Moment 14 ~ Rabid

"You're an idiot."

Clark grinned, having blurred back into the hospital just in time to catch Lois' weary snark directed at her badly bruised ex-boyfriend. He stopped just short of Oliver's room, peering in and seeing Lois perched on the edge of his bed, head tilted and arms folded as she took in his injured state.

"Your bedside manner is just fantastic, Lois," Oliver grumbled in response.

"If you wanted someone to coddle you, you had the hospital call the wrong girl," she retorted.

Clark's brow furrowed a bit. He wasn't sure he liked that Lois was first on Oliver's contact list.

For a variety of reasons. Starting with his dislike of how Oliver was currently looking at the lady in question.

"Yeah, well I was hoping the fact that I'm hurt and laid up would bring out your softer side," he said, his voice softening slightly with hope.

"Not when you brought it on yourself," Lois sighed, reaching out and touching the large bandage adorning his forehead. "Seriously, Ollie. What the hell?"

"I told you, Lois. This is who I am," he said, bordering on defensive.

Shaking her head, she got up. "And if we're going down the pity party road again, I'm outta here. Clark and I were in the middle of tracking down a lead when I got the call, so it's not like I don't…."

"Clark? Clark's back?"

The surprise in the other man's voice was not lost on Clark, who was starting to feel slightly guilty for eavesdropping.

But only slightly. His trust as far as Oliver was concerned was at about zero to begin with, and if he was playing out some death wish, he certainly didn't want Lois caught in the crossfire.

"Yeah, he got back about a week ago."

"So, where is he?" Oliver asked, his eyes darting around the room, causing Clark to shrink back into the hallway a bit further.

"I don't know, we got here, he mumbled something about forgetting to return a movie and then left," she shrugged, reaching for her bag and therefore missing the slight smirk that appeared on Oliver's face.

Clark wondered what it was for – because he knew where Clark really was or because of the lame (and he realized just how lame it sounded when he heard the words leave Lois' lips) excuse he'd given.

A good cover story in the heat of the moment wasn't something he'd quite mastered yet. So when he'd heard the 911 call about a fire in a high rise on 18th street, he'd uttered the first thing that came to mind. And as much as he didn't really want Lois around Oliver in his current state, the fact that her focus seemed to be on seeing if he was alright had certainly helped in this particular instance.

Throwing her bag over her shoulder, she looked back at Oliver.

"What's it gonna take for you to get yourself together, Ollie?"

He shook his head, a bit sadly. "Sometimes I wish you didn't have so much faith in me, Lois."

"If that were true, you wouldn't have called me," she replied knowingly.

Oliver reached out, quietly taking Lois' hand in his, his fingers lacing through hers. Clark felt his stomach drop at the obvious affection directed at Lois from the defeated man lying in the bed. He seemed to be contemplating something, looking up at Lois, and Clark felt his heart begin to pound. Furiously. One word echoed through his mind.

Interrupt.

No sooner had a soft "Lois" left Oliver's swollen and bruised lips, and there was Clark, having practically stumbled into the room in a fit of gracelessness at his hurry to stop what he feared was a big move on Lois from the blonde billionaire.

Startled, Lois' hand dropped from Ollie's as she turned toward the sound coming from the room's entrance. Eyes narrowed slightly, Oliver watched the other man's gaze immediately find the lovely brunette standing between them.

"There you are," Lois said, oblivious to the tension that had suddenly settled over the room. "How long does it take to return a video anyway?"

"Sorry…um, there was a line," Clark mumbled, his eyes moving to Oliver. "How are you?" Clark asked, trying to shift the focus, and if Lois picked up on the underlying coldness in his voice, she didn't show it.

Which was good, because it wasn't like he could explain it if she did.

"I've had better days," Oliver replied, his tone measured, having picked up on the iciness directed at him. "But they said they'd spring me soon, so I guess there's that."

"Yeah, maybe I should go check on that," Lois said, before directing her next comment toward Clark. "Can you stay with him for a minute?"

"Sure, Lois," he responded, his eyes following her as she breezed out of the room before he'd barely gotten the words out.

All the warmth in the room having exited with her, Clark turned back to Oliver.

