The quiet humming of the ascending elevator buzzed through Dean’s head as he tried to use it as a distraction to vacate the anxieties bouncing around his cranium. Today he began his new job at Novak Industries, one of the most well-respected corporations in the states, and the UK and Canada. He was only twenty-seven, which made him one of the youngest members of the team. Only by 23 months, according to the record, though no one could confirm that he was the youngest hire in the last decade.
Usually, there was a sense of security when being placed in a new and reliable company, but Charlie had greeted him at the door and informed him that Mr. Novak wanted to personally meet him. He should have been excited, hell, elated. Though he couldn’t help but humor all the horrendous scenarios that could occur. Charlie sighed and turned her head. Dean was sweating, and it was obvious she could practically read his mind. She patted his back.
“You have absolutely nothing to worry about. Don’t stress, Winchester. He’s all bark and no bite, I promise.”
“Well, how many new hires does he see on their first day of employment?”
Charlie stood quiet. She knew that Dean was overreacting. Every so often, Mr. Novak would require his secretary to introduce him to a new hire, especially if their résumé was extremely qualified beyond certain means.
“I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad you have your smell back. You’re finally embracing it?”
“Yeah. It feels good to be myself. I can’t change the fact that I’m an Omega, and no one can change it. I have my pride.”
“I still can’t imagine what that’s like. Maybe I’m lucky I’m the middle ground.”
Dean huffed a sigh, clenching his briefcase close in his hand. Charlie glanced down and sweetly ran her fingers across the back of Dean’s hand. “Deep breaths. You got this, Winchester. You won’t be alone.”
He smiled. “Thanks.”
The elevator made a soft chime as it reached the nineteenth floor; the doors opening wide.
“This way, please, Mr. Winchester.”
Dean followed Charlie, looking around as much as possible to get a generalized idea of the structure of the office. He was sure he’d get a tour, but it kept his mind momentarily occupied.
“I’ll give you a detailed orientation and tour later, don’t worry,” Charlie said offhandedly.
They approached a large glass door finally and Charlie slowly opened it.
“He’s expecting you. I’ll be right outside the door.”
Dean nodded and took in a deep breath.
Nice and easy, Winchester. No need to panic. He’s just your boss.
Dean stepped inside the large office, taking it in. The walls were covered with minimalistic-style art, all of them had a repeating color scheme. Greys and blacks were the prominent outliers of the pieces of work and the little decorations on his desk. Newton balls and a metronome, strangely enough.
Castiel Novak, CEO was etched into a gold plate on his desk, in between two neat piles of manilla envelopes.
“Are you going to speculate my habits by interpreting my decor, or are you going to sit down?”
He turned around, their eyes meeting almost immediately.
Naturally, making a shit impression the first day.
“My apologies, sir. My name is Dean Winchester. I’m the new hire. I was told you wanted to see me.”
Castiel had an envelope in his hand, waving toward a leather chair. He nodded.
“I remember. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dean.” He sat at his desk and flipped open Dean’s file.
“I nearly forgot you’re only twenty-seven. But you have the experience. I made a call to your previous employer. Why don’t you tell me about your time there?”
Dean cleared his throat and sat up straight. “I started at Sandover almost right after I graduated from Stanford when I was twenty-four. I worked there until about two months ago.”
“What made you change companies?”
“I felt like I wasn’t getting any recognition for my actions. It swept my success under the rug because of my being an Omega. I was respected neither by my boss nor coworkers. I’ve been told that this company is more... open-minded. I hope that’s true.”
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for any hate. I assure that myself throughout the three headquarters of Novak Industries. I visit to assess any situations. May I ask what they excluded you from at Sandover?”
“I had four chances to become Head Director of four different projects, but I was told from the Executives I didn’t have the biological components to be a leader.”
Castiel cocked a brow. He had never heard of such shameless exclusion.
“I believe that you have potential, Dean. But you are one of, if not the youngest hire we’ve had in over a decade. I have to be careful.”
