Author's Note: First and foremost I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Be safe, be smart, and enjoy the season. This story of course has gotten much longer and more complex than the original one-shot I had intended. It always seems to happen like this, but this won't be 20+ chapter angst fest Lightning Strikes became.
Secondly it's building to something, so you have to be patient. This fic was inspired by one of my all-time favorite stories Shop Girl by the amazing fandom-duty-honor. If you haven't read that or have lived under a rock for the last year, stop immediately and check it out. Go ahead…I'll wait.
Enjoy the story, a kind of post college take on our favorite heroes. Spitfire and heroics are soon on the horizon.
The red head was true to his word, and the next morning Artemis was presented with a steaming hot cup of Vietnamese Lotus Tea, one that smelled particularly good and authentic. She had been in Gotham for over a month now and had had no luck in finding any restaurants or coffee shops that produced anything close to this quality. The annoying mailman had actually put quite a bit of effort in obtaining it and a part of her hated to see it wasted as she accidently knocked it off the table with her overloaded work satchel.
Wally sat across from her at the booth, arms crossed in irritation as the contents pooled on the table before dripping to the floor.
"Really?" he questioned irritably, eyebrows furrowed in disbelief.
"Sorry," she shrugged innocently, packing up her belongings and heading towards the door. "but I would love to know where you got it from."
"Sure tell me your name, and I'll even give you directions."
Her nose crinkled a bit. "Sorry, don't need to know that bad, so as always…leave me alone and not interested."
"Received loud and clear," Wally replied good-naturedly, "See you tomorrow."
Artemis rolled her eyes and groaned, making her way to the elevator. For the briefest of moments she imagined different seedy locales within the city she'd recently discovered where she could possibly hide the ginger's body. This produced a satisfied smile that lasted most of the morning.
Time flew by as she entered the final numbers in the Excel spread sheet and saved it. Looking up at the clock she was surprised to see that it was close to 3:00 pm. She'd missed lunch as usual, but she didn't mind. The Asian market reports were important, and with the big merger set tomorrow, the higher ups needed the reports, and they needed them done right. She had double checked all her figures and took pride in the fact that tomorrow's meeting would be based upon her analysis. She hoped someone would notice, but was resigned to the fact she'd only been at the company a few weeks, and she had to pay her dues like anyone else before she could even think about climbing the corporate ladder.
Artemis took off her reading glasses and rubbed her weary eyes for a moment when she noticed the unmistakable fragrance of Chanel No. 5 emanating from overhead. The blonde opened her eyes and looked up at the smiling face of the attractive well-dressed woman standing above. Artemis immediately straightened up in her seat and popped her glasses back into place. She recognized the brunette from her many trips through the bullpen. She'd always been friendly and cordial to the staff. Of the few times Artemis actually initiated a conversation with a fellow co-worker, she discovered the congenial raven haired woman was actually the senior assistant to the vice president. To see her standing in front of a low level analyst like herself shocked and concerned the blonde that perhaps she had not double checked her numbers as well as she thought.
"Artemis?" The woman asked.
"Yes ma'am," the blonde replied nervously.
"Hi, I'm Zatanna Zatarra, I work for Mr. Grayson."
"Yes mam, what can I do for you Ms. Zatarra." Artemis asked anxiously.
"Well you can start by calling me Zatanna or Zee, whichever you prefer, and second your resume says you multilingual right?"
"Yes mam," Artemis replied rigidly.
The brunette sighed, "Just Zee ok? I'm not huge fan of formalities."
"Uh ok…Zee, sorry. I'm fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, Vietnamese of course, Japanese, and enough Russian and French to get by in a crunch. Is there something you need me to translate?"
"Not quite," Zatanna smiled. "The Japanese contingent arrived a day early, they like to do things like this thinking it will throw us off our game and give them some kind of advantage. Mr. Grayson wants to call their bluff and begin negotiations, but our interpreters are booked until tomorrow."
Artemis swallowed hard, seeing the direction this conversation was heading. "Mam, I have no experience in negotiations whatsoever."
"Artemis you'll do fine, Dick…..Mr. Grayson is great at stuff like this. All he needs is someone familiar with the merger and can speak the language. He's read you reports several times and he's impressed. You know your stuff. You'll be perfect."
Artemis sighed, realizing there was no escape. This was the moment anyone wanting to move up and be noticed dreamed of, however a little warning would have been nice, but chances like this don't happen very often. Depending on traffic she could probably get home, freshen up and put on her best business suit and be back in less than two hours. The cab ride there and back would give her plenty of time to brush up on her Japanese and review the contracts. She stood up and grabbed her bags.
"You can count on me. What time does the meeting start?" the blonde asked.
"Now," Zatanna smiled.
She dropped her bags as her face went pale. Great Artemis groaned.
Zatanna took the blonde by the arm and the two quickly made their way to the boardroom on the top floor of the Wayne Tower. Artemis frantically skimmed over the terms of the merger; cash versus equity, escrow and earn outs, timetables, etc. All seemed in order until she came across the closing conditions of the stock options. The elevator doors opened and Zatanna gently grabbed the blonde and escorted her down the hallway as Artemis reread the closing conditions one final time.
She closed the folder and looked up just in time to screech to a halt and refrain from walking directly into the Senior Vice President of Wayne Tech, a one Richard Grayson. He stood patiently outside the glass boardroom as the Japanese contingent sat sternly inside.
With his team of lawyers and negotiators surrounding them, Zatanna frowned slightly as she forced herself into professional mode. "Mr. Grayson, this is Artemis Crock from the Pacific Analyst group. She's the one who wrote the Southeast Asia Renewable Energy Market report you were so impressed with."
