Signing Bonus
Rplog-icon Who: Sophia Flores, Lex Luthor
Where: Lex Force One
When: July 1, 2012
Tone: Social
What: Sophia Flores is made an offer she can't refuse.

Texas is known for its heat. One way to beat this heat is to be taken to the airport in style. Which is why there's an overly expensive town car parked right in front of the residence of Sophia Flores at this very moment. In fact, the back door is already open and ever so inviting, whilst the driver of this expensive car is standing right in the walkway, hands behind his back and waiting patiently for whomever he is ordered to pick up shows themselves. There's a small LX pin on the lapel of his suit jacket, but nothing too gaudy. Only the truly observant will notice such small details.

It's the end of another long day at STAR Labs, but it's also the last day of Sophia's internship. So there were hugs and cake and such for the interns and promises that hiring offers would be going out starting at the beginning of the week. After all the festivities, the girl hopped in the car and drove back to her little apartment. It's not much of a place: it's on the east side, which is growing more to the funky and less to the slightly sketchy, but the complex itself is still clinging to the idea that it doesn't need to renovate while hopefully raising the rent so they can approach rates in the neighborhood.

So she's stepping out of her beater with a box of stuff from her work cubicle when she sees the man and the sleek car; glancing from him to his vehicle, she says: "I gotta ask. Who're you waiting for?"

"Ms. Sophia Flores." comes the voice from the driver that doesn't spare her too much of a glance. In fact, he's merely looking forward and at the building to make sure that he doesn't miss anything. "Would you, by chance, know if she's home?" He still hasn't broken his gaze with the building, clearly wanting to not mess this up. Apparently, Lex Luthor will be very angry if this gets screwed up and one knows that making Lex Luthor angry can result in any number of different things. All bad.

The car is still on, so it is somewhat obvious that he is here to take her somewhere. Anywhere. That isn't this horrible apartment building. Ugh.

Quiet. Very quiet for a moment as Sophia stares at the man. At the car. She actually takes a step back, resting her rear on the side of her own car and clearing her throat. "She's not. I mean, she's here, but she's not in her apartment because she's... me. I'm Sophia Flores." She juggles the box of cubicle tchotchkes to her other arm and extends her hand. "Uh, did I... piss off the FBI or something?"

Moving quicker than he probably should, the driver is reaching out to take the box. There is no need to be juggling such things when this man is here to do just that. "Ms. Flores! My apologies. If I had known, I would've introduced myself straight away.

With her box firmly in the grip of one hand, he shakes her hand with the other and proceeds to motion towards his car. "I am Jensen. I'll be driving you to the airport." The trunk pops open on the car and he's already working to get the box inside. "Will you be requiring assistance with anything in your apartment?" He makes no mention of the FBI. Hm.

What the what. Sophia stares at Jensen and slowly puts her hands on her hips, watching him load up her desk stuff. "Um. What? I'm not going to the airport. Nobody told me I was going to the airport. Can we maybe back up about... five steps and you tell me what the hell is going on here?"

"Apologies. I was under the impression that you already knew." He turns to make his steps back towards her, reaching into his jacket and coming out with a small envelope that's addressed to Sophia. "This should clear things up."

Inside the envelope is a letter. A letter that's printed on LexCorp Letterhead.

Ms. Flores,

It is my understanding that your Internship at S.T.A.R. Labs, Austin is coming to an end. While I know this must be a sad moment for you, I would like the opportunity to brighten this moment right back up. Your work is amazing. Your findings impressive. And I would love to personally offer you the opportunity of a lifetime.

Come to Metropolis. On me. I would love to show you your future. ~ Lex Luthor

Sophia takes the envelope, slitting it open with her finger and skimming over it with a slight frown. She draws out the letter and reads, her brow furrowing for a moment before her face sort of... transforms. Her eyes widen. Her jaw drops. For a long moment she just stands there slightly agog.

"Oh," Sophia says softly, and again "Oh. //Oh//. Okay, um. I have to -- can you just wait five minutes? I just need to... I need an overnight bag, that's all, when's the flight leave? I don't want to make us late for it. I'll be right back!"

She rushes to the stairs. Rushes back. "You can come in. If you want. Can I get you a glass of water? Powerbar? Something?" Back to rushing up the stairs, listening for but not waiting for an answer.

Jensen follows, slowly, but not too slowly. He's more focused on making sure that he's inside. He's not worried about anyone taking the town car because of what it says on the license plate. One of the good things about working for Lex Luthor, after all.

