A/N: First, before I do anything else, I need to thank Sana for all of her help in this fic. She was absolutely invaluable, and some of the lines in this were stolen entirely from her suggestions.

Here is my entry for the ficstravaganza this year! My prompt was Baudyhallee, S9, NC-17, Emil Hamilton. There is a small shoutout to Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman that some of you might catch. Enjoy!

The Christmas Curse

December 4, 2009

Dr. Emil Hamilton didn't miss a beat – or even look up from the chart he was scanning – as he scooted out of the way of a nurse pushing a gurney down the hallway. After scribbling a note on the pad in front of him, he closed the folder and passed it over to another nurse behind the desk. "What's next?" he asked.

As he waited to be directed to his next patient, he flexed his shoulders, trying to work out the kinks in his muscles. One of these days, he was really going to have to take the day off, he told himself. Frowning slightly, he tried to remember the last time he'd taken advantage of the four weeks of vacation time he was given a year. It took a minute, but then he remembered. It had been when he'd taken a trip to Star City to give a lecture on quantum physics. "So let's see…it's been…well, it's 2009 now, so that would have been…" he murmured to himself, tapping a finger thoughtfully on the counter in front of him.

"I'm sorry, Doctor?" the nurse asked as she grabbed a chart. His attention completely diverted by this new challenge, he shook his head. Handing the chart over, the nurse explained, "This one requested you specifically."

Intrigued, Emil glanced at the chart. He recognized the name immediately, from her recent period of unconsciousness, and his eyebrows rose at seeing her back in the ER so soon. Given the unusual nature of their last encounter, he hadn't really had a complete patient history on her during their last encounter, so he scanned these details as he walked to the exam room. Three broken bones, a series of head traumas, at least one gunshot wound…it seemed Lois Lane had been rather busy in the last few years.

He had reached the exam room, so he reminded himself that he wasn't supposed to know Lois as he pushed open the door. She'd been unconscious the entire time on their last meeting, and so he would have to pretend that he'd never seen her before. "Good evening, Miss Lane. I'm Doctor Hamilton. I see that –" he began, but he let his voice trail off in the middle of his introduction since the room's occupants weren't paying the slightest bit of attention to him.

"I got the story, didn't I?" Lois protested defiantly to the man who was standing against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest as he glared at her.

"And you almost got yourself killed in the process!" he retorted, and Emil definitely recognized him. Clark Kent, who spent his evenings moonlighting as the Blur. Emil had worked with him quite a bit on various things, actually.

She shrugged and then winced. "But the important thing is that I got the story," she reiterated.

Emil walked forward and put the chart on the counter. Grabbing some latex gloves, he slipped them on and then tried once again to get his patient's attention. Once again, he was ignored.

"And you almost got yourself killed," Clark repeated emphatically.

Lois pursed her lips and then threw Clark a sly smile. "But you gotta admit, it's a hell of a story."

Dropping his arms to his sides, Clark stepped away from the wall. "For which you almost got yourself killed." When she opened her mouth to protest once again, he sighed and ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "Okay, Lois. I really need you to focus on what I'm saying because you don't seem to think it's a big deal at all. You. Almost. Died."

Emil considered trying to break in one more time, but he finally just sighed and decided there was no point. They clearly weren't going to focus on anything else until their argument was through. And, at any rate, it was actually pretty interesting to see Clark and Lois interact, now that she was conscious. Emil had only ever really seen Clark and Chloe together for any period of time, and that was definitely an entirely different dynamic.

Still, while he couldn't get his patient's attention, that didn't mean he couldn't start his exam. Glancing again at the chart, he could see that she complained of an injured shoulder. So while she and Clark continued their discussion, he grabbed her left arm and began to feel her shoulder to determine the extent of her injury. "Don't mind me," he muttered, though it was patently clear that she wasn't. "I'm just going to do my job, here. Taking care of your emergency."

Ignoring the doctor, Lois lifted her right hand and waved it in the air dismissively. "Yeah, well…no guts, no glory, as the General always says. And, anyway, I had the situation completely under control."

Clark actually spluttered at that. Emil almost couldn't believe his ears; he was so surprised at hearing the Blur's discomposure that he actually paused in his examination and looked up at Clark's face. "You had it under control?" the flabbergasted man repeated incredulously. "Lois! If it hadn't been for the Blur, you would have died!"

Lois snorted. "Oh, please. I had it under control! I had a plan and everything!"

"Oh, yeah?" Clark said sarcastically, crossing his arms over his chest again as he tilted his chin down and glowered at her. "And what was the plan, exactly? Sprouting wings on the way down?"

Emil frowned slightly as he felt her shoulder. It was dislocated, and it needed to be popped back into place. Normally, he would warn his patient, tell her to brace herself. However, Lois looked well and truly distracted, and so he doubted he'd get a better opportunity. Not that he'd be likely to get a word in edgewise, anyway.

Gripping her shoulder in a firm grip, he glanced at Lois's face and waited until she was halfway through a sentence, and then he shoved her shoulder forcefully back into place. As she let out a shriek of pain, her head snapped around so she could glare up at him. "That hurt!" she cried in an accusatory tone.

Unfazed by her ire, he met her eyes. "Oh, yeah, by the way…this might hurt a little," he confessed, then added in a mild tone, "It often does when you dislocate your shoulder."

Clark jumped on this added ammunition for his argument. "Not that he has any experience with that injury, I'm sure, since most people realize it's a bad idea to dangle off ledges."

