While You Were Sleeping, a Medical Investigation fan fiction by Mellie Erdmann

Summary: While working on a case, Natalie gets sick. Stephen worries. One-shot. Nathen and a little bit of Meva at the end.

A/N: My birthday gift to myself. Yes, I am that weird. Happy Birthday, Mel!

My only Medical Investigation story ever, now gone through spell check and with grammatical mistakes corrected. English is not my first language, but I did my best. Any mistakes left are purely accidental.

Still don't know much about illnesses and diseases, though now I am halfway through Medical School. Perhaps one day I will find one with the described symptoms and will write the name here. As it is, we shall only call it "the nameless disease" for now.

Disclaimer: Medical Investigation, its characters and locations do not belong to me. Anything else you don't recognize (like the dead patients) is hereby claimed by me.

Enjoy!

~*~ While You Were Sleeping ~*~

Stephen Connor rubbed his eyes. He was tired; he hadn't had any sleep for almost thirty hours now. If that was a normal day, it wouldn't be a problem to him. But that wasn't a normal day and with the lack of sleep came the worry about all the sick patients, especially Natalie.

He sighed and took her small hand on his. He had been constantly going from the each patient to another and then to Natalie for ten and a half hours. And, although Miles, Frank and Eva had tried to convince him to get some sleep, they had already given up long ago.

Stephen closed his eyes, still holding her hand. On his mind, he saw her beautiful smile, her bright eyes. He heard her soft voice. He knew what she would say if she could see him there. "Why aren't you trying to find the cure for this, Stephen?"

When he opened his eyes again, he tried to guess, for the fourth time in five hours, how she could possibly get infected. The answer was right there, in front of him. He just couldn't see it. And, for Natalie's sake, he needed to see it fast.

Twenty two hours earlier

Natalie Durant didn't look up from the blood samples she was testing when Stephen came in. She knew he was there, she didn't have to look to know. For a while now she had been able to tell when Stephen entered or left a room without even looking away from what she was doing.

"Anything, Nat?" – he asked, approaching her.

"Not yet. Stephen..."

His phone cut her words. He answered it immediately and heard for about fifteen seconds before running off to help Miles, urging her to join him over his shoulder.

The young doctor was doing all he could to save a little girl's life. Her name was Holly Prentiss and she was the first patient to get sick. And, by the way the disease was progressing on Holly's younger sisters, the three-year-old twins Alicia and Anna, Stephen and Natalie were sure they wouldn't last long. That was the reason Natalie was trying so hard to find what was wrong.

Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do to help Holly. The symptoms had taken a heavy toll on her small body and she was too far gone. Forty five minutes after her lungs stopped, Stephen pronounced Holly Prentiss dead.

Stephen glanced over the girl's body only to see a shaken Natalie staring at Holly's face, one hand caressing the child's blonde hair. The death of a child always hurt her so much. He put a hand over hers on Holly's hair.

"We'll find the cure, Nat."

She looked at him, her eyes meeting his. He could see her soul through her eyes and, right then, her soul was in pain.

"I promise you, Nat, we will find the cure for this."

Then she left, going back to the blood tests she was running. Her head was killing her. She tried to convince herself it was because she hadn't slept well on the last week, but she knew it wasn't. She had blurred vision and she was so dizzy that she needed to hold on the desk she was working at to avoid falling.

She never showed up to do Holly's necropsy. When he found out about that, Stephen marched to the improvised lab to see why. He was the one who found her, unconscious over her samples.

And that was how she ended unconscious on a hospital bed, infected with an unknown disease with her boss by her side for almost every minute since he had found her, almost seventeen hours earlier.

Stephen sighed and squeezed her hand.

"Don't give up, Nat. I need you."

He didn't move when Miles came to check her vitals (although Stephen was pretty sure he would have done something if there was any change on it), or when Eva showed up to let him know there were going to be no fantastic headlines in the next papers, or when Frank entered the room to try to make him get some sleep – on which he failed miserably.

Stephen was running all the symptoms of the disease on his head, searching for anything he could hang into. He had already done it before and the results were exactly the same – he had nothing. It was so frustrating! Here was a woman he loved, dying on a hospital bed of an unknown disease and there was nothing he could do, because he just couldn't think!

Stephen's eyes snapped opened and he looked at Natalie. His lips curved in a slow smile. He knew it.

With that thought on mind, he ran out of the room and into the room where Miles, Frank and Eva had been talking about him (although he didn't realize it then), shocking them.

A few minutes before...

Eva and Miles looked at Frank. He saw Miles' worried expression and Eva's hopeful one. He sighed, letting them know he had failed. Not that they had expected it to turn differently. But, hey, hope is the last thing to die, right?

For the last fifteen hours (two hours after Stephen found Natalie unconscious at the lab and admitted her into the ICU, which was when they realized their boss would not leave her side until something happened), they had been trying to make the blonde man eat and sleep.

