Sandra was not a busybody. As the receptionist, everybody else's business was her business. She was the face of the Psychonauts, the first person visitors interacted with when they entered the Motherlobe, and she needed to know who was who and doing what and where at all times. So no, she wasn't a busybody; by keeping tabs on what everybody was up to, she was just doing her job.
A job she did perfectly well, thank you very much. It wasn't like there was much else to be doing anyway. All she had to do was answer the phone, greet visitors, direct inquiries, and hand out guest badges, and that got so boring after a while. The Psychonauts themselves though, they never got boring.
Workplace shenanigans already had the potential to be so exciting, and when psychic powers were thrown into the mix the pranks and scandals and dramas just got better and better. As soon as she'd been hired to sit behind the front desk of the Motherlobe, Sandra had immediately started making friends in just about every department of the building - that way, she had the chance to hear all about every last little outrage and impropriety.
She cast her net so far and wide, it didn't matter who was in the break room when she got up to get coffee; there was at least a 90% chance that someone in there was part of her little network, and the stream of rumors was almost neverending. Did you hear? The boys down in research are working on a way to project memories into the real world! Well I heard that Diego and Zoe from accounting are going to elope. Have you seen that one kid they have running around with the interns? People are saying he's gonna be the head of the Psychonauts someday!
Sandra didn't have to walk around the office to know everything about everyone. All of the wild stories that breezed by her desk kept her very up to date on all the latest dramas that were unfolding all over the agency, and her favorite right now was the tale of Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley.
It all started at one of the boring staff meetings going over the updates to some of the agency's policies. No one actually paid attention to those, but every certified Psychonaut had to attend one, and more often than not the top ranking agents got roped into leading them. Luca, one of those guys who specialized in clairvoyance and music therapy, said he'd seen Agent Threepwood staring at the presentation slides with such a goofy expression that it totally caught his attention.
It was weird, he said, the way his half-lidded eyes were gazing at the policy updates with such unbridled devotion. It wasn't until Agent Marley walked away from her PowerPoint slides that he realized that Threepwood was actually staring at her instead.
When Sandra had first heard this story, she'd laughed out loud; this was so totally predictable - Threepwood had a crush on someone totally out of his league, married to boot, and eventually he was going to get crushed when it turned out she wasn't interested. Honestly, if the pairing wasn't so absurd the incident wouldn't have even been worth talking about.
Except that wasn't what had happened. When Marley had asked Threepwood a question to see if he was even still paying attention, and he'd flirted with her unashamedly in front of the entire room, she'd simply told him to save it until the meeting was over, and Luca swore he saw her wink at him.
So started the speculations. Agent Marley was a married woman, anyone could tell you that; the ring on her finger was evidence enough, and she wasn't shy about talking about all the sweet things her wonderful husband did for her. No one had ever seen Mr. Marley, but it was safe to assume he didn't work for the Psychonauts or he'd have put an end to Guybrush and Elaine's little tryst before it'd even begun.
Sometimes, when the day was slow and she was sitting at the front desk all by herself, she liked to imagine just what kind of a man he was. By the sound of it, Elaine had him wrapped around her little finger, so he probably wasn't too headstrong or overbearing. Not boring or weak-minded per-se, since Elaine didn't seem like the type to bother with someone who didn't have a backbone, but submissive nonetheless. He was probably either some government desk-jockey who did paperwork all day, or he had some other boring job most people didn't normally think about. A flooring inspector, maybe. He was going to be crushed when he found out what his wife was up to.
And she was up to something, Sandra had seen it with her own two eyes. Sometimes, when Elaine was leaving for the day, Guybrush tended to either accompany her out or run after her to say goodbye, and on quite a few occasions they had kissed. That's an open and shut case right there. And that was before Agent Threepwood had almost died on assignment.
No one had been expecting it. His mission had apparently just been some simple recon - or at least that's what Darryl from dispatch said - so when he'd stumbled back into the Motherlobe, covered in blood with a stab wound in his gut, Elaine had rushed to his side to catch him as his legs gave out.
It was so romantic. She'd been waiting in the lobby for him to return, since the mission really should've ended an hour ago and his absence had clearly been worrying her. Immediately she'd started calling for help and begging him to keep his eyes open and keep talking to her, and Edith said that Zack had said that she'd stayed with him as they rushed him to the medical wing. It was bad enough they'd just had to stabilize him and take him to a full-on hospital. No one saw her around the Motherlobe for weeks afterward, and when Guybrush finally came back to work she was there under his shoulder helping him walk and fussing over him.
Things died down on that front for a while after that. Which was fine; one of them had been stabbed, for heaven's sake, and those two weren't the only ones worth keeping an eye on. In the meantime there were plenty of other office scandals to catch up on. I'll bet you guys $20 that Sasha and Milla go public with whatever little thing they've got going on before the Christmas party this year. Did you see the new guy they hired? VERY easy to look at, if I do say so myself.