"So, Lois shows up, and Clark Kent isn't so dead anymore, huh?"

Ignoring the bait, Clark folded his arms in front of him. "What's going on with you?"

"The same thing that was going on with you. We're all dealing with what happened Clark. We just do it in different ways."

"Getting yourself beat senseless doesn't seem like the best way to deal with it."

"And running away from everyone who cared about you, who needed you, was?"

"Obviously not, since I'm back."

"Unsurprisingly, so is Lois," Oliver retorted, reiterating his earlier point. The hint of bitterness, and maybe even a bit of jealousy that tinged his voice was not lost on Clark.

"Whatever downward spiral you're currently on Oliver, leave Lois out of it."

"Well, I think that's really her decision, Clark."

"If you really cared about her, you wouldn't involve her in all of this."

"She's a big girl. She can take care of herself," Oliver snapped defensively.

"I know she can. And I also know that Lois would never turn her back on a friend, so if you call her, she'll be there. I'm asking you not to."

A knowing glint flashed through the battered man's swollen eyes. "Why?" he goaded.

"Because I don't want whatever trouble you've gotten yourself into to find its way into Lois' life."

"So, you're protecting her. She'd love that," Oliver snarked, and Clark bristled slightly, knowing full well the Lane temper would be unleashed on him full force if she knew what he was doing. "But are you sure that's the only reason?"

Shoving his hands into his pockets while avoiding any eye contact with Oliver, Clark muttered, "What else would there be?"

"That you've finally realized what's been in front of you all along."

Silence. Clark swallowed hard, Oliver's words hanging between them.

In the past, when anyone had called him on having feelings for Lois, he'd quickly change the subject. Avoidance, denial – they'd been the specials of the day.

But since he'd seen her on that train, after weeks of thinking he'd lost her for good, he didn't have the strength or the desire to fight it anymore. So, instead of mumbling some half-hearted denial or turning the conversation elsewhere, Clark simply looked at the man lying in the hospital bed, refusing to run anymore.

"Maybe I have," he stated.

Oliver nodded, his gaze meeting Clark's unflinchingly. "And maybe I've realized that I made a hell of a mistake letting her go. Of course," Oliver added, with a smirk, "there's a difference between you and me."

"There's more than one," Clark shot back.

"True, but this is the one that counts, at least in this situation. I'm not afraid to go after what I want."

"And you think I am?"

"Well, let's face it Clark, you haven't yet."

Clark's face burned slightly, feeling the truth in Oliver's accusation. And the warning.

"Of course, maybe you're too busy leaving your calling card all over the city to give Lois the attention she deserves."

Picking up on the disdain in Oliver's voice, Clark took a step closer. "I'm only trying to help."

"And making sure that everyone in Metropolis knows that The Blur is the big hero," Oliver spat, complete with an icy glare.

"No one's stopping you from being a hero, Oliver," Clark shot back, pointedly ignoring Oliver's comment. "No one except you."

"Well, you know, being a hero worked out so well for me in the past. Or have you forgotten what happened?"

"I'll never forget what happened," Clark responded strongly.

"To Jimmy? Or what I did to you?"

"This isn't about you and me."

"Isn't it? You don't trust me. Not as any kind of hero and certainly not around Lois. And maybe I can't blame you. But if you think that's gonna stop me Clark, you're wrong."

"She's not some object to be won, Oliver. You and I can fight about it all we want but Lois has a say in this, too."

"She does," Oliver nodded. "Does that worry you?"

"Why would it?"

"Because maybe you fear, deep down, that you lost the chance we both know you had."

"Lost a chance at what?"

Both men's attention turned toward the doorway, watching as Lois walked back into the room holding some papers.

"Um, a story on Queen Industries. When I was away," Clark managed to mumble, his gaze darting toward Oliver, who smirked and shook his head slightly.

Lois nodded. "I can see that. Smallville's good with the fluff pieces," she grinned, her teasing glance bouncing back and forth between both men. When she got nary a response, she simply continued, "O-kay. Well, the doctor said he just wants to take a look at you one more time, and then you're free," she said, raising her hand with the papers in it slightly.

