DISCLAIMER - Not mine, I couldn't afford the motor and household insurance bills. I promise I'll scrub them down and give them back to DC comics, the WB and anyone else who does own a slice of them when I'm done with them. Story, such as it is, copyright Karen Colohan, August 2003.

Author's notes - This was written for the Contre la Montre couch challenge in 40 minutes.

Drifting up out of sleep the first thing he notices is that he's still dressed in yesterday's clothes. He can feel the creases and wrinkles in them digging into his skin as he rolls over onto his back. Blinking his eyes open he also realises that he's not in his bed, or even in the mansion. There are rough wooden beams hung with cobwebs overhead and a lumpy surface underneath him that reinforces the evidence of his eyes.

Taking stock of everything, Lex comes to the conclusion that he's lying on the battered couch in the Kent's barn. He's also covered by a thick, surprisingly soft blanket that keeps out the morning chill very effectively. Considering where he is, Lex feels as if he slept rather well. As he slowly stretches, working out the knots in his back, Lex casts his mind back to the previous evening, trying to remember how he ended up staying here.

He'd stopped by the farm on his way back from Metropolis after a particularly trying meeting with his father. Clark's always a good antidote to time spent around Lionel and he'd been glad to see the light on up in the loft. When he came up, Lex had discovered Clark working on a science paper for school. Somehow, he'd found himself being talked into looking over Clark's work and that's pretty much the last thing that Lex recalls.

Given that he's still here, Lex can only assume that he fell asleep on the couch at some point and Clark had been too polite to wake him. Lex can't help wondering how Clark's parents took the news of their uninvited guest.

Pushing back the body warmed blanket, Lex sits up, stretching again as he swings his feet to the floor. Apparently Clark took the time to remove his shoes last night as they're clad in just socks now. Scrubbing a hand across his eyes, Lex looks round, freezing when he suddenly realises that he isn't alone.

Clark is sitting at his desk, fully dressed and looking as if he's been awake for hours. Given that this is a working farm, he probably has been. Just at the moment, though, he seems to find the sight of Lex, still half asleep and more than a little disorientated, quite fascinating. A small smile curves his lips as his eyes lift to meet Lex's.

"Good morning," he says after another moment spent studying Lex. "Did you sleep okay?"

Lex considers that for a second, then nods. "Yes, I think I must have done. You should have woken me, though."

"I didn't have the heart to." Clark flashes him a quick grin. "You looked too comfortable to move. I figured it was better to just get a blanket and leave you to sleep. I guess the drive back from Metropolis must have really taken it out of you. I'm sorry I got you to help with my homework. If I'd known you were that tired I'd have let you go sooner."

"It was fine, Clark," Lex assures him. "I enjoyed helping. It took my mind off my own work problems." Standing, he pads across the floor in search of his shoes. "I really ought to be getting home now, though, before I outstay my welcome. Thank you for letting me sleep here."

"Wait, it wouldn't say much for Kent hospitality if I let you go without any breakfast," Clark says, quickly moving to block Lex's path.

"I don't think your parents would appreciate me making an appearance this early in the day," Lex replies with a wry smile.

"It's fine," Clark insists. "They know you fell asleep up here. I told them last night and they were okay with it. Really," he adds when Lex looks sceptical. "I promise you that Mom will be mortally offended if you don't come in and have some of her pancakes." Clark's eyes are sparkling with amusement now.

"Well, I never want to get on the wrong side of your mother," Lex says, smiling. "So, pancakes for breakfast sounds wonderful."

Clark is grinning even more broadly when he hands Lex his shoes, waiting as he sits back down on the couch to pull them on.

Lex discovers that he really likes the way it feels, knowing that he's being made welcome at the Kents' table. It's a feeling that he could easily get used to and he hopes that he gets the chance to.

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