By Andrea Lynn Dunham (Andrea.Dunham@fmr.com)
Summary: Lois collapses during a midnight stint at the Daily Planet, and Clark takes care of her. A post-revelation, pre-engagement vignette.
Disclaimer: The following story contains characters owned by DC Comics, Warner Brothers and December24 Productions. They are used without permission but no copyright infringement is intended. Author's Note: Here's a little vignette, post-revelation, pre-engagement.
"Lois, are you OK?" Clark asked frantically.
He had just walked into the supply closet and found her collapsed on the floor. He had quickly carried her to the sofa in Perry's office, and now he bent over her, anxiety coursing through his body. It was almost midnight and no one else was around. Lois had wanted to stay late to finish up on their latest story and now Clark was wishing that they hadn't.
"Lois," he repeated, shaking her gently.
She slowly opened her eyes and reached up to stroke Clark's cheek, noting the worried look in his eyes.
"I'm not feeling too well," she murmured.
"I'll take you right to the hospital," he said as he spun into costume.
"No, no, Clark, I'm sure I'll be fine," she protested. "I've just been feeling a little 'off' today. I didn't have much lunch."
Clark remembered how she had refused even half of his sandwich, and had hardly touched the Chinese food he had flown out to get them for dinner. He put his hand on her forehead.
"Lois, you have a temperature of a hundred and two! Why did you insist on staying late?" He quickly turned the blame on himself, "I should have noticed you were running a temperature."
"How could you have known? Do you normally go around doing random temperature checks on people?" she asked with a weak grin.
She hated for him to blame himself for her stubbornness, but when it came to her well being her generally considered himself to be her guardian.
She sat up to prove that she wasn't really that sick, but was overcome by the waves of nausea and dizziness which washed over her.
"Clark, I don't—" her words were cut off as her eyes rolled back and her body pitched forward.
Clark quickly helped her to lie back again.
"Lois, you need to see a doctor."
"I'll be OK," she insisted, "but would you mind taking me home?"
She held her arms up to him and he picked her up gently and floated out of Perry's office and out the large picture window in the newsroom. He landed on her balcony only a few moments later and slid open the door, which was unlocked.
"You really should lock that," he admonished lightly as he carried her inside.
"Clark I'm five flights up! No one can get in there but you, and I don't *want* to lock you out."
He grinned down at her and made his way to the bedroom where he deposited her on the bed.
"Are you feeling well enough to slip out of your clothes? You'll be more comfortable if you do."
"I keep telling you, I'm not that sick! I just didn't eat enough."
She hoisted herself up and began unbuttoning her jacket but then stopped. The color drained from her face and she made a dash for the bathroom. Clark hurried in after her and brushed the hair off her forehead as she threw up. When she was finished he brought her a glass of water.
"Feeling better?" he asked, crouching down beside her on the bathroom floor.
She leaned her head against his shoulder and he took that as his cue to carry her back to bed. He propped her against the pillows and then leaned her forward a bit and eased her arms out of the jacket. She wore only a silk tank top underneath it and he decided to leave that where it was.
The tailored pants she wore were a bit more difficult. He kept his eyes riveted on her face as he eased them down past her knees and then off. He then quickly pulled the covers up to her chin.
Lois turned tired eyes to look at him.
"That was sweet, Clark," she said, "but we're practically engaged. You don't have to be so nervous."
Clark gave a little chuckle as he reflected that he had been acting like a schoolboy who had been caught accidentally looking into the girls' locker room.
Lois groaned suddenly and rolled onto her side.
"I hurt all over," she whispered, "and I'm so cold."
She was covered by two blankets and a comforter, but Clark pulled another blanket from the linen closet and draped it over her. Huddled under all those covers Lois was barely visible. Clark stroked her cheek gently and turned out the light.
"Clark?" Lois reached out a hand and grasped his arm. "Do you think you could maybe stay here tonight?" she asked.
"Lois, do you think I'd even consider leaving you like this?"
She looked up at him gratefully and he tucked her arm back under the covers.
"I'll just be in the next room."
He grabbed a pillow and blanket from the closet and went to make himself a bed on the sofa. It was not a very large sofa but he tried to forget that as he sat down to take off his shoes. He set his glasses down on the coffee table and then decided to check on Lois one more time. He floated noiselessly over to the bedroom and saw that she was asleep. Her temperature was still high but he hoped that it would be normal by morning.
Back in the living room he stretched out as well as he could on the sofa. He finally gave up his attempts to get comfortable and allowed himself to float a foot above the cushions with the blanket still covering him and the pillow clasped in his hands. Within minutes he was asleep.
He was jarred awake in the middle of the night and crashed down onto the sofa with a surprised -whoof-. The sound of Lois retching in the bathroom brought him quickly to the present and he rushed in to her.
"Are you OK? Are you sure you don't want a doctor?" Clark asked with concern.
She sat with her forehead supported in the crook of her arm which rested against the porcelain. She looked dazed and not fully awake.
"I think I'll be fine. Jeez I didn't even have anything to eat for cryin' out loud," she moaned. "You know Clark, any time you want to pass along some of that invulnerability, that would be fine with me."
