by Pearl-o

Summer was never particularly high on Lex's list of acceptable things. Summer was characterized largely by heat, and that was to be avoided; was, in fact, looked upon with a strength of feeling that could only be characterized as hatred.

There was a reason he'd avoided spending any of his summers in Metropolis, had spent his weeks between terms traveling. Several, actually, including a certain inescapable, larger-than-life one, and another that was ever-present, empty and loss-shaped. But the effects of the weather were a factor not to be underestimated, and certainly why the travels always tended towards elegant, pleasurable, mild spots. Places with proper conditions.

God save him from a Midwestern heat wave. Not to mention the humidity.

Jesus Christ.

He should be rising above it. He should be going about his business, passing through Smallville as he always did, untouchable, unflappable. He should be beyond letting such stupid and inconsequential things affect him. He should be in control, but he'd given up all pretense of that a few days before, and now he was left sitting in the heavily air-conditioned castle, trying not to move any more than was strictly necessary.

This den was supposed to be the coolest room in the castle. In the center, as far away from windows, the outdoors as you could get -- a relieving sanctuary from the stifling wrongness there.

As he sat motionless, sticky and languid, Lex decided magnanimously to expand his hatred to the entire continental climate.

Clark was sitting beside him, practically bouncing as he talked, waving his arms around excitedly and babbling on about Ferris wheels and beer and prize-winning artichokes. He looked completely comfortable, not even breaking a sweat in his jeans and boots, and Lex briefly considered hating Clark, too.

Only for a moment, though. It was Clark, after all.

Clark stopped abruptly in the middle of what Lex could only assume was meant to be a clever and entertaining anecdote. "You haven't been listening to a word I've been saying, have you?" He sounded less annoyed than amused; it was good to know someone was gaining enjoyment from the situation.

"Not at all," Lex admitted.

Clark grinned at him. "So, what's more interesting than hearing about the State Fair?"

Just about anything, really. "I was thinking about all the places I'd rather be spending the summer."

"Oh." Clark folded himself up in a way that looked extremely complicated and settled against the back of the couch.

"Yeah. I'm leaning towards Maine at the moment," said Lex, resting his hands on his stomach. "I spent a lot of my summers at the shore with my mother as a kid. Nice cottage, right on the beach. It's beautiful. Warm, but not ungodly hot like here."

"Sounds nice." Odd mixture of emotions in that voice, and Lex smiled.

"It is. You should see it sometime."

"I'd like to see the beach," said Clark, sounding wistful. "I've never seen the ocean. An ocean."

"Never?" He cocked an eyebrow. It shouldn't have been that much of a surprise; Clark's life was overwhelmingly rural, local. There was a world outside of Smallville, yes, but not anything the average upstanding citizen was expected to concern himself with any more than was strictly necessary.

"I've been out of Kansas a couple times, like to Nebraska and Iowa and stuff. But never any farther than Indiana. Not to a coastline or anything."

Unfortunate, Lex thought, to have been trapped his entire life in the backwards center of a relatively boring continent. "I've seen them all. The oceans."

"Wow. All of them?"

"Mm-hmm. The Atlantic is the prettiest, though. And then there are all the seas. The Mediterranean...."

Clark sighed.

Lex reached for his water bottle. Screwing off the cap, he said, "I'll have to show them to you someday," and took a sip.

Clark's mouth hung slightly open. "Really?"

"Yeah. When you're older."

Another on the long list of things for when Clark was older, and Lex wondered idly, not for the first time, how aware Clark was of the promises in his smile.

"I'll hold you to that, you know."

"I know." He let his eyes drift down Clark's body slowly, and back up again, where Clark's gaze flickered and the boy swallowed hard.

Patience had never managed to make Lex's list either, but there was a lot to be said for anticipation, he thought.

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