Really, memos were almost unnecessary when news like this could travel at the speed of thought. Eventually, though, it looked like the forbidden love story of Guybrush and Elaine was about to reach its climax, because apparently Mr. Marley had finally found out.
One of the interns, Blaine, had overheard part of a phone call between Elaine and her husband while he was delivering some paperwork to the agents in the offices nearby, and from what he'd heard, it sounded like they were arguing. He was mad, and she was frustrated, and eventually she got fed up and just hung up on him.
There was trouble in paradise, it seemed, and she wished more than anything that Blaine had been able to hear exactly what she'd been saying. From that point on, neither she or her lover had been able to look at each other in the same gooey-eyed way that made Sandra want to squeal.
There was no more flirting, hand-holding, or quick kisses in her lobby; really, it would have been a disappointment if not for the spectacular drama that replaced her older entertainment. On several occasions he'd still tried to walk her out, but every time she'd left him still standing by the doors that led to the secure areas of the building without even a side hug for his trouble.
The pattern repeated itself a few more times before it seemed Guybrush had had enough; this time when she tried to ditch him, he'd followed her halfway across the lobby and caught her by the wrist, firmly yet gently turning her around to face him. Sandra had been so busy typing out an email she'd almost missed the exchange that followed.
"-just tell me why! Please, Elaine, I don't understand. It was fine then, why can't it be fine now?"
She quieted him with a finger to his lips. "Guybrush. You know why; I still need time to think on it." The pair were being silhouetted by the dying sunlight streaming in through the large windows on the face of the building. For almost thirty seconds, the only sound in the lobby was the trickling of water coming from the fountain in the center of the room. Then, his shoulders slumped as he sighed deeply in disappointment.
His puppy-dog eyes were wide and pleading, "I… I love you Elaine, you know that right?"
She sighed in exasperation. "And that's the problem, darling; so does he."
Janet was going to DIE when she heard about what she missed. As the top agent turned and walked out the front doors of the Motherlobe, the downcast expression on poor Guybrush's face was simply heartbreaking. On the outside, she maintained her calm, professional facade. She was the first person people saw when they entered the Motherlobe, she couldn't just break down over a little thing like this.
On the inside though, she was screaming. The lover spurned was just so deliciously dramatic; further, everybody knew that Agent Threepwood was no stranger to skirting the rules - what might the heartsick bad-boy do to win back the love of his life? How hard would he fight to keep her affection?
And how was Agent Marley going to handle this? Was she going to cut him off cold turkey, never to be swayed again by Guybrush's roguish charms? Or would she decide that whatever had attracted her to him in the first place was worth the litigation of a divorce?
And what about the husband?? There were just so many layers here, she ought to be writing this down! Change the names, remove any references to the agency, maybe add in a few more supporting characters, and she'd probably have a bestselling novel on her hands.
She kept her eyes open and her ear to the ground in the following weeks, hoping someone somewhere had seen something more on the situation, but the two of them had to take separate missions on opposite sides of the country from each other. Other goings-on had caught Sandra's attention by the time the two got back, and there was so little going on on that front she'd almost forgotten what she was supposed to be on the lookout for when Guybrush himself had thrown open the front doors of the Motherlobe and stormed up to her desk.
"Where. Is. He." Sandra had never seen such potent rage on Agent Threepwood's face before. The pure, unadulterated anger radiating off of him was absolutely terrifying, and it took everything she had as the face of the Psychonauts not to shrink away from him.
"Ah- I- I'm not sure who you mean," she said, smiling woodenly, "who are you looking for, exactly?"
His eyes still boring into hers, the name he spat out through gritted teeth stopped her in her tracks. "Threepwood."
Had he lost his mind?!
"Uh-huh… Agent… Threepwood…" reaching slowly for the security button under her desk, she continued to humor him. He obviously needed some kind of professional help, so she'd play along until security could escort him to the infirmary. "Well, I don't know his exact location, but I can attempt to page him and let him know you'd like to speak with him. What is this regarding?"
"You tell that backstabbing son of an undertow that I'm here and I'm ready to have it out with him. Elaine is my wife, I married her fair and square, and she chose me. It's time to settle things - right here, right now."
He was delusional. This was insane. This was… almost sad, in a way. Workplace drama was one thing, but to see a man driven completely over the edge by his own heartsick longing for a married woman was just pitiful. This was not how she'd wanted this story to end. Hitting send on the fictitious memo for Guybrush, she could only hope whatever counseling he got would be able to help him cope.
As soon as she told him the message had been sent, he thanked her and stormed over to the fountain in the middle of the lobby. It was a nice water feature with a tall spire in the middle and a minimalist wireframe globe slowly levitating around it. He'd sat down on the marble rim of the round pool and folded his arms, scowling at the ground and still projecting aggression in all directions. It was intense enough that the normal flow of traffic through the space diverted itself to avoid it.
