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Chapter 3: Preliminaries
palladian23 wrote in superwebnovel
Author's Notes: Warnings for this chapter - Vague death threats
Once again, I'd like to give thanks to my fabulous editor gwoman for her work on this chapter!

Back to Chapter 2

As she opened the door, she could hear the television in the background. The condo was dimly lit, but through familiarity she didn’t need more light, and made her way down the long front hall then turned left to go into the living room. Kurt sat on the couch watching some show she wasn’t familiar with and turned as she came into the room. The back of the couch ruffled his short blonde hair as he moved and his blue eyes seemed tired.

Gently smiling in greeting, Lex couldn’t help but think back to when she’d first met Kurt Soames about two years before. She’d been in a week-long class to learn a new software tool for work and had been paired with Kurt to work on the same computer. He’d charmed her with his quick wit and dry sense of humor, and she’d done her best to help him learn to use the tool, because he’d been pretty hopeless with it. They’d had their first official date the Friday the class had ended, and had been together since then. Lex swallowed the sentimental lump in her throat at the memory and met Kurt’s eyes again.

“Hey, sweetie,” she said while leaning over to take off her shoes.

“What happened to you?” he asked in surprise, looking her shoes up and down and taking in the bandage on her hand.

She laughed wryly. “It’s a bit of a long story. Let me make something to eat and then I’ll tell you.”

Kurt glanced at the TV, which had gone to commercial. He used the remote to shut it off, saying, “I’ll come with you; this was kind of boring, anyway.”

Lex poked around in the kitchen for a while, finally settling on putting a frozen dinner into the microwave. They sat at the kitchen table as Lex explained as much as she could of the afternoon’s events, showing off her torn skirt as she got to that point in the story.

“Anyway,” Lex said as she neared the end of her description, “they told me that a courier would come by tomorrow with their answer, and that I should be prepared to respond to them by the end of the day if they had an offer for me.” She laughed softly and shook her head as the microwave cycle ended, and she moved to get her dinner. “It sounded a bit pretentious, I thought. I figure I’ll just get a rejection like I have from most of these other interviews.”

Kurt shrugged, looking thoughtful. “I don’t know about that. I’ve never heard of the outfit you interviewed with, but some of these small agencies have odd rules that they follow. They may well send a courier by, so don’t plan on going out tomorrow morning. We can shop for a new suit and shoes for you over the weekend, after we have lunch with my parents on Saturday.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” Lex replied quietly as she felt the unrest in her stomach start. Part of the queasiness came from considering the balance currently on her credit card. She could charge a lot more to it, but she hated the idea. Lex also didn’t relish the argument she knew she’d get when insisting on paying for her new suit herself. No matter how many times Kurt offered she still didn’t feel right about spending what probably amounted to his parents’ money. The other reason, contemplating lunch with his parents, usually made her feel a bit nauseous due to nervousness. Also, the pot pie she’d chosen was cardboard-like on the outside and unpleasantly gluey inside, which wasn’t helping in the least.

“All right, it’s settled, then,” Kurt said with an air of finality, trying to stifle a yawn. “And don’t be surprised if you do get this job. It sounds like they were impressed with you at the interview.”

Lex smiled a little uncertainly. “It’s just like nothing I’ve done before,” she replied. She hadn’t been sure exactly what she could reveal of her conversation with Sauer, so she’d just settled on telling Kurt that it looked like they would want her to do something different than she had been doing, something related to her martial arts training.

“Well, maybe it’s time for a change. And, there must have been a good reason for what they did because they contacted you, remember.”

Lex nodded, thinking maybe Kurt was right in that regard. They must have decided to contact her for some purpose, and maybe she should just trust in that. She smiled up at him. “Thanks. You always have a way of making me feel better.”

Kurt smiled in a way that made her heart jump. “That’s my job. Speaking of which,” he said, looking at the clock, “if I’m going to make it to my less-important day job tomorrow, I should think about turning in.”

Lex looked at the clock and noted that it was past nine thirty. “You’re right,” she said with a sigh. Then she looked at Kurt through the lashes of half-closed eyes. “So, would you like me to tuck you in?”

