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11 March 2006 @ 12:13 pm
PCB!Lex Part 8  
You thought this was forgotten forever, right? Unfortunately no. My completionist soul is going to see it through to the end. Thanks to stargirl220 for kicking me and norwich36 for betaing.
Previous parts are collected here and I've started this part with a recap, since it's been a looong time between parts.



Recap: In the last part Perry gave a priority assignment to Lois and Clark. Chloe discovered where Alex is living and Lois covered Lex's press conference; this resulted in Clark discovering that Alex and Lex are two different people.
***

Clark decided he had the Kryptonian equivalent of the flu. His head hurt, he couldn’t think straight, he felt queasy, and flying felt like swimming through concrete. When he got home to his apartment, he slumped on the sofa without even changing.

The doorbell rang and he rose to answer it. At the last moment he whipped on some old farm clothes in superspeed before pulling back the latch.

It was Chloe. She'd brought pizza.

'Chloe, you're my hero!' He took the pizzas from her eagerly. He'd forgotten that there were some perks to life in Metropolis.

Clark fetched plates, glasses and napkins from the kitchen. He paused in his tracks when he saw that Chloe was still standing in the living room. She raised an eyebrow at him and panned her eyes down his body. 'Um, Clark... I think your suit is showing.' She was trying not to laugh.

Clark fumbled with his bottom shirt buttons and the belt of his jeans. Damn.

'That bad, huh?' Chloe took a seat on the sofa and passed him the first pizza.

'I just can't believe he's done it...' Clark helped himself to pizza as Chloe poured the sodas. 'I mean, I know he's been experimenting with cloning for years, but I didn't think he'd clone himself.'

'If that's what he's done.'

Clark looked up. 'What do you mean? We saw him…'

'Yeah, I know. He was in two places at the one time. But there could be other explanations. Time travel... or... remember what happened with Dr Sinclair?'

Clark felt the blood drain from his face. 'You mean with the black Kryptonite? Oh no! I didn't even think of that. But that time he killed people... and locked himself in a cellar... and this time he's...'

'Doing your copying. I know. So that doesn't make sense. But I do think we've got to consider all possibilities until we can get a better idea of what he's trying to accomplish.'

'We know what he's doing!' Clark burst out exasperatedly. 'He wants to stop us writing about Lexcorp... and he thinks ruining my career is the best way to do that.'

Chloe paused, her slice of pizza halfway to her mouth. 'Don't you think you're jumping to conclusions a bit, Clark?'

'What do you mean?'

'Well, he's been at the paper for a whole week and hasn't exactly managed to get you fired or even in that much trouble, right? Besides, I think Lex Luthor might have bigger opponents than Clark Kent nowadays.'

Clark dropped his pizza slice. 'What do you mean?' Chloe was talking nonsense. It was obvious. Lex, Alex, whoever, had come to the Daily Planet. Who else could he be after?

Chloe gave Clark a pitying look. 'Like... Superman?!'

'Oh. Right.'

Chloe picked the onions off her pizza slice. 'You need to be really careful, ok? He might be thinking he can get to Superman through you. He knows there's a connection. Just don't give him any reason to think it's any more than that.'

Clark rolled his eyes at her. 'You’re worse than my mom! I have managed to keep my secret for ten years, you know.'

Chloe laughed. 'Not from me! And you weren't flying around in red and blue lycra that whole time. Just… keep your shirt buttoned, ok?'

Clark grinned despite himself. 'Ok, ok. I'll do what I'm told. You must have got the same bossiness gene as Lois after all!'

Chloe threw an onion slice at him.

***

The next day, Clark's--and Chloe's--worst suspicions were realised.

The day started well enough. Lois suggested that Clark handle background research on the police corruption scandal. He was working his way through articles from the last five years when he heard Alex behind him. He was chatting to Jimmy… something about an event he was organising?

