I didn't really know how long I had lay there in that infernal hospital, but I did know I had had enough of it already. People were bustling by my door and I was still totally immobile and bored stiff- okay, so maybe I was technically stiff anyway, but that didn't change what was going around in my head. In fact, nothing was going around in my head, and that was the problem.

All I had was white, plain, uninteresting walls to stare at for hours and no TV. Great! I attempted to mumble something, but I doubted anyone would hear me. If my temporary paralysis didn't wear off soon there would be hell to pay. Just who I got to vent on would depend on who came through my room's door first once I got my voice back in gear.

"Nur…se," I had another go. Someone had to hear me, dammit! What was I supposed to do to get help? Press the call button with my numb hand? Yeah, right. I tried again. "Nurse!" This time, the high pitched shriek that left my lips made me shudder. I was however, making progress.

Well, I thought I was making progress, but then someone rapped lightly on my door and instead of a nurse scurrying in, guess what? It was 'Smallville', everyone's favorite farmboy.

He looked at me sheepishly with those puppy eyes of his and shuffled in as if he'd committed a crime. In his hand he carried a bunch of flowers that I guessed were from his mom's garden.

"The doctors said they don't think the effects of Geoff's ability will last on you as long as Coop." Clark pulled out a chair and smiled, trying to cheer me, but I was feeling particularly irritated by my predicament, and his words just seemed to fan the flames of my temper. I had Daddy to thank for that. He never could stand being told no, or wait, or be patient, and I had inherited his attitude. I did not want to wait to be able to feel my limbs!

"Long enough, Small..ville," I slurred testily, shooting him my usual eye of contempt. I may not be able to move much, but you can express a whole lot with the eyes. "I feel like a mummy...or sumthin."

I saw a twinkle in those wicked green farmboy eyes, and I suspected he was tempted to tell me I looked like one. Instead, he retrieved a vase for the flowers and placed them by my bed. Then, he sat back down and fumbled with his hands. "When I climbed down there in the water, for a minute I thought I was too late and…"

I could see he was struggling for words. Why is it always so hard to find something to say to people in the hospital? Especially when I had been bored for so long? "And you thou...ght I've finally gotten rid of her!" my speech still wasn't right, but it was improving with practice.


I noticed the startled look of hurt, but I hadn't been able to resist my quip. I'd known for some time that I annoyed Clark with my sharp wit, and I guess I tended to do it more in his presence just to see his wide-eyed expressions. Now, he was a source for my amusement, even though it was really wicked of me when he'd been thoughtful enough to visit. Heck, thoughtful enough to save my butt in the first place!

He seemed to settle back down somewhat. "You can be abrasive, and rude, but I wouldn't want you drowned for it. Gagged maybe, but not drowned…"

Dang it. That huge grin had appeared and almost melted my icy resolve- almost, but then as I had proved in my earlier 'drinkfest', I was made of tougher stuff. Kent couldn't melt me with his smile, no way! I shot him another 'look', and then something inexplicable suddenly hit me like a tidal wave. I hadn't even thought about it before, but Clark's words finally brought home what I had been through. Maybe Kent's smile couldn't melt me, but the abrupt reality that I had almost drowned did.

I'm no cry baby, anyone who knows me will tell you that, but for some incomprehensible reason I had bottled up my near death experience and it was all about to come flooding out- if you pardon the watery pun.

It was if in an instant I was back in the underground chamber, sensing the water ebbing around me- touching my flesh, and I couldn't even shudder. Cold chills seemed to ripple through my muscles at the memory, even though I still couldn't move them. I could virtually feel the cold water begin to cover my face and begin to seep into my mouth. The horrific sensation made me gag reflexively and I saw Clark's smile turn to concern- after all he had no clue what was wrong with me.

In a heartbeat he had jumped to his feet and was heading for the door. "Hang on, Lois. I'll get a nurse!"

At his panicked and fearful expression, I managed to jolt out of my panic attack. It was my first and hopefully last. "I'm okay…" I mumbled hastily, "Just the thought…thought of all that water suffocating me…"

Clark turned then, and I saw a look of compassion in his eyes that I had never witnessed before. He was more than just the farmboy geek I pegged him for- much more, and I had just gotten a glimpse of it.

