(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 14: Small Differences
The following day, Lane gathered together everyone in the main room for a company meeting. He announced that their new priority was to aid Governor Rockefeller in his upcoming election campaign. In order to ensure everyone was on board, he offered a 25 cent an hour raise to any employee who voted for Rockefeller, and helped out with his campaign. Whether it be volunteering at big name fundraisers, or as small as running bake sales for their children's school in Rockefeller's name. The idea seemed to stick and many people offered up their houses to gather parties for socialites, and some even donated upfront.
When the news reached Ken Cosgrove's ears, he smiled and thought of a better idea. When Lane had dismounted the chair he was standing on to make the announcement, Ken approached him.
"Kenneth, how are you?"
"I'm alright, but I'll be better if you could veto an idea I have."
It was then that Ken sprawled out his idea to throw a big bash at the office: order in catering, clear out the main areas and invite many close business associates to gather together, primarily to invite Governor Rockefeller to make a speech.
"I think it's a truly, splendid idea. Perhaps confront Don on it though, wouldn't want to catch him off guard." Lane smiled.
In a matter-of-fact way, Lane replied. "Roger, well, he'll never say no to a party."
Friday, July 9th, 1965. 10:12 p.m.
"Honestly, I have to thank these men and women here." Rockefeller said with a smile. "They have been so good to me. What is a politician without his people?" He chuckled and so did many in the fully filled office floor. "Elections are coming up soon, and I pray that all of you make the right decisions this year. Our partnership has not been for a long while yet, but I'm sure it will last until the end of my career. To Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The best damn agency, in all of New York." Everyone in the room raised their glasses in cheers, and drank heartily. Don walked up and shook Nelly's outstretched hand.
"To the election. May it bring, fruitful results." He smiled his usual fake smile. Once again, the room resounded with clinking glasses and laughter.
Joan was dressed in a gorgeous deep red dress with matching red gloves. They complimented her hair and perfectly layered make-up without compare. All eyes were on her, and she knew it. Just as Joan knew this, so did Greg. He was dressed in a white dinner jacket, and looked dapper that evening. He clung close to his wife and honed off any impending poachers.
Ken looked well-dressed too, sporting a new leisure coat and slacks. Cynthia was wrapped around his arm as Joan and Greg approached them.
"Woaw Joan, aren't you a marvel tonight." Ken smiled.
"Why thank you Mr. Cosgrove. Of course your wife beats me in looks." Joan turned her attention to Cynthia, who blushed and squeaked out.
"Why thank you Joan."
"She does look very pretty." Greg added. Ken looked over to Greg and began,
"I don't believe we've met. Ken Cosgrove."
"Greg Harris. You know my missus."
"Indeed I do!"
Michael Falco pushed the office doors open and they swung with vigor in his wake. He was ready to show off. With a new silver suit from Henry Signer and a week's paycheck down, he waltzed in, Wayfarers on and all. The secretaries turned to watch him as he flashed his teeth. Rave On by Buddy Holly was playing in the background and Mike was getting the rave looks he was hoping for. He walked up to the group of friends congregating in the hall.
"Evening ladies and gents." He flung his arm over Ken's back who did the same.
"Aren't you looking like a fresh million." Ken laughed.
"I thought I did." Mike replied. Joan gave him a cocky grin and said,
"Must have bought that suit today Mike: Haven't seen you wearing it before."
"I thought it was time I started spending like they do on Madison Ave. I think it worked out well."
"It does, I like the colour." She grinned further at him and he returned it. There was a moment of silence, broken by Cynthia speaking up.
"I'm going to get a drink, I'll be back honey." She walked slowly away.
"So Greg, when are you leaving again? Joan tells me this return is only temporary." Ken inquired.
"Most likely this time next week unfortunately, Not nearly enough time as I would have liked." Roger walked through the crowd of people and made his way into the friendly group.
"Joannie, Greg." He shook Greg's hand and stepped back. "Glad to see you could make it." He turned to Ken and Mike. "Ken, Mike. Glad to see you're here. Quite the turn out hey?"
"Yeah, more than I thought." Ken replied.
"I'm sure Lane will be happy with the donation boxes, I think it's overflowing already." He smiled slightly, when suddenly Greg cut him off.
"Speaking of which, I have an announcement to make."
"Oh?" Roger grinned slyly. Joan turned to face her husband. She was worried he knew something, and for a moment a wave of panic swept over her.
"This next week, I'm taking Joan to the Bahamas for a vacation." Everyone cheered and raised their glasses.
"I'll drink to that!" Roger was nearly yelling. Joan was in awe and stood still.
"Aren't you happy hunny?" Greg demanded.
"Of course… I'm just very surprised that's all." She looked at her heels and began thinking. Roger put his arm around Greg and said,
"This man, is a great man, taking his wife out like that. A true husband."