Clark turned from his desk, tilted his head to look over his glasses and scanned Lex with his x-ray vision. Nothing strange. Not a bone out of place. If he was a copy, he was a damn good copy.

'Good morning, Clark.' Alex turned suddenly, and Clark jumped back in his chair. 'Sorry to startle you.'

He smiled just like Lex. That slow, mocking smile.

Lois broke the silence, rising from her desk. 'Well? How do I look?' Lois was wearing a slick black skirt suit and maroon shirt, open to expose just a bit too much cleavage, if you asked Clark. Her hair was pinned up in some complicated way and her eyes looked even bigger than usual. She stepped forward and immediately rolled over on her ankle in her high shoes.

Clark snickered.

'Damn heels!' Lois grimaced at him.

Alex extended an arm for Lois to hang on to while she pulled the strap of her shoe back into place and tested her ankle. 'You look stunning. Who's the lucky man?'

'Source, actually.' Clark could have told him that. Lois only ever wore that suit when she was interviewing. Interviewing men. Usually very powerful men.

'Ah. In that case, I'd say you were dressed for success.'

Lois rewarded him with a beam. 'Thank you! Let's hope so. Right, Clark?'

'Right.' Clark was keen to change the subject. He didn't need Lex to know that they had an important project, though the way news travelled in this place, he probably already knew. 'Anyway, we don't want to keep you from your work.'

'Actually I was coming round to ask you if you would be interested in buying a raffle ticket to support a charity I work with.'

'Excuse me?'

'It's a refugee aid organisation. They send aid kits to displaced persons camps around the world. Food, clothes, toys for the kids… I help out there on the weekends. Anyway, we're organising a soiree on Saturday night and there's a raffle. First prize is a laptop.'

'I'll buy one.' Lois took the pen Alex proffered and wrote her name in the booklet where he indicated. 'So what's the soiree thing you've got planned?'

'Well it's designed to raise awareness about the diversity of refugees and the tragedy they face. We've got a few local artists together and we're showcasing art made my refugees or ex-refugees. There's a photography exhibition, we're going to show some short films, there will be some poetry readings, that sort of thing.'

Lois was watching Alex intently. 'That sounds great.'

Clark rolled his eyes.

'Well, if you wanted to come...'

'Sure! We'll come, won't we Clark?'

'What?'

'Great! I'll email you the details.' Alex smiled. 'Clark? Did you want to buy a ticket too?'

Clark glanced up and shook his head abruptly. 'No thanks.'

Lois glared. Clark could feel her gaze through the back of his head. 'Clark! It's a good cause!' She rolled her eyes at Alex. 'I'm sorry about him. He can be rude sometimes.'

Clark opened his mouth to protest, but Lois was still babbling. 'Of course, he'll buy a ticket. Here, I'll write him down for you. He can pay me back.' She scribbled Clark's name and number into Alex's booklet and handed over more change. 'And if there's anything else we can do... I mean it's such an important issue.' She glared at Clark again.

Alex flicked the booklet shut and tucked the pen into his shirt pocket. 'Well... there is one thing you might be able to do…'

Lois put her hands on her hips and glanced sideways at Clark. 'Sure. What is it?'

'I'm kind of embarrassed to ask... but, you know Superman, don't you?'

Lois dropped her hands to her sides. 'Oh! Uh...'

Clark found himself rising from his chair to stand beside Lois. 'We don't really know him that well at all.'

'Speak for yourself!' Lois elbowed him; she liked people to think she knew Superman.

'Well... look, it's probably too much to ask, I know he's so busy, but any sort of endorsement from him … even just a mention of our organisation in an interview... it'd do the world of good.'

Lois smiled. 'We'll see what we can do.' She elbowed Clark. 'Won't we?'

'We can't promise anything.'

'I understand.' Alex looked somber.

'Thanks anyway, Lois.' He walked away.

Lois left for her interview shortly after, and Clark rang Chloe to tell her she'd been right.

***

But it was in the afternoon that things really turned bad.

