Man vs. Machine

by zahra

For Lar, Ali and Kassie. Thanks.

Beautiful is a hackneyed word. People use it, abuse it and apply it to the wrong things. They toss 'beautiful' about and grant its innate power to objects that are really only attractive or passable. Perhaps that's why Lex doesn't apply the word to much in his life. He prefers to use other adjectives when something is surrounded by that sort of aesthetically pleasing quality.

Breath-taking is better. Gorgeous is a tad plebian, but resplendent. Resplendent isn't bad, neither is brilliant or magnificent. And then there's exquisite: a word that Lex reserves for new cars, Clark Kent, and an occasional supermodel or two. If Lex had ever known that it would be this easy to get all three things in the same room, he would've arranged his own car show months ago.

All that shine and gloss and... flannel in one place. It's almost too good to be believed, but Lex believes.

Lex believes in himself. Lex believes in power and strength and... he believes he's going to buy a new Aston Martin Vanquish.


A flash before Lex's eyes, and something is obstructing his view of his new love. Something that's more disquieting than the really tacky carpeting in the Metropolis Convention Center.

"Lex?" It takes Lex a minute to realize that he's supposed to talk to someone, but wow. He thought his Vantage was a sweet car, but that's scrap metal next to this. Maybe he'll see if Enrique wants another hand-me-down.

He's sure there are some who would say that he's flaunting his money. That no twenty-one year-old man needs eleven, soon to be twelve, cars. Of course, Lex would probably run those people off the road.

Jealousy is such a bad color for a car. If people can't appreciate the beauty of a car in and of itself then that's their issue. They're probably driving Geos anyway. There's nothing wrong with being a car collector. A car aficionado.

A car whore.

"You're never going to see anything more beautiful than this, Clark." Unless Clark develops a sudden case of advanced narcissism and locks himself in his bathroom for the rest of his life. Not that Lex could blame him with a body like that.

"Well, it's nice... if you like your cars fast and sleek with V-12 engines and wrapped in leather."

There's a pause wherein Lex thinks that Clark said he was wrapped in leather, but no. It was a good ploy though. The idea alone almost makes Lex take his eyes away from the car long enough to look, but he can look at Clark on the ride back to Smallville.

"Yeah." Lex is not sighing, really.

"I don't know if I'd call it beautiful, though. The grille is a bit funny looking. "

"It's precise. It blends in with the color, don't talk badly about a car you're going to want a ride in."

"I never said I was going to ask for a ride in it." Just like Clark's never said he wants to ride Lex either, but he will after a ride in this car. Lex would bet his next Lamborghini on it.

"It goes zero to sixty in 4.40."

"Oh, well, yeah." Even Clark can appreciate the beauty of speed like that.

"That's what I thought, farmboy."

It takes every fiber in Lex's being to drag his eyes away from the car long enough to grin at Clark. Not that Clark is hard on his eyes, but the car.

"Wait. Did you say it was nice?" No one insults Lex's current cars, or his future cars, either. "Ford is nice, Clark. If you want a nice car go get something domestic. This car is not nice. This car is fucking --"

This car is fucking. This car is a quarter of a million dollars worth of fucking.

Maybe if Lex gave Clark the car...

"There's nothing wrong with Ford, Lex."

"As a listed company? No. As a potential manufacturer of a Luthor car? Yes. They make... trucks."

"What's wrong with trucks?"

"Nothing if your name is Jim Bob and you have a bloodhound. As a matter of fact, I have one collecting dust in my garage, Clark Bob. Seeing as it really doesn't do anything for me, if you're interested..." Lex couldn't help that. Really. Besides what is he supposed to do with that behemoth? It's maroon with a white racing stripe.

The only car Lex ever owned with a racing stripe was a '67 Shelby GT Mustang he secretly named Otis, and he's still pissed off that he can't remember which alley he left it in. Two years ago.

Fucking drugs.

But that Ford F150, it's an eyesore in his garage. It screams 'I sell produce and work the back ten...' and have fun tipping over cows and chasing after cheerleaders.

Maybe Whitney Fordman would be interested.

"Clark Bob, Lex? That's not one of your better nicknames."