Her eyes were narrowed on Emil, but at Clark's comment, her arm seemed to lose the fight for her attention as Lois whipped her head around to glare up at her former adversary. "You know, there's no need to be sarcastic," she said, as if the interruption had never happened. "And just for that, I'm not going to tell you my plan. I'm going to save it for next time," she retorted with a disdainful sniff.

Clark snorted, the sound indicating the full measure of his skepticism that she'd ever had a plan to begin with. "Heaven help me," he muttered. "The point is that I don't want there to be a next time."

Releasing Lois's arm, Emil grabbed her chart and started to write. "If anyone's interested, Lo – Miss Lane here had a dislocated shoulder. It should be fine now, but it'll probably be sore for the next few days. I'm going to write her a prescription and she should take it easy on that arm for a while. But she'll be fine," he said in a mild voice, not really expecting to find that either of them were really listening to him.

But he'd gotten Clark's attention, and it seemed the other man intended to drag him into the argument. "Let me ask you something, Emil. You're a doctor. Would you –"

"Wait, you know him?" Lois asked, finally giving Emil her full attention as she threw him an assessing look. "How do you know each other?"

Clark's eyes widened as he realized his mistake, but he jumped in a second later. "Oh, I met Doctor Hamilton last year. Uh…when I got shot."

"Oh," she said softly.

Like a shark smelling blood in the water, Clark sensed a chance to push his advantage and went for it. "Yeah, remember? When you once again raced headlong into danger without a second thought?" Her lips pressed together and she threw him a guilty look, an expression Emil didn't understand. Whatever transpired between the two of them, Clark apparently still thought it was a good idea to drag Emil into the debate, because he continued, "As I was saying, you're a doctor. Would you say it's generally a good idea for someone to climb out onto a ledge sixteen floors above the ground just so they can listen in to someone's window?"

Emil had a feeling he should tread very, very carefully unless he wanted to be embroiled in their debate for the next several hours. "Er…no?" he offered.

Lois swiveled her neck and looked up at him in surprise. "Oh really? Not even when it leads to a really good story?"

"Er…" Emil said, pushing his glasses up his nose in a nervous gesture.

Lois pressed on, as though she was certain she could convince him to see her point of view. "Let's say – for argument's sake – that conversation is about a very, very important arms deal and could lead to a Pulitzer Prize winning story and put some pretty bad guys behind bars? And let's also say that that person was totally safe the whole time?"

"Lois!" Clark growled between gritted teeth, and Emil heaved a sigh of relief when the attention diverted from him once more. He began to hastily scribble out his instructions, hoping to finish his task before he got dragged into the argument again. "You weren't totally safe! You'd slipped and you were dangling – if I have to remind you – sixteen floors up!"

It was her turn to snort. "Please, Clark. I've been in worse situations. I've been shot, stabbed, kidnapped, bludgeoned, drugged…"

Emil glanced at her chart and saw that she'd missed several head traumas and at least one car crash.

Clark sighed and tilted his head back, looking up towards the ceiling as if praying for strength. "As if reminding me of all the times you've almost been killed is going to make me feel better," he muttered.

Lois grimaced and offered somewhat sheepishly, "I'm just saying that, really, when you think about it, hanging from a ledge isn't really a big deal in the greater scheme of things."

Clark threw Emil an incredulous look, but he received little help this time. Meeting Clark's eyes, Emil shrugged, silently conveying his opinion that she may have had a point – though certainly a very small and not terribly good one.

"It wasn't nothing," Clark protested, abandoning his hope for backup. Instead, he grabbed Lois's hand in a gesture that was surprisingly gentle, given the vehemence with which they'd just been arguing. "Lois, I know that you tend to jump into the pool without checking the water level first, but what you did tonight…you could have been killed! If the Blur hadn't gotten there in time, if he hadn't been able to save you, you would have died! I'm not telling you not to go after the story; I know how much being a reporter means to you. But can't you just be a little bit more careful? Yes, the story was important – they're always important – but you're important too. You're important to me."

Lois sighed, touched by his gesture, but her soft smile was followed by a disgruntled look. "Darn it, Clark! You're not supposed to do that!" she cried.

"Do what?" he asked in confusion.

"We were arguing; you can't just change topics by saying something sweet to me like that! I had this whole train of thought! And now you have to go and be sweet like that and…darn it! I just can't be mad at you!"

Emil stared between the man and woman in front of him. All of a sudden, he felt like his presence was an intrusion, like he was a voyeur whose witnessing of the scene was unwelcome. Clearing his throat, he turned to the door. Professional ethics prompted him to say, "Remember to take it easy with that shoulder; don't do any heavy lifting with that arm for a while." He paused to consider the likelihood that Lois would actually take such words of wisdom to heart. While it wasn't really necessary, he added (just on the slight chance it would somehow force her to take his words to heart), "I'd suggest wearing a sling. A nurse will be in with something for the pain. Any questions? Excellent." And then he slipped through the door, closing it behind him.

As he turned away, he heard the low rumble of Clark's voice, too soft to understand his words. And then Lois's voice filtered through the glass, loud enough that he had no trouble discerning her words. "But it was a really good story!"


December 12, 2009

"Oh, come on," Lois huffed irritably. "Is this really necessary?"

"Yes," Clark replied tiredly for what had to be at least the…he calculated in his head…four hundredth time. "It's absolutely necessary."

"All I did was fall!" she protested. At his glance, she admitted, "And hit my head. But big deal!" He just clenched his jaw and didn't respond, so she growled in irritation. "You know, Clark? This is why I hate Christmas! Stuff like this always happens to me at Christmas! It's like I'm cursed or something!"

