Author's Note: Hi folks, so I've taken the plunge and started up my first DOOL fic! (Also, it's been a bit since I wrote fic for any fandom, so please be gentle with me)
I wrote this chapter in response to the Orpheus phone call/hospital room scenes with J/M, R/K, and K/S that aired last week, and I am gonna be writing this in tandem with the story that's airing, just digging into it further and slightly spinning it off in my own direction, with a focus on Kayla/Steve (and their kids!)
I wanted to post the first chapter before the plot really gets rolling on the show (I haven't watched today's episode yet, but given the recaps I've read, I'm already veering away from what's airing), but I am planning to post future updates once a week on Sunday nights, unless real life really gets in the way.
Anyway, I hope this is enjoyed (and that I'm doing my newfound OTP justice in this! I make a point of trying to nail the voices of my faves in the fics I write, and I really hope I am here)
So yeah, here goes nothing! (Also, I'm lousy at titling stories, so I shamelessly borrowed the title of a Cigarettes After Sex song for this fic. And category-wise: expect angst, hurt/comfort, with some romantic fluff and family fluff/humor blended in, too.)
Nothing's Gonna Hurt You, Baby
She insisted on going home. Not before the lab ran every test and panel imaginable to confirm Steve, John, and Roman weren't infected with the mystery toxin, but immediately after.
The bloodwork for her, Kate, and Marlena would take longer to analyze, and Kayla wasn't about to occupy a room a patient could be using, all so she could wait on the lab.
No, she could work and think and treat her symptoms and devise a plan to attack them head-on at home, and she planned to do that as long as her body would allow it.
When she made this clear to Steve in the hallway, she earned surprised stares and attention from the third-floor nurse's station in the process. The real show, though, had started for her staff when she told her husband she'd be driving herself home.
After all, they had two cars here; the commute was ten minutes; she had to calm herself down; she needed to have some control over something, or she'd crack. She hadn't said this to Steve so much as she shouted it at him as she got into the elevator. But she made the mistake of peering through the doors just before they shut.
Steve was still standing right where she'd left him, and he hadn't taken his eye off her. Fatigue and fear creased his handsome face, and somehow, he was managing to look older than Kayla had ever seen him and like a lost, scared boy at the same time. Even from a distance, she could see he was in tears, and her eyes welled up right as the doors closed.
Feeling her knees start to shake along with the rest of her, Kayla steadied herself against the elevator wall, then clasped her free hand over her mouth as she choked back a sob. One that would've overtaken her whole body if she let it. She wasn't letting it, though. Not now, not yet anyway.
Taking a ragged breath, then another to force the tremor from her hands, she wiped her eyes with her sleeve and stood straight as the chime sounded and the doors opened to the lobby.
The upped security protocols, thanks to Orpheus, meant a security guard was there to walk Kayla to her car. The woman, about Stephanie's age, was a sweetheart and offered her a sturdy shoulder after she lied, blaming her unsteadiness on her feet on a too-tight pair of shoes.
The drive was a blur, but she thankfully stayed conscious during it. Turning into the lot for the apartment, though, she squinted and frowned, not sure how the Bluesmobile had managed to beat her home.
Pulling up alongside it into her reserved parking space, she tapped on the horn twice, jolting Steve from his catnap in the front seat.
"What the...oh, Sweetness. Hey, hang on! Wait right there, baby."
Watching him jump out of his car, then scramble to open the driver's side door to hers, Kayla shook her head in disbelief.
"How are you? You alright?"
"I left the hospital before you, Steve. How did you even-"
"You mean those bright red stoplights aren't just suggestions, baby?"
Before she could say his name in her exasperated higher register that he'd frankly earned with that quip, Steve reached through the rolled-down Bluesmobile window.
Grabbing a portable siren from the passenger seat, he flicked on its flashing light, then set it on the dash with a flourish.
"Are you kidding me? Where did you even get that?"
"Beauregard's glovebox," Steve smirked. "We were out on a stakeout somewhere or other. He stepped out for donuts and left me unsupervised."
