She looked down at the table in front of her, carefully darkening the outline of what she had drawn. It was getting dark outside, so she turned on her desk lamp to shed a circular pool of light onto the latest comic book that she was working on. She wondered why she even made them; she could never sell them even though she was more than talented enough. Sure, she could give them to the guys, but it wasn't the same. At least she didn't think it was. Maybe she did it because it reminded her of who she really was, which was pretty easy to forget in a life like this.
Tap, tap, tap. It was the sound of distant footsteps. She listened to the noise approaching from down the hall outside of her apartment. She continued inking. The footsteps stopped outside her door and there was a pause. "Just come in, Griffin," she said without looking up.
The door opened. A young man spiky black hair and blue eyes stepped through. "Damn, I really tried this time," he said half joking half serious.
"Your walk, like your fighting style, like your fingerprints, is a unique thing," she said as she set down her inking pen and turned on her stool to look at him.
He looked from her to the desk. A smile crossed his face, "Hey a new one, the guys have been wondering when you were going to get off your ass and do the next one."
"The way you talk to your EX-O could get you court marshaled…or killed," she said with a wry grin.
"Well, don't kill me when I give you this," he crossed the small living and dining room and handed her a folder.
"What is it?" she asked, but already knew the answer.
"A -- special request from the higher ups. Aren't they always?" he leaned against her drawing desk and leafed through the comic book that she had been working on. He watched her open her folder and read its contents.
"What the hell kind of special request is that?" she asked still holding the folder. "And don't they know we just got back?" she asked closing the folder and setting it on the desk.
"The Feds are doing a simultaneous invoice audit of Luthor Corp. It is covering the main office here in Metropolis and Plants One, Two, and Three. They ran out of government employees who specialize in that sort of thing to cover it all, I guess. They just need you to fill in as a supervisor, no real work, just sign off on it when it's over," he said casually. This sort of request had been made of her before and she had done it. She should, they paid her enough to sit around and supervise other people working.
"So why do I get Plant Number Three if I'm so important?" she said dryly.
He hesitated. "I think it is your temporary co-workers that scared off the…" he searched for a nice word.
She picked up the folder again and read more while he was talking, "the interesting people," she said as she looked at who she would be assigned to supervise.
"Rhone, you are going to do it. I know you. It's easy lucrative work, and you know we aren't going to have another mission for a little while. You get so bored during hang time, spending all of your time training or spying…" he trailed off.
"You mean recon," she corrected, "and you know it is necessary." She turned to her bookshelf and looked at the only picture in her small apartment. It was one of the team, the whole team.
"Bishop would be proud of you and what you have done -- what you are capable of," Griffin put his hand reassuringly on her shoulder, looking at the picture as well. He finished, "we all are."
She looked down, "not all of you."
"Everyone that matters or isn't a dick, is proud of you. There, better?"
"He just makes me worry about…cohesiveness," she said, still looking at the picture.
"We elected you EX-O. Everyone had an equal chance to become our superior officer. I think he is the only one who didn't vote for you -- besides you."
She smiled, "You act like it was some sort of huge vote."
"Consensus among the twenty-eight of us that voted for you is a powerful thing. We don't exactly agree on shit like that."
"And I do a lot of other stuff," she said remembering his comment that she only trained. She gestured to her comic book for an example.
"I know you do. Actually, I don't know how you find so many hours in a day."
"Unlike you, I don't spend most of my free time chasing tail at the clubs in the city," she said, nudging him.
"Hey, I do my own recon," he grinned at her. He started to walk out of the room. Half way to the door he stopped. Something had been on his mind for quite sometime, he stopped, "Rhone?"
"Yeah, Griffin," she said casually.
"After -- after Paris, we thought we lost you. Are you sure that you don't remember anything? I mean, you just showed up one day and you had…" he trailed off again when he gestured toward the medium sized tube with the shoulder strap leaned against the wall, close to the desk. It looked like one that an artist would carry, and she did put art stuff in it once in a while, but he knew better.
"I've told you guys everything I remember. And from what you say it was a pretty wicked explosion, and everything until I somehow found my way back here to base just isn't there," she said with a far off look in her eyes.
He nodded and started to walk toward the door again. As he stepped out he said, "Goodnight," over his shoulder.
She turned in her stool, back to her comic book and replied, "Yeah." No one ever really addressed the fact that she truly didn't sleep anymore. She brought her right foot up to the lap of her left leg and took off her sock, contemplating the sole of her foot. She decided to do some research on her new assignment and change her government file accordingly when she finished the page she was working on.
"Well, Dad, I'm not worried because Plant Number Three isn't doing anything wrong," Lex said into his speakerphone, holding a reflective crystal glass of scotch in one hand.
"Just get your invoices straightened out so they can get in and get out as quickly as possible," Lionel Luthor didn't like the government sniffing around anywhere for any length of time.
"Do we have any names?" Lex asked casually. He did background checks on everyone that did any kind of work for him. He did even more lengthy inquires into the ones that would be investigating his plant.
On the other end of the line, a few pages were shuffled. "All boring government employees, Lex. I would be willing to bet they are the most boring people you will ever have the displeasure of meeting."
Lex imagined the sneering grin on his father's face when he said that. Although he had to admit that he agreed. Nonetheless, he liked to do his own research and make his own judgments, "Names?" he asked again, looking at the ceiling.
"Actual auditors are…Ben Carls, Faith Reed, and Jean Rex. They are being supervised by…" there was the sound of more shuffling.
Lex took this opportunity to write the names down. Then he looked at the phone when he asked, "Supervised?"
"Yes, Son, our tax dollars hard at work," there was a pause. "Rhone Chade," he said finishing the list.
Lex wrote down the final name on his list as well. Briefly, there was a woman's voice in the background on the other end of the line. Lex gave a brief, "Bye, Dad," and hung up without waiting for a response. He hadn't been sleeping well lately and wasn't in the mood to try and place the voice. He looked at the list of names he had been given and picked up the phone to call a few of his contacts.
Rhone pulled up to the office building where she was supposed to meet her temporary subordinates. She had read their files, among many others. She knew before she saw them that this was going to be a long, no very long, assignment. She got out of her black sports car and began to walk toward the building. She was dressed in a black fitted pants suit. She didn't like the suit very much, but she had a pair of Air Walks on and a pair of dark wrap around sunglasses, they helped. Her auburn hair was pulled completely up, perfectly bound against her head.
Halfway to the building the glass door swung open and three people walked out. From their file pictures, she knew who they were. She put on her best fake smile; they had to believe she was in business, right? She held out her hand to the first person that approached her, "Mr. Carls, I'm Rhone Cha…."
"Yeah, nice to meet you," he said without taking her hand. It wasn't remotely believable.
"Aren't you a little young? Are you sure that you went to college at all?" questioned the older of the two women that Rhone recognized as Faith Reed.
"I think so," Rhone said with the same smile still on her face. "But to be honest, it's all kind of a drunken haze," she added simply. So this wasn't the best way to start things. She should have realized that these people would be a little hostile that they would be reporting to a twenty-two year old when they were old enough to be her parents.
There was an awkward silence, but Rhone didn't mind. She never did.
Jean Rex broke the silence, "Everyone else's stuff is in my car." She gestured toward the street.
Rhone followed Jean's gaze to a white minivan. "Oh, hell no," she said under her breath. She looked at Jean and with her fake smile again in full force, "Good for everyone else." Rhone started to walk away, ditching the smile and in a deeper voice said over her shoulder, "I'll meet you there."