He chuckled, since it was just so like her to convince herself that an entire holiday was against her. "Stuff like this happens to you all year round, Lois. And, anyway, you don't injure yourself every year. In fact, I seem to remember one or two Christmases that you managed to make it out relatively unscathed."

She scowled at him. "No, seriously, I'm cursed. I've got some kind of Christmas curse. You don't seem to believe me, but it's true. If I sit in my apartment and pretend like the holiday doesn't exist, then I'm fine, but the second I decide to celebrate? Bam! Hospital visit."

"I thought you said your injury wasn't serious enough to require a hospital visit and I was just overreacting," he pointed out.

With a wrinkle of her nose, she glowered at him. "Don't try to confuse the issue," she retorted, though Clark couldn't help but notice she sounded a little confused herself. "This is just the beginning. Mark my words, unless you change your mind and take me up on my suggestion that we bail and spend Christmas on a beach somewhere instead, you'll be lucky if your girlfriend survives the holiday!"

Clark laughed. "Oh, no. You're not getting out of our first Christmas together that easily. Besides, you've got me now. I already told you that I wouldn't let anything bad happen to you."

Her face softened for a moment, but then she snorted. "And now we're in the hospital, so I think we can both agree that we're off to a banner start."

He didn't know if he should feel guilty or amused – guilty because he hadn't been there to catch her when she fell, or amused because she couldn't seem to decide if her injury was serious or not. Her bravado was at war with her desire to give him a hard time.

As he tried to decide which reaction he should choose, Lois continued, her voice growing more forceful as she geared up for a full-scale rant. "And, anyway, what's the big idea about Christmas? It's a stupid holiday anyway! You have to bring a tree indoors and slap some lights on it. I kill plenty of foliage throughout the year, believe me, and there's absolutely nothing festive about it. And mistletoe? I guarantee that lame tradition was invented by some guy who was such a loser that no girl would look twice at him at any other time of year. So he sticks a parasitic twig over his doorway and tells every girl who walks by that she has to kiss him because it's tradition."

Her voice was rising as she threw herself into her litany of all the reasons why she wasn't a huge fan of Christmas, and Clark started to notice other patients in the waiting room had turned to look their way. "Uh…Lois," Clark tried to break in.

"And Santa Claus! Don't even get me started on him! Parents tell their kids not to take candy from strangers, but then they make up this story about how some fat old guy will squeeze down the chimney and leave gifts in the socks of all the good little boys and girls. And they wonder why kids are confused?" she continued.

"Uh…Lois!" Clark tried again, more desperately this time.

She didn't heed him. "A fat old guy, incidentally, who supposedly uses elves as slave labor and can travel faster than the speed of light! I mean, am I the only one who finds the Santa myth a little disturbing? It's a whole lie about some guy with a child fixation, and –"

"Lois!" he broke in again, but the damage was already done.

"Santa's not real?" A tiny voice broke in, the words tremulous with astonishment. Clark turned to look at the questioner. A little girl, about five years old, stood a few feet to his right. Her hair was wrapped in braids on either side of her head, there was a gap in her front teeth, and her right knee was skinned. As Clark watched, her lower lip began to tremble. "There's – there's no Santa Claus?" she asked, her voice rising petulantly.

"No, she wasn't saying that!" he tried to recover, but the little girl couldn't hear him over the sound of her mournful wail. "Lois, could we maybe not have this conversation in front of children?" he hissed to his girlfriend.

As Clark waved his hands ineffectually in the sobbing child's direction, a nurse came around the counter and approached. "Miss Lane? We're ready for you."

Lois's face was flushed red. "Thank god," she muttered sheepishly. Plucking at his sleeve, she looked around at the angry faces around her and murmured, "We should – uh – go now, honey."

"Go on in," he said with a resigned sigh. "I'm going to try to fix this. I'll be back in a moment."

Ten minutes later, Clark finally escaped the mob of angry parents and headed towards Lois's room. His attention was caught by a nurse calling out Doctor Hamilton's name. Pausing, he turned to see if he could catch the doctor before he went in to see Lois.

He headed towards the sound of the nurse's call. As he approached, he heard her say pointedly, "Your favorite patient is back. With her boyfriend."

"Again?" he asked, not even bothering to sound surprised. "That makes it, what, four times this month? What is it this time? Break, sprain, gunshot, or concussion?"

Clark heard her chuckle. "Concussion. From what I understand, there may have been an incident with a ladder, a Christmas tree, and possibly some eggnog."

Emil snorted. "Why am I not surprised? What room is she in?"

"104," Clark answered, stepping forward with a resigned smile. Then he added a belated, "Hey, Doctor Hamilton. I'd say it's good to see you again, but…" He let his voice trail off.

Taking the papers the nurse handed him, Emil commented, "It's been – what – three days?"

"Two," he muttered as he escorted the doctor to Lois's room.

As they walked through the door, Emil greeted his patient. "Lois. What a surprise," he deadpanned. "You do realize that we don't have a frequent flyer program, don't you? You don't win rewards for visiting the ER a certain number of times a year."

Lois snorted at him. "Ha ha. Funny man," she said dryly. "Did the sense of humor come with the medical degree, or did you have to pay extra?"

Emil raised his eyebrows and responded, "The sarcasm came with the white coat. I had to send away for the witty banter." Clark started to chuckle, but he covered it when Lois turned and glared at him. The doctor continued, "Anyway, Lois, I see from your chart that it's a head injury this time. Want to tell me what happened?" Glancing at the note someone had scribbled in the file, he asked, "And why I've got a note here that says you're no longer to be left unsupervised in the waiting area?"

Lois flushed. "There was a misunderstanding, that's all," she muttered.

"Uh huh," Emil responded with a sigh, but he let the issue go.

