Prelude To Introductions

Timothea Ava Drake, aged twenty-two, was the new CEO of Drake Records. Besides being one of the youngest power brokers in Gotham City, she was also one of the best, with the ability to track down hot new musical talent that topped the charts in only months.

But seeing as how she was a single mother suddenly working a seventy-hour a week job, she was also near the end of her proverbial rope.

Cursing the day she'd ever let her father convince her that she wanted to go into the family business – and cursing the fact that he couldn't have put off his midlife crisis and subsequent retirement for a few more years – Timothea glared at the one picture of him she had on her desk, her scowl softening when she caught sight of her daughter in the photo opposite him, wide, cheery smile dispelling her gloom as it always had, from the moment Tim had learned of her existence.

After a car crash when she was nine had resulted in the death of mother and the near-crippling of her father, Tim had withdrawn into herself, feeling survivor's guilt for having escaped the collision with nary a scratch. It had taken almost three years of counseling, and the staunch support of her best friend Bernard Dowd before she'd started to come out of her shell once more. Jack Drake meeting Dana Winters during the end of his physical therapy, and falling in love with her, leading to her becoming the second Mrs. Drake, had cemented Tim's return to the world.

It had proved that no matter how dark, things could get better. Not perfect, but improvements were always possible.

Tim just had to hope that that applied to her job, as well. She eyed the buzzing intercom with distaste, before finally giving in with a sigh and answering it.

"Uh, Miss Drake, I'm sorry to bother you…again…but…" Timothea sighed as she listened to the repeat of yet another stupid question from her third temp secretary in as many months. Once the babbling twit – Tim hadn't even bothered to learn her name – finally got around to asking her question, she spit out her answer through clenched teeth, and then furiously punched the OFF button on the intercom.

All was quiet for a moment – but only for a moment.

Whimpering as the phone rang, her email icon started flashing with an urgent message, and her fax machine started spitting out that contract she'd been waiting for for the past week, Timothea tried vainly to rub away the headache forming behind her temples, and focused on becoming one with her chair. Maybe, just maybe, she decided as she slumped lower in her seat, having a personal assistant wouldn't be such a bad idea.

"I thought you thought that personal assistants were extremely gauche, Timmie," Darla Aquila, one of the Timothea's oldest friends, and also her first musical find, said the next afternoon in the park.

Shifting to the side of the bench so she could more clearly see the playground, Timothea said, "I still maintain that to most Hollywood types, having a personal assistant is, in most cases, like having a Ferrari or a ten thousand dollar watch: something to show you have money. But I honestly don't think I'll be able to handle both my job and my private life without some help." Timothea sighed, bowing her head, and allowing her hair to obscure her tired countenance from view. "This is the first time all week I've been able to spend some time with Robin outside of getting her dressed in the morning and putting her to bed at night." Sadness warred with frustration across her face as she said, "It used to be when I had a few free minutes I could go down to the nursery to play with her. Now, I'm lucky if I have enough free minutes to go to the bathroom!"

"Whoa, whoa, calm down, Timmie," Darla said, backing off with a theatrical waving of her hands. "I'm on your side here, girl."

Blushing and smiling ruefully, Timothea said, "I know, Darla. I'm just so…frazzled." She spared another glance towards the playground, letting out a sigh of relief as she spotted her daughter safely on the slide.

Darla stared at her with comically wide eyes. "No, really? I never would have guessed, Timmie."

Piqued, Timothea said, "And would you please stop calling me that? It's not very professional."

"Yes, but 'Tim' makes you sound like a man," Darla pointed out long-sufferingly, as she had at various points in the past.

"Sometimes I think it's still a man's world," Timothea grumbled as she watched her daughter go down the slide for the third time, squealing happily. "Besides, it's not like I mind if people think the new CEO of Drake Records is a man. It gives me an edge in negotiations with people who think women aren't as tough."

"Mm-hm," Darla murmured noncommittally. "It has nothing to do with you having to keep turning down those cute young records execs who ask you out, right?"

Looking pained, Tim said, "D, you know why I can't–"

"I know why you don't date, and better than almost anyone, I might add," Darla said firmly, yet not without gentleness. "But eventually, Timmie, you need to let your heart heal, and move on."