Lois was out with the source, Clark was reading articles and keeping his senses honed to Lex... Alex... as much as he could. As far as he could tell, Alex had suckered everyone on the floor into buying a raffle ticket. Clark was so sure it was a con job, it took all his strength not to run up and tear the book from his hands. It was a relief to scan and find him back in the copy room.

But then Amelia joined him.

Clark tried to concentrate on the article he was reading, but his curiosity got the better of him. He tuned his hearing to that distance and could catch snatches of what they were saying: 'I had a really good time last night… Can't wait to see you…' One romantic comedy cliché after another: it was nauseating.

He focussed his vision. They were standing facing one another, but not quite touching. Clark could imagine that. Lex was probably wearing that intense, serious expression he used to use when he had begging Clark to trust him, to believe in their friendship. He imagined Lex staring at Amelia that way, and felt a pang of anger. Lex was such a deceiver! As he watched, Lex reached out a hand and circled Amanda's face. Clark caught his breath. Then in a sudden movement, they both surged towards one another, pressing their bodies tight together. Lex's arm was circling Amelia's waist and he was... pushing her back behind the copier. Damn.

Clark shook himself out of his reverie and stared at the screen in front of him. He rose from his desk. He sat down again. Lex... Lex was going to have sex in the copier room. Surely not. Wasn't that just something that happened in movies?

He tried telling himself not to be surprised. He tried telling himself that Lex was better occupied that way than snooping in the Daily Planet research files. Neither of these suggestions helped much.

Clark dropped his head into his hands and moaned. He wasn't sure why.

He tried telling himself they were just kissing. But it was too easy to tune his hearing to that distance and what he heard wasn't comforting: heavy breathing, gasping, a zipper being pulled undone, mumbled endearments. The noises were a bit confusing because the copier was still running, so he focussed his x-ray vision again. Lex must have lifted Amelia onto the copier because she was lying back atop it, and his head was moving over her legs--he must be kissing her inner thighs--one hand circling her left breast, and the other reaching between his own legs. Clark stifled a moan.

His heart was thumping in his chest. What was going on? It was like he was scared they'd get interrupted. But that was ridiculous. He'd like nothing better. Hopefully it would result in them both being sacked. Listening to this was making him hot and uncomfortable and ... well, just uncomfortable. It had to be stopped.

He got up and paced. Jimmy gave him an odd look. 'You ok?'

'Yeah.' Clark replied shortly and headed for the corridor. He couldn't go to the copier room. He had no reason to. Could he?

No. Clark, be reasonable. He paced. He listened. Amelia was making more and more excited noises. Clark decided he had to get someone to go to the copyroom.

'Jimmy!' He whirled around. And crashed into Lois.

'Woah! Watch it!' Lois reeled back rubbing her head, which had collided with Clark's.

'Lois!' He clutched her arm. 'I'm late for a meeting. I left some copying with Alex--can you pick it up for me?'

Lois frowned. 'What meeting?'

'It doesn't matter! Just... can you just check please.'

'Check what?'

'To see if the copying is ready!' Clark realised that he was raising his voice a bit too loud--he was getting some funny looks from those around them, but he didn't care.

'Clark, are you ok? You look terrible.' Trust Lois to be that blunt. She scanned his face. 'You're all… sweaty. What have you been doing?'

'I told you. I'm late. Lois. Please!'

'Ok, sure, I'll check later…' She started past him for her desk. 'Oh and thanks for asking how the interview went!'

He caught her arm. 'No!' He lowered his voice. 'Lois, I can't explain, just...' He trailed off, realising that Lois was going to find out what this was about the moment she opened the copyroom door anyway.

Lois gave him her I'm-so-patient look. 'Clark, what is going on?'

He steeled himself. There was nothing for it. He whispered. 'I think Alex and Amelia are having sex in the copy room.'

Lois's expression didn't change, though he could swear he saw her lip twitch.