"Smart man," Clark muttered. Emil hadn't known Lois very long, and he was already learning to pick his battles. That was a sign of higher intelligence if ever there was one.

"Enough about that," she said hastily. "About the reason I'm here. Clark convinced me to put up some Christmas decorations this year, even though I told him it was a bad idea. So I was on a stepstool, trying to put that stupid star on top of the stupid tree, and somehow I slipped and took the tree out on my way down. Anyway, Clark showed up and saw me on the ground, and of course he panicked and insisted I come in here even though I'm perfectly fine!"

Remembering how he'd walked in to find her lying on the ground, broken glass all around her, Clark wrapped a protective arm around her waist. She might not have thought her injury was a big deal, and he supposed in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't. But it didn't matter how great or how inconsequential her injury; any time Lois was injured, it terrified him. And it broke his heart.

Emil didn't seem so sure that Lois was as fine as she claimed. "Hm," he said, shining a light in her eyes. "Did you lose consciousness?"

"No," she said with a scowl. "Of course not."

Beside her, Clark started to cough, trying to cover up for his laugh of disbelief. She just sounded so indignant at the suggestion that she might have lost consciousness, as if such a thing was absolutely unheard of. As far as he was concerned, Lois had a history of head trauma that was downright terrifying. If he didn't laugh in the face of her nonchalance when it came to her personal safety, he would cry.

"All right," Emil said, scribbling out some orders. "It doesn't look like your injury was that bad, but given your history of head trauma –"

"Which has been wildly exaggerated, by the way!" she cut in quickly.

"Somehow I doubt that," Emil shot back.

Lois rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Oh, come on, Doc! I'm not bleeding and I didn't lose consciousness! So how bad could this be, really?"

Glancing at her chart, the doctor frowned thoughtfully. "Well, typically, with someone with a few severe head traumas, we would worry about possible brain damage which might eventually put you in a vegetative state. Someone with your extensive history, on the other hand? I'm not sure what would be below a vegetable, but you're aspiring to it."

He paused and seemed to consider the question, but Clark didn't wait for him to decide on the level of brain damage she was aspiring to reach. From the look on his girlfriend's face, Clark could tell she was digging in for a hell of a fight. At this rate, there was no way they were going to get out of the hospital any time soon.

Which worked out pretty well for him. Scooting towards the door, he said, "Well, it looks like this is gonna take a little while, so I'm going to step out for a bit. There's something I've promised to do, but I'll be back in a little while."

This got Lois's attention. "Hey! No fair! Why do you get to leave and I don't?"

"Because I'm not suffering from a possible concussion," he pointed out reasonably, mostly because he knew that stating the obvious would drive her insane. "And I'm not leaving. I'll be right here in the hospital. In the children's ward. Playing Santa."

Her eyes widened comically and then she scowled. "What? Why?"

Clark chuckled and shook his head. Had she already forgotten how she'd traumatized several small children? Looking at her over his shoulder, he teased, "To undo the damage you caused, of course. Like I always do."

He shut the door behind him but clearly heard Dr. Hamilton say to Lois, "Ms. Lane, you really need to calm down. Your blood pressure is through the roof! That's it. Deep breaths. Deeeep breaths."


December 20, 2009

Lois shifted in the incredibly uncomfortable chairs of Metropolis General's waiting area as she flipped the page of the magazine she wasn't really reading. "Geez," she muttered darkly. "Do you think we'll get to see the doctor before Christmas?"

"We don't have to be here, you know," Clark pointed out as he tossed his magazine aside. Lois snatched it up before another patient could. Granted, the Time magazine was several years out of date, but it was still one of the more recent selections available.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Clark glance over at her but she didn't say anything until he stood up and started walking towards the door. "Don't even think about it," she said abruptly, the casual way she flipped the page of her magazine belying her tone. "We're not going anywhere."

"I was just going to go to the restroom!" he cried defensively, but even as he offered his excuse, he strolled back over to the chairs and threw himself into one. "This is really a waste of time, you know. I told you, I'm fine!"

Giving up on the pretense of reading her magazine, she tossed it aside and watched as it was immediately snatched up by another patient who looked bored out of her mind. With a determined frown, she turned to Clark. "You were hit by a car," she reminded him.

He shifted awkwardly in his seat, and she didn't know if it was because of the general discomfort of the seats themselves or if he was simply trying to think of a convincing excuse for the two of them to leave. "Not hard," he protested feebly.

Her eyebrows arched, Lois retorted, "Hard enough to be knocked into a pile of trash."

He sighed. "All right, but I'm still fine. I mean, look at me! Do I look injured? Anyway, I think I'd know if I had some sort of life-threatening injury."

"I'm not taking any chances," she said firmly, with a small shake of her head. "And, besides, maybe this'll teach you to be a bit more careful. At the very least, you should look both ways before you cross the street. You could have been killed! Didn't you see that taxi veering out of control? Why in god's name would you go racing out into the street in front of it?" She saw him staring at her, mouth agape, so she cried in mild frustration, "Clark! Are you going to answer me?"

He blinked a few times and gave his head a quick shake. "I'm sorry, Lois. I'm just trying to adjust to the incredible irony of you telling me to be more careful. To my recollection, I'm usually the one who has to keep you from being mowed down in the middle of an intersection!"

She snorted. Really, that was what Clark was going to focus on? With her expression, she tried to convey exactly how ridiculous she thought he was being. "That's different, Clark."

His eyes narrowed as he stared at her. "And how is that different, exactly?"

She didn't even need to consider his question. "Because I'm me and you're you, of course," she replied, pointed out the obvious (or at least what was obvious to her).