He chuckled low. “I thought you’d never ask.”

“Get ready for bed and I’ll join you there,” she said with a smile.

Forty minutes later in the gym downstairs, Lex hit the heavy bag as she went through one of her many forms. It could be done without using the bag, but she liked to do it this way if possible, since it kept her mindful of what it was like to hit a person, something she needed to remember when using martial arts. She took it easier than she normally would have, pulling some of the hand-intensive blows with her left hand so that her wound wouldn’t reopen. Lex could feel a trickle of sweat moving down her spine, under her t-shirt and sports bra, as she fluidly went through the movements. The bag stuck slightly to her arms as she hit it, and the familiar slick feel of it along with the usual smell of old sweat when she hit it seemed to relax her somehow. As she worked through the catalog of motions, she could feel her heart and lungs speeding up, and she moved with the heavy bag as if it were her dance partner or her lover.

At the same time, Lex found her mind wandering to a subject it had returned to again and again lately. She wondered if it was normal to feel like such an outsider with your partner’s family. Worse, the feeling had grown over the past few months to the point where she’d begun feeling more like a stranger even when it was just her and Kurt. Many things he seemed to understand naturally she felt she never would, and vice versa. Sighing, she made an effort to let go of those feelings, telling herself that, due to her bad upbringing, she just didn’t know how to connect with his family yet and that she had a case of nerves due to the mention of marriage. Smiling at herself, she punched the heavy bag squarely and moved on to the next sequence.

As she showered after her workout, Lex thought that tomorrow she'd apply for and follow up on job applications like she usually did, and she’d wait. If someone called for an interview (not a really common occurrence these days, but it happened), she would try to put them off until later in the afternoon or another day. Nothing wrong with giving the M Agency one day, she rationalized.

By the time she’d finished with her shower and puttered on the computer for a while it had gotten to be after midnight, and her hair was dry enough that she felt she could go to bed without causing it to twist into undesirable shapes by the next morning.

Yawning, Lex settled in next to Kurt and cuddled into him. He moved slightly in his sleep, pressing up against her. She felt a heavy weariness settle over her, and fell asleep in moments.

She sat on a big rock overlooking a rushing river, the uneven surface rough against her hands as she leaned back. She could hear the dim pounding of a vast waterfall in the near distance and could even taste it in the tiny, clean breeze that blew by. The day looked slightly overcast and chilly, but she felt a great sense of peace seeing the water running by, the little bit of sun casting a glow over everything and the dark tree branches brought out against the sky by their lack of leaves.

She knew where she was, having dreamed like this before, and she smiled as she turned to her right. “Uncle Joe,” she said with a smile, as if she hadn’t been sitting here with him the whole time.

The spare man beside her smiled gently in reply. Her uncle was a writer, an excellent one, and she had always admired him. She’d gone to visit him in Buffalo, NY, years ago, and they sat now as they had many times before in her dreams, watching the river and talking. He would sit there in his plain, durable clothes looking a lot like a farmer, gazing up at the trees, listening intently to what she said, and asking questions that made her think further. She loved these dreams more than any other she had.

Since she knew it was a dream, she explained to him what had gone on that day at the interview, leaving nothing out as she watched the water, throwing the occasional rough pebble into the river. He nodded, listening patiently and hearing out what she wanted to say.

When she finally finished, she looked at her uncle, trying to read his reaction. “So, what do you think?” she asked.

Her uncle laughed softly as he turned to look at her. “The question is, what do you think? How did you like this place? Do you think you could be happy doing that type of work? How about the people you’d be working with?”

He paused for a moment, looking at the trees overhead before continuing. “One of the things you may want to think about is the fact that when you start something new like this, it will change your life.”

She’d thrown a puzzled look his way at that, so he turned to look at her as he went on. “It doesn’t necessarily mean the changes will be huge, but they may be. You’ll gain new relationships and may even lose some old ones. The differences may be large or small, for the better or not, but our actions have repercussions way beyond what we can see.”

