You took a deep breath as you pushed open the doors to the World Conference building. You had never been more nervous to start a new job. You walked into the lobby, looking around sheepishly at the busy people rushing through. You had no idea where to report to or even who to ask; the receptionist was on the phone. You took the opportunity to take in the surroundings. The décor was delicate, and you contemplated taking a seat in one of the plush armchairs. You had barely sat down when someone called your name. You stood up again right away.
"[Name]? Are you ready for the new job?" A tall man walked towards you, his blonde cowlick bobbing comically. It was America, the one who had gotten you this position.
"Ah, yes. I'm so glad you're here. Do you know where I'm supposed to go?"
He shook your hand as a greeting. "Of course, man! I'm here to escort you. Come on, I'll take you to your office," he said as he put a hand on your shoulder, steering you towards an elevator.
America pushed the button for the second floor, and waited for the elevator doors to close. The silence wasn't making your nerves any better. You decided to ask questions to take your mind off of it. "So, why is the old secretary leaving?"
"I don't know, dude. Probably having her baby or something. She seemed about ready to pop."
"This is a pretty big building. Is it just for World Conference stuff?" You fiddled with the clasp of your briefcase. This was a really slow elevator.
"Yeah, well, we've got to have an office for every country, don't we? And then there are the lesser conference rooms. Of course we have a kitchen, recreation rooms and then the sleeping quarters. Switzerland and Liechtenstein are so lucky. They actually get to go home every day. I'm so jealous, dude."
You nodded. They'd needed a neutral spot for the World Conference, and not everyone lived close enough to commute every day. That included you. You hadn't been sure about moving to a different country at first but Lucerne was really beautiful and you had always wanted to travel.
The elevator doors finally opened and America lead you down a short hallway to the larger office area. There were offices along three walls, and a desk against the last one.
"Okay, so this isn't technically an office, but you get this whole big open area all to yourself. A lot of these offices belong to the major countries. Most of the other countries are still on this floor though, just take that hallway to the other wing," America pointed. "Germany's been doing most of the work since that other lady left, so he'll come by in a few minutes to start training you."
You walked over to the desk and set your briefcase down. It looked lonely sitting by itself, so you resolved to bring personal items for decoration as soon as possible.
America checked his watch. "All set for now, [Name]? I gotta get to a meeting, but my office is that one to the right. Let's get lunch later and you can tell me how it's going. Okay, dude?"
You opened your mouth to reply, but he had already left, taking the hallway at a high sprint. Instead, you sat in your desk chair making sure it was at the perfect height. As you waited for Germany to arrive, the names on the office doors caught your attention: France, England, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Japan, Spain, Italy North and South, Russia, and America.
"Hallo. I take it you are the new recruit, ja?"
The German voice behind you made you jump. You turned and stood up quickly. A little too quickly, because your chair slammed into the wall behind you with a bang. You felt heat rising to your face.
"Y-yes. Yes. I'm [Full Name]. I'll be the new secretary."
The blond man's ice blue eyes were severe, and his solemn tone made you even more nervous. "Hmm. Yes, I know," he said simply. "I am Germany. Well, shall we get started?"
"Oh. Yes, of course." You retrieved your chair. "I heard that you have been taking care of everything for awhile. That must be hard to do with your regular duties."
"Ja. Although, if I wasn't doing it then it wouldn't get done. These dummkopfe have no respect for order," Germany griped. Maybe he wasn't as stoic as you had first thought.
Germany got his desk chair from his office so that he could sit beside you. He immediately started training you in your duties, speaking quickly.
"Okay, [Name], your main responsibility is to file all of the paperwork that we do. There are a lot of contracts, memos, memorandums, notes, treaties, etc. that go through this office, and they will all need to be filed by you when we are through mit them. You will have to make sure that everything is signed before you put it away."
He kept going, hardly even waiting for any sign of acknowledgement from you. "You will also be in charge of scheduling. We have a lot of meetings, ja? So we need you to make sure that a meeting room is not double-booked. Also, these dummekopfe don't remember anything. You will need to e-mail reminders to them, and even fetch people to their meetings. Most of the meetings you will not need to attend, but when we have a Great Conference you will be needed for notes."
"What is a Great Conference?" You finally managed to stick a question in while he took a breath.
"It is where the major countries all come together to work out the results of the other meetings."
"It sounds efficient."
"It isn't." Germany only frowned harder as he spoke. You decided that it would be best not to mention efficiency or work ethic with him.
After you knew your major duties he started making sure that you were familiar with all of the computer programs. You struggled to keep up with the man; he was being very thorough and strict. It felt like you a soldier being drilled for hours on end.
"-so you should always save before closing the program. It never hurts to be sure, ja? So when you are done entering that, you should-," he was going to keep you going until closing if you didn't say anything so you cut him off.
"Germany, I'm sorry for interrupting, but do you think I could take a small break?" You smiled sweetly, silently begging to be allowed to stand and stretch.
He stared at you a moment, put off that you would interrupt a superior. Then he relented, shaking his head. "Alright, I suppose you've been making good progress. You are a fast learner, [Name]. I will give you a five minute break. The restrooms are down that hallway on the right, and the break room is on the left."