Beside her, Clark groaned. "Of course," he said in a flat voice. "Why did I even bother to ask?"

Since she didn't know herself, she could only shrug in response. Then, before he could come up with yet another terribly unconvincing argument as to why they should leave, the nurse came in. "Mr. Kent? I can take you back now."

"Excellent!" Lois said, hopping to her feet. She could hear Clark muttering under his breath behind her, but she ignored him. His arguments weren't going to change anything, anyway. She'd been genuinely concerned when she'd seen him get hit by a taxi and thrown into the pile of trash, and though he'd stood up immediately after and seemed perfectly fine, she wasn't going to rest easy until she had as much confirmed by a doctor. When she remembered how terrified she'd been, as she raced across the street to check on Clark…no, they would stay in this ER until July, if that was what it took for her to get assurance that Clark was unhurt.

Of course, just because she'd been legitimately worried about her boyfriend's safety didn't mean she couldn't needle him a little bit. After all, he was possibly injured but she wasn't dead (and death was probably the only thing that could keep her from trying to get a rise out of him when the opportunity arose). So as soon as they walked into the exam room, Lois threw herself into the chair by the door and threw Clark a triumphant smirk. "There are hospital gowns in the cabinet behind you," she said before the nurse could relay the same message. "You should go ahead and change."

The nurse coughed slightly. "Actually, that's not necessary," she said. "Mr. Kent isn't complaining of any injuries, so really –"

"Uh uh," Lois interrupted, throwing the nurse a distinctly dangerous look. "Clark here is going to get a full check-up, even if that means a head-to-toe CAT scan. He's going to need the gown." Then, looking back to Clark, she barked, "Strip!"

The nurse looked like she was wondering whether to argue, but perhaps she remembered at least one or two of Lois's previous visits to the ER because she just sighed. "All right. The doctor will be in soon."

As the nurse left the room, Lois crossed her leg and started to idly wave her foot back and forth in the air as she waited for Clark to change. After a few moments of staring at her very pointedly (as if that would accomplish anything!), he finally cleared his throat. "Lois, do you think you could give me a little privacy, here?"

Even though she'd suspected that was what Clark had been trying to convey with his pointed stare, she still rolled her eyes at his sudden burst of inexplicable shyness. "Oh, come on. Considering what I did to you in bed last night, isn't it a little late for the two of us to pretend to be shy around each other?"

As she knew he would, Clark looked both embarrassed and turned on by her provocative comment. "This is different," he murmured. When she just grinned devilishly up at him, he leaned over her and rested his hands on the armrests of her chair, trapping her with his body. "And if you really want me to be seen by the doctor today, you won't keep that up. I'd be more than happy to take you home and show you exactly how well I am."

Lois could swear her blood heated and her heart start to race as he raked her body with his gaze. Her breath seized as she flicked her tongue unconsciously against her lips, immediately regretting the action when his eyes shot to her mouth. The intensity of his stare made her shiver with longing, and she found herself leaning towards him, tilting her head back to welcome his kiss.

"All right, Miss Lane. What seems to be the – uh – I-I'm interrupting something. I'll come back."

Lois was broken out of her trance at the sound of Doctor Hamilton's voice. "No!" she yelped, placing one palm on Clark's chest in a stalling gesture as she threw a desperate look towards the door. "You should stay!" If he didn't, she was afraid she was going to have sex with her boyfriend right here in the exam room, and sex in an ER wasn't exactly a fantasy she'd ever entertained before. "Clark, here, needs to be examined to make sure he's okay!"

"Clark?" Emil repeated incredulously after her, staring between the two of them with a frown of confusion. Then he glanced at the chart in his hands and his eyebrows shot up. "Er…," he said, looking up again. "Well, uh, Clark…what seems to be the…uh…the problem?"

Doctor Hamilton sounded so surprised to find that Clark was his patient that Lois huffed, "You know, I'm not the only person in this city who's ever involved in accidents, Doc. Other people get hurt sometimes, too! Clark included!"

"Right. Of course," he said reasonably as he grabbed a pair of gloves and slipped them on. "But you're the only person in this city we're renting a bed to by the month, just in case."

Lois didn't dare grin in appreciation of his joke – that would only encourage him, she had long since decided – so she rolled her eyes at him instead. "You know," she pointed out, "Clark's your patient this time. Why don't you try tormenting him with your lack of wit, for a change?"

As Emil turned away, she saw a brief flash of a smile and attributed it to his appreciation of their ongoing battle of wits. It wasn't yet clear who was in the lead in their all-too-frequent skirmishes, but Lois had to admit (only privately; certainly never to him!) that for a doctor, Hamilton wasn't half bad. At least he had a sense of humor and could usually hold his own against her (though of course she always got the better of him, she firmly believed). She had to appreciate that.

"All right, Mr. Kent. Want to tell me what happened?" Emil asked mildly, and Lois rolled her eyes at his back. He was actually sounding kindly concerned, apparently breaking out the bedside manner for Clark's benefit. She had certainly never been the recipient of such solicitude!

Clark shot her a quick look and then cleared his throat. Sounding slightly anxious, he replied, "Well, I was walking with Lois…we were on our way back to the Planet after lunch…and there was this – uh – this taxi that was veering out of control. I-I saw this…um…this kid on the other side of the street, who looked like he was about to dart into the intersection." Lois frowned. She didn't remember seeing a kid on the other side of the street, but then again, she supposed she hadn't really been looking. "So I raced into the intersection. I don't know what I was thinking; I guess I thought maybe I could get to him in time or something. The taxi hit me – well, bumped into me, really – as it came to a stop. Nothing serious, but I was thrown to the ground and Lois insisted I get checked out."

