Mike had a sudden irrational desire not to let go – not to give this man anyway of contacting him after he got off the train. He looked up into the other man’s face, only a foot away from him, and swallowed, as the other lifted his head and their eyes met; large, black pupils surrounded by dark brown irises hitting Mike full force.
Slowly, dazedly, Mike released the small piece of card and took an unconscious step back, a hand coming up to run through his gelled hair.
The other man’s gaze was still uncomfortably fixed on him, an indefinable emotion passing quickly across his features, making his eyes gleam unpleasantly. He swiftly flicked the card over and brought it to his face, his eyes flickering down for a moment to read the imprint.
The other man’s gaze didn’t remove itself from Mike’s face, not even when the train screeched to a halt and people started getting out.
“You’ll be hearing from me.”
The statement sounded uncomfortably like a threat. Mike opened his mouth to respond but the dark-haired man was already gone, his lithe figure mixing with the crowds moving on the station.
Mike stood stock still for a moment, then glanced around and saw a seat and collapsed into it, feeling as if he had just been run over by a tank.
“Asshole,” he said through gritted teeth, sorely regretting his lost coffee already.
It was going to be a long day.
“And so, as Caroline showed you, though the profits are going up, the customer satisfaction is going down. We need to address this serious issue by taking… Ah, Michael!” The blonde, tall, well built man paused, looked up, and smiled, nastily. “How good of you to finally grace us with your presence.”
The assorted men and women sitting around the board table, about fifteen in all, turned their heads to look at the man being addressed, some with knowing smiles and others with looks of sympathy. The majority of the design team at Ling and Drasco Inc. liked their Chief Designer, the man in charge of them, and were very aware of the state of the relationship between him and his own boss.
Mike, halfway through the doorway, forced a smile and unhurriedly walked to his seat at the opposite end of the table, knowing full well that it would irritate the blonde man even more.
James Drasco Jr, his pale blue eyes following his employee, omitted a small sound which seemed to those close to him to bear an uncomfortable similarity to a growl. He knew what the other man was doing only too well and it aggravated the hell out of him that he couldn’t possibly penalize him for walking too slowly, a fact he was sure that Mike was aware of.
“As I was saying,” he forced out through gritted teeth, “we need to address this issue by concentrating on how we protray our products, through advertisment and other such mediums, but, more importantly, through the outward design of the product. This is where you all come in. If we…”
There was a slight cough, immediately stopping the man in mid sentence. He looked towards the end of the table, eyes blazing.
“What?” he spat.
Mike looked at him innocently. “Surely it won’t help by changing the design? The look of a product is only a small part in customer staisfaction. What really matters is the performance of the software and how well it operates, isn’t it?”
His boss glared across the table at him but the half-Asian man was unfazed, being subjugated to such looks frequently, and grinned benignly. Mike, himself, didn’t know why he enjoyed riling his boss so much, not when it was so dangerous: the man was capable of making Mike’s life a living hell at the company and had done, on several occasions. But Mike just couldn’t help himself; it was his one indulgence in a boring world – ok, maybe one of two.
“In fact, those statistics,” he pointed to the white board proudly displaying several line charts and pie charts, “suggest that the design section of this company is doing just fine.” He settled back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Sale rates are still high suggesting that people buy the products thinking they look great and only become dissatisfied when they get them home and start trying to use them.”
“That is pure conjecture…”
“But surely that’s all we have when trying to guess why people act like they do?”
There was a heavy silence. The other employees looked from their boss to his boss, uncomfortably, wondering where this was going to lead. The fact that Mike had waltzed in, late, and told the son of the founder of the company exactly what they had been sitting there thinking but not daring to voice would have amazed them – if they hadn’t been only too aware of what Mike was like. They just hoped that their boss wouldn’t get himself in too deep. The occasions when he pushed James Drasco Jr a little too far were still painfully fresh in all their minds.
“Caroline,” Drasco Jr. addressed his assistant without even looking at her, his eyes fixed, instead, on Mike, his voice soft. “Give out the files.”
The woman nodded nervously, only too happy to please her boss. She quickly scooped up the files and began distributing them to the men and women sitting about the room.
Mike didn’t touch his when it was placed in front of him, choosing to ignore the offending article, knowing full well that the instructions detailed inside were a pointless waste of time.
“Let’s call this bedtime reading, shall we?”
There was a collective groan from the assembly, albeit small. The file consisted of seven pages, double-sided.
Drasco Jr. continued, ignoring the protests. “I want you all to be fluent on this,” he tapped the file, “first thing tomorrow morning, when we will be holding another meeting, same time as this one, to discuss any problems. Today, I want you all to continue on your appointed tasks. None of you are doing anything particularly urgent at the moment so I don’t want any of you rushing to finish and doing a botched job. Thank you. Dismissed!”
They all rose to leave.
The command was delivered softly but venomously, making all the other employees stop for a second before hurrying on, thankful that the words hadn’t been directed at them.
Mike sighed and sank back into his chair, knowing this experience with his boss would not be pleasant.
A/N. Yes, I know nothing really happened... and it was bitty. The chapter wasn't meant to end there but it was getting too long for a first chapter. Sorry.
And I gotta warn you all now that this may bear an uncomfortable resemblance to .ray's "Technical Difficulties" (go read it, lol! It's better than mine - not about trains) later on in the plot. Never fear, I have already talked to Ray about this and he is comfortable that I haven't stolen the plot. Just incase you were worried, lol.
Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I didn't just make up the stuff in the summary to lure you in under false pretenses. That stuff will be in it - just not at the beginning. Giving it time to develop.
Well, this is my first story. Encouragement for a first time Linkin Park author would be greatly appreciated. *leans on the blue button discreetly*.