(Author's Note: Legal Disclaimer: All names, places, trademarks and copywrites belong to their respective owners; I have not intended to defame them in anyway, nor claim to own any of the advertisements in this fan fiction. This is for entertainment purposes only.)
Chapter 10: Money, Women and Cars
After the near mental shutdown that Mike had gone through, he was surprised he even made it through the previous day. The shock didn't set in until that evening when he cried himself to sleep. "A grown man: crying himself to sleep. That is the power of the woman." He thought to himself the next morning. It was a sunny day none-the-less and Mike was thankful for it. With the new day came a need to clear his mind and so he walked to work; a mighty 37 blocks north, and 7 east. He was exhausted but a bit chipper when he got into his office. Ken greeted him with a handshake and then sat back down in his chair. Mike followed suit and began writing ideas down for a few accounts Peggy had asked him about the previous day. Joan wasn't at work. She had obviously taken Rogers' advice: Which played out well for him. No need to avoid her: yet. There was a knock on the shared office and Pete Campbell walked in.
"Mike, Ken, glad to see you're here. Don wants you two in his office so we can have a talk, it's about Viacynth Chemical. When you're ready of course." Pete smiled and shut the door on his way out.
"He probably wants us in on the account. These guys are fairly big, they own a few pharmaceutical factories around the west and east coast; could be big billings. I did my research." Ken smiled. Mike smiled back but didn't add anything. They both stood and made their way to Donald Draper's office. Ken was the first to go inside and Mike followed him. Roger and Pete were waiting.
"Gentlemen." Don stood up. "Take a seat" he moved over to a chair facing the sofa. "Viacynth Chemical has been looking for a new face. They want fresh ideas, something that isn't old school, but more a forward thinking company: looking for their customer's future. They sell anything from cough drops to antibiotics, and morphine for our troops in Vietnam. They aren't small time anymore and do have much to offer. Pete, you're probably wondering about the conflict of interest between Viacynth and Vick's: at the moment, there is none. Viacynth only wants us to take hold of their research and development sectors, to start at least. They want us to demonstrate our abilities and show the public that they mean to be in their future for generations to come. A company not just about today, but tomorrow. I think that's what we need to focus on. Ken, you're in on this because you will be handling this account once we have it. I know that means more effort, but now that we have more dollars to spend, I'm sending you a few more in each paycheck." Don winked as a broad smile crossed Ken's face. "As for you Mike, you're quick decision making is unprecedented and that's why I think you'd be a good match to work with this team." The room went silent.
"Well let's get to it!" Pete seemed joyed in the task of leading. "Today they are on a plane coming to New York and they will be stopping in at five ad agencies in 3 days. I specifically booked them in on the last day midday, so we can absolutely make an impression…"
"I'm not feeling well. Could I go?" Don looked over, confused at Mike's outburst. "Just brief me afterwards."
"Heat gettin' to ya kid?" Roger smirked.
"Nope, old war cronies are." Roger's smile disappeared and his brow rose in anger. He laughed it off, and replied.
"While you were shittin' your diapers, I was protecting your right to do so."
"And while you were saucin' back bourbon with ladies half your age in 51', I was protecting your right to do so. We all saw our friends die, granddad." Roger looked taken aback by the outburst, he butted his cigarette slowly and leaned back.
"Kids got fight then." He looked straight at Mike for the first time.
"Today just isn't my day. I'll come in later to talk about this." Mike stood from his seat and headed out the door.
"We'll talk tomorrow then." Don looked a bit miffed as the door shut behind Mike.
"What's got into him." Pete was annoyed. Roger leaned back on the couch and took a sip of alcohol, but said nothing. Don just shook his head and said "Something I guess." He looked at Roger, almost sensing what he had done.
Michael left the meeting in anger. When he finally made his way down the hall to his office he neglected to turn the handle far enough and he smashed his head into the door. He cursed as the secretaries giggled.
"Back to work!" he screamed. They immediately looked down at their typewriters and continued to write. Mike slammed the door so hard the walls shook and a picture tumbled down. He went and sat down in his chair and buzzed his secretary.
"Janice, could you please grab me an ice pack. It's Michael by the way."
"Of course." She came in within the minute holding a bag of ice.
"Thank you." He pressed it to his head gently and began writing in the silence of the room as Janice left. The day was slowly going to hell. It wasn't long before Lane came in.
