On the Safe Side

by Satchie

TITLE: On the Safe Side
AUTHOR: Satchie
E-MAIL ADDRESS: satchie51@hotmail.com RATING: NC-17 for sexual references, crude humor and language. CATEGORY: MT / Humor
SPOILERS: None
SUMMARY: Mulder's simple injury leads to an unusual emergency room visit. DISCLAIMER: In my wildest fantasies, the X-Files universe belongs to me, me, me. Alas, in the real world, it belongs to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions and Fox. FEEDBACK: Feed the need.
ARCHIVE: Gossamer and Mulder-in-Jeopardy. All others please ask. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to Jenna for the totally awesome beta. DEDICATED TO: My good friend and co-conspirator, Obfusc8er, who shamelessly encourages me to write, offers much needed moral support, and provides me with countless hours of "inspiration" and good clean fun. Bwahahahahaha!


Scully sighed in exasperation at her whining partner as he sat on the hospital gurney. "Mulder, given your propensity for developing bizarre complications, it's important that you have this injury treated as soon as possible. You're way overdue for a tetanus booster. Do you realize how serious tetanus can be? Minor symptoms such as irritability, muscle cramps and weakness can rapidly progress to trismus."

His jaw dropped in confusion. "Trismus?"

"Yes, trismus. Trismus, more commonly known as lockjaw, results from spasms of the jaw muscles. If you develop trismus, you won't be able to drop your jaw in confusion like that."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

She crossed her arms across her chest and lifted an eyebrow. "See? You're already showing signs of irritability. Before you know it you'll be experiencing muscle spasms so severe, your bones can break or your joints can dislocate. In extreme cases, painful laryngospasms develop, seriously compromising respiratory function. You could suffocate and drop dead within minutes."

Mulder's lower lip quivered as he displayed his most impressive pout. "Gee, Scully. Aren't you going overboard with this medical mumbo jumbo? I can't believe you dragged me to a hospital in the middle of BFE because I had a mishap at the county morgue and managed to embed a staple in my right thumb. Besides, the name of this facility gives me the willies. Dick Long Memorial Hospital? It sounds like a treatment center for porn stars."

Scully smugly smirked. "You of all people should know."

"Like you're so pure as the driven snow. I seem to remember you checking out my video collection when I had the flu a few weeks ago. I was genuinely touched when you volunteered to stay at my apartment and nurse me back to health. You fluffed up my pillows and brought me chicken noodle soup in bed and everything. So when I called out for ginger ale in the middle of the night and you didn't mystically and magically appear, I thought you were exhausted from taking care of me. Riiiight. I staggered out of my sickbed, only to discover you thoroughly engrossed in the holiday classic, "Pan Dulce Party." I was shocked, I tell you. Just shocked."

"Um...ah..." Scully fumbled for a plausible excuse. "You were running a high fever, which probably affected your perception of events. I was merely applying standard investigative techniques. I assumed the videos could provide clues as to why your temperature was elevated, or why your chest was glistening with sweat, the damp sheets clinging to your body, emphasizing your magnificent loins."

Mulder stared at her in stunned disbelief. "Scully? I think the only thing elevated was your respiration rate."

She barely suppressed a giggle. "Um, I recall something else was elevated, too. You were hot in more ways than one that night!"

Their exchange was fortuitously cut short by the arrival of the emergency room physician and a very shapely young nurse. If Mulder had been exposed to the bacterium Clostridium tetani, he had definitely not developed lockjaw yet. His mouth gaped wide open as he gazed appreciatively at the buxom nurse's enormous breasts. Wow. Those tits were to die for. He wanted to squeeze them like ripe melons, caress them, fondle them, kiss them...

His partner leaned forward and whispered into his ear. "Mulder, they're not real."

He shot her a baleful glare. "So?"

The ER physician extended his hand in greeting. "Hi. I'm Dr. Enis. Sorry to keep you waiting. It's been rather hectic this evening."

Mulder was somewhat dubious of that claim. How busy could an emergency room in the middle of nowhere be? His gaze drifted to the dark blue and white nametag affixed to the doctor's lab coat. The bold block letters spelled out: P. ENIS, M.D. Great. Had the entire hospital gone nuts?

