“I think I have to go,” Wendy Watson said one day.
It was like clubbing a baby seal; her Boss' eyes getting wider, brighter and shinier as she said the words. He kept unconsciously denying with the frantic shakes of his head. His infinity shoulders nearly shrunk as he leaned in and tried to pull her into a hug rather ineptly. She couldn't figure out why at first, then realized he was shaking with the same kind of drop of her stomach that followed learning bridges fell down for real, and parents left for work and just disappeared.
She stepped forward to stretch way up to cup his face, which let him complete the hug he'd been attempting. From there it was a very short trip to kissing, because it is almost a rule that you have to kiss someone once you've cupped their face while breaking their heart.
“Dubbie,” he told her, urgently but with a gaping subtext of two relationships happening simultaneously on the same track. “We can work out whatever it is that's bothering you.”
She would let him pick through all her issues like a field medic if she thought it could really be fixed. “No. It's too hard. I know I'm distracted and you're in danger because of it. I know the professional is barely an excuse for showing up. You're obsessed with the job and I'm obsessed with you, and none of it is healthy. The hours are inhuman, the attacks keep coming, and some days all we do is sit together in silence. Look at you-”
Wendy's feverish gaze was holding on his face, and The Middleman jammed their mouths together, her cut off words twisting her tongue against his rapidly. When the kiss lasted more than ten seconds, Ida got up from behind her desk and walked out on the mah jong game in progress. When the kiss hit the minute mark, Wendy felt like she was going to cry openly, so she flapped her palms stupidly at his chest.
She wiggled free and hugged herself as The Middleman waited for the first verbal reaction to his giant leap for their saliva.
“How is it that you don't even drink coffee,” she bellowed, turning her back as she kept ranting. “I can't think straight knowing that every day I get closer to burying you.”
It was kind of a mumble-yell, in his defense, and there was a lump in her throat. He made a noise like air sucked in so hard it gave you hiccups, then asked, “Did you say married or buried just then?”
Her entire torso cracked down the middle, fittingly, and Wendy was glad the doctors replacing her broken heart would get to skip a step. She pushed her hair back and her peripheral vision was full of hovering Eisenhower jacket.
“Oh, Boss,” she whimpered, and they were pretty much doomed after that. More than usual doomed, not the day-to-day stuff.
They met in a fusion of limbs that would easily give both of them cricks in the neck and just about any place with bone. She was mollified he was showing some kind of upset because if he could aw shucks his way through her sudden quitting and his own reactionary marriage proposal, she was just not cool enough to be The Middleman.
They separated with a smacking of lips surprised to belong to more or less freestanding individuals. There was a bit more drool than Wendy was willing to own, but The Middleman looked about as happy as she'd ever seen him. It was like he said about 'a weight shared is easier on both.' She decided if she started proverbing everything she'd deny him sex for at least a week.
His grin notched up to resplendent, and Wendy felt like a board conked her in the back of the head. She smiled back, reaching out to touch the wonderous expression. “I love you.”
They moved into a more comfortable hug, and he starting swaying them. “I love you, Wendy Watson. I'll get Ida to hop on the internet and renew her ordination. Did you want a religious ceremony,” he asked politely.
Immediate, total compromise was so very him, and she nearly wept before the image of her mother stopped her. This was not how you got married. This was not normal and it might make a big difference to their success as a couple. You couldn't skip steps this big without missing things in your preparation.
“I can't marry someone without knowing we're sexually compatible,” she told him. Her hands slipped from his jaw. “I mean, really, this is the kind of crack planning that leads to stealing drugs for your pimp to support your gambling addiction.”
“I understand,” The Middleman said, in a very understanding tone.
He picked her up and carried her up the stairs like she weighed literally nothing.