"Michael? What happened…?" he questioned lightly.
"I ran into the door. What can I do you for?" Mike's eyes never left his work
"Well I have a check… For you." He seemed unsure of how to approach things. "Don, Joan and I wrote it up, as a thank you for the accounts you've helped us grab. We see your talent and we'd like to keep it. Anyway," He threw it onto the desk. "Use it with discression." He smiled as Mike looked and picked it up.
"Thank you Lane." he murmured. Lane turned and walked out of the room. Mike stopped writing and grabbed a letter opener, ripping the seal. He pulled it out: it had more zeros than he ever witnessed.
"Twenty five hundred dollars!" he gasped in excitement. Mike jumped up from his chair. He covered his mouth to contain himself and then sat down once again, leaning back. Behind the check was a small letter. He pulled it from the envelope and began reading it. "No words could express our gratitude for the work you have done here. Especially me. We'll talk soon, -J" Mike lost a bit of the zeal he had when he received the check but he was still joyed. Ken walked in and closed the door behind him.
"What are you all chipper about suddenly?" he made his way to his side chair and put his coat and things on the table.
"The hard work paid off my friend!" he whipped the check over to Ken who caught it midair. He glanced down.
"Ho, ly, shit Mikey." Ken began laughing, "Well I know who's buying the next round!"
"I think it's time I invest in a vehicle. I thought cabs were the way to go but you just look like a bum." They both laughed. Mike leaned down to his intercom. "Janice dear, hold my calls for the rest of the day, Ken and I are going shopping."
Peggy Olson was sitting in her office listening in on the Viacynth meeting. She longed to be part of that group. Lately, work was a slow burn for her. She had been working tirelessly and felt unappreciated. Stan was lying down on the couch in her office with his feet propped up. He was reading another magazine in silence.
"Stan, what makes women so different from men?" her question was earnest it seemed.
"Go stand in the mirror naked and you tell me." She could see him smiling under the magazine.
"I mean, what makes you on the competitive edge more than us? Why aren't we all bosses and you secretaries?" He closed the magazine, sensing a real conversation breaking through. Stan sat up on the couch and began,
"It's always been that way. We were just born into it, and that's how we work. It takes centuries for anything big to happen. I doubt much will change for a long time, and if it does. It will be unfair."
"Why say that?" Peggy seemed annoyed.
"Because men are supposed to be gentlemen, right?"
"Agreed. What does that have…"
"But in business we need to be aggressive, right?"
"Put it together. How can I be aggressively trying to win your business while kissing your ass in kindness? How can I, as a boss, give you all the responsibilities of a man's job, pay you the same, If I have to extended some womanly courtesy to you?" Stan stood up and began talking in a terribly sarcastic tone.
"Oh Stan, could you go lift 500 pounds of boxes for me. Peggy, you sit there and watch, but I'll pay you both the same." His face went from a grin to a flat line. "That's why."
"Okay, I understand your point. But in there? In the conference room when it counts."
"Why don't you go ask Freud? He can probably tell you. Now let's get some actual work done here. All this philosophy is hurting my brain."
"Fine, It was just a question." She pushed some books aside on her desk and began writing down slogan ideas. Pete barged through the door after she had jotted down a few.
"Peggy, Stan. I need some help with idea for Viacynth. Think market consumer, and what a company means to them. I'd really appreciate the help." He smiled and left the room.
"Why does he always assume that you'll do things for him?" Stan pushed curiously.
"I guess it's because I always do."
"Wouldn't kill you to stand up to him once and a… hey!" His face held a sly smile
"You and Petey over there had a little thing back in the day, didn't you?"
"How do you even put these things together!" Peggy stood up and shut the door. "It was a few years back…
Joan Harris had taken the day off to be with her husband. Well that was a lie. Joan Harris had taken the day off to avoid Michael at work. Not only because she knew how hard it was for him, but because she knew how hard it was on her. She did call in though, and tell Lane to give him an advance on his bonus and received some solace when she heard Mike and Ken had gone out shopping.
Greg had lounged about the house most of the day with Joan. There wasn't much interesting on the television, but he did find happiness in telling his wife about stories from the front, and about the new friends he had made in the army. She seemed interested to hear about him but was also a little withdrawn. Joan was sitting on the couch folding clothes when Greg approached her,
"Joannie what's wrong? You seem a little shaken, ever since I got home." She looked up from her folding.