She sat quietly for a while, trying to soak in what he’d said and trying to ignore the little chill that slid down her spine. “I’m not sure I follow exactly,” she eventually replied. “It’s just a new job, isn’t it?”

Her uncle smiled at her again. “Is it?” he asked. After a pause, he added, “Try to give it as much thought as you can. Just because they’re in a hurry doesn’t mean you have to be.”

“What do you think I should tell them?” she asked, trying to cut to the point, feeling that her time with her uncle was growing short.

He looked her in the eye. “I can only tell you what I would say, from my perspective. That wouldn’t help you make your decision, since there are things you want that I probably don’t even know about.”

She tried to ask more, but her uncle’s voice trailed off then, mixing with the splashing rush of the river and the distant roar of the waterfall. The scene faded away into darkness, and she slept peacefully on.

Sometime later, Lex felt herself floating upwards through veils that were progressively lighter colored. Eventually her eyes fluttered open. As she looked at the clear morning light slanting through the mostly closed blinds, she sat up quickly and glanced at the clock. It read past nine o’clock, later than she'd wanted to wake up. She muffled a curse and jumped out of bed, missing the soft sheets and pillows even as she did.

Running to the intercom, Lex turned it up as high as it would go, so that if someone tried to ring in while she showered, she would hear it. As she quickly pulled her clothes off, Lex called the downstairs desk on the intercom to let them know about the courier and ask them to ring her back if one came.

She finished undressing as she rushed into the bathroom, throwing her clothes into the hamper and starting the shower. Lex frowned as she thought back to earlier that morning, however, remembering waking briefly as Kurt dressed to get ready for work, around seven thirty. She’d smiled sleepily at him and asked, “Why didn’t you wake me up? I could have made you some breakfast or something.”

Kurt had smiled back at her as he’d finished knotting his tie in the mirror. “I could tell you got to bed late, since you didn’t even move when I got up. I knew you had someone coming later to talk about the job you interviewed for yesterday, so I thought you needed your sleep.”

Lex’s smile had grown as she’d closed her eyes again. “Thanks, sweetie,” she’d replied. “Could you set the alarm for an hour from now? I’d like to be able to shower and dress early so that I’m ready in case anyone comes.”

“Sure thing, sweetheart. Just go back to sleep,” Kurt’s voice had floated down to her as she slipped back into dreams.

Maybe he just forgot, Lex thought, but she still felt her face set in an expression of suspicion as she washed up. She shook her head as she tried to let the questions go, closing her eyes as the warm spray hit the front of her body and deeply breathing in the faint scent of chlorine.

Finishing her shower in record time, Lex smiled as she realized she hadn’t heard the intercom, and hurried to her closet to find a suitable outfit. Since she wasn’t sure whether the courier would come or whether it would involve another interview if they did, Lex opted for a button-down oxford shirt in French blue and off-white dockers and anxiously threw it all on. After straightening herself out in the mirror, including her hair, she felt a little more relaxed and went to the kitchen to fix some breakfast.

When the intercom finally sounded, she jumped at the loud noise and then ran over to the speaker to turn it down. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she pushed the talk button.

“Ms. McKilliam?” the person from the front desk said, “Your courier is here.”

“Thank you. Please send them up.”

Lex re-folded the newspaper she'd been reading and took her tea out to the living room, opening the blinds to let in the bright blue day. She realized she still felt a little nervous, so Lex sat on the couch and concentrated on breathing deeply and slowly, holding her tea mug and letting the warmth seep into her cold hands, until she heard the knock on the door. Even then, Lex had to hold herself back from jumping at the sound.

She opened the door to see shoulders and had to look up to spot a thin face with dark eyes, lots of dark wavy hair, and what looked like a chauffeur’s cap on the man’s head. She felt a bit surprised at that, never having seen such a thing in real life, but she realized as she drew back from the door that the outfit he wore looked every bit like a chauffeur’s uniform, something she’d previously only seen in films.

“Hi,” Lex finally managed, “come in, please.”

The man walked through the door, ducking slightly. He wasn’t quite that tall, but with the addition of the hat it might have been necessary. He had a large envelope in his hands, and he followed Lex down the entrance hall.