"Don't you worry about a thing, Ms. Flores. The flight will not leave without what I've been sent for. You." That almost sounds sinister, but Jensen's so harmless, there's no way it could actually be a threat of some kind. He does, however, make sure that he takes some general stock of the apartment and makes sure to make mental notes about anything and everything that could be used by Lex Luthor in some way. Family photos. Bills. Receipts. Anything. "Take your time. Get everything you need."

It's a really cheerful place. Colorful: bright blues, greens, tomato reds, yellows. It also doesn't look like Sophia is exactly *rich*. Furniture? IKEA and tatty heirlooms, a mix. Pictures of her family and fnriends. A personal computer, but not the most up to date. Bookshelves. A mess of papers on her coffee table. Some potted plants. Cheerful, slightly cluttered, and mildly tacky. It works for her.

She does, as promised, make Jensen a cup of ice water; pushing it into his hand, she goes about throwing a set of casual clothes and an interview suit in her bag. Heels, yes. Stockings. Underwear. Toiletries. An mp3 player and headphones. It's all stuffed into a carryon suitcase with remarkable efficiency, and Sophia steps out breathlessly to grab her purse. Again, cheerfully colorful rather than classy: it's straw braided with a thread of sequins and a big sunflower patch on the side. Girl needs a makeover of her belongings if she's ever going to look elegant. She just looks breathless. And happy.

"Ready!" she says at last. "Don't want to keep anyone waiting."

Jensen is making sure that whatever he might've palmed is tucked away into a pocket, before the water is taken. He proceeds to set it down, though, as not needing a drink is part of his deal. Good thing he keeps his gloves on this entire time. He merely moves to grab at the bag, as someone as important as Sophia should not be forced to carry her own things.

"Don't you worry about a thing, Ms. Flores. I'll have you there in a jiffy." Yes, Jensen just said jiffy. And he's also leading the way back outside where he can file her belongings away in the trunk and make sure she gets nice and comfortable on the inside of the back of the vehicle, where there's all sorts of fresh fruit and champagne and even lots of buttons to push for the curious.

After that? Driving.

She remembers her cell phone when she gets into the back of the car, buckling herself in and pulling it out to send two messages: one to Dad, who probably won't get it for hours, and one to her best friend: Surprise out of town interview! Flying to Metro! Gone for weekend, will call with details.

She settles in then on the drive to the airport, taking a strawberry and eating it happily if somewhat bemusedly as they drive. She starts fiddling with buttons, settling at last for closed windows and cool AC blowing across her face.

But as they drive, she looks around with a frown. She knows this city, and she knows the way to the airport. "Hey! Jensen! I don't mean to tell you your business, but Bergstrom is east. Not north." North makes no sense. There's a few airstrips to the north, but they're just that: strips for private planes, not proper airports. She's driven past Kittie Hill enough times... "Maybe you've got your satnav messed up. If it's just taking you to the nearest airport...?"

"Do not worry, Ms. Flores. This is not a kidnapping. I promise." It only takes them a bit longer to continue on the way to Kittie Hill. Considering how many times she has passed this place, the route there probably becomes more and more obvious and then, well, Jensen just drives right out onto the runway... as if it were nothing more than his own property.

All flights in and out of this have been canceled for one reason or another. The strips are empty. All except one. One contains a silver and black private jet that looks more like something that belongs in a Hollywood movie than on the strip that Jensen is currently driving on. "As I said before, you are in no danger of being late." With a small grin, Jensen pulls the car to a stop and is hopping out to pull open the door for Sophia.

"Your chariot awaits."

Gawking is allowed.

Gawking //happens//.

Sophia pulls off her sunglasses slowly and stares at the airplane, frozen to the spot as her jaw drops and her eyes go wide. She clutches her purse like it's some kind of shield, and for a moment she just... can't go anywhere. "Dios mio," she whispers, standing in the heat and taking a moment to stare.

She points at the plane. "Me?" she mouths, unable to make a sound. She starts walking hesitantly, and perhaps this is a good time to describe just what she's got on. Sophia's love for bright colors extends to her wardrobe: white jeans, bright red Converse, and a yellow and pink-patterned shirt over the top. Her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and together with the straw purse she looks perfectly normal for a girl in Austin in the summertime.

Maybe not so much someone who's stepping up into a private plane that looks like it's worth more than the family ranch.

3.4 times the worth of her family's ranch. But who's counting.

Jensen motions for others to come and collect the belongings from the trunk and get them stashed away on the plane where they belong, whilst he walks with Sophia towards the plane. "This is only the beginning, Ms. Flores." is whispered to her, before he makes with the disappearing and he's off to move the car to somewhere more safe and sound.