"Good point. You're blocking my view, Clark Sue." Oh, god, Lex could tease Clark forever. Especially with the way that Clark gets all flushed when Lex messes with him. Clark would probably get really flushed during sex as well, but Lex isn't going to think about that now. No.

No, he's just going to buy a big shiny phallic symbol instead. He should probably make a note of this on his Palm Pilot, but he never realized how phallic the stylus is either.

Maybe it's all the women in gaudy sequins. Maybe it's Clark.

Whatever it is, Lex is suddenly feeling very virile. If he's not careful, he may start talking about something manly like fuel injectors and changing the oil.

"Clark Sue? Lex, c'mon, don't insult me."

"You mean don't insult the ladies. What would Chloe say if she heard you say that?"

"She'd probably deck you."

"Good point. Now back to this Ford issue. You don't really believe that they're superior vehicles. I know you don't. What's the Ford motto? Made in America?"

"And what's wrong with being American made?" Nothing if your name is Clark Kent and you're a big strapping lad who wears flannel, drinks milk out the bottle, and believes in Truth, Justice and that 'other stuff.'

"They're made in America, Clark." Lex doesn't even like his clothes made in America. If he could, he'd probably import his food as well as his water.

"You're so unpatriotic, Lex."

"When it comes to cars you better believe it. Look what happened with Firestone."

"Not all things made in America blow up on the road."

"No, sometimes they drop large amounts of barbed wire in the middle of road to eliminate the competition instead."

"That was a complete accident."

"Sure it was. Tell that to the Porsche people."

"I don't see you actually looking for the Porsche people, Lex."

"That's because we're still in the 'A's', Clark. A is for Aston Martin, B is for Bentley, C is for..."

"The new Chevrolet Silverado."

"What the hell is that? Chevrolet? They're American aren't they?"

"The Heartbeat of America, Lex."

"You watch entirely too much television, Clark." Especially when he could be doing other things, like playing football or surfing the net and looking at porn sites. Gay porn sites. Only in Lex's wildest dreams.

Of course in Lex's wildest dreams 'C' is most definitely for Clark, or cock, or Clark's cock. But this is not a conducive line of thought, not among so many yokels and children under five.

Besides, Lex can't think of any kind of lube that starts with 'C,' canola oil not withstanding.

"Okay, then 'C' is for Corvette."

"Yes, no. What? Clark, please tell me you don't want a Corvette, or a Camero, or anything associated with balding men and their mid-life crises."

"Corvettes are for mid-life crises?"

"Absolutely, haven't you been reading your Jackie Collins?"

"Um, no."

"Oh, well, neither have I, but it seems like the sort of car those kinds of guys would drive. Don't you think?" Not that Lex would know, either. He's never read those cheap tawdry novels that Victoria used to leave around. Certainly not.

"Whatever you say, Lex. Hey, while we're in the A section, did you want to check out the new Audi TT?"

"That squashed version of the VW Beetle? I don't think so."

"Why not? It's new and it goes fast. I thought they were really trendy."

"Trendy being the key word. Why have what everyone else is driving? Besides, they're too pedestrian."

"You're a really big car snob, you know that, Lex?" Which is true. Lex would never deny the truth, or that particular truth.

"It's why you like me, Clark."

"Keep reminding me of that."

"I think you'll remind yourself the first time you're in the Vanquish. Or maybe in the new Spider."

"You bought a Spyder? Aren't those too plebian for you?"

"Plebian? Nice word, and no, I meant the Ferrari Spider, Clark, not the other Spyder. Although the Spyder is a nice little toy. I'd offer to get you one, but seeing as I've still got that truck, I'm not going to bother."

"Don't tease the farmboy, Lex."

"I was just saying, but if you really want something young and sleek and hip, BMW has those new Mini Coopers. They seem 'cute.'"

"I don't want a cute car, Lex. Besides 'mini' is the operative word. I couldn't even fit myself in one of those, how am I supposed to give anyone else a lift?"

Lex is more than willing to give Clark a lift, though perhaps not of the automotive kind. Sadly though, Lex knows exactly what Clark is hinting it. Naturally it would figure that the ghost of Lana Lang would ruin yet another outing.

