AUTHORS NOTE: This is an A/U. The radical (gasp!) modern kind. This story is a little (a lot) soapy and campy and chock full of all the tropes I secretly love to read about and never want to admit to in public. It's low on angst and high on happy-if you are looking to wallow in depression, missed opportunities, switched suitcases of misunderstandings, and broken hearts-keep clicking, honey!
A modern retooling of TSOM that I hope y'all will be able to enjoy for the fluff that it is-because heaven knows I adore the fluff. It's long but it's been dancing in my head from almost the first story I ever wrote for this fandom. I probably (definitely) needed an editor, but I don't apologize for any of it.
It's rated the dreaded and impossible to define 'T' for the first bits because there is bad language. I will have to change the rating in later chapters and, believe me, I plan to earn the rating upgrade. You can easily skip those parts if you wish-but seriously they are the best bits so why would you?
Hope you guys like it! *Fingers crossed*
Start At the Very Beginning
"Oh, please don't stick like this today!"
Maria Rainer was running late. Again. Wiggling the key in the ancient lock of her apartment door one last time and giving it a kick for good measure she finally freed her key ring and she blew her slightly sweaty bangs out of her face. She dropped the keys into her purse and started for the stairs, digging into her back pocket for her phone. Shaking her head at the screen she decided that she would have to show up with edible bribery for Miss Berthe. The woman was a rock but she could be chipped away at with chocolate. Maria took the stairs at breakneck speed and hit the sweltering heat of the city block with a trot. Three blocks and one refusal to see what a charming gentleman in a trench coat was offering to sell her and she was pushing her way into her favorite bakery and cheering at bit at the jangle of bells on the door.
"Hmmm, could I have the one closest to the back please? One more to left. With all the sprinkles? Perfect," Maria gave the young man behind the counter a dazzling smile before jumping a bit when she realized her purse was ringing. He flushed with pleasure at her smile and fumbled with the tongs holding the cupcake in his hand as he wiggled the bright pink confection into the box.
"Can I get you something else? Anything at all?" his desperately hopeful tone earned him a snicker from the older man frosting a cake behind him.
"Oh, um," Maria continued to search the bottom of her bag for her buzzing mobile, "No, thank you," she peered at the young man's name tag. "Just the cupcake, Logan. You're new?"
Logan flushed again, pleased she'd noticed him as new, "Not really. I've been in and out of this shop since I could see over the counters. But mostly in the back. Fhada is my grandfather," he explained and went to ring her order up. Charging her less than a regular customer for her beautiful eyes alone. He'd have given it to her for free and offered to unwrap the paper and feed it to her if he hadn't felt his grandfather's eyes taking in everything behind him.
Oblivious to all of the attention the poor young man behind the counter was trying to lavish on her, Maria finally located her phone with a sigh. She had missed the call from the agency she had been waiting for. Damn.
Grabbing a handful of crumpled bills from the bottom of her bag she paid Logan and told him to keep the change, grabbing the pastry box and crushing the top half in her hand.
She missed the look of disappointment on poor cupcake lad's face as she smeared the fresh ink where a besotted Logan had tried to write his name and number.
"See you next time, amira," called the old man behind the counter who turned long enough to shoot a smirk at the young man whose eyes were firmly on Maria's rear end.
"Bye Fhada!" Maria tossed over her shoulder as she pushed the door to bakery with a jingle and stepped out into the sun, muttering to herself about being late and wondering if the back window was open wide enough for her to crawl in and avoid Berthe.
Fhada shook his head and grabbed the towel off the counter, using it to lovingly smack his grandson in the head as he passed.
"Eye's on those knafeh or I'll be calling your mama to let her know how you act in my shop. Ogling the pretty girls who are too old for you. You're a college man now. Act like it."
"She's a college girl."
"Getting her Masters. You are going to be a freshman. With an undecided major. What is this undecided? In my day-" he trailed off as he ducked into the back only to emerge a minute later still speaking, oblivious to the fact that Logan had missed most of the lecture.
"No pretty girls will date a man who says he is undecided. Be decided! Your cousin is already in law school, we need a doctor! You're good at science! If you were a doctor I could show you this rash that-"
"Sorry Jidd, you're right. No more undecided," Logan interrupted with a shudder before he had to go into the back and look at the rash himself.
"Eh, you have good taste, no?" Fhada winked at him.
"Nacum. Excellent taste," Logan grinned back.
Rose Parker, administrative assistant to none other than Mr. Von Trapp, CEO of Aigen Shipping and current holder of Sexiest Smile in the City for the second year running, sat behind her enormous desk and studied her nails behind the pancake stacked pile of envelopes and boxes that Fedex had just dropped off.
She sighed, heavily.