After what felt like ages, one of the security officers finally came to the desk. Discreetly, she informed him of the delicate situation they had sitting right in the middle of her reception area, and he nodded. He radioed in for backup, letting them know that he might potentially need a medical evac to the psych ward, before approaching the poor man and trying to convince him to come quietly.
Just as Guybrush had started to argue with the guard, obviously unwilling to leave the lobby until the impossible happened, the swinging double doors that led into one of the secure areas of the facility burst open with a spectacular clang that reverberated off the lobby's high ceiling.
"OH HE'S HERE, IS HE?!"
Sandra was seeing double, because Guybrush had just stormed into her lobby for the second time that day and was now marching directly toward his doppelganger. She rubbed her eyes, convinced that she'd mistaken him for someone else, but no- there really were two Agent Threepwoods about to have an all out fight right in the middle of the Motherlobe.
Almost immediately, the Guybrush that had spoken to her - distinguishable by the fact that he was wearing his longer, more piratey greatcoat instead of the usual blazer his counterpart had on - had stood up and started yelling right back. The two of them were standing almost nose to nose, arguing intensely in stereo. The two identical voices speaking over each other made it almost impossible to tell what they were saying, but their body language and harsh gesturing said both of them were ready to tear each other's throats out.
The security officer had no idea what to make of this. He had a hand on his radio, like he wanted to make a report, but he was still staring at the two Threepwoods in confusion; he had no clue what was going on, and neither did she. The pair had the attention of everyone in the lobby, and the shouting was attracting the attention of those in the hallways and nearby rooms. At last, the Guybrush in the blazer shoved his twin, breaking the simultaneous flow of insults and making it possible to understand him.
"You don't deserve her!"
"She never loved you, you're just a distraction! As soon as she gets bored of you, she's going to leave you and come crawling right back to me, where she belongs!!" Guybrush #1 had pointed a finger directly into #2's chest, who swatted it away in disgust.
"See, that's exactly why you aren't worthy to even speak her name. 'Where she belongs' - listen to yourself. Elaine is the most wonderful woman on earth and if you really wanted her to be happy you'd realize that it isn't with you."
The Pirate folded his arms and glared at his double with death in his eyes. "Oh really. If she's so unhappy with me, I can't even imagine what she sees in you. You look like the kind of guy who couldn't keep a girlfriend for more than a week, at most."
Whatever the Psychonaut responded with, Sandra was distracted by a commotion in the crowd that had gathered. It seemed Threepwood hadn't been alone when the memo had gone through, and his partner had finally caught up and was now shoving his way through the audience. Breaking into the ring, he approached his friend and tried to break up the argument before it could escalate any further.
"Guybrush, just leave it. This guy isn't worth-"
" Stay out of this, Nelson." He said, shrugging his partner's hand off his shoulder. His curt tone left no room for argument. "I don't want you to get hurt when I teach this crusty bilge rat a lesson."
From seemingly nowhere, he drew a long, sharp dueling sabre. "En garde, you coward."
Suddenly his counterpart was armed as well - when had that happened? Where were they getting the swords from? - and the two were immediately locked in an intense swordfight.
"Oh, a coward am I? Was it being cowardly when I asked Elaine to marry me?" He blocked two quick strikes aimed for his chest, then deflected a jab meant for his thigh. "Or was it a triumph when she said yes to me on that beach all those years ago? I still remember the joy I felt knowing she was agreeing to spend the rest of her life with me; Joy you couldn't possibly hope to comprehend."
"Oh I know that joy alright- it's the same feeling I get whenever she walks in the room." Blazer-brush was fighting with a fiery aggression, and had driven his competitor backward. When he'd almost tripped on the fountain, the man had instead stepped up onto the rim to continue his retreat and gain the high ground, but his pursuer was relentless. As the pirate took another step backward, he had to block a jab meant to unman him and then retaliate with a quick thrust towards his opponent's side.
A thrust that was easily dodged and returned in kind. As the pirate continued his tactical retreat, the Psychonaut chose to step up onto the fountain as he pursued his target. "You're not an agent; you don't know what it's like out there, risking your life on dangerous assignments where the only thing between you and a lifelong mental illness is your wits and your nerve. There's no way you could ever understand what she goes through on a regular basis, but I can."
Angered, the pirate tried to push back, resulting in a clash that locked their swords together at the hilt; a stalemate broken by the lover kicking the husband in the shin and shoving him backward. The shove was followed by a wide slash meant to cut his opponent in half, which he dodged by leaping to his left and latching onto the fountain's globe - hook in North America, boot in South America. The globe wobbled a bit, but ultimately took his weight and continued to revolve as though nothing had happened.