"I'm sure Lana can hold her breath for the duration of the ride."

"I wasn't actually thinking of Lana, but if I was, I would probably have to look over in the Fords again. She seems to be a truck kind of girl."

Yet another reason for Lex to despise her. No wonder he's brought her to work for him. He gets a seriously perverse thrill in controlling his enemy's purse strings.

Okay, maybe not enemy. She's only 16. More like his adversary. His adversary that drives American made cars.

She can't compete. She really can't. Not with Clark's love of... Dodges?

"Lex, look."

Oh god, he knows that look. He's just managed to wipe it off his face.

"What exactly am I looking at?"

Lex just can't be impressed by some overgrown emerald green Tonka truck, but he can certainly be impressed by the matching car show girl.

"Hello, gentlemen. My name is Cindy."

Cindy. Of course. Lex is surprised it's not Candy or Emerald. "I couldn't help but notice that you're looking at the new Dodge Dakota Club Cab 4X2."

Oh, god, not the pitch. Please not that. Cindy actually sounds a bit nasally, maybe she has a cold. Maybe it's all the nose reconstruction. Maybe her throat is scratchy from all the blowjobs she's given to get where she is.

Lex isn't certain, but he knows he doesn't like that look she's giving Clark; and he definitely doesn't like the way she's sidling up to him.

There's only one piranha in this tank.

"I don't think we were...Lex?"

"Of course you were thinking about the Dodge." If she flutters her eyelashes anymore she's going to start a small tornado. Either that or her make-up is going to crack like the Sistine Chapel. Lex has seen a million women like her before, but they were normally trying to hit on him. He can't believe she's still talking.

"... one of America's most loved car manufacturers." She sounds like an automaton from The Jetsons. Lex is starting to think that maybe she's all plastic.

"Actually we we're just looking..." Lex is going to ignore the looks from Clark. For once.

"The Dakota is a 2-door, six passenger, compact pickup. It's available in six trims ranging from Base to SLT Plus." Lex hates being cut off. And she cut off Clark, too.

She just blew it. There was always graduation.

"Cindy is it?"

Jesus, how long has she been practicing that smile? Lex has seen barracudas with fewer teeth.

"We're really not interested in your Dodge anything. I was just attempting to show Clark, here, the difference between a good truck, like the ones Ford makes, and the low end models. Like your Dodges."

It's been a while since Lex left a woman speechless. Six weeks at least. He knows enough by now to drag Clark away while the getting is good.

"Lex, you didn't have to be so rude."

Of course he did. Clark's young. He'll learn about possession eventually.

"She was asking for it, Clark. When you want to sell something to someone you should wait for them to make the first move. Always let the buyer come to you."

Considering that Lex was only talking about car sales, he thinks he's summed it up pretty nicely. So there's no reason for Clark to be giving him that look that says he knows what Lex is up to. Lex wasn't even up to anything.

For once.

"More business tactics adapted to everyday life, Lex?"

"No, just life lessons in general. Anything worth having is worth putting in the effort for."

Lex knows that sounds suspiciously like something Jonathan Kent would say, which bothers him, but only slightly. Besides, if it gets Clark to smile like that, he'll start quoting from Bartlett's.

"Putting in the effort? For a car, Lex? What else do you think is worth that sort of effort, besides a new car I mean?"

Lex is paying attention to Clark's mouth, but he's not hearing the words come out. There's something over Clark's shoulder that's distracting Lex. Something shiny, luminous and sleek with a rear just begging for Lex to grope it with his leather driving gloves.

One can never have too many Ferraris.

"That. I want that."

One look at Clark's face is enough to that they're not talking about the same thing. Oh well.

"Lex, exactly how old are you?"

"Wrong question, Clark. It's not how old, it's how rich."

"Too rich, obviously. Don't you already have a Ferrari?"

"A Berlinetta. A beautiful car." Lex doesn't mean to use the word 'beautiful' twice in one day, he's just a bit overwhelmed.

He's always liked his Ferraris.

"Excuse me, Clark. I have to go talk to someone about buying a new car."