Opening that many boxes was going to ruin her new manicure and undoubtedly the contents was going to take more than a few hours to organize and disseminate to the right departments. But Mr. von Trapp paid her to open them. As far she could tell that was all he employed her for, well, that and managing the hordes of people who all wanted a piece of his attention. Nevermind her Ivy League education, she was the Chief Box Opener for the CEO of Aigen Shipping. Just as Rose reached for the first of the urgent envelopes her phone rang. She glanced down at the number and recognized Talia from eighty eight floors down calling her. She huffed and glanced at the time, knowing a call this early was trouble and not a friendly 'how was your weekend' chat.
"Mr. Von Trapp's office. Rose Parker speaking."
"Rosie, it's me," Talia whispered into the phone urgently. "Pull up your feed from down here. He's just pulled up and there was a gang of press waiting down the block to ambush him. Grumpy Austrian headed your way in about three minutes. Mmm, hold up. Maybe sooner seeing how he is practically plowing through the crowd."
Rose spun in her chair and tapped at her keyboard to bring up the security feed for the front entrance of the building.
"Isn't Gabe down there?," Rose grumbled into the phone, making a mental note to ask their burliest doorman to always be on hand on mornings The Captain was coming in, even as she continued clearing her desk off in a rush and stacking the boxes neatly behind her.
"Yes, and he's doing his best, but I sent security out there to extract him from the horde. He's almost made it to the door. Ooh, Gabe got a nice body check in on that schlub from the Times who wrote that ridiculous piece on the Captain last month. Hah, serves you right!"
Rose rubbed her forehead, already feeling the headache begin to form, "I keep telling Mr. Detweiler he needs permanent security detail, permanent I said, to and from the office!" she complained, her breath huffing as she manipulated a few of the larger boxes underneath her side table. "But no, the Captain won't hear of it," she finished with a bit of a sneer.
"Oh! Looks like he stopped to give someone a glare, yup, personal space buddy-don't get all up in the Captain's face. Ouch! I'm going to send you a copy of this feed, maybe Al can set it to music like the last one, its hilarious. The glare alone has taken a few layers of skin off this guy. That's right beta male, back on down..."
"Wonderful," Rose huffed, shoving a few of her red locks back out of her face, "I'm certain they got a great picture of that famous scowl. Would it kill him to smile once in awhile? My mother thinks I am working for Dracula as it is, only because I haven't seen the sunlight since I started here! I have to go, Tal. Gotta place an emergency call to PR and see if we can stop this from hitting every major news outlet. Thanks for the warning T," she mumbled.
"My pleasure. And, you know, it really is his own fault, if he would take an interview once in awhile he wouldn't be such a mystery. And he's wearing the blue suit, darling. You know, the one. Mmm mmm mm...makes me want to ruffle up that Lego perfect hair of his. Damn! No man should be that handsome. Does he smell as good as he looks?"
"Better. Gotta go!" Rose rang off, sending a quick intraoffice message to the rest of the staff on her floor with a warning that the Captain, as he was not-so-affectionately known by his staff, was on his way up, and it had been a rough start to the morning. She could practically hear people running for their swivel chairs...
Swinging around in her seat she grabbed a hair tie off her desk and swept her painstakingly flat ironed hair into an efficient ponytail. What difference did it make what she looked like as long as the boxes got opened? Rosie gave the elevator a wary look, waiting for the polite tinkle of bells announcing her day had officially started, ready or not.
Georg von Trapp stepped off the elevator before the doors had managed to open fully, the expression on his face already thunderous as he gave a curt nod to the office staff he passed.
"Morning, sir," Rose said, standing to follow the Captain as he made his way across the expansive office.
"Mr. Detweiler is waiting for you in your office and then you have a meeting in conference room B at nine forty-five with the Quartz Group. You have a lunch with Neal Blankenship and," she glanced down at her iPad as it alerted her with a soft ping to a schedule change, "Also, Mr. Detweiler scheduled a meeting with your new security group for tomorrow at 1:30 and he wants to discuss it with the rest of the team beforehand, thank God," she muttered, "and Nonnberg needs twenty minutes this afternoon for you to meet and approve their next representative. The rest of the afternoon you have cleared for parent teacher conferences. Mr. Dettweiler also asked me to make sure you took your checkbook," Rose paused and flipped open the case on her iPad and handed him a leather bound check folio, "to the conferences after Kurt's little experiment in chemistry."
Georg rolled his eyes at the mention of the conferences.
"Let Johann know I'll need him for the Quartz Group, give him ten minutes notice and then call him two minutes before or he'll be late, and call back Nonnberg, tell them no."
"No to twenty minutes today or just no period?"