Mike had had enough: he took a swig of his tequila straight, and pushed it onto a nearby table afterwards. "I better go" he muttered. "Congratulations Joan." He turned swiftly and pushed through the crowd, making his way towards a far open space by the lunchroom. Joan's heart began hurting again and she could feel tears coming on. To her, something didn't add up though. Greg and she were broke, it was a definite fact. Where did he get the money from? Why all of the sudden? It began clicking after a while, and she pulled Greg aside into an office, shutting the door.
"Greg, don't lie to me. Where did you get the money for this trip?" Her tone was agitated and he could sense it.
"I had it saved up from a while back, I thought, why not?"
"Do not lie to me Gregory Harris. I do our bills, you have no extra accounts." His eyes widened and he began stumbling into his words and biting the end of each sentence.
"Uh.. well… I j-just don't want you to be mad Joannie."
"Then tell me right now, where did you get the money."
"R-Roger gave it to me."
"Roger gave it to you?" Her tone was more of a statement than a question.
"Yes he did."
She said nothing for a moment than ran her hands over her face and looked towards his feet, then up to his head again. "You're giving him back the money."
"Why!" Greg was now on the verge of anger.
"Because Greg, Roger just wants self-satisfaction knowing that I owe him for something. I know his games better than most and this reeks of shit." Greg backed down: his wife never swore, almost for any reason.
"Fine Joan. You couldn't just let your pride bite the dust for once?" He began leaving the room when she grabbed his arm.
"Don't talk about my pride. This is about Roger Sterling's pride, not mine. I'm just not willing to inflate his insatiable ego." She released her grip and Greg left the office.
Mike was standing alone in the lunchroom when Peggy walked in, grabbing a soda from the fridge.
"Hey Mike, why aren't you out there?" she inquired.
"Not really feeling it right now." He shifted his arms and said, "I hear Stan asked you out." Peggy's eyes widened in horror: Mike laughed and continued, "Don't worry; I'm the only one who knows. I'm happy for you Peggs. That takes some guts."
She smiled. 'Thanks Mike. That means a lot coming from you. I see a certain redhead is choked up about you right now."
Mike's gaze went from the ceiling to Peggy's rosy face. "She's pouting. A girl knows. I hear they're going on a trip."
"To the Bahamas." He added. "I bet it'll be nice there."
"Look, I may not understand your situation completely, but I know what love feels like, and I know how much it can hurt. God only knows how much it hurts. You got yourself into a very bad situation, there is no doubt. If you ever want to talk, as that's all you really can do now, I am here for you."
She smiled quaintly, and left the lunchroom, hop stepping to the music. Mike was left alone with his thoughts for a moment. He turned to face the cabinets where he grabbed a glass from a top shelf. As he set it down, he could hear stiletto footsteps approaching him from behind. He breathed in deeply and heard the womanly voice speak.
"Hello Joannie." He replied, pouring himself a drink. "Can I get you something?"
She walked up slowly behind him, "I'm fine thank you." Michael's eyes never left the glass, until Joan pulled his jaw towards her with her index finger. "We're not going on the trip." She stated.
"Really? It sounded like quite the adventure." His voice was monotonous and callous.
"Don't be like that. You know what this is like for me." She turned in sadness.
"I do, I know it's hard. It's hard for me too." He admitted, sipping scotch. After he had taken a sip, he looked towards the entryway: no one was around. He leaned over and kissed Joan lightly, then pulled away.
"We'll understand one day." Mike said.
"Sooner than later" she muttered. Before Michael could reply, Roger walked into the lunchroom, drunk more or less.
"Getting drinks are we?"
"I got mine, I had better go." Mike said. Joan grabbed his arm.
"No, you stay. Who's afraid of the big bad wolf anyway." She smiled slyly
"Ooo certainly not little red riding hood over here." He commented. "Oh, and have fun on your vacation, I'm sure you'll need the time away." Roger smiled broadly.
"Unfortunately we won't be going." Joan stated. Roger looked perplexed.
"Oh?" with that she took the check from her purse in an envelope and outstretched it to Roger.
"Thank you, but no thank you." He stood silent and unmoving, looking at the envelope.
"… Why Joannie?"
"I don't take handouts. Especially from you, Roger. Go put your money into something else. Maybe buy Jane something with it."
Roger grasped the letter and said, "I would call this ungrateful if…" Joan cut him off
"It would be ungrateful if not for all your stunts Roger. How blind do you think I am? Go meddle in someone else's business. Mike, I'll see you out there." She leaned over and kissed Michael on the cheek: who was blown away by the gesture. He nearly froze dead and looked over to Sterling, who stood silently. Joan waltzed away and left the lunchroom with flair.
"You be careful kid." He pointed straight to Mike. "I could blow the whistle on your whole operation at any time." He threatened.
"Don't bullshit a bullshitter. I know damn well what you're up to." Roger's tone was rising.
"Then do it?" he paused for effect. "Why don't you go tell Greg, right now? Tell him what you suspect I'm up to. Joan will convince him otherwise, in which case, you lose, and she never speaks to you again. Second possibility: he believes you, and breaks up with Joan leaving her to me, and you two never speaking again. You lose Roger. Just accept it." Mike said with a cocky smile.
