Lex's anguished scream scared Clark out of a pleasant, heady dream. He banged his hand against the headboard, making a neat hole in the ancient wood and was speeding toward Lex's office before he even was fully awake.
Clark stopped dead in front of Lex's desk, where Lex sat motionless, staring at his laptop.
"Uh, Lex? You okay?" Clark asked warily, unnerved by the utter stillness of Lex's body. He saw Lex swallow, and watched as he proceeded to tap his finger once along the side of the laptop mouse.
"Lex?" Clark prompted again, easing his way around the desk slowly.
"No, not so much, Clark." Lex finally murmured. He heaved a solemn sigh. "She's dead."
"What? What? Who?" Clark breathed out, sinking to his knees at Lex's chair, prepared to comfort. Oh, God, what had happened?
"The computer, it's dead. Windows completely crashed." Lex turned the laptop to face him. The screen was completely black. "All my proposals, all my data, and I haven't had the chance to back up anything for three days!" Lex narrowed his eyes. "Gates is a dead man."
Clark frowned, placing his palms on Lex's thighs. "Lex. How much data could you have lost in three days?" It wasn't like he'd lost an entire series of articles and source data, like Clark had a few weeks ago. That'd had been an experience Clark never wanted repeated in his lifetime.
Lex's eyes focused on him completely now, and Clark forced himself not to cringe.
"A-lot," Lex enunciated, biting his lip slightly.
Clark simply gaped up at Lex, and continued to gently rub his legs. "Do you think there's anyway to recover the--" He began, but was cut off by a long, slender finger pressed against his lips.
Lex frowned. "I wouldn't be this upset if I hadn't tried absolutely everything, now would I?"
Clark did the only thing he could think to do, and started licking at Lex's finger, drawing it into his mouth with his tongue and swirling, curling around it in a too-fast motion that always drove Lex insane. Lex withdrew his finger absently and squeezed Clark's shoulder as he maneuvered his way around Clark's kneeling form. "I'll see you later, Clark. It's going to be a long day at the office now, so I'm going to have to cancel our dinner plans." Lex shrugged into his suit jacket and closed the door behind him with a soft click. Clark stared at the closed door.
He looked down at himself. He hadn't pulled on a robe, and was clad only in a pair of white boxers. He'd been kneeling at Lex's feet, and sucking his finger and Lex had to cancel dinner?
Lex was obviously taking the loss of his computer harder than Clark would have expected. Clark was at eye level with the computer now and...well. Lex had said it wasn't salvageable.
He flattened it with his palm, feeling satisfied in one sense, at least.
The first indication Clark had that Lex wasn't taking this lying down was only four hours later, when nearly half the phones in the Daily Planet newsroom started ringing, even as the "Special News" bulletin flashed across all the television screens in the newsroom. Perry raced out of his office yelling "Shut the hell up!" to anyone within a couple of floors of hearing distance. He turned the television volume up as everyone fell silent.
"WGBS reports that, in a move just minutes ago, LexCorp staged a hostile takeover of Microsoft. Our affiliate in New York reports that Bill Gates was told the news while he was presenting a speech to the National Delegates of Silicon Chips. Sources say he was interrupted by his personal assistant while standing at the podium. Fior, what can you tell us?"
The camera looped the image of a shocked Bill Gates suddenly blanching white and running off the stage, leaving amid murmurs and confused chatter of the audience.
Fior, the local reporter started to speak. "Mr. Gates is now apparently in conference with key members of his board, but insiders say there's no outmaneuvering LexCorp with this deal. Microsoft is now the latest in a long string of companies CEO Lex Luthor has seized control of. I--wait."
The reporter paused and Clark felt his stomach start to knot, knowing, just knowing what was coming. "Lex, no, come on..." He muttered under his breath.
"I've just received word that...well, apparently LexCorp now owns IBM as well."
Clark was dimly aware he'd crushed the stapler in his hand, and it was Lois' favorite one of course. He couldn't bring himself to care at this juncture in time.
"I hope no one's buying any stock in Compaq," he said, putting things away in his desk hurriedly. He ignored Lois' stare, which was a truly inspiring mixture of homicidal rage due to the stapler, and mystified shock at his significant other's apparent meltdown. He had to go and pay a visit to a melodramatic billionaire and see just what Lex thought he was doing.
Clark sighed tiredly as he pushed the elevator button, stepping off at the roof level and shifting into his costume, breaking most previous speed records in his haste to LexCorp. He landed on the balcony with a small thud and flung open the window. Without preamble, he rushed to speak.