The door is opened and the stairs are down which allow for Sophia to climb up and into the incredibly plush and incredibly expensive private jet of epic proportions. To paraphrase greatness: [1]

Without Jensen, the entire luxury liner of epic proportions looks and sounds ever so quiet. Almost too quiet. But quiet enough that Sophia should be just fine with finding somewhere to make herself nice and comfortable, whilst she awaits the Jensen to return.

She looks back to Jensen when he speaks softly to her, flashing him a nervous smile before stepping onto the plane proper. Sophia stares at the cabin in amazement, running her hand across the plush leather of the seats and peeking out the windows. Look left. Look right. It's quiet. I'm alone. With a crow of delight she flops onto the couch, pillowing her head with the cushion and pulling out her cell again. It's old. It's not a smartphone, even; it's a scuffed clamshell. She punches in: "Private plane. Not even kidding. This is the coolest thing WTF how am I even here?"

The door is opened and the stairs are down which allow for Sophia to climb up and into the incredibly plush and incredibly expensive private jet of epic proportions. To paraphrase greatness: Without Jensen, the entire luxury liner of epic proportions looks and sounds ever so quiet. Almost too quiet. But quiet enough that Sophia should be just fine with finding somewhere to make herself nice and comfortable, whilst she awaits the Jensen to return.

She looks back to Jensen when he speaks softly to her, flashing him a nervous smile before stepping onto the plane proper. Sophia stares at the cabin in amazement, running her hand across the plush leather of the seats and peeking out the windows. Look left. Look right. It's quiet. I'm alone. With a crow of delight she flops onto the couch, pillowing her head with the cushion and pulling out her cell again. It's old. It's not a smartphone, even; it's a scuffed clamshell. She punches in: "Private plane. Not even kidding. This is the coolest thing WTF how am I even here?"

Jensen finally returns, though he doesn't even spare a glance towards Sophia at this moment. But the door does close and lock behind him, whilst he makes his way to the cockpit and the private plane starts to get primed and ready for all of that cool stuff called: Takeoff. And then, here comes Jensen's voice through the speakers, "Could everyone please buckle their seatbelts. We will be taking off very shortly."

Wait. Everyone?

Suddenly, as if he weren't there at all before (which he wasn't), is the arrival of none other than Lex Luthor himself. Both a folder and a LexDroid phone box is dropped onto the table from his standing position near her. He's only standing for a moment, before he sits down next to her and grabs at his seat belt to get himself strapped in. He looks all too comfortable in his own private plane.

"Welcome to LexCorp, Ms. Flores."

When Jensen comes in, Sophia looks up just a trace guiltily -- but he doesn't even look her way, so she continues with her texting. La-ta-ta, relaxing in odd luxury. She's not used to it, not by any stretch, but she's damn well going to make herself comfy.

She looks up when Jensen's voice comes over the speakers, blinking in confusion. Well, she's got to belt in; that's a plane rule, even if you're sitting on a couch. She's moving slowly to sit up properly when she catches the movement out of the corner of her eye and --

Oh. OH. Sophia stares up at Lex in something between amazement and recognition and horror and oh-my-God-that's-Lex-Luthor and you're-on-Lex-Luthor's-actual-personal-private-jet. She makes a faint squeaking sound as she seats herself quickly upright, belting herself in and quickly raking a hand through her hair.

Staring at him in momentary incomprehension, at the folder and the LexDroid phone box, Sophia can't help but grin nervously. "I haven't even said yes yet. I don't even know what I'm saying yes to yet. I... ohmyGodyou'reLexLuthor." The last bit has her turning red and clapping her hand over her mouth because yes. She actually just said that.

"My dear, you have no intention of saying anything but yes. After all, as you said, I'm Lex Luthor."

Lex winks and cracks a small smile, before pushing the folder across the table, along with the phone. Both of which are practically screaming: PICK US UP or something of that nature. At least, should she open the folder, she'll find that all of her employment paperwork is in there to be filled out, as well as contracts upon contracts filled with so much legal jargon that the only way out of it would be to sign.

"Allow me to give you the juicy details while you use this pen to secure your future." Lex pulls out his personal pen (Engraved: Lex Luthor) and sets it down on the table too. "You will be in charge of your own lab. Anything and everything you need to continue your studies and experiments will be provided for you. You will have a staff of no less than ten, doing whatever you tell them to, whenever you tell them to do it. All of this, in addition to the incredible salary that you'll see on page 7."

Not that it matters at this point, but Jensen has the plane in the air by now. To Metropolis!