"That's too bad. I guess you can have my seconds." Roger laughed. "Well thirds, actually, if you count our old creative guy Paul Kinzie. They had a thing back in the day. Oh wait! Fourth's, adding on some Jewish guy she dated for a while, can't forget him."
"You're just a wretch." Mike spat on the ground beside himself as his face contorted in anger. "A gutless, good for nothing, rich, arrogant, heartless sonofabitch who deserves to be alone."
"You watch your mouth kid. I'm the boss around here, I can send you packing whenever I want."
"It's my turn Roger. You're the boss? Oh really. So Don runs creative, I get that. Pete heads the accounts. Good for him. Lane counts up all our numbers and makes sure we aren't over spending, and then, there's you. Roger Sterling: the washed up millionaire, with nothing better to do but drink himself silly in his office and ruin other people lives. Bert Cooper does more for this company than you, and he doesn't even work here!" Mike laughed with his drink swaying in front of him.
Roger lunged towards Mike and grabbed him by the collar, nearly grunting in anger as he snorted out,
"You're finished. DO YOU HEAR ME, FINISHED." Roger yelled. Mike pushed his hand down off his collar.
"Then fire me, grandpa. First, you'll have to get through Pete. That should be pretty easy, as he hates me and everyone else who works at this fine establishment. Then you'll have to get through Don, who may not adore me, but is in love with my ideas. Then get through Lane, who quite likes me actually and really appreciates the 12% boost I've brought to this Titanic of a company. So yes, good luck Roger Sterling. Fire me. Oh and by the way, Joan likes me best." A cocky, alcohol induced smile crossed Michael's lips.
Roger Sterling brought his fist up to his shoulder and cranked Mike square in the jaw. Mike flew back into a table and tumbled to the floor. He was surprised by Roger's strength, but was not outmatched. Quickly he stabilized himself and brought his fists up to a fighting stance. Roger did the very same. Mike began moving towards Roger, and then jumped into him pushing by the hips and smashing him into the cabinets which tumbled open, spilling glasses everywhere. Shattered glass began littering the floor.
Roger jabbed Mike in the back with his elbows as Mike punched Roger in the gut repeatedly. Eventually the jabs slowed and stopped altogether and Roger crumpled a bit. Mike dropped him onto the floor, where Roger kicked his legs out and Mike fell down. Don ran around the corner, along with other associates to see what the fuss was about. Roger and Mike both hopped up and smoked each other in the face once or twice before Don's booming voice stopped them.
"That is ENOUGH." Both men ceased fighting. Mike wiped blood from his lower lip as Roger cleaned his forehead of the red goo.
"Just solving some differences Don." Roger gasped for air. "Me and the kid just had some... talking to do." He smiled.
"This is an office party damnit. Not a bar brawl. Act like adults, both of you."
Mike stood motionless and recovered his breath. Roger staggered up, looking back from Mike to Don.
"Get cleaned up, and for God's sake, no more fighting." Don left the room angry and embarrassed.
"You got fight old man." Mike sighed. Roger felt slightly respected for the first time in a while and looked over to him.
"You too kid. Didn't think I'd go down that hard." He laughed once and then clutched his ribs in pain. Mike staggered out of the lunchroom, with a bunch of girls watching. Only a dozen people had heard the ordeal; the music was too loud in the other hall. Jane, Roger's wife, ran to his side and helped him up.
"Are you okay sweetie?"
Mike stood quietly in the bathroom, looking himself in the mirror. He had some bruises on his jaw and a few cuts and scrapes littered his forehead and high cheeks. It was a pretty clean fight in his record. He felt accomplished, finally standing up to Roger Sterling. Deep down, he regretted it. Fighting was never an answer for him, no matter how much the person deserved it. "I should have walked away." Mike muttered. The bathroom door swung open and Joan walked in, a bewildered look covering her face.
"What on earth, do you think you're doing." She demanded.
"Blowing off some steam." Mike ran some warm water over his face. His cuts began stinging.
"Michael, this is an office party. You can't go beating someone up over things…"
"Things they say about someone you love? He threw the first punch. I was tired of being stepped on. He had it coming."
"That may be so, but he is still your boss." She retorted. Joan walked up beside him and held a cloth covered in water to his head.
"I'd gladly, lose my job any day, for the things he said about you."
"He was just trying to get make you mad, that's what he does. I'm sure he didn't expect you'd bite back." She smiled slightly.
"Nice idea, poorly executed." He mumbled. Joan again turned his face towards hers.
"Don't do it again. Seeing you hurt makes me sick." There was a pause, and then Mike leaned in, kissing her once again. She kissed him passionately and clutched his chest as he held her. It last a long while before she pulled away.
"I have to go back out there; they'll wonder where I am. Behave Mikey." She smiled coyly, and left the bathroom. Mike watched her leave, and then meandered towards the far wall, where he slumped down onto the floor.
"Thank God it's Friday." he laughed loudly