"Right," Emil murmured, scribbling something on his chart. "So you did get hit. Not hard, by the look of you."

Lois jumped to her feet. "Hey! Don't jump to conclusions! He could have internal bleeding or something!" She knew the doctor wouldn't appreciate her trying to tell him how to do his job (which wasn't what she was trying to do but they invariably took it that way, anyway), but she didn't care. She wasn't going to risk Clark getting shoddy medical help because a doctor took one look at him and assumed he was fine.

Clark threw her an exasperated look even as he answered the doctor's question. "No, I guess the taxi driver must have regained control at the last minute because he slid to a stop."

Lois snorted. "Didn't seem to be that controlled to me," she muttered darkly. "I mean, he did hit you, after all."

"Lois, I'm fine!" Clark protested for at least the hundredth time.

As she threw herself back into her chair, crossed her arms over her chest, and threw him an obstinate look, she retorted, "And the day you develop superpowers that keep you from getting injured when you're nearly run down by several tons of steel, I won't make you see a doctor to be checked out. Deal?"

Though she could swear Clark and Emil traded significant glances, she figured she was either imagining things or she was missing some of the pertinent subtext, because she couldn't for the life of her figure out what they could possibly be silently conveying to each other.

"All right," Clark said heavily. "Deal."

Emil cleared his throat. "Okay, well, I suppose we'll run a few tests, Clark. Make sure everything's okay." But he looked a little uncertain as the two men exchanged looks once again.

A second later, Clark shook his head. "I guess you're right. I should know better than to argue with Lois." Lois narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him when she heard him not only capitulate but also agree that she was probably right and he was wrong – something that had to be a first in their relationship, she was sure. Before she could grill him on his sudden change of heart, he asked, "But since I'm going to be here for a while, do you mind if I run to the restroom before we get started?"

"Of course," Emil said quickly. "Take a right out this doorway; it'll be on your left once you pass through the double doors."

"Thanks. Be right back," Clark said, scooting quickly out the door.

As the door closed behind him, Lois whirled on the doctor. "If he makes a break for it, I'm holding you accountable," she warned him.

Before Emil could speak in his defense, the phone in Lois's pocket started to ring. With a slight frown, she pulled it out and flipped it open. "Hello?" she barked impatiently into the receiver.

"Lois?" the electronically distorted voice that was so familiar murmured into her ear. "I have some information I think you might be interested in for your story."

Those few little words usually got her heart racing with excitement, but this time, she bit her lip in uncertainly and hesitated. "Right now?" he finally asked. "Look, this really isn't a great time for me. I'm in the emergency room…"

"Are you okay?" the Blur broke in, sounding concerned.

Touched that he so obviously cared, she felt a soft smile curve the corners of her lips. "Oh, I'm fine! It's my friend. My boyfriend, actually. He was hit by a car, and he's being looked over, to make sure everything's okay."

"You know, if there's something you need to do, we're going to be running tests for a while," Doctor Hamilton broke in, interrupting whatever the Blur was saying on the other end of the phone. When Lois threw him an obstinate look, he explained, "And, actually, you'll have to sit in the waiting area, anyway, and you won't be able to be in the room with him. When we run x-rays and things like that. It'll probably take a few hours, if you want to go and come back."

Lois wavered indecisively. On the one hand, she really wanted to stay with Clark while she waited to find out if he was actually okay. On the other hand, he said he was perfectly fine and there was a story hanging in the balance. If there was any real expectation that Clark was actually seriously injured, she'd plant herself in the waiting room and refuse to leave until she knew for sure he was okay. But with the way things were, it did seem like the extent of his injuries would be some painful bruising, at best, and so it seemed a little silly to sacrifice what could be her first real break in her story just so she could waste time in a waiting room while Doctor Hamilton concluded that Clark just needed to take it easy for a little while.

"I'm sure Clark would understand," Emil added encouragingly.

Pulling the phone away from her mouth, she threw the doctor a considering look. "Is there a reason why it sounds like you're trying to get rid of me?" she demanded.

"Other than the fact that the nurses have begged me not to let you terrorize them like you usually do? Not really," he deadpanned.

Heaving a huge sigh, Lois shifted the phone and agreed, "All right. If you're sure it's important, but if it turns out that Clark's actually hurt, I'm coming back to the hospital, no matter what. Got it?"

"I'll take you myself," the Blur agreed.

Feeling better that the ground rules had been laid, Lois asked, "So, um, about this information. How are you going to get it to me? Are we going to meet?" Even though she'd more or less put her crush on the Blur to rest, she still felt a little thrill at the prospect of finally getting to meet him face to face.

"I'll drop it off at your desk at the Planet and call you back in a few minutes," he responded, dashing her hopes. "Right now, I have to go. There's something I need to do."

"Right," she responded. "Go save the world." But her words fell on deaf ears as the line went dead.

A few seconds later, Clark walked into the room. "All right, Doctor Hamilton, where do you want to start?"

Snatching her purse off the ground, Lois leapt to her feet. "Okay, well, I'm going to have to leave you boys to it. I got a lead on a story," she explained to Clark. Even as she spoke, she heard the faint apologetic edge to her tone and had to heave a mental sigh at yet another sign that she'd fallen pretty hard for Clark. Only he could make her wonder if she should actually apologize for dropping everything for a story. "But if you need anything, I'll be right back! Unless you don't want me to go?" Even as she offered, she edged towards the door. She didn't doubt that Clark would tell her to go, but even if he tried to argue with her, she'd already decided on her course of action and so she knew there was precious little that could cause her to change her mind.