"We should probably wait outside, then," Clark said, placing his hand on Lois' back and guiding her toward the door.

"Wait! Lois," Oliver called, bringing her attention back to him. "Look, I just wanted to say thanks for coming. I know you didn't have to but, it means a lot."

A pang of jealousy surged through Clark at the soft smile Lois sent Oliver's way. "No problem, Ollie," she said sincerely.

"Lois, the doctor's waiting," Clark said quickly, before ushering her out of the room. Oliver's doctor walked past them, entering the room and closing the door.

He leaned against the counter of the nurses' station as she busied herself checking over the paperwork she'd been given.

"I didn't realize you were his emergency contact."

She shrugged, her eyes still fixed on the forms. "I guess he really doesn't have anyone else in Metropolis. Unless you count Tess, which, I don't."

"Well, they were seeing each other, weren't they?"

Lois scoffed. "He can do better."

"Maybe we should call her. She'd probably want to know…"

"I'm not calling Tess, Clark. She's the last thing Ollie needs right now."

He gulped uncomfortably at that. "Being a little bit protective of him, don't you think?"

"He's my friend. I care about him."

"And if he cares about Tess?" he responded, fishing for whether or not jealousy was something he needed to be concerned about.

"Good for him. I don't care who he sleeps with. I do, however, care about the fact that he's in a bad place right now. And he may think Tess is good in the sack but I doubt she's good for his state of mind."

He exhaled the breath he didn't realize he'd been holding, feeling a bit of relief at her response.

"Look, Lois, I just think you should be careful. Whatever Oliver's involved in might be dangerous."

Finally meeting his gaze, she rolled her eyes. "Clark…"

"I just don't want you to get hurt, alright?"

"I'm not gonna turn my back on him. Not now."

"I know," he said softly. "Just, promise me…"

"I'll be careful, Smallville. Aren't I always?"

"Do you really want me to answer that?"

She smirked in response, turning her attention back to the paperwork.

"I wonder if he should be alone the next few days," she said absently, her eyes still scanning the information in front of her.

Clark's eyes widened. Feeling a swirl of nausea begin to stir in the pit of his stomach, he had a sickening feeling he knew where Lois' train of thought was headed. She was contemplating something, that was clear by the sideways tilt of her lips, her furrowed brow.

It was at that moment that he Oliver's voice rang through his mind.

Well, let's face it Clark. You haven't yet.

Oliver was right. He knew it. So what was he waiting for?

Lois' voice broke him out of his thoughts.

"Maybe I should…"

"I was hoping we could grab something to eat tonight," he blurted out.

Lois' head shot up while her jaw dropped.

Taking her obvious shock as anything but a good sign, he quickly added, "Not that I'm saying we should go on a date."

He watched her reaction carefully, noting the quick flash of disappointment in her eyes. Realizing he may have hurt his cause, he attempted to backtrack. "Just…something like a date."

Her face softened into the slightest of smiles. "Something like a date?" she asked, her voice with a teasing lilt to it. "What would that entail, exactly?"

"Um, dinner. You know, together," he said, feeling a slight blush creep up the back of his neck at how badly he was probably coming across in attempting to ask her out.

She nodded slowly, the corner of her bottom lip slipping between her teeth.

"Okay."

He blinked quickly. "Okay?"

"Yeah. It's a …well, something like a date," she said, tossing him a gorgeous smile that made his heart speed up to the point he was sure it rivaled his superspeeding ability.

He knew he should say something in response. Something witty and charming, and yet, he couldn't get himself to do anything but stare at her with what he was sure were what Chloe had termed his "puppy dog eyes". Thankfully, the doctor came out of Ollie's room just as he was positive she was going to rescind her acceptance of his invitation because he apparently had lost the ability to string words together.

"Miss Lane?" the doctor called. Lois turned toward him, then turned back to Clark.

"I'll be back in a minute," she said, sending another smile his way.

He managed to nod, his eyes never leaving her as she went to converse with Oliver's doctor.

She'd said yes.

He had a date (or something like one) with Lois Lane.

His face broke out into a huge smile.

Now all he had to do was make sure it was perfect.