“Well, no offense sir, but I’m well past tired of being careful. I want to prove that I’m useful and that I can exceed your expectations. I know my capabilities and my capacity for stress. I want to push myself so that way you know the value of the people on your team.”
“Don’t push yourself too far, Mr. Winchester. You’re not the first to jostle to have a place under the teacher’s arm. I’m not worth sucking up too. You won’t get anywhere.”
“Who says I’m doing it for you? I want this so that way I can prove to any asshole who has a penchant for looking down on Omegas can see that I’m more than what I was born as. I’m doing it for me and the company. I mean, I might. If Novak Industries goes down, I’ll be going down with it. So I might as well get my ass into gear and push it with everything I’ve got. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Novak?”
Castiel sat back. He was indefinitely determined.
This kid would get under Castiel’s skin.
“You can’t tell me I’m wrong, sir. I need this opportunity!” He all but yelled. He needed this chance.
Castiel sighed. “Look. I understand that you want to excel above anyone your age, but you’re fresh meat in the company. You’re barely twenty-eight. You’re excited, but I can’t have you jump the gun, face forward or with your head up your ass. You seem very motivated.”
"How can I prove myself?”
“Winchester,” Castiel groaned.
“Just give me a task! Allow me to prove that I’m not useless. Let me show you that I’m worth something!”
“I guess you don’t take no for an answer.”
“I suppose not, sir.”
“You want a project?”
“Yes, sir. More than anything.”
“Fine. Give me some time. I’ll put together a test for you. If you can pass it, then you will earn my respect. If not, well, thus you’ll be the fool of Novak Industries. I’ll see you before the end of the day. You’re dismissed.”
“Thank you, sir.” Dean stood from his chair. He walked out of the room and searched for Charlie. She was walking in his direction, two coffees in her hands.
“How did it go?” She handed Dean his coffee.
“I think I pissed him off, but in a good way.”
“What on God’s green earth did you do?”
“Well, I told him why I quit my last job and that I wanted recognition. I ended up hassling him until he agreed. He will assign me a project before the end of the day.”
“Do you think you can handle that?”
“I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to.”
“Well, since you’ve dug your own grave,” she teased, “why don’t I show you around the office.”
Dean rolled his eyes at her remark. He knew he had too much potential to let it go to waste. Alpha, Beta, or Omega, they all had the same potential to lead the world. Just because he was biologically inclined to care more didn’t mean jack shit. He could still be at the top of the leaderboard.
Charlie took him two floors down the elevator, showing him around the level he’d be working on. They walked alongside the desks, and most people introducing themselves to Dean. The crowd here was a hell of a lot friendlier than his previous place of work, and the Omegas weren’t outnumbered.
“I kind of like it here, truth be told. Now I just have to work through my end of the deal I made with Mr. Novak.”
“Well, you made your bed. You’re going to have to lie in it, Dean. I just hope you know what you’re getting into. I was aware that you were bold, but digging your grave your first day?”
Dean sighed. “I hope so, too. But I believe in myself.”
Charlie walked Dean over to his new desk.
“Drumroll!” She chuckled softly as she presented his desk to him. “It’s not much... but at least it’s not a cubicle.”
The floor he worked on was sectioned by desks with transparent dividers, essentially fancier cubicles. Each desk had a computer monitor and a keyboard, and room for knickknacks. Below, on either side of the chair were five drawers. Three were large enough for personal items while they designed the other two for files. Looking at the numbered sections, he was number 59.
“How many people are on this floor?” He asked, curious about the new work environment.
“Seventy-five. Each floor has a maximum number of employees for certain departments.”
“What happened to the last guy?”
“He changed careers, I believe. Wasn’t cut out for business.”
Still absorbing in the environment, he could feel something was off.
“I feel so out of place here, so...young. I feel like everyone’s watching me.”