Only five minutes? He was even stricter than you thought. You hustled down to use the restroom. When you'd finished you turned to go back to Germany. However, you were pulled to the side as you passed the break room. It was America.
"Hey, [Name]. I totally thought that we were going to have lunch together. What happened, dude? It's, like, two o'clock already." He looked really put out, and your heart dropped a little.
"I'm sorry. I forgot, it's just that Germany's been pushing me really hard and ," you were cut off as your stomach growled. You blushed. "I guess I haven't eaten yet, so if you still want to I can see if Germany will extend my break."
"Whoa, he hasn't let you eat yet? Don't worry, [Name]. I'll talk to him for you." America's mood changed instantly from disappointment to indignation. He stomped out of the room with you following afterwards, your protests going unheard.
The next half hour was spent with America and Germany arguing with you standing by helplessly. They seemed to have forgotten about you, because the argument was as far away from your lunch as you could have imagined.
"Well, I won't send you anymore automobiles, if you can't appreciate what they do for you, Dummekopf."
"Dude, I don't need your overpriced Beemers. Ford is obviously the pinnacle in automotive technology."
You tried to interrupt them, but they weren't listening to you. So you pulled your sandwich out of your briefcase and went back to the empty break room. After choosing a table in the middle of the room you sat heavily and stuffed a corner of your sandwich into your mouth carelessly. Somehow you were exhausted. Well, it made sense when you thought about it; you had only arrived in Europe yesterday.
"Oh, why you must be the new secretary, non?" The French accent jerked you out of your trance and the sandwich fell. How embarrassing. It was your first day on the job and you were already spacing out so hard you couldn't even remember to bite into something already in your mouth. The man just chuckled at you so you took the time to get a good look at him. Looking at his long hair you wondered if everyone who worked here was blond.
"Y-yeah. Sorry, I was on break. I'm [Full Name]."
The man stopped chuckling but still looked amused. "Well, ma fleur, I am France and you have something just there." He reached up and wiped some mustard off the corner of your mouth. You blushed and stuttered in response, but he frowned.
"Did you say that you were on break? It is your first day here, you should not be working! Have you been able to move in?" France asked. You shook your head; your luggage was still in your rental car.
"What a tragedy. Well, I will have you know that the French love to go on strike. And today, [Name], you are French. Let's go," France said as he pulled you out of the room leaving your sandwich uneaten on the table. At this rate you might as well wait until dinner to eat. Both of you ignored the still arguing American and German and chatted pleasantly as you went down to bring in your things. France was a nice guy, even if he didn't have a lot of respect for personal space and flirted incessantly.
Since neither of you knew where you'd be staying, France asked the receptionist in the lobby and led you to the fifth floor.
"There aren't many women here, sadly. Most countries are male, and a lot of the female staff is from here in Switzerland so they commute. So the fifth floor is rather empty, but they space you out nicely so you won't be too close or too far away from the other ladies." You nodded. The lack of women was the reason that you were allowed to stay within the World Conference building instead of having to find an apartment elsewhere. You looked askance at France.
"You know a lot about the women's rooms," you said suspiciously.
He just laughed and winked. You rolled your eyes a bit.
"Would you explain where everything is? I confess that I don't really understand the system here," you asked.
"Of course, ma chere. The first floor is full of temporary offices and rooms for visiting officials. The second floor you know. Most of the conference rooms are on the third floor. The fourth is where you'll find the kitchen, cafeteria and laundry. The cafeteria is open from 8 to six on weekdays, but you can use the kitchen whenever you wish. The cleaning staff and utility rooms are on that floor as well. The women stay on the fifth floor and the men are on the sixth and seventh. There are small lounges on each floor, but the eighth is where you'll find the main social areas. We have a game lounge and a pool, too. Lastly there is a garden on the roof. Would you like to go get lost amongst the trees?" He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. It was your turn to laugh.
"I'll pass, thanks."
"Oh well. It is your loss," France said as you arrived at your door. He shifted the boxes he was holding so he could take out the key the receptionist had given him. Just as he unlocked the door, the small top box slid off his pile. You just managed to catch it by pinning it in between your shoulder and his. "Oh, pardon! Do you have it?" the Frenchman asked.
"Barely. I can't grab it though. We'll have to crab-walk in."
The two of you shuffled slowly through the door, careful to keep the box balanced until you could set the boxes in your hands down on a table.
"Where would you like your bags, [Name]?" France asked once the wayward box was secure.
"Just drop them here. I'll probably take a nap before I get started unpacking," you said as you glanced around the empty apartment.
"That sounds wonderful," France said as he sidled up next to you. "Would you like me to join you?"
"No thanks. But, I do want to thank you for helping me bring in my stuff. Can I cook you dinner later?"
"Non, you may not."
You frowned. "And why not? I'll have you know that I'm a pretty good cook."
The French man just shook his head. "It is your first day here, ma fleur. I will cook for you tonight, you just need to relax and adjust to the new environment."
"Well," you began, "I don't like the idea of making you care for me. Perhaps we can compromise."
"I would serve you with pleasure, but I will listen to your compromise."
"I'll help you make dinner." France started to make a face, so you spoke again quickly, "or I could do the dishes. I really want to help."
"Alright, I give in. You take a rest, and I will come get you when it is time to start, oui?"
You smiled widely. "Oui."