Chloe knew she couldn't go to sleep… but right now she would give her left arm to just close her eyes for a few minutes. She blinked several times, blurring the words on the screen in front of her. She'd already read the document, but she'd be damned if she could remember a word of it.
"Just a few more hours," she sighed, staring at the clock in the bottom corner of her screen. Remain upright until dawn, then the night would be over and the city once again under the protection of the warming rays of the sunlight. Crime never took a sick day, but it sure as hell liked to sleep in.
Chloe rubbed her temple, massaging the dull ache expanding behind her left eye. She yawned, sighed, then yawned again. She wasn't going to make it. The sofa in the back corner called out to her and she turned her head, ignoring it's comforting call. There would be no sleeping on the job—not while she had people out there.
She had run out of daytime cold and flu medicine earlier in the evening so she'd gone with Lois' suggestion and switched to chasing Nyquil with Red Bull. Chloe had quickly discovered the combination made her hands shake so badly she couldn't type—but at least it was keeping her awake. Swapping power drinks for regular coffee she sucked it up and soldiered on. So far she'd managed to hold back whatever bug had dropped Lois for two days of cold sweats and fever dreams, but Chloe knew she was quickly losing the battle.
Another yawn. Goodness she was tired.
"Just get through tonight, Chloe Sullivan, and I promise you can sleep in tomorrow," she told herself. A moment later she giggled to realize that she'd just addressed herself in the third person. She pressed her palm against her forehead. Laughing hurt. The band in her head kicked up the drum beat and she closed her right eye against the added pounding. Propping her elbow on her desk, she dropped her chin to her palm and waited for the teams to report back.
Only three more hours to go.
A violent shiver ran down her spine, shaking her entire body. She pulled her sweater more tightly around her shoulders. Damn drafty clock tower—great for a secret hideout, not so great when you were cold. She eyed her ½ full mug of luke-warm coffee. More caffeine was so not what she needed, but at least it would be warm.
Frustrated at Lois and her stupid plague, Chloe hopped of her chair and snatched at her mug. She missed. The room whirled around her with nauseating speed.
She turned and tottered towards the couch. Just five minutes. Five minutes then she'd get right back on duty.
Chloe shifted and tried to roll over. The bed was lumpy and uncomfortable and she couldn't seem to find the blankets. Oliver probably rolled over in them again. She flung her arm out, seeking the blanket thief, but her wrist cracked painfully against something very hard. Probably the nightstand.
"Ow…" she grumbled.
"Hey gorgeous," she heard Bart saying, "how 'bout you let me see those beautiful eyes?"
Chloe sighed. Absolutely relentless. Even in her dreams she couldn't stop Bart from flirting. He said something about her being 'smoking hot' and she giggled.
"Chloe, I need you to look at me," Bart was saying.
Chloe hovered on the edge of sleep. Weird. Bart never called her just Chloe. Chlo'alicious constantly… beautiful… gorgeous… even the occasional 'hey sexy'… but never just Chloe. Not unless something was wrong.
Finally managing to crack her eyes open, she winced at the light. It stung her eyes and she squeezed them shut again.
"Come on, Chloe," Bart ordered.
Chloe blinked and focused on Bart's face hovering above hers.
"There she is," he said with a half smile. He pressed his freezing cold hand against her cheek. "Yea she's awake, but she's burning up, boss-man."
For a second Chloe wondered why Bart was talking about her in the third person, but his cold hand was too distracting. She tried to remember where she'd sent him tonight. She thought he'd run to Montana, but wasn't it still summer there?
She rolled her head away from the cold press of his hand and closed her eyes again. Was it so much to ask for a little sleep? And where the hell were the blankets?
She let out a gasp of surprise when she was suddenly up in the air. Her eyes flew open and she grabbed a handful of Bart's red jacket.
"Easy beautiful," he grinned. "We're just going for a little run."
He shifted her a little higher and she dropped her head to his shoulder and closed her eyes. She'd yell at him later. Right now she just wanted to go back to sleep.
Feeling deliciously comfortable, Chloe snuggled further into the pillow and tried to catch the last pieces of whatever she'd been dreaming about. When sleep wouldn't return she let out a soft sigh, resigned to have to get her ass out of bed. If only her body wanted to agree. No, instead it seemed perfectly content to remain right where it was.
So who was she to argue?
She tried to pull her arm back under the covers but her fingers were stuck. And warm. Exceptionally warm, in fact.
Chloe frowned and opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was a silver bar… no…a bed-rail. Then a monitor. An IV, and a clear tube running down the length of her arm to where her hand disappeared beneath a head and shoulders that were face down against the side of the bed.
Hospital? She was in the hospital? Oh lordy, she hated hospitals! "Ollie?" she whispered, completely confused.
"Chloe?" Oliver jerked upright, initially facing the wrong way. He turned quickly around to face her. Chloe did a double take at his haggard appearance. His hair was more rumpled than usually, his shirt looked slept in, and his face hadn't seen a razor in at least forty-eight hours.