Tim snorted. "Isn't that a line from your latest single?"

Darla shrugged, quirking a grin. "Hey, art imitates life, girl."

Timmie let out a laugh. "Whatever you say, D. Whatever you say."

Wanted: Administrative Assistant for CEO of Drake Records. Duties to include secretarial work and childcare. Must have at least a B.A., business or accounting preferable, and experience with young children. Long hours, occasional six-day work weeks, full benefits and vacation time. For further information, please contact 846-6566…

Bart Allen snickered as he read the want ad over his friend's shoulder, bushy auburn hair hanging in his whiskey-colored eyes. "You can't be seriously considering that, can you?"

"Why not?" Conner Kent, better known to his friends as 'Kon' asked. "I'm good at office work and I like kids." He pulled out his cell phone and checked the number in the paper, giving his friend a smirk as he dialed. "Besides, did you see who's hiring? And how much they're willing to pay?"

Bart hadn't, but then, he was gainfully employed, so he had no reason to search the want ads. Even with his friend having occupied his couch for the past two weeks, Bart was tired of helping Kon look for new jobs. Conner was paying his part of the rent, but this was the fifth time that year that Kon had gone looking for a new job. He'd tried everything from waiting tables to modeling, and either he was overqualified and his employers let him go so he could find something better, or he got bored, or, in the last case, his boss had fired him once he'd found out who Kon's parents were.

That Kon would have been able to sue for wrongful termination in that case was beside the point; he was trying to avoid his father, and that meant laying low. He was, at least, still able to collect unemployment, which was enough to pay his half of the rent. Only half, however, which was why he was bunking with Bart for the time being.

Watching as Kon retreated to the kitchen to make his phone call in private, Bart spied the time and frantically raced to get ready. He was going to be late for work if he didn't hurry. On his way out the door to his job as a construction worker, Bart grabbed his lunch, his hard hat, and the Classified section of the paper, then made it halfway out the door before he remembered his keys, like usual. On the train to the construction site, he looked over the ad his friend had circled, wondering why Kon had been so stoked about the job.

Bart blinked as he read over the particulars again. The position wasn't just as a regular administrative assistant; it was as a personal assistant to the CEO of Drake Records. The pay was really good, though presumably the job wouldn't be a cakewalk, what with the childcare aspect. And Kon always had wanted to go into the music business…

But Bart was confused over why a CEO would want to hire a secretary/nanny. He also thought he remembered Drake's kid being his age.

Kon, meanwhile, was hanging up the phone with a smile on his face. After just a few minutes on the phone charming the secretary, he'd gotten a face-to-face interview for the very next afternoon. Now all he had to do was fax in his résumé, iron the wrinkles out of his interview suit, and hope for the best.

Which wasn't always easy. Kon frowned, slumping down on Bart's couch, which had been his bed for the past thirteen days. This job sounded like a dream come true – and it would earn him more than enough money to move out on his own – but Kon knew better than to hang all his hope on it. Alternately brooding over his past, and thinking hopefully of his future interview with the CEO of Drake Records, Kon got up and started fixing his lunch.

If he didn't get the job, he'd have to keep looking. And if he didn't find anything within a few months, he'd have to go back to work for his mother. He didn't want to dip too heavily into his savings account, and there was only so long he was willing to sponge off his friends.

And he was never going to work with his father. One summer interning as a gopher at the Daily Planet had been enough to convince him that journalism was not his field. And that Clark Kent was…he was a good man, and a nice man, but he was so straight-laced. Clark just wouldn't think outside the box, and he'd never really understood his son.

They may have looked alike, with their large builds, black hair and blue eyes, but inside was a different story.

His mother, Lena Luthor, didn't always understand him, either, but at least she had accepted that, and had been happy when he was happy. Sometimes Kon thought that everyone would have been better off if the three of them had never tried to play happy families, but Clark never would have allowed it.

Clark and Lena had met in high school, when her father, business magnate Lex Luthor, had moved back to his childhood home of Smallville, Kansas, after his wife's passing. Clark and Lena had quickly become quite the couple – even though Lena was two years younger than Clark, they were still in the same grade, she having inherited her father's intelligence along with her mother's looks – and just before graduation, Lena had discovered that she was pregnant.