When they got to the living room, Lex turned around to face him. “I’m not exactly sure how this is supposed to work,” she said uncertainly. “Will you be staying long enough for some tea?”

He smiled then, but it came and went so quickly that Lex felt unsure it had ever actually existed. “No, Ms. McKilliam, but we can sit for a few minutes while I go over some things with you.”

Lex sat on the couch, while the man chose a chair not far away. “Please, call me Lex,” she said. “What’s your name?”

Again, his disappearing smile shone out and vanished. “Carl Palmer. Nice to meet you.” After a pause, he dropped the large envelope on the coffee table in front of Lex. “First things first. You’ve received an offer from the M Agency for a spot on their team. In front of you is a set of all the paperwork you’ll need to read and sign before starting your new position.”

Lex took up the envelope, folded the lip back, and felt her jaw drop as she saw a sheaf of papers inside that measured about an inch thick. She stared back at Carl with dismay in her eyes as she let her thumb fan through the stack. He remained stoic despite her gaze and continued on.

“There are a good number of papers there, so we don’t expect you to have them all reviewed by the end of the day. Get through what you can, and you can finish the rest off tomorrow if you decide to accept. The most important thing is that I’ll be back here today at five for your response. If you decide not to join, please fill out the first set of papers in the stack, which constitute a confidentiality agreement, and give that back to me along with all of the rest of the documents.”

He caught her eye then and gave her a hard look. “Make sure all of the papers are there whether or not you decide to join the team. Each one will be accounted for, and if any are missing, that would not be good.”

Carl continued after a pause, his eyes moving to the side slightly, as if he didn’t quite want to look at Lex. “In order to make your decision, please at least read the summaries. We’ve organized the contract into sections and at the front of each one there are a few summary pages that highlight the agreements or rules detailed within the section. That should give you enough information to decide what you want to do.”

Looking at Lex again, Carl asked, “Do you have any questions?”

“Not at the moment,” Lex responded, “but what if I have some when I’m going through the paperwork?”

“You can mark them and ask about them tomorrow, if you like. No one will be available to answer you today, so you’ll just have to factor any questions you have into your decision.”

“Is it possible to get these reviewed by a lawyer?” Lex asked curiously.

Carl looked at her through slightly narrowed eyes and then sighed. “We don’t recommend it.” He took a piece of paper out of his inner jacket pocket, unfolded it, and handed it to her. “Here’s our list of lawyers who are approved to review this documentation, since it’s highly confidential. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t going to be able to turn this around for you today.”

Lex pretended to look at the paper, but she already knew that she wasn’t going to consult any of them anyway, since she didn’t have the money and she’d rather take her chances reviewing the contract on her own than to ask Kurt or his family for a favor. After all, she told herself, I’m not sure I’m taking the job at this point. But she couldn’t stop herself from biting her lip nervously.

“All right, thanks. So,” said Lex, looking at her cell phone, “it’s about quarter after ten now, which doesn’t give me all that much time to get through these. I guess I’ll see you back here at five.”

Carl again smiled one of those almost nonexistent smiles. “See you then, Lex.”

After walking Carl to the door, Lex cleaned off the coffee table, took out the contents of the envelope, and spread all of the piles of paper on it. She briefly read the headers for each stack: Pay and Benefits, Responsibilities, Rules of the Team, Testing Informed Consent, and Confidentiality Agreement. She put the smaller confidentiality agreement that had been on the top of the stack back into the envelope.

Since it looked like a lot to tackle, and due to the fact that her last cup was now cold, Lex took a break to brew herself another cup of tea. While she did she stared out the window, watching people strolling on the sidewalks and driving in the streets below, and wondered what things she’d find in the contract of a group that threatened to kill you for talking about them. Once done with the tea, she gave a final look outside before going back into the living room. She examined the stacks on the table suspiciously but sighed and settled herself onto the couch to begin reading.

Might as well begin with the good news, Lex thought, reaching for the Pay and Benefits section first. She almost dropped her tea on herself when she read the pay amount, however, a figure somewhere between two or three times the highest salary she’d ever earned.

