DISCLAIMER: I don't have ownership of these characters and I'm definitely not making money off of this. I do claim ownership of all mistakes, though. Constructive criticism is appreciated
"Clark?" It wasn't too difficult to recognize the man seated before him, despite the years gone by.
"Hello, Lex, please have a seat." Words flowed like silk, without the uncertainty of youth, and Lex wondered when, and why, Clark had mastered this... cool and somewhat distant demeanor. Hell, it was something he was still working on.
"What are you doing here?"
A flash of teeth in the afternoon light, "Let's just say Clark Kent is the official 'go-between'."
"What's going on, Clark?"
"You wanted a meeting, you've got one. If all goes well here, then I pass along the good word. If not," Clark shrugged "you don't get your wish." Lex took the offered seat and tried to figure out just when he lost control of this meeting. When he arrived, he'd expected to meet the man behind the unions now threatening to halt work at several LexCorp plants, the man who supposedly ruled the Metropolis underground and was equally known for his ruthlessness and compassion. It had been Lex's intention to meet and negotiate an agreement that would benefit everyone, instead, he found himself face to face with someone he hadn't seen in nearly twenty years. Last time he checked, he wasn't dreaming.
"Shall we begin?"
Nodding, knowing that Clark had absolutely no reason to go easy on him, to simply put in a good word for old time's sake, knowing that the opposite was more likely to hold true. He'd been warned to be forthright with his answers that, in all likelihood, the answers were already listed in a prepared folder. "The questions aren't looking for answers," Clark had informed him, "but the answers will be used as a measuring stick against you. The more your answers match with the information in the files, the better it looks for you."
"You wanted this meeting to negotiate a contract for the employees, correct?" Clark glanced up, waiting for the agreement before continuing, "Why?" And so it begins, Lex thought, "The timing of the strike coincides with the LuthorCorp shareholders meeting, I expect the buyout to be approved, however if the strike goes through during the transition period, LexCorp will be unable to cover both situations. At best, we stand to lose nearly a million dollars in revenue every day. At worst, LexCorp would go bankrupt."
"Would you withdraw the buyout offer if you were told the strike would go through?"
"That would cost you millions, wouldn't it?"
Lex couldn't help but smirk "Sometimes it's better in the long run to cut your losses and retreat, I can withdraw the offer, regroup after the union contracts have been settled and make the offer again."
"So why haven't you?"
"Who says I won't?"
"You wouldn't be here if that was your intent."
Nodding, Lex agreed "True, if this will save me money and I still get LuthorCorp, I'll take it."
"You know there can be no guarantee the results you're looking for will be achieved?" Another nod, another fact.
"Your current buyout bid for LuthorCorp and all it's subsidiaries will create an influx of several billion dollars annually, and yet you hold out against approving a five percent raise across the board. Why?"
"I'm not disapproving of the raise, records will show I was willing to post a seven percent raise over the next three years following the transition period."
"Would you approve a ten percent raise over two years?"
Lex silently worked the numbers through his brain, "Ten percent is possible," he replied hesitantly.
"But, considering the growth potential LexCorp would have after the LuthorCorp buyout, a ten percent raise would severely limit the funding for expansion."
"That's assuming, of course, the buyout is successful."
"You're asking your employees to trust you that no jobs will be lost as a result of this buyout, and that once everything's settled, you'll grant them a seven percent raise." Clark leaned back into the leather seating, "That's a lot of trust to place in a Luthor, don't you think?"
Lex stiffened at the accusation, knowing Clark had probably made it simply to gauge his reaction, "You, of all people, should know that I've always tried to carve my own path, away from the example my father set."
"Lex Luthor," Clark began to read from the file he held, "CEO of LexCorp and its' subsidiaries which include, among others, Cadmus Labs, BioGen Research Facility and S.T.A.R. Labs." Clark closed the file and paused for a moment. "The last time I checked, cloning, research or otherwise, was illegal in the United States and several other countries, Lex. Perhaps you didn't step too far off your father's path?"