Clark had been the one insisting on them getting married when she found out. Lena had been the one to insist on the divorce three years later, when it was clear from their tumultuous marriage that their teenage romance should best have been left behind with other childish things.

Clark had never quite forgiven Lena for that, divorce not sitting well with his Midwestern sensibilities, even though he loved his second wife Lois Lane with a passion. He'd also never developed a strong relationship with Conner, which was only exacerbated by his and Lois' inability to have children of their own. When Conner refused to follow his father's footsteps by becoming a reporter – never mind that he'd also refused to take a management position in his grandfather's company – things between the two had become even more strained.

Kon's maternal grandfather, Lex Luthor, had never thought that Clark was good enough for his daughter, but had been willing to put up with him because Lena loved him. He'd been very supportive of her decision to raise Conner on her own, and doted on his only grandchild. While he thought that Kon should go to work for him, Lex wasn't going to get upset with Kon's choice.

Clark just couldn't seem to understand why Conner would want to go into the music business.

At 2:00 on Saturday, Kon L. Kent entered Drake Records with a spring in his step, and his heart in his throat. It didn't bother him that, if he got the job, he'd likely have to work Saturdays fairly often, or that he'd have to work on the top floor of a forty-two story building.

No, what bothered him was 'if.' If he didn't get the job, hopefully he could find something else, but this job seemed perfect for him, and he didn't imagine anything else he could find would come as close.

Then again, he hadn't yet met the child he'd be taking care of as part of his nanny duties. If the kid was a complete terror, then no matter how good the rest of the job was, he didn't think he could take it.

Entering the elevator, Kon pushed the button for the forty-second floor, and listened to a Muzak version of Tiny Dancer as he waited to reach his floor. The wait was almost interminable, even though the elevator car proceeded at a steady pace, and didn't stop on any intervening floors; Kon would have welcomed a distraction in the form of another living being, but instead he got to spend four minutes worrying over his upcoming interview.

Once on the top floor, Kon made his way to the front desk, and got directions to the executive offices from a pretty, perky blonde named Greta Hayes. Two lefts and a right brought him to a small waiting area done in muted shades of tan and hunter green, with a large window overlooking the street. Another blonde, this one slim and elegant in a lavender suit dress – and who looked puzzlingly familiar – sat behind a desk. Contrary to popular fiction, she wasn't filing her nails, or talking on the phone; she was going over files.

As Kon approached the desk, he caught sight of Kent, K– on the file tab, and realized that the woman must be reading up on him. He was unsure whether or not to be anxious about that.

Clearing his throat, Kon stepped forward and said, "Hello, my name is Kon Kent; I'm here to interview for the personal assistant position?"

The woman raised mildly startled blue eyes to him, and smiled with more practiced perfection than actual feeling. "Hello, Mr. Kent. I'm Darla Aquila, and I'll be conducting the pre-interview today." At Kon's inquiring look, she explained, "Tim is very busy – that's why the need for a personal assistant – and so I'm weeding out the applicants before I send them in."

Kon nodded, though inwardly he wondered why Mr. Drake would have one of his top recording stars interview applicants instead of his secretary. It explained that moment of déjà vu, at least. "Sounds like a time saver," he said.

She smiled. "Please, sit," she invited him, gesturing towards a nearby chair. Her expression flickered hard for a moment, almost so fast that Kon could convince himself he was seeing things. "Let's get started."

Half an hour later, Kon knew he hadn't been seeing things. He'd never actually met a drill sergeant, but he felt certain that none of them could match Darla Aquila for sheer tenacity.

They'd gone over his entire résumé, his background, his previous jobs, his lack of criminal convictions, his experience with various computer programs and filing systems and knowledge of various first aid procedures. Darla had showed particular interest in his interests, his extensive list of volunteer activities, and the sparse information he'd included on his family life.

Kon wondered if she'd start asking about his eating habits, his hygiene practices, or his love life next. Thankfully, it seemed she was only interested in his work experience, and anything that might impact such.