Immediately on high alert, she stared at the Responsibilities section but decided she should finish the summary she’d started with first. Lex did grab a pad of paper from her nearby computer desk, however, and began a list of questions that started with “Salary – why so high?” at the top. As she continued with the Pay and Benefits section, she found to her surprise that all medical expenses were covered without deductible, whether something happened on the job or off. Benefits included a pension plan that looked generous, and usage of the non-restricted team facilities detailed in the Rules of the Team section.

Curious, she turned to Rules of the Team next. It started with a lot of general information on working together as a team and team exercises, but eventually got into a description of the team resources, including the building where she’d be staying (which seemed to be called “headquarters” in the document), and Lex’s jaw had dropped by the time she got to the end of the summary list of perks and resources available. Her interest sharpened as she read about the probationary period that would be expected, however. For the first six months, she’d be required to live at headquarters, other than a weekend out every two weeks.

Lex stopped reading there and looked out the window again, but realized that all she could see from the couch was a corner of the office building across the street and a slice of sky. She didn’t think Kurt would like the idea of her being gone for so long, and she shook her head a moment later to free her lip when she realized she’d nervously bitten it again. Sighing, Lex looked back down at the document, figuring she should read the rest of the summaries before calling Kurt to talk, because there might be other unpleasant surprises. Taking a deep, calming breath brought along with it the faint scents of tea and coffee from the nearby kitchen and the will to forge on.

Continuing, she read that after the probationary period, it was still highly recommended that all team members live at headquarters due to response time limits. She shrugged, since it wasn’t required, but noted it anyway. The only other item of real interest to Lex she found as she neared the end of the summary. In a section titled Reassessment/Transfer, Lex learned that both the team sponsor and each individual member would be allowed to reassess their relationship at each year anniversary after the individual had joined the team. If either side wanted a change, both parties would have to agree on it, whether leaving or transferring, but a stalemate could be put to a team vote to break it. For a transfer, however, the individual had to be with the team at least three years before one could be requested, but at that point the transfer could be to a team located anywhere in the United States.

The description of On-Call Responsibilities first caught her interest in the Responsibilities section. Basically, it stated that she needed to be on call at all times for team emergencies, which were supposedly defined with examples in the detailed document. She did note that she’d be issued a mobile device that she was expected to have on her at all times, rather than using her own cell phone.

The next section, Responsibilities to be Determined, went into the fact that her team responsibilities would be defined over her probationary period, based on her skills and abilities and on the needs of the team. What she’d eventually be held responsible for would be agreed upon by her, the team sponsor, and the rest of the team. She liked that the document stated that her normal duties, including training, wouldn’t exceed a regular forty-hour, five-day work week, but she felt nervous about the idea of stepping into something where she’d have no idea what she would be held responsible for until six months out.

Moving into the General Responsibilities section, Lex read that all team members would be held responsible for training and emergency deployment. Training routines would be created for all members, designed to improve their current skills and build new ones. When no emergencies or other duties took priority, team members would be expected to adhere to their particular training schedule. The exact amount of time expected to be spent training would be balanced with whatever other responsibilities each team member had. The Emergency Deployment section described what would need to be done to gather the team to send them out to assist with an emergency. All team members needed to be able to be uniformed, at headquarters, and ready to deploy within an hour of the initial call. For details, Lex noted they referenced the On-Call Responsibilities section of the contract.

After reading through the Testing Informed Consent summary, a document much shorter than many of the others, Lex felt she knew less about what it contained than when she started. It seemed to be a very generally worded version of some of the informed consent documents she’d seen while working for the National Institutes of Health, documents given to people interested in participating in drug or treatment trials so that they could see what they were getting into and decide whether or not they wanted to get involved. This section of the document seemed to refer to certain unnamed medical tests and procedures that might be requested of team members and what their rights were in taking or not taking them. An initial paragraph highly recommended that team members agree to take tests or treatments requested by team doctors. The paragraph also noted that the team might be working closely with a number of researchers, and that it was also highly recommended that team members work cooperatively with them. Lex made a note about that section, marking it as one she needed to read in great detail later.