"I'm worried about him." – said Eva. Frank and Miles didn't have to ask to know she was talking about Stephen.

"We all are, Eva." – said Frank while Miles put his arms around her shoulders.

Before any of them could say anything else, Stephen stormed into the room. His eyes were red and, if his hair was longer, it would be completely messed by now. Miles' and Eva's shocked expressions said exactly what was on their minds: Miles thought his boss was suffering from some odd kind of hallucination caused by the lack of sleep and the worry about Dr. Durant; Eva was sure he had lost his mind. And Frank... Well, Frank was divided between Miles, Eva and his friendship with Stephen, unsure if he should tie him to a bed and sedate the man or listen to him.

The doctor started yelling orders to Miles, Frank and Eva, then proceeded to run to the lab Natalie had used before getting sick without even looking to see if any of them had decided to follow his commands. He needed to be sure.

When he finally sat back on the chair beside Natalie's bed at the ICU, she was still unconscious. He took her hand on his again, telling himself he wouldn't go anywhere until she opened her eyes.

He fought against the urge to fall asleep. He wouldn't sleep. Not while Nat was still unconscious. He would not...

~*~*~

Natalie opened her eyes slowly and blinked against the bright lights. She wasn't sure if she wanted to know where she was. She felt something heavy over her right arm and moved her eyes to see what it was, trying to focus. She smiled.

Stephen was sound asleep, his head on her arm, his hand still holding hers. She moved her left hand to Stephen's head and caressed his hair. He woke up with a start and smiled to her, sleep still evident on his eyes.

"Hey, welcome back. How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine. What happened?"

"You were infected." – he answered simply. She nodded and looked directly into his eyes.

"How long have I been unconscious?"

He looked to his watch and then to her.

"Almost twenty seven hours now."

Before she could reply, Miles entered the room and smiled at Natalie, although she could see the weariness on his face.

"Welcome back, Dr. Durant. You scared us."

He started checking her vitals and Stephen got up, saying something about coffee. Miles watched him leave before turning back to Natalie, a small smile playing on his lips.

"We were worried about both of you." – he announced, scribbling something into her chart.

"Both...? Why were you…? What did he do, Miles?"

"He wouldn't leave your side unless it was to check on the other patients."

"He wouldn't...?"

Stephen entered the room and sat back on the chair, unaware Miles was talking about him. Miles moved quickly towards the door, hoping to leave before he could find out, but Natalie's voice stopped him.

"Miles, what about Anna and Alicia? Are they…"

"They're fine. Recovering." – answered the young doctor, leaving to check on the other patients and tell Frank and Eva Natalie was conscious again.

Natalie rested her head on the pillow and moved her eyes to Stephen. He looked tired. Had he really spent the last twenty-something hours by her side? Should she ask him? Before she could decide, Stephen noticed her gaze on him.

"Nat? Something wrong?"

"Have you really spent the last God knows how many hours here? – she asked, blushing. He nodded. – "Why?"

"Because I care about you, Nat."

Maybe more than I should, his mind added. She smiled.

"You do know I know you so well I can say exactly what you're thinking, don't you?"

"You do?"

"Hmhm." – answered Natalie, smiling. She looked straight into his blue eyes and he scooted closer. Soon, he was sitting beside her, eyes showing her exactly how he felt about her.

"What am I thinking now?"

When she saw the look on his face, her smile disappeared slowly. When his lips brushed hers softly, she placed her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. Tongues collided, teasing, caressing, loving. Both their lungs screamed for oxygen and Natalie ended the kiss, a small smile playing on her lips.

Stephen smiled and brushed a kiss to her forehead.

"You should rest."

"I love you." – she whispered. His smile grew and he kissed her again, more tenderly this time. After all, she was recovering.

"I love you too." – he answered against her lips. Natalie smiled and deepened the kiss. Who cared if she was supposed to be resting? Who cared if she was recovering? She didn't. Not when Stephen Connor was kissing her. And especially not when Stephen Connor was kissing her like that. He broke the kiss and smiled. – "But you still have to rest."

She laughed and leaned her head back on the pillow, closing her eyes. She felt Stephen get up from her bed and sit back on the chair. His hand found hers again.

Natalie slowly drifted back to sleep and Stephen found himself falling asleep as well. He didn't fight against it this time. When Miles came back with Frank and Eva, they found the two doctors asleep, Stephen's head on Natalie's bed, their hands linked and one of Stephen's arms draped around her waist.

Eva leaned against Miles and the young doctor wrapped his arms around her, both looking at the couple with identical sly smiles.

"Come on, lovebirds, let's leave them to their sleep." – whispered Frank. Eva blushed and they followed Frank out of the room.

Inside the hospital room, Stephen Connor was smiling on his sleep. It was the first time he was sleeping in peace in longer than he cared to remember.

The End

A/N 2: I know, I know, everybody ended smiling... I am such a romantic fool. No big changes, I am aware of that as well. It's still the piece I am proudest of.

Cheers,

~Mellie~