"Hey," he squeezed her hand even tighter, reaching his free hand up to brush her hair off her forehead. "Welcome back to the land of the coherent. How are you feeling?"
"Fine…" she said slowly. She glanced quickly around at the private hospital room, then back up at Oliver. "Ollie, what's going on? Where am I?" She tried to sit up but he lurched forward and pushed her back against the pillows.
"Easy, sidekick," he half smiled. "You've been down for the count for two days."
Chloe blinked in surprise. "Two days!" she exclaimed. She checked both her arms then flipped the sheet back. She couldn't see any bandages, or anything that looked broken or cut. "Did something happen?" She jerked upright, pushing his hands away to check her back and her sides. "Is everyone okay? Were we attacked? The datab—"
"Chloe," Oliver interrupted, snatching at her fingers and pinning both her hands between his larger ones. "No one was attacked. Watchtower is fine. Everyone's accounted for."
She glared up at his amused expression. "If this is some kind of joke—"
The humor sparkling his eyes faded to something dark and serious. "Only if you think Bart finding you passed out and unresponsive is funny." He shook his head, once. "Personally, being stuck at fifty-thousand feet in a non-light-speed travelling private jet while your girlfriend is alone and unconscious with a life-threatening fever ranks pretty low on my scale of humorous situations to be caught in."
"Wait," she frowned, digesting his statement. "I passed out? I don't pass out."
"You would prefer fainted ?"
Chloe raised her hands to her hair, shoving it back behind her ears. "Bart found me?"
Oliver stuffed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. "You weren't answering anyone's calls. When Bart got there, you wouldn't wake up." He paused, and took a deep breath. "Doctor's said you were lucky he got you here in time. You were doing a pretty good interpretation of Icarus. And apparently your blood pressure was going through the roof," he added with a scowl.
"Oh," Chloe blinked, feeling her cheeks warm as snippets of the night came back to her. "Blood pressure. Right." She lay back against the pillow.
Oliver yanked his hands out of his pockets and stepped closer. He leaned over the bed, placed a hand on either side of her head and lowered his upper body until his face hovered above hers. "Since I graciously agreed not to take any more relationship advice from Clark," he said, "I think you need to agree not to take any more medical advice from Lois."
Chloe raised an eyebrow.
He stared at her, challenge turning his brown eyes dark and dangerous. But Chloe could also see the remnants of worry he fought to hide.
"Fine," she smiled softly, reaching up to scratch the stubble along his jaw. "It's a deal, mountain man…but on one condition."
"Nah, I kind of like it. It's very outdoorsy. Quite a change from the clean shaven Prince Charming look you usually go for."
"Prince Charming?" he laughed. "I'd like to know what Fairy Tales you read as a kid."
"The kind where the brave Knight in green leather breaks the Princess out of the hospital?" she asked hopefully.
Oliver lifted his head to plant a quick kiss on her forehead. "I'll see what I can do, your Highness." He straightened up and walked around the bed towards the door. Changing his mind, he turned back around and crossed the distance to the bed. He leaned down and kissed her quickly. "And next time, Princess? Just take the damn day off. I can replace the voice at the end of the line…. What I can't replace…" he whispered. "Is you." He kissed her again, then pushed himself upright. "I'll tell the nurses you're awake," he said over his shoulder as he crossed the room to the door.
Bothered by the raw emotion he was trying to hide, Chloe was overcome by a need to stop him from walking away. "Ollie?" she called out.
He stopped and turned back towards her.
Chloe took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. "I'm sorry you were worried."
He shrugged and reached behind him for the door handle. "What's that saying? Turnabout's fair play?"
"Well it's a stupid saying. There's absolutely nothing fair about it." Oliver yanked the door open and stepped into the hallway.
"You called me your girlfriend." The words escaped before she could stop them. Subtle, Sullivan. The man just said you were irreplaceable, and you respond by arguing over verbal semantics? You want him to stay, not run away because he thinks you're about to lay into him over words chosen.
Oliver paused in the doorway and glanced over his shoulder. Chloe could see he was fighting a smile. "I did?"
Relieved to see the cocky smirk, she smiled. When he didn't immediately answer, she lowered her chin and raised an eyebrow. "Yes. You did."
"Hmm," he blinked, then shrugged. "I have no idea what you're talking about." He flashed her a mock frown and backed into the hallway. "Poor girl. Terrible fever. Still hallucinating. I'll have to talk to the doctors about keeping her—"
Chloe chucked her pillow at him, groaning when it barely made it to the middle of the room as the door closed behind him. She lay back down on the bed and stared up at the ceiling.
She closed her eyes. Girlfriend did not equal no strings, no ties, no promises. Although technically…if she wanted to argue it out…she could say she was a friend, and a girl, but still…
She sighed and closed her eyes.
She'd call him on it later.