It had been both the most grueling, and the most bemusing interview Kon had ever been to. Not to mention frustrating, since Darla was so enigmatic that he had no idea if she was impressed, pleased, or apathetic about what she was hearing.

At least he found out why Darla was the one interviewing him; apparently, the secretary position would be usurped by personal assistant position, and so Drake didn't currently have one.

"Well," she said finally, laying down his file and folding her hands in front of her with a pleased smile. "I think that about does it."

"What now?" Kon asked, because if she thought she was going to push him out the door without at least giving him some idea of how the interview had gone, she had another think coming.

Darla appeared to consider that for a moment, though Kon had a feeling it was all for show. "Now…now you meet Tim. And Robin."

Kon blinked. "Is Robin Drake's daughter?" It occurred to him to wonder why he hadn't heard anything in media about the Drake family, but then, he hadn't even been aware that the previous CEO of Drake Records had had a son; presumably the whole family liked their privacy.

Smiling, Darla said, "Robin is a wonderful little girl. She's the apple of Tim's eye."

"You sound like you know her personally," Kon said, hoping to coax forth more information before he had to meet the prospective boss and charge.

Darla smiled at his confusion. "I'm Robin's godmother. She's a rather rambunctious three-year-old, and she'll be the first to tell you that she's almost four. And I feel certain that you'll understand when I tell you that if Robin doesn't like you, you're not getting this job, no matter how qualified you are." She punctuated her statement with a stern, steady stare; not a glare, but damn close.

Kon blinked at the sudden change in her tone from whimsical to serious. There was that drill sergeant impression again. "That sounds fair. No sense sticking the kid with someone she doesn't like for several hours everyday." This was probably a thinly veiled attempt to 'interview' his childcare skills, which was quite all right with Kon. He didn't want to deal with a completely spoiled brat on a daily basis, so this would be a good opportunity for him, too.

Darla nodded, seeming pleased with his easy acceptance of this limitation.

"So, do I get to meet Robin before or after my interview with Mr. Drake?" Kon asked, wanting to get the next two interviews over with.

Darla's smile was more of a smirk, but Kon had no idea why she'd be so amused. "During, actually. You'll speak with Tim for a few minutes while I go fetch Robin from the onsite daycare downstairs."

Kon nodded. Onsite daycare, but Mr. Drake wanted someone to personally watch over his kid. Sounded like good parenting to him; the only reason his mother hadn't done the same was because as the boss's daughter, she'd been able to keep him with her whenever she wanted. "Anything I should know before I go in?" he asked, mostly as a matter of form.

Darla's smirked got even wider, and if possible, even more smirk-y. "Probably," she said, "but let's not spoil the surprise, shall we?"

Eyeing her, and wondering if her secrecy had anything to do with her amusement, Kon said agreeably, "All right."

"Go on in," she said, and headed down the hall.

Kon turned around, and made his way to the oaken double doors that heralded Mr. Drake's office. The brass nameplate on the door read Tim A. Drake. Kon speculated on what Mr. Drake was like, and why he'd not put his full first name on the nameplate. Or perhaps 'Tim' wasn't short for 'Timothy'?

Entering the office, Kon found an elegant room tastefully done in shades of blue and gray, with potted plants near the floor to ceiling windows, and comfortable looking furniture near the wall on the right. He was surprised to find a woman seated behind the desk at the far end of the room. A rather attractive one at that; slim and young, her Greek heritage clearly visible in her dark coloring. Long black hair pinned up, with curling tendrils falling winsomely around her face. Big blue eyes topped with luscious lashes and framed by tortoiseshell glasses, lips and cheeks pink through nature and not cosmetic. Wearing a simple navy blue skirted suit, jacket open and the top two buttons of the white blouse undone, she looked like a cross between the 'naughty librarian' and a barely legal high school student in some sexily drawn Japanese anime.

'Rather' was the wrong qualifier; 'very fucking attractive' was more like it, if a bit crude.

Thankfully Kon had met enough beautiful women in his time, that, while he wasn't inured to their presence, he was able to keep his jaw from falling to floor, and to keep from drooling like an idiot.

Taking a wild guess, and hoping he wasn't going to look like even more of an idiot, Kon said, "Ms. Drake?"

