Lance pushed open the heavy wood doors.
"Lance, how wonderful to see you. I get so few visitors."
"Lex, it's been way too long."
Lex moved with his characteristic grace from behind the desk and over to a well-stocked sideboard. "Can I get you a drink?"
"Just water, thanks."
"So, how's the fast-paced life of an international pop star treating you?"
"It's fine. The tour's been very successful. The album has been a little more disappointing."
"Well, it's not like you can attach bright lights to Justin's hips and hypnotize people into buying it."
Lance accepted a highball of water from Lex's outstretched hand, frowning briefly in thought. "No. No, that fell through. It works live, but all those 'people'..." Lance suppressed a small shudder. Lex thoughtfully kept silent. "Have already bought the album. It works on DVD too. But not on tv. Something about lack of resolution and fidelity. Ah well. It was fun trying though."
"I've found that experimenting is at least half the fun. Besides, HDTV is coming." Lex moved over to one of the wide dark leather couches and waved at Lance to follow. They propped their feet up on the heavy glass coffee table. "Speaking of the infant, how's he handling his traumatic breakup?"
Lance suppressed a snort, then, noticing Lex's smirk, snickered quietly. "He's fine. He has the adoration of millions to keep him warm at night. And we aren't the only boyband with a heartthrob who has commitment issues." Lance paused for a moment. "A castle? In Kansas?"
Lex smiled thinly. "All are, apparently, banish-ed. My father feels that I should remove myself from the temptations of the big city. On the plus side, I am finally getting a little freedom to annoy the living shit out of him by doing things my own way."
"I still think you should have your father --" Lance paused as he heard a footstep behind him. "-- killed."
"Lex, I was wondering if you wanted to..." Lance stood and turned to face the young man in the doorway.
"Clark, I'd like you to meet a friend of mine. Clark Kent, this is Lance Bass. Lance, this is Clark." Lex's voice took on a distinctly smug tone. "He lives on the neighboring farm."
Lance smiled sideways at Lex as he shook Clark's hand, but Lex was focussed entirely on the new arrival.
"Lex, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... Lance Bass?" Lance donned his yes-of-nsync-let's-get-this-over-with face and waited. "Of NSYNC?"
"Yes, that Lance, Clark. We met in Metropolis. Lance owns a club -- a night club in Metropolis. We found that we have a few things in common." The three of them sat down, Lex opposite Clark who sat sideways on the couch to continue staring at Lance. "Now what was it you wanted to ask me?"
Clark abruptly realised that he was staring, and turned back to face Lex, making the leather squeak under him. For a moment he looked blankly at Lex, who returned his look with one eyebrow raised, then wrenched his head back to Lance. "It's a pleasure to meet you. I, ah, couldIhaveyourautograph?"
Lance glanced at Lex just in time to see him roll his eyes and smirk. "No problem, Clark. Lex, do you have..."
Lance watched in amusement as Lex got up and fetched a copy of Celebrity from the stereo system artfully hidden in a dark wood cabinet. When Lance turned back to Clark, he wasn't particularly surprised that Clark was watching Lex too. Lex handed over the cd, and a pen from his desk, then dropped down again into the couch.
Lance pulled the liner notes from the cd. "Lex," he said in a wounded tone. "The cd is in here. You don't listen to it?"
"It's a good album, but there's just not enough of your lovely voice on it, my dear."
Lance paused with the pen over the booklet, and mouthed my dear? incredulously at Lex. Lex shrugged slightly before flicking his eyes back to Clark's stunned face. "You had a question, Clark?"
"Yes. I." Clark was probably doing quite well all things considered, Lance thought charitably. "I, just. Do you want to go swimming?"
"Playing hooky on a Kansas afternoon. What a delightful idea. You go ahead, Clark. I have a few things to discuss with Lance, but I'll join you shortly." Lex's affectionate tone but firm dismissal earned him another raised eyebrow, but Lex was waiting for Clark.
"Okay. I'll just. Okay." Clark stood, towering over them for a moment. "It was nice to meet you. Lance." He held up one hand in a half-hearted wave as he left the room.
Lance waited until the doors were shut to finally release the giggle he'd been manfully holding back. Lex looked sternly at him for a moment, before shaking his head slightly and leaning back to put a hand over his eyes. "Lex, he's amazing."
"Lance, he's fifteen."
Lance was having a lot of difficulty stifling his grin. "Kansas. Farm boy. The farm next door. The Kansas farm boy, from the farm, next door."
Lex waved a hand weakly at him. "Laugh it up, Bass." Lex stared into his glass. "His father," he said in a mournful tone, "owns a shotgun."
Lance couldn't help but laugh.
Lex hauled himself up and poured them more drinks, then moved to sit behind his desk. "Come sit over here for a while, Lance. You'll like this."
Lex opened a drawer in the desk, hit a few buttons and turned to face the bookcase that formed one wall of his office just as a screen descended in front of the books.
Lance sat in the chair opposite Lex's and turned to face the screen as a wide shot of a still pool in a pale blue room appeared on it. Clark entered through a door, and moved over to a large linen cupboard, removing towels.
"Lex, you perve." Lance grinned appreciatively at him, and Lex nodded thoughtfully.
"There are more cameras in the pool. Anyway. What can I help you with, Lance?"
The back-to-business tone didn't mean that either of them stopped watching as Clark dropped the towels onto a bench beside the pool and sat down to start pulling off his boots.
"I want to find someone with particular skills. Someone cutting edge. I --" Lance paused for a moment as Clark stripped off his flannel overshirt and started undoing his jeans. "-- I want to find someone who can build me a convincing." Lex zoomed in on the muscles of Clark's back as he bent over to remove his jeans. "A convincing robot double."
Lance realized that he'd actually said it out loud for the first time. He waited for Lex to laugh, but instead Lex just looked evenly across at him. "Don't worry." Lex waved a hand at the screen without looking at it. "I'm taping it.
"A robot double? Actually, Lance. I think that can be done."
Lance tried not to let his relief show. "Wow. Lex, that's great."
"There's a small town in California, Sunnydale. It may be even weirder than Smallville, and I've been keeping an eye on it. I'll be able to give you a name."
Lance's breathing felt easier already. "You're a lifesaver, Lex."
Lex looked back to watch as Clark skimmed easily through the water, doing laps. "Yes, well, I'm starting to think it might be contagious."