'What is it with you, Smallville? You got some voyeuristic kink about bald guys? Because seriously you know way too much about Lex Luthor's sex life--even I don't take my investigations that far--and now you're keeping tabs on Alex too? It's a little odd. Don't you think?' Her ponytail swung as she tilted her head.

Clark considered punching her.

'Clark, I don't know why you've chosen to have this weird power struggle with the copyroom boy... in the week when we are given potentially the most important project in our careers.'

Clark opened his mouth, but Lois put a finger up to stop him.

'Oh don't think I haven't noticed, ok? And look, whatever turns you on... But I'm not going to play a part in your little game. If you want to ruin your career, fine. But don't drag me down with you.'

Clark clenched his teeth. 'Fine,' he muttered, 'forget it.' He turned and walked away.

He didn't care if she saw that he was walking in the direction of the copy room. He didn't care what she thought. Someone had to do something. Clark Kent was not going to let Lex Luthor seduce and take advantage of one of the Daily Planet staff members, right under his very nose.

He paused outside the room. The venetian blinds screened out the window and the door was closed. He focused his vision and caught a blur of a skeleton moving towards him before he jolted himself back into his normal vision. Amelia was slipping through the door. She smiled at Clark and walked away. He stared after her.

'Clark!' Lex stood in the doorway, a stack of copies in his arms, as if nothing had happened.

Clark stared at him. He tried not to notice that Lex's skin was flushed and his lips looked redder than usual.

'Clark?' Lex put down the papers on a shelf at his elbow and moved towards Clark. 'Are you ok?'

Somewhere in the cavern of his only semi-functioning brain, Clark observed that people seemed to be asking him that a lot today.

Lex reached out a hand and gripped Clark's upper arm. Clark could feel Lex's palm shape itself into the curve of his muscles, the palm that had been so recently curved around Amelia's cheek, Amelia's chest... 'Clark, is anything wrong?' Lex's expression was so concerned, so genuine…

Clark slammed his hand against Lex's throat pushing him back into the copy room and slamming the door behind them. The door rattled, and Clark pressed Lex back against the wall, lifting him slightly. Lex struggled beneath him, his hands clutching at Clark's shirt and the muscles in his neck fluttering against Clark's palm.

Clark let go and as Lex collapsed, gasping, he leaned in close. 'Don't. Ever. Do. That. Again.'
 
 
Current Mood: nerdynerdy
 
 
 
roxymissroseroxymissrose on March 11th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
I can't thank you enough for continuiing this! I'm so happy! And panting a little, gosh, for some reason that was very *hot*!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex lovebop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC)
Oh yay! I was trying for 'unexpectedly hot'! ;-) Glad you liked. *g*
mystical van of doom: clex confrontationvoldything on March 11th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
omg I love the ending of this part so very much
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Yay!bop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC)
Oh good! *g*
HeroHunter.  I, Storyteller.: clexkissherohunter on March 11th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC)
*nods*
That's right, Alex, don't ever have sex with someone who isn't Clark!! Ever again!!!

*loving!!*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex purple evilbop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
Indeed. It should not be allowed. ;-) I do like possessive Clark!
Nora Norwich: Clois strap-onnorwich36 on March 11th, 2006 03:58 am (UTC)
Yay! You posted! I still really love the bit where Clark gets all flustered once he figures out Lex is having sex, and can't figure out quite what to do.

Oh, and I love the ending! I don't think I said that before.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Yay!bop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
Hooray! Thank you. I'm glad you like the ending--I wasn't sure how that would go down. And I'm glad the flustered bit worked. I was having my usual problem with all artistic projects--it was crystal clear in my mind but I couldn't convey it. Glad I sort of got there, and thanks again for your help!
blowjobs for jesus: crazy for youkristiinthedark on March 11th, 2006 06:12 am (UTC)
Yay! I was thinking about this fic yesterday, and I'm so glad to see you post more! I really loved Clark spying on Lex in the copyroom. Poor Clark.