He picked her up as he had before and carried her back to bed. In her rush to get to the bathroom she hadn't bothered to turn on the lights and the room was dim and silent except for their breathing. It was the time of night when it seems every other living thing has ceased to exist and for Clark everything else had ceased to matter. He was concerned only with the woman before him. The rest of the world could wait while he took care of her.
The moon came out from behind a cloud and its filmy light poured in through the lace curtains. Clark brushed Lois' hair away from her fever-warmed cheeks and gently snaked his hand under the covers and rubbed her tummy in slow even circles. After a few minutes her breathing became slow and even and he stood up and turned to leave. Lois' eyes slid open and she met his gaze.
"Clark, stay here. Please," she said quietly. "It's not like you can catch it."
He looked at her lying there and wondered at how even sick she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. The idea of sleeping with her, whatever the circumstances, sent a sudden chill through him. They had fallen asleep in each other's arms before, watching TV, working, or even talking. Each time Clark had woken up feeling complete and content with her cradled in his arms.
"Are you sure you wouldn't be more comfortable…"
"I want you near, Clark. I might have to get up again." She turned her big dark eyes up to him and he crossed to the other side of the bed and slipped under the covers. Lois rolled over to face him and rested one hand on his chest. Clark covered it with his own and they fell asleep.
Lois tossed and turned for most of the night, troubled by feverish dreams. Clark blew cool air over her forehead and whispered soothingly into her ear until the dreams passed and she slipped into a deeper level of sleep.
Clark was the first one awake the next morning and he called Perry to let him know that Lois was sick.
"Son, are you calling from her apartment?" Perry asked.
Clark could almost see him raising one eyebrow.
"Uhhh, yeah Perry. She didn't want me to leave her alone and I thought she might need help," Clark answered.
"Well you just keep on playing Florence Nightingale, Clark. You and Lois have both been working your tails off lately and even baby-sitting Lois has gotta be more restful than chasing down leads."
"Thanks. I'd hate to leave her alone," Clark admitted.
"I know. Take good care of her. Oh, and Clark?"
"I highly recommend a cup of chamomile tea with honey and just dry toast to eat," Perry said.
"Thanks for the advice."
Clark hung up the phone and turned to the sofa. It was in complete disarray. Before Clark had taken to the air he had apparently managed to push every pillow and cushion out of alignment. A few were scattered on the floor, along with the discarded blanket. He sped around getting things in order and was so intent that he nearly missed Lois' call.
"Clark?" her voice was questioning, calling out through the early morning light.
He heard the rustling of sheets and then a soft thud.
"Lois?" he called as he ran towards the bedroom.
She was in the process of lifting herself off the floor, using the bed for balance. She grinned up into his anxious face.
"It's OK," she reassured him as he took hold of her arm and placed his other hand at the small of her back. "Really — I just got up too fast." She looked up at him almost shyly. "I wasn't sure you'd still be here," she said.
"Didn't I tell you I'd stay?"
"But it's Thursday," she replied, "you should be at work. Perry'll eat you alive. You know he hates it when his reporters are late."
"It's alright. I called him earlier and he gave me the day off."
"To baby-sit me, eh?" Lois said as she arched one dark eyebrow.
"You weren't exactly looking your best last night," Clark said. "I've seen Kryptonite less green."
Lois gave a half-hearted swat to his shoulder. "You're right, I guess," she admitted. "It's just that I hate being sick and I'm so *bad* at it!"
"Bad at being sick? Lois, I don't think anyone is *good* at it!" he said with a chuckle.
"Yeah, but it's worse for me, feeling so helpless just because of a stupid little flu or something. Me — the great reporter who's walked fearlessly into some of the most dangerous situations imaginable, but when it comes to being sick I just curl up into a pathetic ball and don't even try!"
"Lois, everyone needs help once in a while, and I, for one, like taking care of you. You don't give me the chance very often."
"What are you talking about? You've had to swoop in and rescue me plenty of times when I've gotten myself in over my head."
"That's different, Lois. I'm certainly glad that I can help you then, but I try to help everyone when they're in danger. You are the only one I like to help when you're your own worst enemy. I love it when you let me in past the walls of strength you've built around yourself. Remember last week when you were feeling depressed? You let me give you a back rub and bring you ice cream," he smiled as he remembered. "A few months ago you would have pushed me away, just like you would have pushed me away last night, but instead you asked me to stay."
"I guess a lot has changed between us," Lois said. "I never thought I'd want anyone to see me this — vulnerable, but being here with you, even if I'm sick, it just feels right."
"I guess it's good for both of us to just be able to be ourselves around each other," Clark said.
"Mmmhmmm," Lois sighed as she leaned into Clark's strong body and placed a gentle kiss at the hollow of his throat.
He eased her down onto the bed and pulled the covers up around her, backing away to peer down at her with his eyes dancing.
"I guess you're feeling better, huh?"
"Well, I think I can probably handle solid foods now," Lois said, slightly disappointed that Clark had broken off her kiss.
"Well that's good, because Perry gave me a couple of suggestions…"