"But, really, you seem fine, so –" she rambled, immediately regretting her words as Clark jumped on the opening she gave him.

Craning his neck to see around the doctor, Clark asked, "Wait, you're leaving me here by myself? After practically dragging me here and making me put on this hospital gown? I never left you alone during any of the thirty times you came to the hospital!"

Throwing him a sunny smile, she shot back, "Nice try, Smallville. Guilt trips don't work on me!" Slinging her bag over a shoulder, she directed, "I want a full report when I get back!"

As she pulled the door shut behind her, she heard Doctor Hamilton comment, "You know, if you think about it, it's actually kind of sweet that she's so worried about you. Aggravating, I'm sure. But sweet."

She knew she should race off to check out the information the Blur had left for her, but she gave into the temptation to linger and press her ear to the door just long enough to hear Clark respond in a mildly irritated but also strangely affectionate tone, "Yeah, but that's Lois. Sometimes you want to strangle her, sometimes you…just don't want to let her go. She's definitely one of a kind."

There were times when Clark surprised her, when she realized how truly unique he was. And there had to be something remarkable about him, that he could seem to appreciate both the bad and the good about her occasionally abrasive personality. It was at moments like this when he surprised her with the depth of his understanding and she fell in love with him all over again.

In fact, loving Clark had to have addled her mind, because she didn't even bother to poke her head back into the room with a snarky retort when she heard Emil joke in a wry tone, "Well, I can certainly understand occasionally wanting to strangle her, but I'm just going to have to take your word that she can also make you on not want to let her go. Unless, of course, you mean you want to tether her to something to keep her from injuring herself. That is a compulsion I could certainly understand."


December 25, 2009

"Merry Christmas, Lois," Clark murmured as he scooted closer to the pile of blankets huddled on one side of the bed.

"Mmf," the replied unintelligibly as Lois lifted one edge of her blanket and peered towards her bedroom window. The light filtering through her blinds didn't look very bright, so she glanced at her bedside clock. Seeing that the hour was well before the double digits, she threw the blanket back over her head and rolled over.

She heard a soft chuckle. "Come on; it's time to get up. We have to get on the road, remember? We're supposed to celebrate Christmas over lunch with Chloe, and then we've got to catch a flight to Washington to see my mom."

"Go away," she muttered, the sound muffled by the blankets. "It's too early to get up."

"It's Christmas!" he reminded her on a laugh as he tried to dig her out from under her protective covering.

"I hate Christmas," she reminded him, clutching onto the blankets over her head for dear life. "Remember? That whole 'I'm cursed by Christmas' thing?"

She felt him shift in the bed beside her. "You're not cursed by Christmas, swe – Lois," he corrected himself. For as long as they'd known each other, their relationship was still fairly new and they had not yet reached the point where it felt natural to exchange terms of endearment. "Don't you want to try to get into the spirit of the holiday?" he cajoled.

"I am," she retorted. "This is me! Getting into the spirit of Christmas!"

"You won't even get out of bed," he replied, pointing out the obvious.

The covers shifted as her head retreated back under its protective covering. "Yeah, well…this is how I get into the spirit of things. I know you don't believe me, but I'm cursed! Trust me; after so many years, I've learned a few tricks of self-preservation to get through the holiday. The first and foremost being don't get out of bed." She paused and lifted the corner of the blankets to glance at the clock again. "Certainly not this early."

Clark took advantage of the breach in her defenses and grabbed hold of the corner of the blanket so he could burrow under it with her. "And what do you think will happen if you get out of bed?" he teased as he scooted towards her, grinning when he saw her sleep-rumpled look. As she shifted, moving closer to him, he rested his palm on her hip and started to rub it gently.

Resting her head on her arm, she yawned and replied, "Oh, I don't know. Death. Maiming. Dismemberment. The usual."

He had to laugh. "You know you're going to have to get out of bed sometime."

Lois grinned and reached for him, curling up against his body. "Oh, I don't know," she purred as she tilted her head back to brush a kiss against his neck. "I can think of a few good reasons to stay in bed."

She brushed her fingers down his chest, and he sucked in a sharp gasp. "Lois, it's Christmas," he pointed out through ragged breaths.

"Mm-hmmm," she murmured against his neck as she slung her leg over his hips. "But do you really want to get out of bed?"

"Not really," he breathed as he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her to straddle his hips. His thumbs swept under the line of her shirt and stroked the soft skin of her belly.

She kissed him, her tongue sweeping along the line of his mouth as his lips parted under hers. His fingers worked quickly at the buttons of her flannel pajamas, parting the fabric. They had to fumble under the blankets to remove the rest of their clothes.

Lois pressed her palms against Clark's chest as she straddled him once more, bending her head to lick the curve of his neck. He growled deep in his throat and threw his head back when her hair fell forward to tickle his chest.

"Lois." Clark murmured her name as he swept his hands up her sides to cup her breasts in his palms. She moaned against his skin as he thumbed her nipples, which beaded under his touch while his fingertips traced a line under the curve of her breasts.

He was hard, his erection pressing against her stomach as she tongued his nipples, causing him to arch his back towards her. She teased him with her mouth until he gave in and lifted her, pulling her higher against his body. As she kissed the side of his neck and trailed the curve of his ear with her lips, he trailed a hand down her stomach to the juncture of her thighs.

His finger swept between her folds, stroking her slowly, until she began to make soft kittenish mews in his ear. Then he slid three fingers inside her, curving his fingertips into her body as she bucked her hips against his.

One hand fisted in Clark's hair while the other gripped his chest. "Clark, I want you," she panted but then he thumbed her clitoris, transforming her words into an unintelligible moan of pleasure.