The Confidentiality Agreement summary seemed to be a more severe version of the one she had signed the day she interviewed, including the wording that the government or the agency could jail or kill her for revealing confidential information. She was not allowed to talk about her job with the press under any circumstances, and she was to limit what she said to any curious individuals using the guidelines in the detailed section.

After finishing all of the summaries, Lex stretched widely on the couch and looked at the list of comments, questions, and issues she’d documented so far. Well, she thought, at least some of the mystery about why the salary’s so high has been answered. Everything that she’d read in the contract so far had made her worry more about what she might be getting into, but she really wondered if at least some of what they wanted to hold her to was even legal. Shaking her head, she looked at the clock and realized it was nearing noon. This is going to take a lot longer than I thought, she realized, looking at the stacks of papers with a sigh.

Then, thinking about the time again, she smiled. Kurt’s lunch break started at noon, so she could call him to talk over the few things that she wanted to ask him about. If he really has a problem with any of the conditions, Lex thought, I can cut my considerations short here and just tell the M Agency no. The thought of not having to read the rest of the paperwork made her smile again, so she began mentally going through what she would need to cover with him.

After some thought, Lex figured that the only items that would potentially impact Kurt would be the probationary period rules, the transfer clause, the on-call expectations, and the confidentiality stuff. She got together the information she knew and dialed Kurt’s cell phone.

After a few rings, she heard his voice. “Hello?”

“Hey, sweetie. How are you doing?”

“Lex! What’s up?”

“Do you have a couple of minutes? I wanted to talk about some things.”

“Sure. I’m just sitting at my desk eating pizza. Someone ordered for the office today, so I don’t have to go out for lunch. Fire away, just don’t mind the chewing in the background,” Kurt replied.

Lex laughed. “OK, you’ll only have to listen for a while, so eat away. I got the offer from the M Agency—”

“Hey, that’s great news,” Kurt interrupted, his voice suspiciously muffled. “So you’re going to take it, right?”

Lex now almost felt she could smell the pizza, and her stomach growled in response. “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Lex scolded playfully, “I don’t want you choking over the phone!” After a pause, she continued more seriously, “I don’t know if I’m going to take the job, though. There are a few things about it that I wanted to go over with you before I decide.”

“OK, shoot,” Kurt replied, the evidence of pizza talking gone.

“First, in order to get hired on permanently,” Lex began, “I need to go through a probationary period of six months. One of the things about that is that I'd need to live in their facilities that whole time, except for every other weekend. What that boils down to is that if I take the job, for the next twenty six weeks I’ll probably only be able to see you every other weekend, thirteen weekends out of that twenty six.”

Lex paused for a moment and then continued. “Since that's the most immediate thing that’ll impact the two of us, I wanted to mention it first. Please let me know what you think, because I want to be sure that you’re OK with the downsides of this job before I really consider it. If you’re not, I’ll just tell them no and keep looking for something else.”

“Don’t say that, sweetheart,” Kurt broke in. “I know you’ve been looking really hard for a good job, and it would be wrong for me to stand in your way. What’s six months when we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together? It’s not like we’re not going to be able to see each other at all, right?”

“That’s true,” Lex agreed, smiling.

“OK, what else?”

“Well, if I do get the job, there will probably be a lot of it that I can’t tell you about. They have a pretty strict confidentiality clause, so it would be like having some sort of top secret spy job or something. Does that bother you?”

She thought she heard him swallow before he answered. “Not really. I think people talk too much about their work in this town already. Not a big deal. I mean, I don’t mind talking about work things with you, but if you can’t discuss it, that’s fine too. Anything else?”

“A couple more things. There is a possibility that after three years with the team I could be asked to transfer. A number of people would need to agree, but if they do, they could transfer me against my will, I think. According to the summary in the paperwork, they could send me anywhere in the US.”

Kurt fell silent for a moment, then thought aloud, “Well, if they ask you to transfer and you don’t want to go, can you get out of your employment with them?”