Another note on his Palm Pilot, and Lex is going to be a very happy boy come delivery day.

"Lex, wait a minute."

Wait for what? The 2004 models?

"I let no man come between me and my cars, Clark... unless it's you." True enough. True enough that Lex can actually drag his eyes away from his newest eye candy long enough to notice that Clark's shirt matches nicely with the car in this shade of red.

He'll have to keep that in mind.

"I think that's supposed to be a compliment."

"You'd be right. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be around to buy anymore cars."

"Lex, what ever happened to that resolve to drive slower?"

"That was your resolve, not mine. Besides, this car isn't meant to transport produce."

"That was low."

"I know, want to see how far I can go?"

"Maybe when we're not in public. Which one are you lusting after now?"

"The red one. The Modena 360."

"Oh. Wow."

"Still believing in the superiority of the American automobile, Clark?"

"Um, yeah?" A pause. "Okay, no."

"That's what I thought. C'mon, Henry Ford, let me show you the power of the foreign auto."

Lex's first touch on the Ferrari's roof borders dangerously close to orgasmic, and all that virility he was feeling is raging through him now. His cars have always been symbolic of his sex drive for a good reason, but he's never been as turned on by a car as he is by the Modena.

It's a bit worrisome. But not much.

"Hey, Lex? Why's the engine in the trunk?"

"Because the trunk is in the front."

"Like the Porsche."

"Exactly, now when you get into the car remember that there's no one behind you. There's actually nothing behind you besides the car and the engine, so you can stretch out as much as you like. After all, this is not a family car."

In fact, the Ferrari is just Lex's triple-X rated, two-seated attempt at ferreting Clark away for some clandestine show-and-tell sex session in the middle of Bumblefuck.

No, it's definitely not a family car.

"Yeah, I'm getting that impression"

"Well, I can't quite see your father driving this."

"I'll have you know that my dad used to drive a sports car."

A Pinto probably.

"Really, Clark. What kind?" Lex can humor him, why not?

"I don't know, but it was orange. He called it the General Lee."

"The General Lee." Jonathan Kent, Confederate soldier. Why is Lex not surprised?

"I'm sure it was a great car, Clark." Back in the day with the good old boys. "Feel like checking out the cockpit with me?"

"The cockpit?"

"Yeah, that's what the inside is called. C'mon, get in." Even the slight creaking of the new paint job is a turn on. The squeaking is eerily reminiscent of a pair of vinyl pants that Lex used to own - in red.

Club life was good.

However, those days are behind him, perhaps for the best; and Lex has always loved the smell of new cars. The scent of new carpeting and new leather. The smell of power and grease and sex.

Of course, Lex would have to think about sex sitting in a Ferrari with Clark Kent. Maybe it has to do with the feeling of the leather headrest cushioning his head or the impossibly soft leather cushioning his ass.

Lex never thought he could be jealous of leather upholstery but that leather is also cushioning Clark's ass. He's too old to complain about fairness, but Clark looks really appetizing next to all the tan leather.

Clark's just begging to be molested, and he doesn't even know it.

Lex has never entertained the thought of flannel and butter cream leather as a fashion statement, but maybe that is going to change. Maybe he's got a new fetish. Maybe he'll fuck Clark in this car someday and get the smell worked into Clark's skin.

It could probably save him a lot of money.

A quick look at Clark, and Lex swears he didn't say that out loud. He knows he didn't which really isn't explaining that look at all.

Clark is licking his lips, a lot. And he looks a lot... like a piranha.

It must be the car.

"Um, Lex, these seatbelts? There's two of them."

"It's a racing car, Clark. They just want their maniac drivers to be safe. You know if you're really nice to me, I might even let you drive it."

"I don't know how to drive this kind of car."

"It's got a stick, you live on a farm. Are you trying to tell me you haven't ever used a stick before?"

Clark is male. He can drive a stick. If he's ever spent five minutes in the shower, he's bound to already have the concept down.

"Well, yeah, but that was all farm related. If the stick got stuck you just kinda yanked on it till it did what you want, but I don't think that would be a good idea here."

Neither does Lex. Yanking on sticks not withstanding.