“That’s not a bad thing. You’re young and you have the experience. You’re twice the man some of these guys will ever be. Don’t let them discourage you.”
He shrugged. “I guess.”
“Do you know what the big man will assign you?” She took a sip from her coffee, blowing inside the hole to cool it off.
“I haven’t got a clue. Can you show me how the email system works? I mean I assume it’s the same as Sandover, but I just want to double-check.”
Dean wanted to make sure he knew the ins and outside of this company as soon as possible. If he didn’t have it down to a tee, it would set him back on the project he would soon be responsible for.
“Sure thing. They gave you your password and stuff, right?”
“Yeah. Let me just log in.” He set his coffee down on his desk away from the keyboard. The last thing he wanted was to knock it over the equipment.
Dean typed in his username and password quickly. The screen began to load, a buffering icon briefly popping up before the home screen booted up. The Novak Industries icon was, obviously, the home screen.
"You can change that to your liking, just no NSFW stuff. Guy got fired last year for setting it to some not-so-tasteful pictures of his omega,” Charlie chimed in.
“Okay, so basic computer stuff. Your browser is there,” she pointed to the screen, “there are some other tools that will help you manage filing systems and finding general information about the company, such as policies and yadda, yadda, yadda,” she trailed off.
“The 'N-box’ is your direct email system throughout the company. It’s equipped and filled with the email address of every other member on this floor, and Mr. Novak. There are two screens here, one for direct and one for groups. For example, if you needed everyone except x,y, and z to… sign a birthday card, then you would uncheck the boxes of the names and it would send it to all expect those people. Are you good so far?”
Dean hummed. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
“Okay, so that’s just your outbox, now let me show you your inbox and then we’ll be done. Click that tab right there,” she pointed to the screen once more. “So your inbox has three sections. Individual messages from the other people on this floor, or Mr. Novak, chain emails from people who you might be in a group with for a project, and then one from Mr. Novak directed towards the entire floor. He has control to send one to each floor, and we’re number seven, that’s why it’s marked as; 'Floor Seven.’”
“The Floor messages are sent to inform and remind, usually. He reminds us when we have fire drills, inspections, quarterly deadlines, new employees, birthdays, stuff like that.”
“The last thing you need to know is your assignments. He’ll send them to you via email and will open a new tab that you can edit and save it and send it back to him when it’s due. There’s a special notification when you get an assignment, so you won’t be able to miss it.”
“Wow, he seems pretty in-touch with the employees.”
“Yeah, that’s one way to put it. He likes to keep us informed, it’s useful as a leader. He looks out for every person here.”
Dean sighed and sat back in his chair.
“Thank you for your help. I’m sure you’ve got to get back to Mr. Novak.”
She patted his back. “I’ll let you settle. If you have questions, everyone is generally friendly. Or you can just email me.”
Dean gave her a defeated smile and a curt nod.
He sat up and cracked his knuckles. Might as well scroll through the latest ‘Floor’ messages to see if he had missed anything. He reopened his ‘N-box’ and clicked the inbox tab.
The Floor Message section had a red ‘1’ beside it. Already? He had to give kudos to the boss, he worked fast.
He groaned internally, double-clicking it. It was a welcome letter.
Dear Novak Industries Associates,
Jesus Christ, he might as well have had a hat and a cane if his intro would mimic an off-brand nihilistic Willy Wonka. Or maybe he was going for a less sexy Penthouse Forum Letter.
We’d like to congratulate and welcome the newest member of our company, Dean Winchester. It’s rarely we get a new hire with such a high caliber of experience. Let’s make him feel at home with us.
Fucking fantastic. Not only did he piss off the boss, but he put his ass on display for the whole company to see. At least he was kind enough to not mention which floor he worked on. He rolled his eyes.
Shutting the email, a new red ‘1’ popped up next to the direct emails. It was from Charlie. He clicked it open, snorting at the three simple words.
Without a paddle.
He dragged his hand down his face. ‘Why do I do this shit to myself?’ he thought.