"No, full stop. Just tell them to send someone directly to the house, to day if possible. They could hardly be worse than the last one. Thank you, Parks," he gave her a nod and strode off toward his office.
"Parker, sir, Rose Parker," she mumbled under her breath.
Halfway to his door Rose watched him stop and study the screen of one of monitors the security feed of the front entrance still up and streaming a live view of the front entrance.
Georg turned back to Rose and pinned her with an irritated look before half barking in crisp German, "Have that rabble out front at least removed to the side of the building, the doors are being blocked and we aren't the only people trying to work today."
"Natürlich, Sir. Rechts entfernt," Rose replied smoothly.
"Dank," he said, head already bent over his phone as he strode off towards the massive wooden doors to the left without a glance back.
"I've been here two months now," Rose sighed and looked over at Mrs. Louvelle, Max Detweiler's assistant, who spent most of her day making dinner reservations, ordering flowers, and fielding phone calls from girlfriends past, with a pleading glance.
"Darling," she looked up from filing her nails, "You have lasted that long, which is more than I can say for most of the assistants he has had over the last few years. And you speak German brilliantly. I don't think he even notices that you respond in whichever language he barks toward you."
"He should. I spent the last month using my running time learning Italian just so I could keep tabs on him when he's swearing up a blue streak."
"Chin up, darling, maybe he will learn your name… in the meantime you get to put this on your resume someday."
"True. And the view isn't bad either," she laughed, picking her phone up to call down to the head of security to disperse the press.
"No it isn't," Mrs. Louvelle gave a chuckle. "Now let's get these reports finished so we can have a long lunch at Mr. Max's expense. He owes me for disappearing into a cloud of perfume and long legs and forgetting yesterday was Monday. Again."
Georg walked into his office to find the head of his legal department sitting in his chair, facing the window with his feet propped up on an antique diving apparatus and murmuring into his phone. Whispering sweet nothings to his latest conquest no doubt.
Georg gave an eye roll but felt a smile tug his lips just the same. Max never changed, oozing charm and a devil may care attitude, concealing a ruthless intelligence underneath. People took Max for the rogue he presented to the world, underestimating him until it was often too late.
"Well, darling, if you thought that was good perhaps we ought to…"
Georg tuned out the familiar patter, in which Max called everyone 'darling' in case he couldn't remember their name. He flicked open the paper in his hands with a practised ease, and took a seat in one of the beautifully designed and horribly uncomfortable leather chairs he kept for "special guests" and appointments he didn't want to run too long.
The first time he sat in one he'd looked at Max and declared them perfect.
"More than twenty minutes in these seats and their arses will be so numb they will be begging to leave." Max had laughed at that while shifting around himself in an effort to try and find a comfortable angle.
"Yes, well assuming your charming personality doesn't do the job faster," Max had replied with a little smirk.
These chairs really are horrible, Georg thought as he shifted a bit to maximize the blood flow he was certain was being cut off to his bum and waited for Max to notice his presence.
"Darling, you know I like to watch you do yoga. Really? So flexible. Well now you have my undivided attention, do tell, slowly, with details..." Max drawled out, chuckling to the person on the other end of the line.
Georg heard snippets of Max's conversation while he tried to concentrate on the latest market numbers, he flicked the pages of the paper again in frustration, loudly.
Max turned and gave him a slow smile, placing his hand over the receiver he mouthed, "One minute," at Georg and turned back around.
"Yes, of course you naughty girl. See you at eight. Auf wiedersehen darling." Spinning in the chair and planting his elbows on the desk he gave Georg another grin, "What can I do for you this morning?"
Georg set his paper down on the chair opposite him and gave a sigh, "Where the devil were you yesterday? No one could find you."
"Yesterday?" Max looked confused and held a hand up as though counting off the days on his fingers. "I was home. It was Sunday."
"Today is Tuesday, Max," Georg rolled his eyes. "Which makes yesterday?"
"Ah, Monday. No one regrets missing a Monday. Well, that and Lila has the ability to make one forget a little insignificant thing like the passage of time. She can do this marvelous little trick with her…"
Georg held up his palm as if to fend off a slap, "Spare me."
"You're no fun," Max pretended to pout. "What can I do for you this fine morning?"
"For starters, you can get your arse out of my chair and explain this, well, I'm not sure what to call it..." he trailed off, pecking at the screen of his phone for a moment before waving it in front of Max. "This need we, or rather I, have for a security specialist? What the hell is that?"
"Not a what, a whom," Max said smoothly swiping his coffee cup and half eaten croissant from the desk and standing up to switch chairs. "And you need one. Desperately. Or did you already forget this morning when you were mobbed outside? I saw the feed," Max huffed in frustration and took a huge bite out of his danish and chewed.
