"Income sheets show the difference between revenue and expenses. You need an income sheet to do an owner's equity sheet. The balance sheet shows the...the...damn..."
"The accounting equation," Lex said.
Clark jumped. "Lex!" He looked around the library. "What are you doing here?"
"You're late for dinner."
"No, dinner's at--" Clark checked his watch. "Shit. I'm sorry."
"That's okay. I called Pete, and he said you were down here. He didn't say you were studying accounting, though." Lex picked up the textbook. "Adding a class this late in the semester?"
"No." The infamous Kent Blush peeked out. Lex was intrigued. "I...um...accounting is vital to almost any profession, you know. It says so on page 1."
"I'm sure it does."
"And as a reporter, if I want to write stories on campaign contributions or stock scandals, I need to have an understanding of the basics of finance."
"So I thought I'd flip through a textbook and get the hang of it a bit and you're not buying any of this, are you?"
"Not really, no." Lex seated himself across the table from Clark and just looked at him.
Clark stuttered for a minute more. "Okay, we had a guest speaker in Feature Writing today. Some hotshot reporter who landed an investigative reporting job two weeks out of college. She was..." Lex watched natural politeness and basic honesty war in Clark's eyes. "...interesting," he finished weakly.
"I'm sure she was."
"Anyway, she talked all about the importance of understanding this stuff. Illustrating her point with--" Clark held up a glossy publication.
"Hey! That's LexCorp's annual report! It isn't even out to shareholders yet!" Lex grabbed it away from him. "How the hell did she--"
"Specific examples from this, with a copy for everyone in the class." Clark waited for Lex to finish swearing. "And significant glances at me the whole time."
"Oh, that's perfect. Just...just perfect." Lex made a mental note to find out everything possible about this woman.
"So I thought I'd better get a handle on all this. Just in case she tracks me down and asks me questions."
Lex put his revenge plans on hold. Briefly. "Clark, no one expects you to know everything about my company."
"Obviously, they do." Clark grabbed the annual report back and opened it. "And I refuse to look like an idiot in front of Lois freaking Lane. You don't need that kind of bad publicity. I've done enough--" He stopped at Lex's glare. "Well, I have. Is there a page in here for the stock drop, explaining that the company is fine, but the CEO's boyfriend upset everyone?"
"It wasn't. Your. Fault," Lex said through his teeth. "The stock dropped because of me, not you."
Clark rolled his eyes. "Because you're involved with me."
"Because I'm involved with another--Clark, I'm not having this argument with you again. If you want to play corporate wife--"
Clark rolled up the Annual Report and smacked him on the head.
"It was either that or fry your tie with heat vision. And I gave you that tie."
Lex smoothed it protectively. "If you want to learn how to interpret a financial statement, I'll teach you."
"You'll mock me."
"Fine." Clark opened the textbook back up. "So, this debit and credit thing? I don't get--"
"Clark. Thank you."
Clark's hand covered Lex's on the textbook. "I'd say no problem, but you're going to kill me by the time this is done."
"You're great at math."
"Yes, but this isn't math. It's like a whole other language that occasionally uses numbers. Like, why do debits sometimes increase something and sometimes decrease them? It should always be the same."
"That's the logical assumption, but look here." Lex moved their linked hands out of the way to point to the top of a page. " You have to take a look at the accounting equation. If debits increase assets..."