“As long as we all agree it should be ended.”

“In that case, I wouldn’t worry about it. If anything goes too far wrong, you could just make a big enough stink that they’d agree to drop you. I could help you with that, of course,” Kurt said, a hint of laughter in his voice, “but that’s three years in the future, anyway. Lots of things could happen between now and then.”

“OK, OK,” Lex said, sighing slightly. Sometimes she felt he took things too lightly in life, but she guessed she could see why. Having his name and the weight of his family behind him had opened lots of doors in his life, and he hadn’t usually had to settle for any sort of situation he didn’t want to.

“The last thing I wanted to let you know about is the on-call expectations they have,” she continued. “Basically, from what I can tell at this point, I’d be on call pretty much 24-7. I don’t know how often I’d be called, but their expectation is that I’d be at their facilities and ready to go within an hour of getting a call, and that I’d always have to have a mobile device on me. I guess that’s not much of a problem where we’re living now, but I just wanted to let you know. It could end up being a hardship if I get called in all the time, or if we decide we want to move.”

She could hear Kurt laughing now. “I’ve heard of this before. This is a pretty standard thing for some law enforcement agencies to have in their contracts, that you can be on call all the time. In reality, what ends up happening is that you have a rotating schedule, or you only end up getting called in once in a blue moon. You remember my brother-in-law, Charlie? When he started out at the FBI…”

Lex spaced out a bit as Kurt went on with the story, which she was familiar with. She found herself wondering whether this situation would be similar, but worried that it might be a lot different. Lex felt puzzled but pleased at Kurt’s reaction in general. Maybe he just figures I’m determined to work and is happy I’ve found something that sounds promising. That’s probably it. She smiled to herself and tuned back in to his words.

“…hardly ended up getting called in at all. Once he’d been there several years, he wasn’t even on the on-call list anymore. So, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Is there anything else worrying you?”

“Well, there are some other things I’ll need to review in more detail and think about, but that’s pretty much what I wanted to talk to you about since it would potentially impact the both of us.”

“Hmmm…secretive already, huh? Well, that’s OK. How much are they offering?” Kurt asked.

She told him, and he whooped. “Take the job, already! That’s some great money!”

“I know, I’m just worried because the pay is so high! I’m wondering what the catch is.”

“Probably some of the stuff you already told me: they want you to live onsite for six months, you’re supposed to be on call all the time—you know, the usual. At least they’re offering to compensate you decently for the inconvenience.”

Lex grinned at his enthusiasm. “I’m sure you’re right. Thanks for talking this through with me. I really appreciate it.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” said Kurt with a laugh. “Just let me know if there’s anything else you end up wanting to talk about. I think it’ll be a slow afternoon, so if you need to call later I should have some time to talk.”

“OK, sweetie, thanks a lot,” said Lex, smiling to herself. “I should probably let you go now so that I can make it through the rest of this crazy paperwork.”

“Just don’t forget to eat lunch. You get really cranky by the time I get home if you’ve forgotten to eat.”

“All right, all right!” said Lex, shaking her head. “I guess you really do know me well. Anyway, get back to work! I love you, Kurt.”

“Love you, sweet thing. I’ll see you tonight.”

And now, Lex thought as she hung up the phone and looked back to the stacks of paper on the coffee table, to figure out more about all the insane things I couldn’t tell you about…

Continue to Chapter 4

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I'm pretty interested to know what happens next between Lex and Kurt, since it's as though you're setting the way for a potential breakup or at least a pretty large conflict between them eventually.

That aside, Lex is getting some ideas as to what sort of top secret team she might be working for, so I'll be looking forward to what questions she'll ask and more details of the team in the next chapter. ^_^

Oh and the dream was a nice way of letting her air her thoughts and think about what she's getting into.

I'm glad to hear it, because there are definitely going to be some interesting things going on there...it's funny, sometimes for someone seeing something like Kurt & Lex's relationship from the outside, it can be much clearer what's going on. I can remember writing this and Lex's thoughts on what's going on between the two of them being so much different than mine...I guess it's hard to get clarity on certain things when you're that close to them, however.