The lurch in her stomach that she feels as the plane takes off is nothing compared to the one when she sees that folder. Cautiously she pulls the folder into her hands, flipping it open and glancing between Lex and the papers as the plane takes off. She's having trouble concentrating because... well, obviously. One hand scrabbles for her cell phone to turn it off because airplane.

She stares at the contract trying to make sense of it. Flip. Flip. "My own -- " She gets to page 7.

That's many zeroes.

She closes the folder tight, swallowing and staring into space for a moment. Her throat works but no actual sound comes out. She covers her mouth. Breathes. Swallows. Takes the pen. Sets the pen down. Turns to Lex.

"I've gotta ask," she says. "Why. Why this? Why me? How the heck -- how do *you*, the smartest guy in the world, head of one of the biggest companies in the world, even know my name? Why would you just hand me... hand me every dream I've ever had, I've gotta admit, on a silver platter?"

Lex was expecting this. Everyone always wants to ask questions. There really should be no need for questions. When Lex Luthor is giving someone the life they have always wanted, they really should just be grateful and accept it. However, Lex Luthor also realizes that it could be a bit out of sorts for most people and thus has prepared for this.

"Why shouldn't I do this?" Lex rebuttals, just as simply. He leans back to get comfortable in his seat, while keeping his eyes on Sophia. "You work extremely hard. You are passionate about what you do. Your work is both novel and correct, which is something that cannot be said for a lot of people in your field. You're talented beyond what you even know of yourself and I want to help you recognize that talent. I want to help you make a difference. I want to help you change the world." Lex is always willing to play the philanthropist card.

"When I started, I was alone. I did everything by myself. I worked my ass off until I reached my goals and now I'm in a position to do what no one ever did for me for others. And I've decided to choose you." And yeah, he'll even work on tugging those heart strings a bit too. "Did I not choose wisely?"

He's hitting all the right notes with Sophia, it seems. She's smiling, and it's surprisingly shyly for a girl who is really almost never ever shy. And she's continuing to stare at a lot of zeroes.

"I just want to understand what makes us different. What makes us the same. How to quantify it. The -- the complexity, the infinite complexity of the human genome. The subspecies of humanity *born* from humans. Do the parents of mutants all have recessive X-genes? What makes a mutate, exactly, and do they pass those traits on to their children? Could the X-gene's effects be used to cure cancer? Stop aging? There's this amazing new frontier of science, of true understanding of genetics, and we're just making sandcastles on the beach."

She takes a deep breath, slumping back and looking at Lex with an amazed smile. "I hope you did choose wisely," she says. "But there's got to be some sort of catch. There's always a catch. You're... you're just doing this because you're impressed with me?" Which is immensely flattering. "Because you're an awesome guy?" Which she's willing to agree to.

Lex doesn't miss a beat on anything that Sophia says. His brilliance is light years behind hers so there's no reason for him to look lost or even stumble at anything that she's rambling about. In fact, he seems to even be interested in the way she's saying these things and making sure they are sounding ever so promising. Lex Luthor is a man that knows what he wants and goes after it. Or, in this case, just takes it.

"Compliments aside? Yes. I'm doing this because I'm impressed with you. I'm doing this because you shouldn't have to spend half your time trying to get funding and half your time working for some company that will have you chasing their latest dreams rather than your own. Your job at LexCorp is what you make it. You choose what you do. You choose what you study. You." He doesn't say that he has veto power over all of this, but that doesn't need to be said right now, does it?

"So. I ask again." Lex reaches out to pick up the pen and this time he even clicks it before extending it out towards her once again. "Are you ready to discover your potential?"

There is... there is just no way she can say no. Sophia looks to Lex with that expression of slightly worshipful amazement that he probably likes quite a lot, really. She licks her lips -- unconsciously, it must be said -- and with a hand that really isn't shaking at all she takes the pen.

Sign. Sign. Sign. Initial initial initial... "You've thought of everything," she says, laughing breathlesly. "This. I don't even. All of this." Initial. Initial. Sign. "I feel like somewhere in here there's a "your immortal soul and your first-born" bit of the contract," Sophia says with a laugh.

At long last she comes to the end. Signs with a flourish. Clicks the pen and really looks at it for the first time. "I can't believe it," she whispers. "Would it be insubordinate if I asked you to pinch me?"

Lex Luthor is not even quick on the grabbing of the folder. He takes it slowly and smoothly as if there's nothing wrong. When that comment is made, though, he can't help but to look up at her with a smile. "I would never want your first born. Do you know how much work a newborn baby is?" Lex makes it a point ot just leave out anything referring to souls. And eventually, the folder is closed back up and on his side of the table. "That's for you." Lex points to the LexDroid box that's sitting on the table. "That's the LexDroid Ultimate. It's not even available to the public yet. Just a gift to welcome you to the team. And so I can reach you twenty four hours a day." Lex is smiling but there's probably nothing but truth behind that smile in regards to that.