"Of course he did," Kayla laughed, looking skyward. "Baby brother. You should've known better."
Steve kept a smile on for her benefit, but the grief in his eye was clear, and it tore Kayla's heart in half. Bo was tough for them to talk about on a good day, let alone one that had turned their world on its head in one of the worst ways imaginable.
"Oh, Steve.." she whispered, looking at him from the driver's seat with clouded-over eyes as he flicked off the flashing light.
"Let's just go inside, Sweetness."
Taking Steve's hand, Kayla let him help her out of the car, but when he moved to lift her, she shook her head stubbornly and planted her feet. She was still kicking herself for drawing attention to the two of them at the hospital. The last thing she needed was all eyes on them at their apartment building, too.
"No," she said firmly. "I'm not dizzy. I'm not feeling lightheaded. I swear, I don't need you to-"
"Well, what if I need to?!" Steve asked sharply before he backed up, bowing his head. "What if I need to?"
He was more upset by the rough tone in his voice than she was, avoiding Kayla's eyes even as she moved to bridge the gap between them.
"I need you close, Sweetness. I-"
"I know. I need you close, too. But you don't have to...here."
Leaning against Steve's left shoulder, Kayla twined her right hand with his own.
"Just hold me like this," she said as Steve caught on, wrapping his left arm around her before pulling her tight to his left side.
"Like this, baby?" he asked, brushing his lips on the top of her head. Nodding, Kayla tucked her head in the crook of his neck as he rubbed her left upper arm.
"We having some hot cocoa too when we get inside?" Steve asked with a knowing smile, getting another nod.
"Yeah, we are. And we're gonna take care of each other. And everything's gonna be alright," Kayla vowed, keeping their hands linked as they slowly walked through the parking lot, in perfect step with each other the entire time.
You are a good writer! I totally "heard" Patch and Kayla in my head when I was reading this. Really good start. Please continue when you can. I love the banner, by the way.
@billiereed Thank you so so much!
I hope this (admittedly fluffier) chapter lives up to expectations. It's on the shorter side, but I have the next segment mostly drafted and will have it up and running definitely by Sunday, if not before!
"You know, I could've run down to the car and been back by now."
"You don't need to be running anywhere, baby. Your patchman's got this."
"Steve," Kayla groaned as her husband continued battling the stuck zipper of his right jacket pocket that was currently housing his house keys.
Steve was making every effort to unstick the zipper one-handed so he could keep his free arm snugly wrapped around her. While Kayla appreciated the gesture, her impatience was starting to show.
"At least let me look at the zipper. If the fabric or something's caught in the pull thing-"
"The pull thing?" Steve laughed. "You talk that technical when you're operating, baby?" he teased.
"Sorry, I'm not board certified in zipper anatomy," Kayla retorted.
"If you let me take a look at one, though, I'm a quick study," she said as Steve shook his head.
"I don't doubt that, baby, but I saw you eyeing my knife. You think I don't know what those hot little surgeon's hands of yours will do to get a hold of these keys?"
"Steve, all it would maybe require, maybe," Kayla stressed, "is a small incision to the lining of the pocket. I promise you, no harm will come to the jacket."
"It's an old friend, Sweetness. Just humor me another minute before you come at us with a blade," Steve sighed, doubling his efforts with the zipper pull.
"Oh, c'mon now, dude! Work with me here!" he hissed.
"Okay, that's it."
Rolling her eyes, Kayla ducked out from under Steve's arm.
"You were talking to the coat, Steve!"
After fishing his knife from his back pocket, Kayla knelt on the hallway rug, grabbing hold of the jacket hem before he could even react.
"Oh, baby, hang on now," Steve sighed, turning towards her. "C'mon. You shouldn't be-"
"I'll be fine if you just quit moving already!" Reaching for the zipper pull, Kayla examined it closely as Steve looked down guiltily.
"No, here I am being a damn brickhead while you're down there trying to-"
"It's fine, Steve..." Kayla sighed before she smiled, realizing that her earlier diagnosis was dead on and the course of treatment was straightforward enough.