He closed Charlie’s email, seeing another direct he’d received. It was from Mr. Novak.
Your time to shine has come, Mr. Winchester. I will present your task to you this afternoon. I require your presence at the briefing room on floor nine. The meeting is at 12:15, please arrive at least 15 minutes early. Once you arrive at the elevator, Mrs. Bradbury will lead you to where it will be held. She will brief you beforehand.
‘What kind of cryptic shit is this?’ This guy was getting on his nerves.
He looked at his watch, observing it was only ten. He sighed and sat up from his desk. He hadn’t been given any assignments yet, so he had about roughly an hour and a half before he had to head up the elevator. He wanted to make a good, responsible impression on his boss. He wanted, no needed Mr. Novak to know how dead-serious he was about this. He might as well become aquatinted with the rest of the people on his floor.
Then again, he didn’t want to piss anyone else off by distracting them from important work. Changing his mind last second, he headed to the break room to gather as much information about the space. As he walked along the carpeted floor, he began to get a general idea of the floor’s layout. There were eight rows of desks, seven with ten desks and the last row only had five. There was plenty of walk room in the aisles to accommodate just about anything passing by. He stopped at the end of his carpeted aisle. To his left were the bathrooms and water fountains, and to his right were the elevators and the staff break room.
He headed in the break room’s direction. Exploring the floor put his mind at ease for the moment, he couldn’t deny it was exciting. Sandover had a vastly different layout. He stepped through the open threshold and scanned over the items, taken aback. It was an improvement from his old workplace. From right to left was a large fridge, a row of islands with a sink, and a coffee machine and a toaster. Four round tables were neatly placed in there. Damn, they even had a Keurig machine.
“Not too shabby,” he chuckled.
“I don’t recognize that voice. Who are you?” A voice spoke behind Dean, startling him slightly.
Dean spun around, a confident grin on his lips.
“I’m Dean, I’m the new guy. I was just checking out around the floor, trying to familiarize… uh…” he straightened up. “And you are?”
The man smirked.
“Oh, you’re the new guy,” he crossed his arms.
Dean sighed, “Yeah, I’m the new guy. The twenty-seven-year-old.”
“That’s young. How did you get the job?”
“The same way as everyone else. I finished school, started in a company and worked hard. Filled out an application, got an interview, got hired.”
“Sure,” he replied snarkily. “Just don’t let anyone else catch on to your ‘hard work,’” he used air-quotes, “they’re not as cool with office… well, I don’t think I have to say it,” he glanced Dean up and down.
Dean rolled his eyes. “You’re insinuating I’m a whore just because I’m a young and unmated omega.” He clenched his fists. Was this asshole worth getting fired on his first day?
“If the shoe fits,” he hinted.
Dean sucked in a tight breath, pursing his lips into a tight smile before exhaling. He unclenched his fists. Let it go, Winchester.
“I don’t have time for stuck-up assholes. I will be late for my meeting, anyhow. Excuse me.” He passed by the man, almost gagging at his scent.
The man turned and watched Dean leave the break room, monitoring him as he walked down to the elevators.
Dean looked down at his watch. How the hell was it already eleven forty-five? He sighed and pressed the button for the top floor. He pulled out his phone and texted Charlie.
Dean - 11:47
Inappropriate question, but is the name of every associate on my floor available to the others on said floor?
Charlie - 11:49
Yes. Don’t forget to head up for your meeting. I’ll have the information for you once you’re done.
Charlie - 11:50
Did… something happen?
Dean sighed and set his phone on silent, slipping it back into his pant pocket. He straightened his tie and smoothed out his blazer. The elevator doors opened, and, like clockwork, Charlie greeted him. She put her hand between Dean’s shoulder-blades and walked with him.
“Do you read your text messages?” She grumbled under her breath.
“I was going to answer. I have to prepare myself for this. It’s kind of life or death.”