Great job!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex strollingbop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
Hee! Thanks. Yes, poor confused Clarky...
Vicki: flirtymyownghost on March 11th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
oh, good! i'm really intrigued now to find out which is the clone (i'm betting on lex -- alex is just too lex-like not to be real). this is a lot of fun!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex coolbop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
Heeee! I'm glad you're enjoying. It's very teasy, this story.
Vicki: feedback lex smilemyownghost on May 17th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
PCB!Lex feedback! i'm just saying how much fun this has been so far. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Yay!bop_radar on May 20th, 2006 05:59 am (UTC)
Awwww!! Thank you! *g* I just got back from overseas, so returning to feedback is luuverly! Glad you liked.
complicatcomplicat on March 11th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
Yay, it's back! I love obsessed Clark, heh.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW oh tommybop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah! Obsessed Clark is the best! ;-)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on March 11th, 2006 10:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, obsessed Clark is the best!
Kate: Lex Oh God Lexmskatej on March 13th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, boppy, that was AWESOME. I'm so glad you've not stopped. I love the story, I love the writing, and the humour and the - oh yes - the HOT.

Jealous!Clark is a HUGE kink of mine, and I love the way that he's not aware of it. But us, the readers, know what's going on. Great work, K. X
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex mysterybop_radar on March 14th, 2006 12:07 am (UTC)
Oh thank you so much! I'm glad you found it hot--it was tricky, since Clark is oblivious. And yes, I adore Jealous!Clark too--especially because it stems so much from SV canon!

I'm getting nervous about impending escalation of hotness though--I may have to beg advice! I fret a bit about the pacing, and unlike you, the porn is not my strength, but I hope I'll find a way to make the *cough* climax work succesfully. I'd be sad not to finish it regardless.
Katemskatej on March 14th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
omg DUDE. I will help however I can. I'll beta or audience or whatever you need. Because things HAVE to get porny, oh yes.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Six Gaiusbop_radar on March 15th, 2006 12:34 am (UTC)
Great! I'm glad you're on board. ;) I will work on it and let you know when I get to the stage of needing help. Not quite sure what help or when yet... but thank you in advance! *g*
(Anonymous) on March 15th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
This is so great! Can't wait to see where it goes from here....
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on March 15th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC)
Hee! Thanks. *g*
is that a fact or a weapon: the rules of tragedydisprove on March 16th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad you're finishing this. You've done a good job keeping us in the dark about what really happened with Lex.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex bitter endbop_radar on March 16th, 2006 10:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I've tried to keep it teasy... ;-)
But all will be revealed soon!
Gwen: Lex1-mineshadowstar_gzan on March 18th, 2006 10:28 am (UTC)
*Stares* *brain short-circuts* *stares some more*

...Calrk, are you going to kiss him or not? *snort* Jerk.

hee- this is great. and I am now obviously caught up. *g* Hope you post more of this soon!!!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex purple evilbop_radar on March 19th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
Yup! Clark's a jerk! ;) But hopefully he'll get a clue, soon! I'm working on more...
Enderenderwiggin24 on March 19th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
update!! the last scene was hot, I am not sure if that was clark or Kal :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kalbop_radar on March 21st, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)
Hee! He was driven to extreme measures... ;-)
Cris: Clex - ustduskwillow on March 20th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)
Eek, how did I miss this part!
*curses at real life for leaving her so little time for LJ*

