What can I say? I guess not having fresh material stunts the story bunnies. Frankly, I started this one months ago. The ads have inspired me.
The papers were tossed onto his desk were only interesting to Arthur in that they blocked his current work. He glanced once and then pushed them aside, glancing up at his wife in annoyance. After being married and working together as long as he had, he knew from that look, there was an agenda. He also knew that ignoring Joan's agenda was done at his own peril. He looked again.
"Requests for vacation time? Why are you showing those to me? That's administrative for your own department. Grant or deny them as you will."
Arthur tried to go back to work, hoping his tone had sounded confident in her abilities instead of dismissive. The papers were nudged back under his nose. Clearly Joan's agenda was to be followed first.
"Look at the names, Arthur."
"Fine, Auggie. The man never takes time off. This is worth noting. How did you get him to agree?"
"Look at the other name."
"Annie Walker. Well that's another one who never takes off. She has been going full tilt for too long. It's what caused some of the problems we have had. Having her take a break may be a good idea."
He handed back the requests, sure he had said the right thing. When she pushed them back at him with that look on her face, Arthur knew he hadn't quite gotten it right.
"Look at the dates. Look at this."
"Joan. I am swamped. What is it I am supposed to be seeing?"
"What you are supposed be seeing is that Auggie Anderson and Annie Walker are both requesting time off. At the same time. And their requests hit my desk together. Arthur, do I need to draw you an actual picture here?"
"Auggie and Annie?"
"Yes, Auggie and Annie."
Arthur took the two forms and looked at them carefully. Tossing them onto the desk he leaned back and looked at his wife. His considerable eyebrows finally rose.
"Well, I guess we aren't really surprised by this turn of events are we? But is it a good surprise or not?"
Anyone else watching Joan for a reaction wouldn't know what she was thinking. But he was not just anyone. Years of observation had taught him that behind her bland expression she was happy but concerned.
"What's worrying you here? You like Annie. I know you do. And Auggie is impossible to dislike. What's the issue?"
"Frankly, the potential blowback. You know what could happen here. Watch them together. Watch him. He's in deep this time. If this doesn't go well, I don't know we would get him back. I hope she's ready for this, because he is all in."
She had started to pace, a sure sign of her agitation. Arthur was briefly distracted by watching her walk. He was a man and she was gorgeous and his wife. No man could be blamed for enjoying the view. But she was a woman who prided herself on control. Her visible agitation was unusual. And now that he had heard her concerns, he was tempted to pace himself.
"This is your division. I will support whatever course of action you take."
"Action, Arthur? There is no course of action. Should we separate them? Because a Russian jail that was impossible to break out of didn't separate them. This is Auggie. He doesn't deal with obstacles. The man is a bulldozer when it comes to them. I shudder to think what would happen if we even tried."
"Sure. And I should say what? That we don't condone relationships within the Agency? We do. That I don't think they belong together? Frankly I was wondering what took them both so long. Should I have the 'Don't break his heart' talk with her? Seriously?"
"OK Joan, what? I don't know what you want here?"
"Honestly there is nothing you can really do. Short of making one of them disappear, but they are both such pitbulls, I don't see that working."
She stopped pacing in front of her desk. Heaving a sigh, she retrieved the papers she had tossed on his desk. She headed toward the door and stopped just before it. Athur had put down his head, getting back to work, secretly relieved nothing more than an ear had been needed on this. It would have been a mess to keep those two apart. His relief was short lived.
Just before the door she stopped and looked back at him. The discussion of the this potential power couple reminded her that she started this relationship in a similar manner. She smiled softly watching him work for a moment. Even years later, he could still make her heart race and knees weaken.
Her soft tone took him off guard. She had a little smile on her face. He flashed an even larger one back at her. He knew that smile.
"What could I honestly say? It's how we started, after all."
Our Lips Are Sealed Can you hear them
By the Go-Gos
(Jane Wiedlin/T. Hall)
They talk about us
Can you hear them
I never know if I get Joan and Arthur right. I feel like they are hard to write. They have such a complicated multi-level relationship.