She rolled her eyes. “Did something happen with another person? Did someone already give you trouble?” Her free hand wrapped around Dean’s upper arm.
“What are you, my mom?” he scoffed. “It’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before.”
“Who was it? What did he look like?” She applied pressure to Dean’s arm.
“Jesus, Charlie. You can quit it with your vice grip. He was short… shorter than me. Blonde hair smelled like…god I can’t even put my finger on it.”
“Oh…I know exactly who you’re talking about. That’s Michael. He’s had some issues in the past with…just about everyone. Do you want to make a report?”
“God and make myself known as the whistleblower on my first day? I’ll pass,” he groaned, “I’m not a snitch. It’s nothing.”
Charlie sighed. “All right. Keep me updated on that...just in case. Anyway. Okay...” she cleared her throat and stopped in front of a silver door. A plaque with “Conference Room” etched into it was placed on the wall beside the door.
“He will give you a run for your money. If you think you can do it, great, but back out unless you’re one hundred and ten percent sure that you can crack it. If not,” she whispered, placing her hands on Dean’s shoulders, “politely back out. He’s the boss, but he won’t make a scene if you can’t keep up. Got it?”
“Aye, aye, captain.” He flashed her a smile.
She turned him around and patted his shoulders. “It’s showtime,” she cleared her throat.
He gave himself a moment to breathe, and to straighten his tie and jacket. He exhaled as Charlie opened the door.
Castiel was sat at the end of the oval table, three others seated in different positions, though it was apparent that the trio was working together. He couldn’t lie, it intimidated him.
“Please, take a seat, Dean.” Castiel gestured to the ample amount of empty chairs. Dean nodded and sat down. He placed his hands on the table, keeping his attention to Castiel.
“Are you ready for your task?” he asked with a hint of taunt seared to his lips.
“Yes, sir,” he said with confidence.
“Good,” He stood with a clicker in hand, gesturing to the power-point on the projector board.
“Every company needs sponsors and investors to keep growing. I could go on and on, but I don’t have a doubt in my mind that you are well aware of the vital factors of a successful company,” he teased, shooting him a smirk.
Dean stiffened in his chair.
“Now, our next step in the company is to expand to a new country. But before we can reach that goal, we need more investors. Luckily for us, the CEO of a Japanese company has taken an interest in us.”
Dean swallowed hard. Almost every CEO he had met had a stick up their ass, and maybe that’s what pissed him off. Castiel Novak was the opposite. If any other CEO had given him this task, they wouldn’t have given him this extensive presentation. They would’ve slapped a file on his desk and told him ‘chop, chop’. They wouldn’t have given him an option to back out. The fact that he had a fighting chance made him want to pursue it more.
“So,” Castiel continued, clearing his throat. He was well aware that Dean was falling off track.
“If you wish to accomplish your goal, Mr. Winchester, I’d recommend that you pay attention.”
A couple of the other board members chuckled.
“I’ll say the same to you, gentlemen. This project is equally important to you three,” he spoke directly to them. It impressed Dean, he took no shit.
“As I was saying,” he clicked to the next slide. “The company is prepared to host an event sponsoring us for investors, given we have a presentation ready that will highlight our company as useful and expansive. We need to prove—with extensive proof—that our company can provide a solution to each investor, without the worry of sinking or liquidation, and the promise of success. Now, this is not an easy task, however, it is doable.”
He clicked the device in his hand once more and picked up four manilla envelopes from his end of the circular table. He set one in front of Dean and set the others in front of the other three. He then set an additional slip in front of Dean.
“This is the debriefing, and it gives you all the general information about what needs to be included in your presentation, and some general information about the company that is essential. If you have questions, you all know how to reach me. This is a six-month project, and the two teams will work on the investment pitch. In six months, the two teams will present the project and with my judgment, and a few monitors, will choose the best one to pitch to our possible alliance.” He glanced over to Dean, then the other three men.