"No, it's not fine, Kayla! You're not feeling well, and you're tired, and I'm just standing here like a jackass-" Steve ranted, not hearing or noticing the zipper give.
"-locking us out of our apartment, worried over my goddamn jacket when you're-"
"You're so worried?!" Kayla interrupted. "Then unlock the door and get us inside."
"No, there's no excusing it, Sweetness. You wait here. I'll go down to the car and get your set of...wait, what?"
"Unlock the door..."
Letting go of the jacket hem, she shoved the apartment keys into Steve's palm.
"And get us inside," she demanded, looking up in amusement as Steve looked from her to the keys, to his unstuck pocket, and back again in awe.
"Told you I was a quick study."
"Oh, baby..." he laughed, pulling Kayla up off the rug and into his arms.
Waving the still sheathed butterfly knife, she grinned, returning it to Steve's back pocket.
"Didn't even need to cut."
When he leaned in and kissed her, met with a head rush that had nothing to do with his lips on hers, Kayla pulled back slightly but clutched at Steve's shoulders for support, feeling him tense under her hands as her knees buckled.
"No, it's okay. I'm okay. Just stood up too fast, that's all."
"And then you went and kissed me. I got a little weak in the knees," Kayla shrugged. "Can you blame me?"
"Never, baby," Steve assured.
"Just don't go blaming me for being a little cautious right now, okay?" he said as he scooped Kayla up in his arms, much to her annoyance.
"A little... it's two feet to the door, Steve!" she whined as she fidgeted, looking over her shoulder to make sure none of the neighbors were out and about to see them.
"Two feet you don't have to worry about being weak-kneed for, Sweetness."
"All I'm worried about right now is you! You threw your back out last week!" she hissed.
"I'm not running a marathon here, Kayla! I'm just getting the both of us inside like you asked!"
When getting inside took longer than usual, her stress level making her snappier than usual, Kayla was set to ask Steve if they'd be back in their apartment sometime this calendar year. Until she noticed his hand was quivering so much he could barely hold the key, let alone unlock the door with it.
Her snappiness giving way to a deep sorrow that felt like it could swallow her whole; curling up on Steve's shoulder she reached back to stroke his hair, then pressed her lips to his bristly cheek.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Managing a nod, after letting out a slow breath and re-situating Kayla in his arms, Steve's hand stopped shaking just long enough for him to finally unlock the damn door.
Evening everyone! Thank you so much for all the kind words and feedback! Banter is fun for me to write so I blend it in a lot. This chapter's no exception but caution for angst (and some swearing) ahead.
Once inside the apartment, Steve set Kayla on the couch before fluffing the throw pillows, motioning for her to lie down as she shook her head.
"Is your back okay?" she asked.
"My back's just fine, baby. C'mon though, you should try and get some rest."
"No, Steve," she said stubbornly, perching on the edge of the couch.
Shaking his head, Steve tucked a throw pillow behind her back.
"Honestly, I'm not even tired. And even if I was, if I fall asleep here my neck and shoulders will just scream at me about it later."
"Well, that's what a patented Steven Earl Johnson massage is for."
Kneeling down, he helped his wife out of her shoes.
"My feet aren't sore, you know."
"Just freeing those piggies of yours, baby."
Smiling sadly, Kayla reached over and stroked Steve's hair before he took hold of her hand, kissing it.
"C'mere, you," she coaxed as he joined her on the couch.
"Seeing stars anymore, Sweetness?"
"Nope," Kayla said, shifting closer to him until they were nose to nose.
"Still a little weak-kneed though, looking at you," she said with a grin before leaning in to kiss him. It started soft and sweet, but the moment she tried to make it more passionate, Steve pulled away.
"No, you got me all distracted here, baby," he said nervously, rubbing her thigh as he stood up.
"Hey, we said we'd have some cocoa, remember?"
He gave her a peck on the cheek, but to Kayla, it felt like he couldn't get away from her and over to the kitchen fast enough.
"Yeah," she sighed, bracing herself on the arm of the couch before standing up. "You get it ready then. I'll go get changed."