"Ah. One more thing." Lex Luthor reaches into his suit jacket, coming out with a long envelope that has Sophia Flores written across the front. "Advance. Since I'm assuming you'll be needing a few things to get yourself settled in Metropolis." Inside the envelope? A check. For fifty thousand dollars.

Souls. Not really Lex's area. Sophia wriggles slightly in her seat, staring at Lex as if he's some angel of science. She snickers at the comment and shakes her head, shrugging and twiddling the pen almost frantically in her fingers. "Haven't had the pleasure, though I do have a little brother. Yeah, that's... not super relevant, is it? I'm just a little crazed; don't mind me. But hey. Signed the contract. That means even if you think I'm crazy now, I am both crazy and *employed*."

Sophia takes a deep breath, resting the pen on her knee and covering her face with both hands. Breathe. Breathe. "Sorry. I'm just a little overcome. A lot overcome." She drops her hands, letting out a whistling breath and reaching out to take the indicated box of LexDroid. Drawing it out of the box, she holds it in front of her and whistles low. "Okay. Seriously sexy phone. Can I turn it on? We're in the air; I don't want the pilot coming back here and yelling at me about interference 'cause he *should* be flying the plane." She accepts the envelope then, unable to help peeking inside and unable to help dropping it in her lap when she does. "Uh. Oh. That's. That's very -- Mr. Luthor, I've got to pack, I've got to shut down my lease, I've got to hunt for an apartment..." And he just handed her the amount she'd expected to make in her first year.

At last, very softly, she whispers: "How can I ever repay you for all this?"

"Taken care of."

Lex Luthor smiles and leans back in his seat. "The apartment building? I now own. So no need to worry about your lease. Your things will be packed up and shipped to you over the weekend. As far as your apartment goes?" Lex is into his pocket again, coming out with a brochure for one of the most expensive and luxurious high rise apartments in the city of Metropolis. It is opened up and spread out on the table. "I've taken the liberty of putting a security deposit on this one for you. It's fully furnished. All you have to do is move in." Lex immediately steeples his fingers, but not in one of those creepy ways. Just a simple businessman way. He really has thought of everything.

Why does he want her so badly?

This is the thought resounding in Sophia's head. WHY does he want *her*? Why does he want her this badly? He's pouring so, so very much money into securing her as an employee that she can't help thinking something is very wrong. She even voices the concern: "This is too much," she whispers, gazing down at the apartment brochure. "Nothing like this doesn't come at a price. Some price. Someday I'm going to be paying back in spades for all this."

She looks up at Lex, and she has to admit she's a little awed by all this confidence. "You really think my work is worth this much?"

"You're right. Nothing is ever free. So I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes, generous benefactors such as myself want the only thing that nobody ever seems to want to give. I put myself out for you and I haven't once asked you for anything. And that's because you don't owe me anything. There is nothing I really want from you. I want to help." Lex Luthor is talking in measured circles at this moment, but it's for a reason.

"I want you to discover your potential. I want you to be the greatest mind in genetic history. And I want everyone to know that I, Lex Luthor, helped you get there. But even more than that, I am simply hoping that I will earn your trust and your loyalty." His hands move from their steepled state and he holds them up to show his palms. No tricks up his sleeve. "Don't give it to me yet. You don't know me from a hole in the wall. But I hope, as you get settled into your new life, you'll come to realize that Lex Luthor is not a bad guy at all."


"Well believe me, Mr. Luthor, I never thought you were a bad guy at all." Sophia grins nervously, cuddling her new phone. Must get contacts forwarded. Must get... everything. What is this. What is this new life? "You're a businessman. All the stuff people say -- you're ruthless, you're interested in profits -- that's what *makes* you a good businessman. And I never saw a lick of proof for anything worse than you just being good at your job."

She clasps her hands in her lap. She smiles at last, big and broad and oh so honest. "I won't let you down. Honest. I'm gonna make you proud, and I'm going to make the rest of the scientific community wish they worked for Lex Luthor."

Lex Luthor grins at this moment. That grin of his could probably solve a thousand problems in the world. He has made his point and she has gotten the point. And he also has the contract needed to make sure that she keeps her word. It is going to be quite the ride for Ms. Sophia Flores and Lex Luthor is going to make sure to ride her until her sanity falls off.

"That's exactly what I wanted to hear, Ms. Flores."

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