His eyes brightened in recognition. "Right… Hi Artemis, I'm Dick Grayson," he smiled amiably, taking her hand and shaking it. It took all her effort to keep her mouth closed from staring agape as she was introduced to the heir apparent. He looked exactly as handsome as he did on the cover of GQ's 30 under 30, the latest in a series of articles about The young disruptors, innovators and entrepreneurs out to change the world, the same issue that rested comfortably on her bedside table.
"Look, I'm really sorry to have yanked you up for this without any warning, but the interpreter firm we use mysteriously had two guys out and the other two double booked. Truthfully I wouldn't put it past Yashida Industries to have actually booked them up, but I don't like being bullied. Thanks for doing this, I really appreciate it."
"Uh…yes sir," was all she could come up with. Brilliant response Artemis she cursed herself. Dick smiled and squeezed her hands.
"Don't be nervous, you're going to do fine. I've read your reports; you know the market and their company probably better than they do. What do you say we go buy ourselves a tech company?"
Artemis nodded and looked over at Zatanna with a panicked look. The brunette smiled back at her and mouthed, "You're going do great. Stop worrying."
Artemis nodded and took a deep breath, thankful for the senior assistant's support. As the lawyers slowly entered the boardroom, Artemis paused nervously, attempting to get the Vice President's attention.
Dick paused as his lawyers made their way past them and inside and seated themselves.
"What's wrong Artemis?" he asked calmly.
"Sir, I'm no senior analyst or anything, but just glancing at the contract they submitted, all of the option prices are not only based on the yen instead of the dollar, but they're well below market value. To put it bluntly, they're screwing us."
Dick broke out in a smile and nodded. "I've had a whole team of lawyers working on the language of this contact for months now, and you're the first one to notice the discrepancy. You are good."
Artemis tilted her head and stared back at him quizzically, her brows furrowed in mild confusion.
Dick came closer to her, his voice just above a murmur. "They're not entitled to any splits of the stock within the first 12 months of the merger, and after we announce we've acquired their technologies and copyrights, were going to announce our split four weeks later. Within ten months or so, our stock price will be back to pre-merger prices. We and our stock holders will come out of this looking really good financially speaking, and there's nothing Yashida can do about it, but that was a great catch on your part."
"I told you she was good," Zatanna beamed
Dick nodded. "Let's get this done before they figure out whose screwing who."
Artemis laughed quietly. She didn't know what she had expected of the higher ups that evaluated her work, but she surely didn't expect them to be so close to her age and so….normal. These were powerful people that changed the face of business regularly, but they seemed like they'd be just as comfortable at a college bar watching football as they would signing a multi-billion dollar merger.
Two hours later both sides exchanged handshakes as the ink on the contract dried. The deal was done. The Japanese group bowed respectfully and silently before leaving the boardroom en route to Gotham International and the long trip back to Tokyo, quietly smug and satisfied that they'd pulled a fast one on another arrogant Western company that missed out on the simplest of errors. "No wonder their economy is crumbling," one executive smirked stepping into his limousine, "these Americans can't even do simple math."
The Wayne negotiators shook hands and dispersed, satisfied with another job well-done, leaving Artemis, Zatanna, and Dick alone in the glass encased boardroom. Zee came up with three glasses of champagne that literally appeared out of nowhere. "I told you you'd do great."
Artemis smiled proudly, "Wow that was….that was kinda of fun."
Dick nodded in agreement. "It can be when you come out on top. They'll do fine in the long run, but I'd like to be a fly on the wall back in Tokyo when they realize what they signed, but you know things like this happen on both sides from time to time, it's just the nature of business."
"Mr. Grayson, thank for giving me the opportunity."
"No thank you Artemis. Not many people could have pulled off what you did today. You did great, I mean it. Zee maybe we should rethink the Wayne policy on in-house interpreters. Cancel the contract with the Gotham Language Institute, I think we need to get back to using our own people specifically. I think Artemis alone could pull off the whole Pan-Pacific region without all the headaches and red tape we get from that firm."
"I think that's a great idea," Zee agreed.
"I'm sorry, what now?" Artemis asked confused.
The two ignored the blonde's confusion and continued. "Zee call Schwarz over in the counsel's office to draw up the termination language. I want to see it before they send it, and how about first thing next week we get the guys down in personnel together and officially hammer out a title and a pay schedule for the new positions. She'll be our first hire, then will post the position for the other regions later."
Zatanna nodded and finished entering the instructions into her iPad for processing as Dick continued.
"Let me take you two out tonight, call it a business dinner, celebrate the merger and your new position with us. Zee you up for it?"
"I can't," she sighed, "I have that thing tonight."
"That's tonight? Oh yeah," Dick replied dejectedly. "Maybe we should do it another night, you might need my help."
"Nope. KF and I have that covered, provided he shows up on time… I swear that boy… anyway you two have fun, we'll be fine."
"Ok. Well Artemis if you'll be so kind to join me, I have a standing table at Cipranis. Now don't go get all fancied up this, what you have on will be great. I'll send a car for you around 8:00. Is that good for you?"
Artemis nodded, her head swimming.
"Great, See you tonight. Zee call me later and…tell me how it went."
"Will do," the brunette replied. Dick smiled and walked off, entering the code into the keypad of his private elevator before disappearing behind steel doors.
Zatanna walked over to the board table and collected the contracts as Artemis stood frozen. "You'll like the restaurant. It's a tad trendy, but the entrees are wonderful, and the croquembouche is to die for. You better head, you know how bad that Gotham rush hour traffic is. Have fun."
"Zatanna, what just happened?" the exasperated blonde asked in bewilderment.
"You just got promoted," the brunette smiled.