Without arguing or still insisting to fetch someone he retook his chair and never once made a sarcastic or witty comment as I began to cry.

I didn't want to. Heck, Lois Lane does NOT cry in front of guys like that. I told myself it was an after effect of the paralysis as it wore off, but deep down I knew better. I had nearly lost my life in some dark underground pit, and if it hadn't been for Clark and Chloe I could still be laying there, floating lifelessly under the city.

The moisture from my eyes began to run down my cheeks and I thankfully managed a small sniffle before my nose began to run too. "I guess I just ruined my makeup, huh?" I still tried to quip.

Clark smiled then and gently wiped away the tears with a soft tissue from my bedside table. "You don't need any makeup, Lois." He took my still partially numb hand in his reassuringly, and in an instant I felt calmer.

The fear, paralysis and sheer panic Geoff had instilled in me with his touch, miraculously drained away at Clark's. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he had any kind of weird power, because I'm not, but there was something in the farmboy so inherently good and serene that I couldn't escape some of it rubbing off. He could be a real jerk sometimes, but I have never felt safer than when I am in his presence.

"Are you after a date, Smallville?" My chirpy, sardonic attitude was coming back, even if my eyes were still moist and my cheeks still damp.

Clark backed off playfully and gestured with his hands. "Erm, no offence, but I don't think you're my kind of girl. I've heard what you do when you start drinking at parties!"

"Hey, I swore off the booze!" We both laughed then, and just as I was beginning to feel a little more secure the nurse from the duty station finally appeared.

"Visiting hours are over, young man." She was a grumpy old maid in her fifties and she shot Clark the most evil of stares.

At once the startled farmboy demeanor returned and he succumbed to her orders. "I guess I better be heading back, Lois. I need to catch up with Chloe…" His words faded as he saw the hurt expression on my features.

I would never tell anyone, but I was scared to be alone now that my fears had surfaced. Crazy thoughts like 'What if Geoff escapes and finishes me off like he did Coop' kept entering my head. I tried to shake them off, of course. I even found myself wondering why on earth I wanted the most annoying farmboy in history here to keep me company, but it all boiled down to one thing- Clark might act like a geek sometimes, but I trusted him.

I think he sensed my thoughts- well maybe not the geek part, but at least that I suddenly felt afraid. As he reached the door he looked back, keeping one hand on the handle. It was strange, but the glint in his eye and slight curve to his lips made me wonder just what was going through his head as he spoke the craziest of words.

"Don't be scared, Lois. I'll always be there for you and Chloe…I won't let anyone hurt you ever again." Clark said it with such conviction that for almost a minute I believed him.

Then, as the cold reality hit home I began to curse to myself. Who does he think he is; some TV hero? How can he protect me and Chloe when we're miles apart? What's farmboy gonna do, fly between Smallville and Metropolis? I was so busy grouching that my fears subsided, and I failed to notice the nurse turn on the radio before she departed from my room.

By the time I had finished my rant on Kent's passé last comment, I finally realized Nurse 'Grinch' had left the stupid radio on some corny rock station. Great, I had a headache by now which meant more torture! I had no way to switch it, or my ears off, and so like it or not I listened. The first tunes almost blasted my head off and I was ready to start screeching for attention like a banshee when a slower tune erupted from the speakers.

Nevertheless, rock was rock, and wasn't sure my pounding skull could take it. I opened my mouth to practice wailing, "Nur…" I stopped as some of the words sank in.

Whatever you do
Well, I'll be two steps behind you
Wherever you go
I'll be there to remind you
That it only takes a minute of your precious time
To turn around and I'll be two steps behind

I listened as the song played in its entirety, and by the time the last chorus had finished something inside me had changed. Suddenly, I did believe Clark's clichéd last statement, no matter how improbable it seemed. I didn't know how he would do it, but just as he'd pulled me from my watery grave, I knew he would somehow be there for me in times of danger.

I settled my head into my pillow as the use of my neck muscles gradually returned, and slowly let my eyes close. It wasn't long before I was enjoying my first peaceful sleep since Geoff had kidnapped me.

I may not have imagined then the real future fate had in store for Clark and I, but one thing I did believe. Wherever I would go, somehow, farmboy would be two steps behind…

The End