Hearing her pad down the hall into the bedroom, not shutting the door behind her to his relief, Steve grabbed a saucepan and a wooden spoon before he started rifling through the cupboards.
"You use up all the cocoa powder, Sweetness?" he called, keeping his ears open for her reply.
"There should still be some in the pantry, I think. Why do you need it?"
"I'm making cocoa, baby!" he laughed, shaking his head.
"Yes, I'm aware of that. But there's some instant in the cupboard above the-"
"Oh no, no way, baby. If I'm going to the trouble of making this for us, I'm gonna make it right."
After throwing the instant in the trash can where it belonged, Steve started retrieving the ingredients and arranging them neatly on the counter.
"Yeah, we gotta have the chocolate chips, the whole milk. That powdered freeze-dried crap doesn't count."
"It does when you're counting calories!"
"You cut that out, baby," Steve scoffed, shaking his head as he started fixing the cocoa on top of the stove. Stirring it with one hand, he grabbed his harmonica from his pocket with the other.
"First stir in the cocoa…
Then stir in the cream…
Mix it up on the stove…
Make it taste like a dream…."
Hearing the improvised tune echoing through the wall, making her way to the front undetected, Kayla leaned against the fridge. Softly smiled at the sight familiar enough to break her heart. Steve was buzzing and bopping around the kitchen, pouring his nervous energy and emotions into blowing his harp and playing gourmet. She took comfort in him trying to cope in the best ways he knew but raged at the fact he had to.
Knowing she had to combat that rage or at least try to, coming out from her hiding place, she grabbed a bag of mini marshmallows from the pantry, waving it teasingly in front of her husband.
"Can't forget these," she said as he grinned.
"I wouldn't dare, baby. Bring 'em over to the couch and get comfy. I'll be right there."
Seeing him grab the Reddi Whip from the fridge but keeping her mouth, presently stuffed with marshmallow, shut, Kayla curled up on the couch as Steve crossed the room, mugs in hand and whipped cream canister under his arm.
"Something sweet for my Sweetness," he riffed on the harmonica after handing her cocoa over, loading it up with whipped cream before she could stop him.
"Leave it to you to serenade me into a sugar high," she smirked as Steve flopped back on the couch, arching a brow.
"Hey, don't blame all that rush on me, baby."
Reaching for the marshmallow bag, Steve waved it at her.
"This was more than half full a few minutes ago," he smirked before sampling some whipped cream straight from the nozzle.
Rolling her eyes, Kayla sipped her cocoa but got a fair amount of the whipped cream dollop on the tip of her nose. Getting Steve pointing and laughing.
"What? What is it?"
Her obliviousness cracking him up more, Steve shifted closer.
"Does whipped cream smell as good as it tastes, Sweetness?" he asked, grabbing his phone and reversing the camera so Kayla could see herself.
"Oh my God," she groaned as Steve moved in, snapping a selfie of them.
"Oh, you get rid of that now! Right now!"
"Lemme get rid of this first for you, baby," he chuckled, thumbing the whipped cream off her nose.
"Then I'll see about making the photo evidence go awa-"
Interrupted by Kayla sneezing twice in a row, then breaking into a coughing fit, when Steve went to get her some water, she shook her head, taking a tight grip on his arm.
"It's okay, really. I'm fine, I…. I'm fine."
With the crack in her voice, her hold on his bicep, and her looking down and away, making it abundantly clear she wasn't fine, Steve swallowed hard and shifted back towards his wife, stroking her hair.
When she kept her head bowed, kept repeating herself, tears sprang to his eye, but he blinked them back.
"Sweetness," he sighed. "You can say it over and over, but it's not gonna make it tr-"
Shaking her head, Kayla swallowed hard, then let go of her husband's arm and shifted closer to the couch's.
"You know I should really call the hospital."
"No, your phone made me think of it," she said quickly. "I really should check in with John and Roman. See if Kate and Marlena are presenting with any new symptoms."
