“Administrator?” Miss Pauling spoke timidly from the doorway.
“Pauling.” She nodded in response.
“Do you have a moment, I had something I wanted to discuss―”
“Come in, shut the door.”
“I thought the fact that I was talking to you made it clear enough that I do, in fact, have a moment. Next time don't leave the door open so long.” the Administrator scolded from her desk, eyes still trained on the cameras.
“Sorry.” Miss Pauling blushed.
“Now, what was it you wanted to discuss?”
“Well, after spending time with the teams for so long―” Miss Pauling began.
“Integrating yourself.” the Administrator cut in.
“Integrating myself,” Pauling said slowly, “I noticed…”
At this point, Miss Pauling stopped, and wondered if she could pretend she never came into this room. She fidgeted, and gulped, and rocked back and forth on her heels. Never mind her question.
“Noticed what? I do have a moment , I don't have all day.” the Administrator, patience ending, snapped.
“I don't know how to put this... I mean one of them, two maybe, but…” Pauling tried to say.
“‘One or two of them’” what ? Cut to the chase, Pauling, and make that a life policy unless you are in an interrogation room.” the Administrator waved a hand in the hair.
“A lot of them… like men.” Miss Pauling said, finally getting the question out there, her shoulders tense.
The Administrator chuckled. “You mean they're gay?”
Pauling started to ramble. “Well, I mean I don't know for sure. They could be gay or bisexual or―”
“How many?” the Administrator cut in again.
“I don't know that for sure either! Isn't it supposed to be one out of ten, though? Because it's not one in ten…”
“That's a bad rule of thumb derived from an imprecise study. No one has an exact percentage.” the Administrator stated coolly.
“How are you so calm...? Is there something in the bottled water you gave them? Because I've been drinking it, too.” Miss Pauling needed to get any reaction, any explanation, from the Administrator.
“There's nothing in the water― if there was, I'd have told you before you ever had the opportunity to drink it. I am the only other woman here, after all.”
Miss Pauling’s face turned bright scarlet. And of course, it was at that moment that the Administrator decided to turn around.
“No, no. It was a... a bit of a decision on my part.” she said.
“What are you talking about?” Miss Pauling asked. She wished she could ask her to cut to the chase.
“I very much would not like to be found out about what I'm doing here with the teams. And the best distraction is sexual tension.” the Administrator explained. She was smirking, a bit.
“But you didn't want anyone even being friends,” Miss Pauling trailed off, confused.
“Friendships inspire one to look at the world around them. Lust, now, that is different. It clouds and confuses the mind.” the Administrator’s smile was downright devious now.
“So, what happened? What do you mean?” Miss Pauling didn’t think she’d ever asked her boss so many questions in all of her years of working with her.
“There were lots of mercenaries with potential. It's hard to pick between people who are equally qualified, so I made that my deciding factor.”
“You... picked gay men? Because Scout has―” Miss Pauling stuttered, unable to even process what the Administrator just said.
“It was just a tie-breaking factor, Pauling. If a candidate had the qualities I was looking for, and happened to show signs of a less than... solidly heterosexual orientation... I decided to look no further. I, myself, am still not quite sure where the mercs lie on the Kinsey scale, however. Generally, that’s a well kept secret for a person.” the Administrator explained.
“Actually…” The Administrator’s eyes changed from placid boredom to intrigue. “You
to be well integrated by now. Find out for me.”
Miss Pauling smiled just a bit, out of the insanity of the situation more than anything. “That definitely shouldn't be too hard.”
“Meaning?” The Administrator asked, turning back to her bank of monitors.
“You said you were hoping for some…
“Romantic and sexual tension, yes. It's the perfect distraction.” The Administrator replied, not turning to face her.
“Well…” Miss Pauling thought of all the stories she’d heard and arguments she’d walked into. “I think it worked.”