"The labs are located in countries which allow for research only, none of that information is shared with the other labs located in the U.S."
"At least on paper."
Lex refused to comment, knowing that any answer he gave would be a wrong one. Clark watched him for a moment before reading from another file. "Lex Luthor, recipient of various awards for humanitarian actions during the past five years, rather sizable donations, from both business and personal accounts, to schools and charitable organizations and father of four year-old daughter, Lena."
Lex doubted his spine could stiffen any further at the mention of his daughter's name. "She's not my daughter." Clark merely smiled at him, his expression clearly conveying his disbelief.
"Her birth announcement was never released to the public," Lex argued, "there's no way to prove she's my daughter.
"I know," Clark smirked "tell me why."
"What does she have to do with the contracts?"
"We're not discussing the contracts, Lex, we're discussing you." Clark countered "Tell me about your daughter, and why you never announced her birth."
Lex remained silent for a while before realizing that if they already knew about his daughter, there was no reason to deny her paternity or her existence, "It was for her protection."
Lex sighed, "I was kidnapped and attacked quite often as a means to get at my father, Clark, surely you remember that, despite my father's policy of not negotiating with kidnappers. He didn't care what happened to me, so long as it didn't effect the profits for LuthorCorp." Lex let out a slow breath before continuing, "I love my daughter, Clark, I don't want her to have the childhood I had."
Clark nodded, silently considering Lex for a moment before turning the tables, "Go ahead and ask,"
"Whatever it is you want to ask, I'm sure you have questions."
"What will happen with the information in that file?"
"Worried about the knowledge of your labs being leaked?"
"I'm worried about my daughter."
"Don't be," Clark replied, "this file is destroyed once our business is concluded."
"How can I know it won't be leaked?"
"Because I'm the only one who's seen it." Clark silently dared him to question his integrity.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Interviewing you? Let's just say it's a hobby of mine that I decided to indulge."
"Do you do these interviews often for him?"
"No," Clark denied "usually the information in the files is enough."
"Why am I so special then?"
Another flash of teeth "Curiosity. I wanted to see how much you changed since Smallville."
"You've changed as well, Clark," looking at the contemporary suit Clark wore, "wealth agrees with you."
"Wealth agrees with everyone, Lex," was the sardonic reply.
Lex glanced around at the office setting, the muted dcor that screamed wealth, "This is a far cry from the barn, Clark, how did this," Lex waved an arm to encompass all the setting, "happen?"
"I made the most of a bad situation."
"About?" Lex could almost see the shields going up in his eyes.
"Your parents... my leaving...everything. I didn't keep in touch, but I... heard. I'm sorry."
"Who are you and what have you done with Lex?"
As a joke, it fell flat, but Lex still managed a weak smile before replying, "I became a father, Clark, you'd be amazed at the changes that brings." Lex paused for a moment, garnering the courage he seemed to need at this moment "Would it be possible to get a second chance?"
Clark remained silent for a while before handing Lex a plain, white business card with a stylized "S" in the center, "There are secrets and then there are secrets, Lex. You left because you were tired of them... Seeing as I've been privy to yours, I'm willing to reveal mine. However," Clark forestalled Lex's reply, "friendship with me entails a lot more than Smallville. Can you handle that?"
Lex nodded, but Clark continued speaking, "I'd take some time to think about that response. You once said our friendship would be the stuff of legends, Lex, that possibility still exists."
"The contracts will be on your desk within a week, six percent, across the board, over two years." Clark said, rising from behind the desk. Surprised at the sudden turnabout, Lex could only nod in agreement. Turning, he noticed Clark already making his way toward the door, "Wait."
Clark halted just before the doorway, but didn't respond.
"I'd still like your friendship, Clark."
Clark nodded, "I'd like that," he replied after a brief moment, "Anything else?"
"I thought Kal-El made the final decision?"
Clark greeted Lex to one of his megawatt smiles, "He just did." he replied, before leaving.
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