"Yeah, that's a good ide-"
"Even if they aren't, we'll need to get a hold of the ISA lab regardless to make sure they're up to date. I mean, if there's been any change in their conditions, and the lab doesn't know about it-"
"Sweetness, I'm sure the ISA's being kept in the loop, or at least doing everything in their damn power to make sure they are," Steve argued as Kayla shook her head.
"In the loop's not enough, Steve," she scoffed. "I promised them hourly reports to make sure they had the most up to date information. It's been, what now, three hours since we left the hospital?"
"Yeah, and if I had to guess three reports have been run over to that lab. You chief a staff of brainiacs, baby. They'll come through for you."
"I still want to check in with John and Roman," Kayla said, in a tone that Steve knew better than to argue with, though at that moment, he was uncharacteristically tempted to. Taking a breath, he waited a beat before responding.
"Okay. Let me try John now, see if-"
"No, just let me do it. Let me," Kayla insisted, getting a frown.
"Kayla, it's just a call to my partner. Why are you-"
"John can read me Marlena's chart, Steve."
"He can read it off to me, too, baby. It's not written in Swahili!" Steve snapped as Kayla's eyes narrowed.
"If there's anything medical that jumps out as new or noteworthy, I can update the ISA lab right away and-"
"Cut out the non MD middle man. I got it."
He regretted the smart remark as soon as he said it, but when he tried to shift closer to his wife, offer an apology, rub her shoulders that were practically up around her ears, she shied away, then stood up with the aid of the couch arm.
"I'm fine," she said dismissively. "I just need to get my phone."
"Sweetness here, just use mine-"
Shaking her head, crossing the room to the kitchen table for her purse, she started rifling through it.
"Damn it, where the hell did I…."
"Here, I'll call it."
"No, it's gotta be in the car. That's the only place I…unless it's in my…S***."
Ready to smack herself upside the head with her hand not gripping the kitchen table, Kayla shook her head miserably.
"Guess that's a sign I should've just stayed, right?" she choked out, her free hand going to her hair as Steve approached.
"What?" he asked, not having heard her. When Kayla kept avoiding his eyes, though, then turned away from him all together, his frustration from earlier came bubbling right back up.
"Kayla, baby I didn't hear you. Now what-"
"I left my phone at the damn hospital, Steve!" she exclaimed, turning back towards him.
"After telling everyone that they could reach me at home, to give me updates. God, if the lab or the guys-"
"You mean the lab and the guys who have my number, too?" Steve reminded as Kayla's eyes narrowed in a glare.
"I instructed my staff to call me," she said coldly. "If I hadn't been so busy making a goddamn spectacle of us in front of them with my big dramatic exit, I'd have my phone here!" she cried. "I'd be available for them the way I promised that I-"
"Oh, you promised you'd be available, baby?" Steve repeated, laughing bitterly as he shook his head.
"What, you send out a little memo? Tell all your brainiacs and the board members and the dudes that clean the bedpans they can just call up the boss, shoot the breeze with her the day she finds out she's been freaking poisoned to death!"
Bowing her head, blinking back tears, Kayla bit her lip and clutched the table tighter. A last-ditch effort to keep the sob she'd been choking back since the elevator at bay, just for a bit longer.
Her avoidance fueling his emotions that were already in overdrive, looking down and away from Kayla in turn, Steve grabbed his keys.
"Guess I'll just go and get your goddamn phone then, Kayla," he said roughly. "I mean, of all the problems we're dealing with right now, at least getting your phone out of a freaking locked desk is a pretty goddamned fixable one, right?! I-"
Catching himself, hearing himself, Steve's voice broke and trailed off before he even touched the doorknob. Laughing bitterly to keep from crying or putting his head through the wall, though he slammed his hand against it twice, he leaned his head against the door frame.
He felt defeated, but took some comfort knowing he hadn't done the dumbest thing possible at that moment; walked out on the only woman he'd ever loved the day she needed him with her the most.
Letting his shoulders sag, Steve took a deep breath and came back to himself, just in time to hear a gut-wrenching sob overtake his wife.