The key was stuck in the lock. Being that it was a rather pitiful lock, to match her equally pitiful apartment, she wasn't surprised. It had happened before. Sometimes, she even laughed about it. Today was not one of those days.

Frustrated, she jiggled the lock until it clicked, yanked the offending key out, and turned the knob, shutting the door wearily behind her. Inside, she sighed loudly, letting her head rest along the door's rough surface. It had been another long, grueling day at work. Well, the place she used to work. She gritted her teeth as the memory of that morning assaulted her once again…

"Joan Resdale?"

She pushed the talk button on the paging system by the phone. "Yes, sir?"

"Please meet me in my office. I need to speak with you."

She murmured her assent, and rose from her chair to twist around the impossibly small secretary desk. The corner caught her hip, and she cussed under her breath. What a Monday this was turning out to be. She walked down the hall and knocked on her boss's door.

A woman's laugh rang out inside the room, followed by a deep chuckle. Then, "You may come in, Ms. Resdale."

She opened the door, and came face to face with an unfamiliar woman. She was in her early twenties like her, maybe younger, with blond hair, a heavily made-up face, and a short skirt with legs that seemed to go on for miles. Joan fingered her modest knee-length skirt and couldn't help swallowing nervously. This was not going to end well.

"Ms. Resdale, this is Kaila Everett. She's my new secretary." Mr. Roberts, her boss, explained.

"But sir- I thought you said you only needed one secretary for this branch of the company," she said, feeling slow and out of the loop.

"He does," Kaila said with a sickly sweet smile. "I'm replacing you."

She couldn't help it. Her jaw dropped. She looked to Mr. Roberts, who gave her a grim smile and said,

"That's right, Ms. Resdale. You're fired."

"But- why?" She gasped, frantically going through the actions of the last few weeks. She had done her job perfectly ,hadn't she?

Mr. Roberts caught her look. "Oh, it's not about your work ethic. I have just found that Kaila is- skilled in several areas that will definitely be beneficial for the company." He slid one arm around the blonde, who giggled and grabbed his tie.

She looked away in disgust, rolling her eyes. "Fine. I get it, you want some bimbo to work the front desk instead of me. I'll be gone by noon." She left the office and was down the hallway before either of them could say anything.

Back in her apartment, she kicked her heels off and tossed them rather violently across the room. "So I was fired because I wasn't pretty enough for my boss. So what? I hated that job, anyway. They don't deserve me. " She ranted as she unpinned her tight bun, dark hair falling in messy strands around her face.

"What I need is coffee," she declared, making her way into the kitchen. She nearly screamed.

There was a complete stranger sitting at her kitchen table, eating whipped cream. He grinned when he saw her. "You don't mind, do you?"

She blinked, then looked again. He was still there. "Who the hell are you and how did you get in my kitchen?"

He stuck one finger in the whipped cream, swirling it around. "That lock isn't exactly hard to pick, sweetheart."

"I know that!" She snapped, crossing her arms. "Now tell me. Who are you?"

He frowned at her, looking ridiculously comical with a cream mustache. "You know me. Well, at least I think you do. Try and remember."

Warily, she studied him. He looked like a weather-beaten traveler, with his rumpled, dark clothes and leather jacket. His skin was dark from the sun, freckles and lines covering his hands, and his hair was an untidy dark mess. A good deal of it was hanging in his eyes, which were the soft blue of faded denim.

"Nope, don't recognize you," she declared. "You might as well just tell me before I call the police. I don't take kindly to strangers eating my whipped cream."

"Pity. You'd think my eyes would be a little more memorable." He paused to lick some whipped cream thoughtfully off his bottom lip. "Anyway, I am the one who saves you."

"Saves me? From what?" She asked, intrigued. The only thing she needed to be saved from was another bad hair day.

He leaned back in his chair, tipping the front two legs off the ground. "I'm saving you from yourself, Joan. From going out and finding another dull cubicle job and being stuck in this crappy apartment, surrounded by Kailas your whole life."

She narrowed her eyes. "How do you know about that? And how do you know my name?"

"I have my ways," he replied cryptically. "But that's not the point. You need to get out more, Joan. Let your hair down, so to speak."

She patted her tangled hair. "I do too go out."

He snorted. "Where, to the grocery store? Prudes Anonymous?"

She huffed. "I'm not a prude, either. Where'd you get that from?"

He gave her outfit, a knee-length black shirt and buttoned-up collared shirt, a dissatisfactory glance. "You're twenty-four, and instead of dressing like most women your age, you always have your hair up and every button done. Need I say more?"

"Is there a point to this? Or have you just broken into my place to make fun of me?" She said with a glare.

"Hey, I'm getting there. Chill." He spooned out some more whipped cream and ate it, plain. She wrinkled her nose.

"Why are you just eating that plain? That's disgusting."

He shrugged. "I don't get it much in my line of work." Then he stood and went over to the window behind the table, pushing it open. The sounds and smells of the busy DC streets quickly filled the room.

Her feet seemed to have a mind of their own, and moved over to the window. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to jump. Whether or not you come along is up to you." He threw one leg over the sill and onto the fire escape.

She grabbed his arm. "Wait. Tell me your name, first."

He smirked and threw a battered bag over his shoulder. "I haven't gone by any name in a long time. But you can call me Michael."