"Not yet," he breathed, sliding his fingers in and out of her as she rocked against him.

But Lois wasn't in the mood to wait. As Clark teased her, she slid her hand between their bodies and grasped him, stroking him with her hand as she ran her thumb across the tip of his penis. "Now," she growled against his mouth, grabbing his wrist with her free hand and yanking his arm aside so she could position herself above him.

Clark chuckled, a strained sound as he lifted his hips towards her, helping her guide him to her entrance. She was ready for him, so wet that he was able to slide easily inside. He moaned as he slid all the way inside until their hips pressed together, and then she started to move, bracing her palms against his hips for leverage as she rocked against him.

They were tangled in the blankets, the heavy cloth hampering their movement, wrapping around Lois's leg as she tried to shift against him. Growing frustrated, Lois grabbed Clark's shoulders and rolled, wrapping her legs around his calves to keep him deep inside her as she moved. He eagerly followed, throwing one arm out in an attempt to toss the interfering blankets aside, but they had somehow become too tangled around the pair to be so easily removed.

Unfortunately, when Lois shifted to roll over, she didn't take into account her position on the edge of the bed and rolled the wrong way. Her moan of pleasure became a squeak of surprise as she rolled off the edge of the bed, dragging Clark down with her. As he felt the two of them start to fall, Clark tried to twist to position himself underneath her so he could take the brunt of the fall, but the blankets made it difficult for him.

He almost managed it, however, taking the brunt of the impact with his hip as he curled his body protectively around hers. Still, when the two of them landed, he heard her cry out in pain. "Are you okay?" he asked in concern, finally managing to throw the blankets back from her head with an irritated sweep of his arm. Lois didn't answer, swallowing a whimper of pain as she pressed her arm tightly against her body, cradling her wrist protectively. "Let me look at it, honey," he urged in a soothing voice, not even noticing his unconscious endearment as he pulled gently against her good arm, trying to get a better look at the injury.

He could see at a glance that the area was starting to swell; when he x-rayed the area, he could see a small fracture on the bone. "Lois, that looks pretty serious. I think we should go to the doctor."

"No!" she cried defiantly even as she tucked her hand against her body once more. "Don't be ridiculous! I'm perfectly fine!"

"Lois, you're clearly not," he argued, wrapping an arm around her to help her to her feet. "Come on, we should get dressed."

"Clark, I'm fine!" she protested, pressing her hands against his chest. The motion caused her wrist to rotate, causing her to swallow a cry of pain. As stubborn as she was, this seemed to be enough to make even her realize she was in need of medical attention, because she capitulated. "Fine," she mumbled darkly. "But we're not going to Met Gen. We're going somewhere else. Anywhere else."

"Lois, don't be ridiculous!" Clark protested. "It's the closest hospital to your apartment!"

Tilting her chin forward stubbornly, she argued, "And there's no way I'm going to go see Doctor Hamilton again! Do you know how many times it'll be if I go see him again? I'm sure it'll be some kind of record, and he'll never let me live it down!"

Even though his heart had sunk into his stomach at the sight of her pain, Clark managed a feeble smile. "Well, I'm afraid you're just going to have to deal with it, Lois. I'm not taking you all the way to Star City just to spare you some embarrassment."

"Oh, fine," she grumbled darkly as he helped her into a shirt. "But when Emil asks me what happened, I'm totally blaming you."

"I wouldn't expect anything else," he replied agreeably.

A few hours later, Emil walked into the exam room and sighed heavily when he saw its two occupants. "You know, I was hoping you might manage through New Years without getting yourself hurt again, Lois. Want to tell me what happened this time?"

Lois and Clark exchanged a glance and she blurted, "Car accident," just as he offered, "She slipped on some ice."

Emil's eyebrows arched. "Oh?" he asked. "Where was this?"

They exchanged another glance. "My apartment," she offered, just as he said, "The Planet."

Clearly amused, Doctor Hamilton crossed his arms over his chest and looked between the two of them. "Well? Which one is it?"

"Both!" she yelped, just as Clark answered, "Neither."

"Why don't I get this one?" Lois growled between clenched teeth before Clark could speak again. "You see, Doctor, I was at work and there was – uh – a car accident outside just when I went to leave. Nothing serious; certainly nothing that would cross your door, I'm sure! But it caused traffic to back up and I didn't want to deal with it, so I decided to walk home. Right outside my building, I slipped on some ice and fell, and I hurt my wrist."

Emil still looked skeptical as he looked between them once more, but then he shrugged. "Okay," he said, a little too agreeably to be credible. Lois doubted he had believed their story, but she wasn't going to further her humiliation by pushing the point.

Doctor Hamilton glanced at her wrist. "We should get that x-rayed," he concluded. "I'll take you there now. Go ahead and get in the wheelchair."

Lois snorted. "I hurt my wrist, not my legs. I'm perfectly capable of walking, you know."

Emil shook his head. "Oh, no you don't. With your luck, you'll probably fall down on the way and injure yourself further. Just go ahead and take a seat, and we'll get that wrist x-rayed." Then, glancing over at Clark, he offered, "Why don't you stay here until we get back? If she does manage to hurt herself again in the next fifteen minutes or so, I'm sure you'll want to be nearby."

"You know, next year I'm seriously going to look for a doctor who isn't so misguided about his sense of humor," she muttered.

"That's okay," the man in question replied mildly as he wheeled her through the door. As it shut behind the two of them, Clark heard the doctor finish, "I have no doubt you'll have several more opportunities to enjoy my sense of humor before New Years."