Yes, finally! I'm glad she did get a few more answers, but it seems they just generated more questions, which she's definitely going to be asking. Stay tuned. :D

So glad you liked the dream! I find her dreams turn up a lot in this series, and I like they way they let her subconscious out to work on the things she's learned. Glad you did, as well, and thanks so much for the comments!

Yay! I finally got to read this! :D

I'm very interested in the way things are going to turn out. And even more so on the 'adventures' or 'missions' Lex will end up with in the future. ^__^

I'm guessing Lex will probably be surprised that she even has 'abilities' that she doesn't even know about. I'm excited to see her reaction at the discovery. XD

I was enjoying her interaction with the other girls too. I like Serena. Hahaha. Casey was great. I'm interested in meeting Riss (for some reason she made me think of Babs Gordon as Oracle. Cool and brainy.) And Clara reminds me a bit of Pepper Potts in Iron Man and Alfred Pennyworth in one, all business and unfazeable (it's a word. hehe). Looking forward to them all living together in
one roof. :)
(I mean no disrespect with comparing your characters to existing ones. I know some people don't like that. I just can't help but associate Alfred and Babs because these are the characters I tend to like. The 'supporting cast' defines the hero of the story. And you've got some pretty great characters there already. I have a feeling I'll like Riss more when she finally shows up. And I'm curious about Lily too.)

As for Kurt, I think he's a fairly nice guy but I can't help but feel that there's something nagging Lex about their relationship from the get go. Issues that she tries to push aside to be with him; his family, his outlook and his way of life which is so different from what she is used to or what she grew up with. I guess with some people, they can work those stuff out but some just don't, especially when the other person's family is (very) involved.

I can't see Lex continuously taking shit from people for years and years like that. Even when they're not outright saying it to her face, that oppressive feeling she gets whenever she just thinks about his parents is enough of a tell that she'll eventually feel trapped and want to flee. She's already having the 'fight or flight' reaction. It'll even be more so when they're married (if they do end up getting married) and will put a strain in their relationship.

On the upside, I can see Kurt's pretty good to her and I like that. She takes things too seriously and he balances her out. She needs someone like that to make her feel less pressured and someone who can actually make her laugh. I guess, if Kurt didn't come with the 'family package' he'd be wonderful. But I am seeing a proverbial 'curtain number 2 or 3' about to open for our cool super heroine (why does that word always make me think of drugs? O_o) so I'll wait that one out. ^__^

I think I've made this comment too long... So I'll shut up now. Orz

Thank you for sharing this with us. And I'm looking forward to reading more. Keep up the awesome writing. ^___^

Hey, there...so glad you made it by! :D

So glad to hear you're interested in the story so far, and you'll definitely be hearing more about their missions, and about Lex's undiscovered talents, coming up soon.

Glad to hear you liked the other ladies in the story so far, and I'm glad (not offended) to hear that you find them relatable to others that you've read or seen. Serena and Casey are both so much fun to write, and I have a feeling you'll like Riss a lot when you finally get to meet her face-to-face.

And yes, I definitely hear you about Kurt. I remember writing this at the time and thinking that a certain amount of feelings of dislocation are normal when you're with someone and negotiating how your relationship is going to be, but reading back over the whole thing when I edited it almost made me cringe. I see what she's doing, because I know I've done it before and I've seen others do it, too. For those of us who've had times in our lives where we have no family, we can get desperate to make one, and sometimes grab onto the opportunities that present themselves to us, whether or not we need to twist ourselves into pretzels to make it work.

You're definitely right about a lot of the issues they're facing, especially due to the heavy involvement of his family and Lex's reactions to it. I keep hoping that either he or his family will step up to the plate a little more, because there are some things about their relationship that seem to work well, as you noted. But, well, as you also noted, there are always other fish in the sea, and maybe some that won't come with some of the issues Lex is struggling hard to deal with. Definitely more about this later. :D

Thanks so much for coming by to read, and thanks for the thoughtful comments! Next chapter is coming soon...

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