"Oh, you've finally learned to speak English, have you?" From his perch on the fountain, Guybrush could taunt his enemy as much as he wanted without worrying about deflecting an attack. "Everybody's got problems, and relationships are meant to help people support each other. At the end of the day, she knows she can always come home to me, no matter what happens."
By this point he'd completed one full rotation, and as he came back into stabbing range he deflected both of his rival's attacks.
"Elaine is the most engaging, capable, intelligent, strong, graceful, efficient, accomplished-" at this point he was just endlessly listing adjectives, riding the world like a carousel and extolling the virtues of his wife for all to hear. Not once in the several minutes it took to travel the circumference five times over did he take a breath, and each time around he deflected Guybrush's attempts to interrupt him without a second thought. "-clever, talented, pulchritudinous woman in the world."
"Yeah, yeah, we all know words. Are you done now? Because everybody already knows that Elaine is the most breathtaking woman to ever live."
At this point it seemed the Psychonaut had had enough of watching Mr. Marley steal the spotlight, and threw his sword across the fountain. It was a one-in-a-million shot as it speared through Texas, barely missing the spire serving as the axis of the globe, and Guybrush had to jump away from his perch to avoid being skewered. Rolling across the floor and scrambling to his feet gave his opponent more than enough time to regain his weapon and rekindle the duel.
"Honestly, who ties your shoes for you?" The Psychonaut's strikes were lightning fast, and the pirate barely avoided being beheaded by parrying the blade away from his face. The attack was still close enough to shave a bit off of his bangs however. "If all you do all day is stand around and state the obvious, I honestly have no idea what Elaine could possibly see in you. Maybe she likes listening to you parrot simple words and phrases back to her, that could be entertaining, with the right setup."
Offended, the pirate opened his mouth to retort, but his opponent wasn't finished yet. Their swords clashed once more, clacking and clanging and reflecting the overhead lights in a dazzling display of swordsmanship.
"Actually, how do we even know you're really married to her? For all I know, you're just some poor sap she met at the grocery store who instantly fell in love! Her real husband would have a ring!"
The Psychonaut was so busy taunting his rival he didn't seem to notice an opening he'd left in his defense - an opening that was viciously exploited by the enraged Pirate as he disarmed his opponent and kicked him in the stomach. He went down hard and hit his head on the floor, and opened his eyes just in time to look down the length of Guybrush's blade.
"I don't know if you noticed, you grog-swilling halfwit, but I don't have a left hand." Deftly reaching into his shirt, he used his hook to pull on a leather cord around his neck and show off a gold ring. "It's right here, and I never take it off. This is my greatest treasure."
Still staring his opponent in the eyes defiantly, it seemed the Guybrush on the floor had no response for this; he knew when he'd been beaten. "Any last words?"
"Yeah. Rot in he-"
"Guybrush!" Standing over his rival with his blade hovering over the Psychonaut's sternum, the Pirate had been just about to run him through when he was stopped by his wife breaching the circle and storming over to him.
"Elaine!" The two said, in perfect unison. As soon as she reached them, she set a hand on her husband's arm and gave him a stern look before helping her lover up off the floor. Both of them had started babbling excuses as to why they'd decided to try and publicly kill each other, which she silenced with a tender hand on the backs of their necks. The two men were standing shoulder to shoulder, and for a moment it looked like she might pull both in for a hug.
"Honestly, Guybrush, how many times?" She shook her head in fond exasperation, before knocking their heads together with enough force that they instantly reverted to lanky clouds of smoke. One singular Guybrush was left staggering in their place, wearing a plain white shirt. He coughed a bit as he waved away some of the wisps of hallucinatory haze still curling around his shoulders, and wrapped an arm around his wife's waist as he faced the crowd alongside her. The gold band hanging from his neck was still clearly visible.
Addressing the onlookers, she said much louder, "The two of us appreciate your concern for our relationship, but Guybrush is and always has been my husband. Really now, if the lot of you put as much effort into your assignments as you do into petty gossip, I'd imagine we'd have eradicated psychic crime entirely by now."
At last, security seemed to find their footing again and used her declaration as an opening to start dispersing the dozens of people just standing around. It took some doing, as almost everyone wanted to stay and see if there was anything else of interest about to happen, but eventually the guards managed to get the flow of traffic back in order.
As Sandra watched Guybrush and Elaine share a short conversation, still wrapped in each other's arms, she all but fell back into her chair. They were…? He was…? How…?
Her bestselling novel would have to wait. It definitely wasn't cancelled, that much was certain, she just needed some time to figure out what in the name of Ford Cruller's bushy left eyebrow just happened.
"Well, was it everything you wanted it to be?" Nelson asked as he and his partner walked back to the Wildcards' office area.
Guybrush grinned. "Oh yeah. They're gonna be talking about that one for weeks."