She smiled, and to say that it shone like the sun would have been an exaggeration. It was more like a full moon coming out from behind a cloud; not exceedingly bright, but just as beautiful, and serene, while hiding mysterious secrets. Such as her gender. "Mr. Kent," she replied pleasantly, rising from her desk, and revealing herself to be on the short side of average height. It wasn't the large oaken desk that made her look imposing, however; it was her force of personality. "I'm Timothea Drake," she introduced herself, holding out her hand. "Please, call me Tim."

Inwardly bemused, but outwardly pretending calm, Kon shook her hand. "Pleased to meet you, Tim; and please, call me Kon."

"Kon," she said with a smile. Waving at the chair positioned in front of her desk, she said, "Please, won't you have a seat?"

Kon did so, and tried to figure out why Ms. Drake would have purposely kept her gender a secret. Maybe she wanted to see how many people would be put off by working for a woman.

Maybe she just liked fucking with people's heads.

"So, tell me, Mr. Kent…" she started, folding her hands neatly in front of her.

"Kon," he corrected her. If he was supposed to call her by her first name, then she should do the same.

She eyed him archly, but said, nevertheless, "Kon." She paused. "Tell me why you want this job."

Not entirely unexpected, but then Kon had never applied for a position like that before, so he didn't have a ready answer. Luckily, he'd always been good at winging it. "I read your ad in the newspaper, and it sounded…intriguing. I've done a lot of office work, and some of it's interesting, some of it's boring, and most of it's in between." He flashed her a smile, one that dimmed as she remained stoic. "The part of this position that really intrigued me, however, was the childcare involved."

Tim no longer looked quite so unfeeling. She waved her hand and made a 'go on' noise, and Kon obliged. "I've always like children, though I never got to spend much time with them growing up. It was only as I entered high school and started volunteering at the local community center that I actually got to spend time with younger kids." Wetting his lips and thinking back which part of his various 'jobs' to tell her about, Kon finally decided on the pseudo-teaching ones. "I started off by coaching the teenagers in various sports teams: basketball, baseball, street hockey… It was fun for me and them, and I think educational for the kids, because they learned how to work together, and it helped them make friends with each other… I found I was good with the kids, and I liked working with them. So even when I started college, I made time in my schedule to help out at the community center. I started filling in with the younger kids, reading them stories, playing games with them… I liked that even more." Younger kids were so…not needy, exactly, but attentive. It was easy to see the impact he had on their lives.

"And yet, you didn't decide to become a teacher, or go into childcare fulltime?" Tim asked, seemingly innocuously.

And this was the question that could make or break him, Kon sensed. "Part of working in a community center is that it isn't school. It's a place for the kids to get away from their responsibilities for a while, and I suppose that's what it was for me as well. There was a homework clinic and occasionally myself or one of the other volunteers would help the kids with that, but the structure was very…flexible." Leaning forward and looking her in the eye, Kon said, "Also, after about the dozenth conversation with one of the kids over what they were going to do with their lives once they got out of high school, whether or not they should go to college…I realized that I didn't want to follow in either of my parents' footsteps. I wanted to go into music."

Tim blinked, looking mildly surprised. "Really?"

Nodding, Kon said, "Not as a singer, or even a songwriter…I just wanted to work behind the scenes. Producing or directing, I guess you'd say. Helping the music get out there."

"There's going to be more 'directing' than actual production involved in this job, Mister– Kon," Tim corrected. "Hobnobbing with stars is only a very small part of what we do here at Drake Records."

"That's fine with me," Kon said. "I–" He was interrupted by a knock at the door. It was followed by Darla and a young girl entering. The girl was short and blonde, with green eyes so big Kon could see the color from all the way across the room. She was wearing a pink T-shirt under denim overalls, and sneakers with sparkly laces.

"I hope we're not interrupting," Darla said in a pleasant tone of voice that indicated she meant exactly the opposite.

Kon wondered if this 'surprise' visit was another test, and knew it had to be. If there was one thing he knew about kids of all ages, it was that things rarely went as you expected them to where they were concerned.

"Not at all," Tim said, rising from her chair with a soft smile. A true smile; Tim was finally using the action as an expression of happiness instead of as a matter of police discourse.

