Tinkering

The rythmic tap on the doorjamb was tentative and a bit off beat, but when Leah looked up Marcus was shifting subtly from foot to foot like a boy overeager for the school field trip.

“May I come in?” He asked, one foot already over the threshold; forming the words not quite enough to keep the smile off his lips. He made a show of closing the door, before dragging a guest chair so close to the desk he had to sit sideways not to bang his knees, and hunching over her blotter in the universal body language for ‘We’re talking about secrets.’ Leah didn’t waste her breath on the sigh.

“It’s today isn’t it?”

Leah was certain it had taken all his effort not to bounce his eyebrows suggestively.

“Good morning, Marcus.” She clipped. “Are you the coffee run today? Dark roast, milk to the color of my skin, no sugar. And a plain or lemon scone if they have one.”

He at least had the sense to straighten up in reaction to the dismissal. “It’s today.” He said again, more firmly. “What do you call it? The convergence?”

They didn’t call it anything, and Leah wondered who was to blame for painting the most important meeting of the year with such a theatrical brush. Didn’t matter. They wouldn’t last long. Rank was less important here and GCS -goddamn common sense- and neither Marcus, nor whomever had fed him this line seemed to have more than a tablespoon.

“It’s a business summit Marcus. All partners working in the processing division for the past two years meet to discuss important targets for the two years to come, we review any lessons learned and project potential obstacles to future success. SOP to celebrate our milestones and keep striving for efficiency.”

“And swap techniques?”

“The division is highly skilled, but they typically work alone. Yes, I can imagine there is some…networking. After hours.” Leah’s favorite thing about the meeting  also chilled her, everyone took their turn to speak with quiet precision. Interrupting was so rare, it would bring the cool assessing stares of everyone in the room upon you. She’d seen men with double digit kills swallow hard under their peers’ measuring regard.

“Can I-”

“Marcus, if you have to ask, you know the answer.”

“But I want-”

“Is not part of this job. When that sentence is ‘I’ve proven I am,’ we’ll have something to talk about. Can you check in with Rahul about the H group meeting?”

Marcus left reluctantly, but put Leah’s chair carefully back in place. She saw him draw himself up into an authoritative bearing for his walk down the hall lined with glass fronted offices. He knew enough not to look wounded. Maybe a heaping tablespoon of common sense. Maybe he could be groomed.

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