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Just Business

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Jax got into Hudson on a football scholarship, blew his knee in his sophomore year, and came out five years later with an Masters in Business, close to a hundred grand in debt, and a conviction that it was a dog eat dog world. Which was about when his mom got sick with something the doctors—and there were a lot of doctors—couldn't figure out.

Eobard Thawne hired him the day after he graduated. "I need a smart young man like you," he said. "I have a special position in mind," he said. "Starting is seventy thousand, with extended medical," he said.

"Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Thawne," Jax said, and he kept saying it for two years, sometimes to Thawne, and sometimes just in the mirror at four in the morning. He didn't see a lot of his mom, but she was doing better.

Turned out, what Thawne liked about Jax was the same thing that kept him at the top of his year when half his professors graded on a curve: he was pretty good at exploiting people's weaknesses. In an operation like Thawne's, weakness was the key to motivation, and, most important, Jax knew that Thawne knew his. So he worked hard, and made sure he would never be on the other side of a his desk looking at someone like him. By then, he knew it wouldn't be just his job on the line.

Jax met his special project the third month on the job. "You'll have to keep an eye on Dr. Stein," Thawne told him. "He may be brilliant, but he's also lazy, stubborn and deceitful. I need you to ride him, keep him from cutting corners on my very important project." He emphasised both "very" and "important."

"Of course, Mr. Thawn," Jax said.

From the description, Jax was expecting someone his age, one of those silver spoon college types who hadn't yet learned the meaning of hard work, but Stein turned out to be an old white dude, stack of honours to his name, arrogant little smirk in the picture in his jacket. Jax figured he was pretty used to sitting on all those laurels by now, and that it was about time to shake some leaves loose.

That picture though. Jax picked up the glossy 2x3 headshot and squinted at it, unable place what it made him feel. He didn't remember seeing the guy before, though he was former Hudson faculty, so maybe he had. Still passing someone on the quad or seeing him at commencement didn't account for how that face made his chest tighten. It wasn't just familiarity, it was something more.

"Damn," Jax muttered; he put the picture face down and closed the file. Stein was due in his office in five, and Jax couldn't start feeling bad for some other sucker. He had a job to do.