The little girl, Robin, presumably, took a long look at Kon, nose scrunching up in some mixture of confusion and childish disdain. Tim's movement drew Robin's attention away from examining Kon, and she let go of Darla's hand, running towards Tim with a cry of, "Mama!" She threw her arms around Tim's waist and hugged her tightly, smiling widely up at her mother.

Up close, the little girl was even cuter than Kon had originally realized. Her shining blonde hair framed childishly round face, dimples just peeking out on her cheeks. Sparkling emerald eyes shone like gems and were that complimented by a pert little nose, liberally sprinkled with freckles. At first glance, Robin didn't look much like Tim, but there was something there that was reminiscent of her mother.

The determined set to her chin and the take-no-nonsense attitude were definitely vintage Drake. And so was her smile. The smile Tim had on her face now wasn't muted like the moon any longer; now it did shine brighter than the sun, rays of tenderness radiating out as she stroked her daughter's hair softly.

If Kon knew nothing else, he knew Timothea Drake loved her daughter.

"Mama, who's he?" Robin asked, curious, as if she hadn't met half a dozen other applicants that very day.

It heartened Kon to think that maybe he had been the first one to pass the first two (three?) tests and meet Robin. "I'm…interviewing for a job with your mother." And Kon sincerely hoped he got the job; from what little he'd seen, Robin seemed like a sweet kid.

"What kinda job?" Robin asked with a mix of interest and suspicion.

"Her personal assistant."

Nose scrunching up, Robin asked, "What's that?"

"It's a job where I help her out by doing stuff for her so she doesn't have so much work," Kon said, trying to think quickly through what exactly this job would mean for Robin specifically. "And when she's really busy, I'll spend time with you so you don't have to be alone." 'Alone' was better than 'by yourself'; it implied that Robin wouldn't want to be lonely, not that she couldn't look after herself.

A mulish set to her jaw, Robin said rebelliously, "I wanna spend time with Mama, not with you." She stamped one foot petulantly. "Why can't you do alla her work, and then she wouldn't be busy, so's she could spend more time wif me?" In the mind of a child, it was that simple.

Unfortunately, the world was run by adults.

"I'm sure you would like that," Kon said soothingly, "and so would your Mama. Most of the time, I'll be doing just that, but some of the stuff your Mama has to do herself, and so those times I'll spend with you." At least, he thought that was what nanny part of the personal assistant job entailed.

Looking at him warily, Robin cupped her elbows in her hands and said, "And Mama will get to spend more time with me?"

"Yup," Kon confirmed. Hopefully, anyway. He knew well how busy an executive position could keep someone.

"You promise?" Robin blinked those wide emerald eyes up at him guilelessly.

Kon blinked. She was all blonde curls and those big green eyes, and it looked as if she was going to have her mother's long legs one day. Boy, this kid's gonna be a heartbreaker when she gets older. "Um…I'd like to, but that's really something your mother has to promise. I would just work for her." He sent a quick look towards Tim, who didn't seem to have a problem with what he'd said; but then, he'd already seen ample evidence of how well she could school her expression.

Still, she hadn't interrupted the little Q&A session between him and Robin once, so Kon was inclined to think he'd done an okay job.

Robin sighed and slumped, deflating like a balloon. "I guess you're right," she said, obviously unhappy. She thought for a moment and asked, "Do ya like playing Barbies?"

"Er…" Kon coughed. "I don't think I've ever played Barbies before…" He'd played Tonka trucks, Hot Wheels, Cowboys and Indians, Jedi and Sith, 'House' and any number of tag-type games, but none of the little girls he'd ever mentored had wanted to play Barbies with him.

He actually felt kind of cheated. At her pout, he quickly added, "But I'd be willing to learn. You could teach me."

Robin seemed reluctant to be coaxed, however, and grumbled under her breath. "Do you at least know how to braid hair?" she asked plaintively.

Kon nodded. "Yes, indeed I do." Legacy of having once had a girlfriend with long hair; he could do pigtails, ponytails; everything from French braiding to French twists.

Thankfully, he was pretty sure that Robin would be less exacting than Cassie. A few stray curls here and there would probably pass muster with her.