"It's nothing Greg. I'm just a little surprised still. I was expecting to be alone… at least for a while longer. The sheets got colder and colder at night, and I got used to no one being here except me. When no one is here, why talk much?" She uncrossed her legs and stood up from folding. "I am glad you're back though love." She kissed him on the cheek and walked over to the laundry area to grab more clothing. Greg watched her hips sway and he smiled.
"You haven't changed a bit since I left." He went up behind her and hugged her tightly.
"I missed you." He whispered.
"I missed you too." She said aloud, but with little conviction in her tone. Greg spun her around and began kissing her. He was a good kisser, she would give him that, and his hand placement was impeccable but it was just, different. It wasn't the same as it was before. Joan didn't feel into the kissing. She was thinking too much in her head and not concentrating at all. He was a little too forceful at times and after a while he began rolling up her shirt.
"Greg… not right now…" but he continued clawing at the shirt and taking it off. "Greg stop." She continued kissing him but grabbed his hands and pushed them away. "Come on Joannie." He whispered gently. He persisted and changed to her pants. Joan tightened the buckle.
"Look Greg, not right now. I'm just not… in the mood. Things at work are stressing me into oblivion and, I just can't be like that for you." He pulled away and let go, with a heavy look of dissatisfaction.
"Hunny, it's been ages…"
"I know, I know. And I'm sorry but I'm sure we can soon. Just give me time to rectify my work and then I'll be alright."
"Alright." His frown turned to a smile and he kissed her once again. Joan smiled back and went to grab her coat. "Where are you going in such a hurry?"
"Well I thought I'd just get some air. I've been doing chores all day, and I think I need a break. Care to join me?" Again she was lying. Joan couldn't handle being intimate with Greg, at least not with what was going on in her head.
"I'd love to but I have paper work. You go ahead."
"Suit yourself." Joan threw on a light coat and sunglasses, and with that she stepped outside.
The street was very crowded at 7 pm: everyone was getting to their late dinner dates or early bar excursions. Joan was 11 blocks from work when she spotted a particularly beautiful car. The white sheen of the paint glinted in the afternoon light and the blue LeMans stripes covered the angular lines like smooth vermouth in a tall glass. The chromed lettering "MUSTANG" stood out on the sides of the car, along with "GT 350" in the blue side stripes. The purr off the engine was amplified by the specialized exhaust and ricocheted off the buildings around the audience who had the privilege of hearing it. A few wandering eyes were gazing at it intently. The car slowly pulled up on the opposite side of the road waiting at the light. Two men were in the cockpit of the rocket ship on wheels. Both were wearing sunglasses and had the windows rolled down. There Goes My Baby by The Drifters was blasting through the speakers and both the men had large grins across their faces. The driver looked out the window and saw Joan. His grin stopped and he waved her over. She stood in a stupor waiting for the sunlight to leave her eyes. It took a moment but she could make out the blond haired man with Wayfarer's resting on his nose. He had an almost imperceptible grin on his face but she could see it. A little grin rose to her face. Her sadness and anger melted with the radiance of the sun and seeing him.
Mike had spent the entire day finding reasons to hate Joan. He could find none. There was nothing to stop him from liking her. His dad had always told him the saying "Buck up, or shut up." He didn't feel like this was a fight he should roll over and die about. Sitting at that light, in the setting sunlight, on that street in New York, in his brand new Shelby Mustang, he realized this. Joan made her way across the street when everyone began walking. She walked up to the window of the Mustang and leaned in.
"Good evening boys." Joan smiled. Ken cocked his head over and said,
"Evening ma'am. Can we expect the pleasure of your graceful company in this flawless motor vehicle?"
"I believe you can." She walked around to the passenger side and opened Ken's door. Mike switched the radio channel and Take Good Care Of My Baby came blaring on. Ken got out and folded back the seat for Joan to get in.
"Thank you, for volunteering to sit in the back Mr. Cosgrove." Joan had a sarcastic smile on her lips. Ken scoffed but laughed afterward, squeezing himself in. "I always get pinched." Mike shook his head and Joan stepped into the car. The light began changing. He readied the gear lever into first. The light quickly clicked to green: Mike dropped the clutch and beared down on the gas. The rocket took off in a screech of burning rubber and blue smoke.