Guh, jealous Clark is so very hot and entertaining!
This part was great babe.
Can't wait for more. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW oh tommybop_radar on March 21st, 2006 01:07 am (UTC)
Hee! Thanks. *g*
I do love jealous Clark.
Specialagentldyspecialagentldy on March 22nd, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
Yay! Thanks so much for updating, please don't make us wait so long again!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on March 22nd, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
I hear you! *g*
*salutes*
stargirl220: applestargirl220 on March 23rd, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
Yay. thanks for updating...
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex bitter endbop_radar on March 23rd, 2006 11:18 pm (UTC)
More on the way! ;)
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Allison bouncybop_radar on May 20th, 2006 05:53 am (UTC)
Awww!!! *g* You put a big smile on my face with your cute deleted comments! ;-) I do plan to write more. Work and travel got in the way. I'm so glad the tension worked--I find it very hard to tell myself, as I already *know* what's going on. Writing a fic where the tension comes largely from the mystery/mind games is tricky! Thanks for the lovely feedback.
rosy5000rosy5000 on June 18th, 2006 07:16 am (UTC)
Just wanted to say how much I really like this series and hope you continue it soon.

Also, I friended you. Hope that's ok. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: K Lexbop_radar on June 18th, 2006 07:33 am (UTC)
Thank you! *g* I do hope to continue it soon. RL gets in the way and I'm not the fastest writer in the world, but hopefully there will be an update in the next couple of weeks. And of course it's ok! Welcome!
Beckysadface on July 2nd, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
HAHA I NEVER READ THIS PART!!! *WINS SO MUCH*

I mean...*cough* yes. I need a cigarette. That managed to be totally hot, yes....more more more.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: PCB!Lexbop_radar on July 2nd, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
Hee! You are funny. *musses your hair* Although, given how slowly I write, I think it's completely wise that you didn't read it until now! ;-) I do hope to write more soon, but I say that nearly every week, and nearly every week, RL takes over...
Romany: sv: you & me shall be another thingromanyg on January 18th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
NOOOOOOOOOOO!

This is it, isn't it? *is sad* I'm sad because, so far, this story has been *fabulous*! There's just the perfect mix of humor, tension and mystery. And you left poor Alex!Lex on the floor with a confused and angry Clark looming over him. I'm sure he'd like to get up and get a glass of water or something.

I know that this WIP is most likely dead, but I'd like to say that yes, you do have a great deal of talent and should give in to another story if it should so possess you. Thank you!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: PCB!Lexbop_radar on January 18th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
I'm sure he'd like to get up and get a glass of water or something.
Heee. That made me laugh! Yes, I'm a big meanie leaving him there like that.

I have been terrible, as Ender will no doubt tell you. It's been nearly a year since I updated this. I never meant to let it lapse but my momentum ran out when I went to the UK last year and I never got it back. Writing fic does not come naturally to me--I don't enjoy the process at ALL--I started this before I worked out that not even new fannish enthusiasm and crazy plot bunnies could get me through... However, I HATE having something unfinished, so I really should finish it, yes. I would be happier if I did.

I'm very flattered that you enjoyed this, as I admire your writing so much. I will drag out my old plot notes just for you! :-)
Romany: tw:  all stubble and innocenceromanyg on January 20th, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
No, I don't think you're terrible. You wouldn't be the first person to abandon a WIP. It happens to the best of us. The momentum just...fades.

Writing fic does not come naturally to me--I don't enjoy the process at ALL

*psst!* That's pretty common as well. There's this myth that writing is *easy*. And really, I don't know where that comes from. Even prolific writers have issues. I know that the whole process is tough for me. I'm just *compelled*.

And yay! for dragging out of the old plot notes! *claps hands excitedly*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clexvillebop_radar on January 22nd, 2007 12:54 am (UTC)
*nods* I finally found that sense of being 'compelled' when I turned to vidding. There was absolutely no sense of compulsion with writing at all. Vidding is also hard--the process is not fun but I'm far more driven than with writing. But unfortunately my first Clex vid turned out to be a pile of shite, so I'm in a vidding malaise right now... Guess that could be a good time to turn back to writing maybe.
Romany: sv: two heroes and a villain make threeromanyg on January 23rd, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
Ah, so you're a vidder at heart. You should go where your heart is then, conquer the malaise. I'll still quietly mourn this story however. *mourns*