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Pride Business

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Pride business apparently demanded all three Middlemen of varied rank and era watch a short film on workplace sexual harassment. Wendy didn't know why she was there, and even less so why her Middleman was paying attention so much he was taking notes. Aside from a few sideways, over-easy compliments that were delivered with just a tinge of testosterone, he was perfectly behaved. Sixty-nine gestured wide with both hands, his drink sloshing over the brim and onto her lap.

He wasn't learning about anything except mid-90s hair trends.

His glance down at her legs wasn't merely to assess the damage to her uniform, and when he put his arm over the back of her chair he eyed the spot where she left buttons open on her blouse.

“Sorry, Sweetness,” he said without contrition. “You know, if you were wearing a nice swingy skirt, I could get that cleaned right up for you.”

Ida made a soft, whinnying kind of laugh from across the room, and Wendy's disgust rose even higher. She stood up roughly, knocking Sixty-nine's arm down.

“Ew! No more talk of swinging at work, and no more looking at me all pervy. Didn't you see the productivity meter fall when Sadie was too flirtatious with her married co-worker?!”

Half the remaining drink went down in single gulp as he shrugged, and Wendy looked at The Middleman pointedly.

“Boss, I smell like boozer. I'm going to change. Please, pause the movie so I don't miss a single second. It's very informative,” she added.

Annoyance twisted Sixty-nine's face and he clicked his tongue at her. “You're the most bland Spanish girl I've ever met. Where did he find you, a library?”

“Heh heh,” filtered over from Ida's puttering with the collection of records she'd been digging through in search of 'their song.' The android's gleeful little woman act was the button to make Wendy go nuclear.

She planted her feet, leveled off and slapped the old school Middleman with an open palm, and smirked as he jerked his head helplessly.

“I am NOT Spanish! I'm Cuban-American,” she asserted.

The Middleman had risen out of his chair but was presumably speechless. She hoped he wasn't too angry but no one could say she hadn't been pushed to violence.

“Are you sure,” Sixty-nine asked philosophically as he rubbed his jaw. “You slap like a spicy Latina. I haven't been frozen so long I don't know there's no such thing as a Cuban American.”

Ah, the skill of a chauvinist, she thought wonderingly. Even when he accidentally used an inoffensive term for her, he managed to make it sound like the kind of thing you paid to have done to you in an alley.

“I was born in Miami! My father was an Air Force pilot! He died for his country!”

Wendy's foot had started stamping in time to her words and she saw The Middleman walk around his nasty counterpart with concern on his face.

“Du-” he began.

“It's okay, Firecracker,” the older man breezed. “I was too busy looking at your assets to pay attention to your cover story. I'm sure we'll beat your boss anyway, so spy all you want. I have a few secrets for you. Meet me in the shower and you can make me talk. No wonder my Cuba Libre went right for your Cuba Libre, huh?”

Is this even happening, Wendy mused. She looked from Ida's amused flourish as she started a record playing Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay, to The Middleman's appalled stare and down to Sixty-nine's obvious study of her cleavage. This time when she hit him it was with her fist, and The Middleman had to dodge out of the way of the chair dumping their guest onto the floor.

“PMGO, Ida,” she screamed, leaving the room as she tore at her belt. “Don't date robots!”

Shaking off his shock, The Middleman reached down and offered a hand as Sixty-nine climbed to his feet. He hissed when the vivid bruise came into view.

“I think that went well,” the vintage Middleman said cheerfully. “I can see why you hired her. I hired this spy once – Nurse Melanie. She was . . . something else. All the villains were doctors back then; Dr. Horrid, Dr. Hardcase, Dr. Bad. She worked for Dr. Stupendous. She was a goooood time gal. Hey, on the stakeout can you leave me alone in the car with your apprentice for a while? We're in that vital stage where our bodies have to connect on a cellular level – soak each other in.”

Strolling over to Ida, Sixty-nine bowed low and they started dancing slowly. The Middleman ejected the sexual harassment DVD and put it back in the case. Trying not to look at the dancing on the other side of the room, he righted the chairs, then walked out to guard the locker room door so Dubbie could change her pants.

But he was going to leave her alone in the car with Sixty-nine, just so she could get another punch. He didn't even need to see it to enjoy it, as long as she had her well-deserved fun. He'd say he was going to buy ice cream.