"No, definitely not. Please, Clark, do not yank on the stick at random."

"Okay, so, you know, how does this kind of stick work?"

"I can teach you that, it's not as hard as it looks." Lex is most definitely talking about the car right now, because he's almost afraid to adjust the seat properly. If he pushes back from the steering console, Clark is going to see exactly how much Lex likes the Ferrari. And Clark.

"Are you sure about that? It doesn't look like any stick I've ever handled."

"To each his own, Clark. Just because it looks different, doesn't mean it doesn't handle the same. It all depends on the driver's technique."

Lex is still talking about the car. Perhaps.

"Depends how?"

"Some drivers take things too rough, they push when they shouldn't and they don't shift smoothly. Ferraris are designed to make life easy on the driver."

"Easier how?"

"You see how I'm holding the stick? Your grip should be nice and loose, but still firm enough to have control." Lex would pay good money for a tape of this conversation. However, if Clark wants to practice, he should wait until Lex lets go.

"Okay, now what?"

Or maybe not.

"Okay, you notice how the gearshift has six-speeds and how easily the gear slides in?" In and out and in and out. Oh, shit. Lex is never going to be able to leave the car now. He'll have to drive this model off the floor.

"The box is designed this way as a Ferrari purist thing. They make them this way for easier shifting. Most cars don't have this sort of how-to guide on their boxes."

"It does slide really easily."

So does Clark's palm. Right against the back of Lex's hand. Clark's hands are a lot smoother than Lex remembers them being. Not that he thinks about it that much.

Or every day.

However, what Lex is certain of is that Clark does not need to practice using the gearshift this much. There's too much sliding and not enough friction happening.

"The difference is that this gear is broken in from the outset. A lot of sticks require breaking in by their drivers."

"But not the Ferrari."

"No, the Ferrari is the top of the line for good reason."

"Kinda like you." Not that Lex has ever thought about it like that. If he didn't know better he'd swear that Clark was flirting with him, it must be the lack of blood circulation.

"I suppose that's one way to look at it."

"So, when do I get my first driving lesson?"

"When I get my hand back."

"Why do you need your hand back to teach me how to drive?" Not in a million years would Lex have pinned Clark as the bondage type.

"I don't per se, but it might be nice in the long run seeing as I have a business to run."

"You work too hard, you should spend more time with your cars."

"I never thought I would hear Mr. Safety say that."

"Yeah, well, Mr. Safety wants to ride in the car, too. Mr. Safety wants you to be around to ride in his car, sorry, the cars."

His car? Pardon?

"Lex, I thought the whole point in having a car like this was to take care of it. You know, to enjoy taking it for drives and washing it and waxing it-"

Waxing. It. Waxing what? The car? This conversation has veered completely off any road Lex was on.

"So, you know, since you're going to be teaching me to drive your cars, it's only fitting that you teach me how to take care of them."

"I don't need you to take care of my cars, Clark, that's why I have Enrique."

"Yeah, but Enrique has other things he can be doing. I can look after the cars for you." Lex has a lot of other things he'd rather have Clark looking after instead, but he'll take what he can get. Especially if it involves wax jobs.

"Anything to be close to my cars, right, Clark?"

"Of course, Lex. Besides, it'll be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Aren't I supposed to be crazy about cars at this age?" Among other things perhaps. Lex thinks he had better hobbies at that age.

"A mutually beneficial arrangement? Clark, who've you been hanging out with?"

"Just some bald, rich guy who likes to drive really fast."

"Are you telling me there's another bald, rich guy in Smallville stealing my routine?"

"Nope, just the one sitting next to me in the Ferrari with a hard-on."

Wait. What?

"... two driving lessons for each car, at thirteen cars, makes for at least 26 hours of quality driving time. Do you think that'll be enough time for you to teach me everything I need to know?"

"Everything you need to know about what? Wait, my cars. Cars as in plural?"

"Well, as my best friend, who also happens to be older and more knowledgeable in matters such as these, isn't it your responsibility to further my education in any way you can?"

"Yes, no. Wait. Clark, are we still talking about the driving lessons?"

"What do you think?"

"I'm thinking no."

"You'd be thinking right."


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