“You three gentlemen are dismissed, but I’d like you to stay back with me Dean since our arrangement differs from theirs,” he waved his hand and gestured to the door. “Thank you for your time, gentlemen.”
Dean sat back in his chair, straightening up. The three men left the room one by one after collecting their files, only leaving the two in the room.
“I’m not gonna kiss your ass for a better grade just because you’re an alpha. I’ve gotten further in life with hard work,” Dean hissed defensively.
Castiel sat on the table right beside Dean. “I’m not asking you to kiss my ass.”
Dean crossed his arms. “Then why are you keeping me late?”
“I’m supposed to give you a rundown. Believe it or not, I’m not eager to see you fail. So if you cooperate, I’ll be able to help you.”
“You’re not just going to hand this project to me. You’re not that kind of person.”
Castiel cocked a brow, a small smirk tugging at the corner of his lip. He folded his hands.
“And you know the kind of person I am? How sure are you about that, Mr. Winchester?”
“I know you’re not the rest of the CEOs I’ve met in the past four years.”
“What makes me different?” Castiel was genuinely interested in Dean’s opinion of him.
“You don’t have a stick up your ass. You care about your company, and you don’t let people walk over you.”
“Well, I’m glad I made an impression on you, Mr. Winchester.”
“I can only imagine what you think of me,” he sighed and rolled his eyes. They probably saw him as a loud omega that was in over his head.
"You’re outspoken, and you’re trying to prove your worth. Am I wrong?”
Dean set his hands on the table. “You’re not wrong. But it’s so much more than that.”
His eyes were laid on the paper in front of him.
“Aren’t you supposed to explain this to me so I can get back to my work?”
“Essentially, at Novak Industries, we give new employees a ninety-day grace period to prove that they’re fit for the company. Since you are being given such a high-yield project, your temporary period is being extended by an additional ninety days. I don’t think I have to tell you what will happen if your project isn’t completed.”
“How do I know this isn’t rigged for me to fail? That my file won’t conveniently be deleted or corrupted once I send it to you?”
“Well, any smart business entrepreneur knows to keep a backed-up copy of their projects.”
Dean inhaled and exhaled.
“You don’t have to sign this, Dean. There’s no shame if you can’t do it. It’s difficult.”
He glared at Castiel. “Hand me the damn pen.”
Dean would be damned if he didn’t take the project. Castiel handed him the pen from his pocket.
“If I don’t win this shit for me, then it’ll be out of pure spite,” he grumbled.
He stood from his seat, taking his papers and shooting daggers at Castiel. He couldn’t figure out why his boss pissed him off so much, having only met him.
Castiel had his hands folded, sitting relaxed on the table, his gaze unwavering.
“You’re free to go whenever you like and don’t be afraid to contact me over the N-box if you need more information about the company. Plus, my office door is almost always open.” He winked, sitting up from the table.
Dean assumed he didn’t mean to fall forward as much as he did, some resulting with the pair of them simply inches away from each other, eyes wavering from gazes locked to wandering. He could practically feel Castiel’s body heat. Which meant that Castiel could smell Dean.
Castiel’s lips pursed slightly. He could tell that Dean was almost ready to go into heat. Even though he wasn’t married or mated, he knew damn well what that lingering smell was.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen eyes so blue. Like glaciers below the surface, with treasure encased in the frozen blocks.
“Isn’t it illegal in some places for an unmated alpha and omega to be alone in a closed room?” Dean broke the tension with his thought-provoking semi-rhetorical question.
“Why?” Castiel leaned closer. “Are you afraid that you can’t control yourself around me?” he whispered.
“Do you talk to all the omegas like this?” He hummed back.
“Only the ones who put themselves into purposefully compromising positions their first day of employment, so, ergo…no.”
Dean scoffed. “Well then, I guess I’ll get back to work.”
His hand brushed lightly against Castiel’s as he turned to leave the room, turning his head back a slight bit to capture those eyes once more. He had truly set himself up for disaster.