Georg scoffed, "It's just that speculation piece in the Times about the possible merger-"
Max swallowed the enormous bite, "I prefer hostile takeover," he grinned, running his fingers down his mustache like a cliched villain.
"Acquisition then, of Franz Limited."
"As much as I would like to take all the credit, it's not just my brilliantly engineered hostile takeover Georg and you know it."
Georg shook his head, "I haven't needed one in the past."
"No, but you weren't as visible before, in a country where they enjoy visibility. Now you've officially moved your office here. You weren't a well known and reclusive billionaire before your decided to expand into the American market two years ago. Curiosity is wonderful incentive. They are mobbing you in restaurants, clamoring at the doors every morning-especially since the news broke about your proposed takeover of Franz Transportation. They are following you into the bathrooms for God's sake! I can't even have a piss in peace thanks to you! I'm afraid someone will sidle up mid pee and ask me a question about who does your hair. Makes me very uncomfortable!" Max threw up his hands in exasperation.
"Now Max, size doesn't matter…"
Max snorted, "Yes it does, just ask-"
"Give it a few more weeks, they will be on to the next story."
"It hasn't gone away Georg. It has gotten worse over the last eighteen months."
"I don't know why they are so interested, there really is no story here."
"Which is why they fill in the blanks with wild speculations and rampant rumors every time you do step out."
"So you're saying I need a nanny for me as well as for the children."
Max ran a hand through his hair, "Not a nanny. A qualified security individual, or team of individuals, who can assess situations and extract you if necessary. And you know I love them dearly but your children need a drill sargeant, you're wasting your time on these sweet nannies. They are running them off at an unprecedented rate."
Georg gave him a long look. "I just don't see the need. I am hardly ever out as it is."
"Yes, I know. And I intend to address your plans for building a monastery of one in a minute. This isn't safe and you know it, Georg," Max blew out a breath as Georg seemingly waved him off topic with a dismissive hand.
Shaking his head he played his last card, "What if you are out with the children, mm? What then? All those people pressing in on you?"
Georg's expression turned black and he growled a bit, "No one touches my children. No one."
"Precisely. Which is why we have to at least hear them out. The security people I mean. For them," Max gestured to a framed picture of the children on Georg's desk, "if you won't do it for you."
Max felt his shoulders visibly sag with relief that Georg had at least agreed to listen to the security plan. His eyes narrowed as he studied his best friend over the rim of his coffee cup.
"Are you sleeping at all, Cap?" Max asked, peering at his friend closely and noticing the subtle lines of exhaustion and faint smudges of dark under his eyes. "You look exhausted. And borderline too thin."
Georg turned to look at his reflection in the window behind him, clearly judging himself in the reflection. "Do I look that bad? I know I'm forty two but," he puffed out his chest a bit and smoothed a hand down his still flat stomach, "Do I truly need a nanny to take care of me?"
"Stop saying that, they aren't nannies. Think of them as a formidable ally. Someone for whom English is more than just a third language learned out of necessity, need I remind you of the incident when you called-"
"No," Georg cleared his throat. "You promised never to speak of it again, remember?"
"I rest my case then. You need someone who can control the press and help ease your way. It will keep the Board happy and shut those assholes at Franz up for more than a minute so I can piss in peace! Hopefully. Your physical image doesn't concern me," Max remarked, shaking his head at Georg.
"In fact," Max mumbled more to himself than Georg, "look what they just sent over, next week's issue. Your one of the top ten Bachelor Business Tycoons… what do you think of that?" Max asked, showing Georg the picture before turning back to study it himself.
Max held the picture up and turned it right and left in the light, "It's a very good picture, might date you myself if I was into grumpy workaholics."
Georg glanced over at it and rolled his eyes, turning back to the window.
"Forty two or not they are still tripping over their stilettos to get close to you, sad fact is you won't let any of them catch you."
"I did once," Georg said softly, more to himself than Max.
"I know," Max replied with a sigh. "I miss her too. My sister was a rare woman. I won't tease, but part of what makes you so much fun for them is your single status. Until recently you rarely escorted the same lady twice and they do love a mystery."
"One I thought they might solve for themselves when Elsa and I started dating."
Max scoffed, "Dating? Is that what you call three dinners, two of which I know you spent a majority of the time on the damn phone because you were talking to me," Max admonished. "Besides, no ring," Max said wiggling his ring finger, "and even then they aren't likely to believe it."
"Try. For me."
"Try what? The security personnel, the dating or the drill sergeant for the children?"
Max gave him a grin, "All three? For me? And later on, after I have wrapped the Quartz Group in a contract so tight they won't be able to breath in the elevator on their way out you'll can call us even, yes?"
Up next we catch up with Maria!