"All right," Robin said reluctantly. "I guess that's okay." Giving him a childish parody of a stern glare, she waved a finger at him and said, "But you better me nice ta me or I'll tell Mama on you and you'll gets fired."

He was entirely certain that would happen. "You got it, Miss Robin, ma'am," Kon replied with undue seriousness.

Robin eyed him as if she trying to verify the veracity of his facetious statement, then huffed and flounced back to Darla. After exchanging a speaking glance with Tim, Darla took Robin's hand and led her out of the office.

It took Kon a moment to realize that perhaps he should get off the floor and back into his chair; he did so was all due haste, trying to look as if he'd meant to wait a few moments before moving. Without any lead-in, he asked, "So, did I pass?"

Tim obviously thought highly of his intelligence – at least in comparison to the average monkey – and didn't try to pretend that his meeting with Robin hadn't been a test. "With the proverbial flying colors, Mr. Kent," she returned dryly. Her eyes twinkled a smirk at his obvious pleasure with his 'high marks.' "At least when compared to the rest of the applicants."

Kon deflated slightly at that, but still, it meant he was near the top of the list for getting the job, didn't it? "Well, I've always tried to be a cut above the rest." Ambition was the only way to get noticed in the business world; both of his parents had taught him that.

"Mm." Tim folded her hands in front of her on the desk and leaned forward. "Kon, let's talk turkey here. I need someone for this job, and I've been looking at applicants for a week. You're the first person that hasn't either outright annoyed me, or pissed me off by how high-and-mighty they acted with Robin." Her eyes turned sharp as daggers, and her teeth suddenly looked pointed. "But I've never been one for choosing the lesser of two evils, especially when it involves my little girl."

Kon nodded, waiting a moment to speak to make sure she would allow him to. "I can see that you're very protective of Robin." Hopefully that was an innocuous enough statement.

Not quite bland enough, to go by the eyebrow she raised at him, but close. "Nothing is more important to me than Robin," she stated. At Kon's nod, she relaxed a bit. "You were good with her," she said, tone taking a turn for the mild. "And she seemed to like you. But in cases such as these, time will tell. And I still don't know how you'll handle the office work."

"So?" Kon prompted, when she seemed inclined to let him talk again. "What does that mean?"

"I propose a trial period," she said slowly. "Give you two weeks to get used to things around here as my secretary, then another two weeks to work with Robin. If, at the end of the month, I think you'll work out in your capacity as my personal assistant, I'll hire you full-time."

"And if I still want the job after a month of working for you," Kon said bluntly, making sure she knew that, while she would be his boss, he wasn't going to let her walk all over him.

Now she looked amused. "Yes, if you still want the job." Narrowing her eyes at him, she asked, "Do you agree to the probationary period?"

"Is the pay going to be the same?" Kon asked immediately.

Tim snorted. "Yes, but the benefits don't kick in until you've been working here six months." And if he didn't pass the trial period, he wouldn't have a chance at them.

"A try-out sounds fine to me," Kon said. "If you can handle having me follow you around all the time." He had a feeling that as long as he worked out with Robin, it wouldn't matter how abrasive she found him personally. He could already tell that she was a serious, no-nonsense type of person, while he was rather more laid-back. Their managerial styles would probably clash; hopefully not too badly, or he might not get to see the second half of his trial period.

"You'll mostly be out front at the secretary's desk," she told him. "And I think I can handle you 'hanging around' just fine, Kon." She raised a brow and said challengingly, "If you can 'handle' working for a woman…"

Kon smirked. "I have no problem working for a woman." He'd worked for his mother off and on for years, after all, and working for a relative, no matter how beloved, always entailed complications of its own. "Especially one as lovely as you," he added teasingly.

Tim shifted uneasily in her chair, a closed expression coming over her face. "I don't think flirtation needs to be a part of your duties, Mr. Kent."

"I offer it as a free benefit," Kon quipped. Then he softened, sensing how uncomfortable she was with his interest. "But I'm perfectly capable of remaining professional while on the job, Ms. Drake."

"Let's hope so," Tim said primly, eyes flashing. "And it's 'Miss.'"

Of course it was.