"Lex, your laptop broke. You can't just go around buying every computer company there is!"
Lex simply folded his hands over his desk, staring at Clark patiently.
"You can't do this!" Clark protested, hoping the repetition might sink in.
Lex waited, fingers still steepled and Clark slammed his palms on the table. "Fine! Okay, we both know you are capable of it, but this is wrong! What are you even going to do with Microsoft and IBM anyway? You can't very well blow the manufacturing buildings up!"
"And Compaq and Dell. A few more minutes and then Gateway." Lex said, glancing at his watch. "I wouldn't dream of destroying the buildings, Clark. I'm sure I can use them for something related to LexCorp."
Clark felt his breathing slow even as he stared uncomprehendingly.
"As soon as all the computers have been completely taken apart and ground into dust, I'll focus on finding some way to create jobs for all the people who'd worked there. I knew you'd be concerned about that, and I already have a staff working on employment projections."
"Lex. It's--people can still make computers!" Oh, God. Clark couldn't think of anything else to say.
"For a little while, certainly. Don't worry, I'll be buying out the distributors. Then there's the issue of home computers, but they'll break down eventually. With no new parts to replace them, I anticipate being rid of them completely within three years. I also am planning a vigorous cash-for-computer recompense program. There's details to work out but I'm confident people will see it's all for the best. Simplification at work here, Clark."
Clark stared wordlessly.
"Really, Clark. Computers have been troublesome. Sure, they've improved access for informational arenas, but do people really have to be that knowledgeable? Can't we let them be content in their own ignorance? People will go outside more, spend time with families! And don't forget about the teenagers who continually post their vitriol and inflict it upon the world at large. They'll have to go back to writing goth poetry now, but at least people won't have to stumble on the sites and burn their retinas. And just think of all the unpalatable customer `service' technicians that will no longer be able to inflict wounds on humanity!" Lex seemed to think the widening of Clark's eyes meant he was getting excited, because Lex slid up from his seat, tugging on Clark's arms.
"Clark, we'll be building a great future together, you and I." Clark tried to focus on breathing, but he jerked his head up when he heard a familiar voice coming from Lex's small, unobtrusive television on the corner of his desk. Bill Gates was being interviewed yet again, this time by a CNN reporter.
Clark screamed, picking up the tiny hand held screen. "Fuck you, Gates! This is all your fault! You and your stupid Microsoft killing files!" Lex seemed to be completely unaware of Clark's words as he pulled Clark tight to his chest. Clark pitched the television at the wall.
"Clark, Clark. Wake up. Why the hell are you talking about Bill Gates?"
Clark mumbled incoherently and shifted in his sleep. "Fuck off, Bill Gates," he muttered, twisting the sheets around his hips as he slowly woke. His eyes squinted open only to be greeted by Lex's slightly quizzical expression. Clark rested his head on Lex's shoulder. Blue eyes blinked back at him.
"I'm thinking I'm doing something horribly wrong if your dreamscapes are being visited by Bill Gates instead of myself. You're seeing the wrong billionaire." Lex smiled a few inches from Clark's face.
"Just a really weird dream, Lex." Clark groaned, burying his head into the pillow.
"So I gathered." Lex leaned up on his elbows over Clark's chest. "I'll confess curiosity as to why you're dreaming about Bill Gates." Lex's fingers danced a pattern along Clark's bicep, massaging it slowly. "Tell me about it?" Clark haltingly explained with as few elaborations as possible. Lex stopped massaging for a moment when he was done, but started up again promptly at Clark's disappointed glance.
"You know, I realize you're upset the disk ate everything you had on your eco-fund story," Lex murmured. "I hadn't been aware though that your subconscious could be contemplating the destruction of all computers, nor that I would play such an integral part in your consuming quest to rid the world of the evil computers." Clark cringed at Lex's words.
"I'd do it for you, Clark," Lex quietly continued, pushing back Clark's hair from his face.
"That's so fucking hot." Clark was as surprised as Lex at his own words. Lex simply pivoted on the bed, drawing up Clark's body and pulling him in for a tight, hot kiss that evaporated the already fading memories of Clark's dreams.
Clark was licking a pattern down Lex's neck when he realized the cover of the Forbes magazine had Bill''s picture in full view on the nightstand. He narrowed his eyes to a point of concentration and groaned helplessly as the magazine burned and Lex shifted against him.
He'd be better off focusing on the billionaire in his bed, he decided, closing his eyes.
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