Dr. Enis reviewed the chart the triage nurse had assembled. "Hmm. It says here you sustained a puncture wound to the right thumb. When was your last tetanus shot?"

"Approximately 6 years ago," Scully chimed in. "But he tends to spend a lot of time in hospitals, either due to unusual illnesses or injuries. He's a human disaster magnet."

"Hmm," he repeated. "Sounds like we can't be too careful then." Dr. Enis addressed the curvaceous nurse. "Anne, we're going to need to perform a complete physical on Mr. Mulder, just to be on the safe side."

She cooed sweetly. "Yes, doctor. Let me gather the supplies and I'll be right back." Anne playfully tossed her head back, causing her long sable tresses to bounce about her shoulders.

Dr. Enis placed a hospital gown on the gurney beside Mulder. "Sorry about the size. There's been a problem with the linen service, so only pediatric attire is available."

Grudgingly acknowledging the garment decorated with Looney Tune characters, Mulder scanned the room. "Where can I change?"

"Right here."

"What? Don't you have a bathroom or a privacy curtain or something?"

"'Fraid not," the doctor replied. "Budget cutbacks and all. Besides, I'm going to see it all anyway. What difference does a couple of minutes make?"

Scully nodded in enthusiastic agreement. "He's absolutely right, Mulder. In fact, let me help you. That thumb has to be sore, and additional activity could hasten the spread of nasty pathogens. I'd never forgive myself if you developed sepsis because I allowed you to engage in unnecessary physical exertion, causing poisons to pulse through your engorged veins..." Her conversation trailed off as she hastily unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants. Under her determined guidance, the trousers quickly slid over his hips and dropped around his ankles within nanoseconds.

"Whoa, whoa!" Mulder yelped. "I notice you're not helping me with my shirt."

"Shirt?"

"Yes, my shirt. If you can get off your knees long enough, maybe you can help me with these buttons. That is, if you aren't too busy."

"Be right there," she panted, "as soon as I pull these boxers off your lily-white, tight muscular ass."

"Um, Scully?"

"Yes, Mulder?"

"Is there any particular reason you can't do that from, uh...another angle? I feel kind of uncomfortable having your face...you know."

"Oh." Scully tried to hide her disappointment. "I simply surmised I'd be in a better position to unbutton your shirt if I was right in front of you." She grasped his shirttails and pulled herself up. If he thought Scully was anxious to remove his trousers, she had another surprise in store for him. Howling like an Amazon she-beast, Scully ripped his shirt open, sending buttons flying through the air.

A small white projectile struck Anne on the face as she returned with a cart of supplies. "Ow!" she squealed. "What was that?" She stopped in her tracks when she saw her naked drop-dead gorgeous patient standing fully erect. Well, not erect in the sense she would have preferred, but the sight was still breathtakingly spectacular. Anne felt a bit guilty admiring this finely chiseled Adonis, but nonetheless hesitated to remind him of the gown lying at the foot of the gurney.

Mulder nervously cleared his throat. "Scully...could you...um...please hand me something to wear?"

"Wear?" she blinked too innocently.

"Yes, in case you haven't noticed, I have a little problem here."

Scully snorted. "I wouldn't exactly call it little."

Anne murmured knowingly. "She's right. I know a lot about these things. I didn't make the July cover of "Celebrity Skin" for nothing. I got paid a thousand bucks."

Thoroughly exasperated by the women's unprofessional behavior, Dr. Enis grabbed the gown and shoved it at Mulder. "Ladies, this is a hospital emergency room, not an estrogen brigade. Control yourselves!"

The beleaguered man gratefully accepted the small bundle of cloth, and hurriedly donned the flimsy garment. To his chagrin, the gown barely covered his manly attributes.

As if anticipating his distraught patient's complaint, Dr. Enis shrugged apologetically. "Sorry. It was either a gown from pediatrics or nothing. Your HMO doesn't cover fig leaves." He smiled sympathetically and gestured toward the gurney. "Why don't you sit back down so we can get started?"

Mulder hopped on the narrow table and concentrated on trying to keep warm. The small threadbare gown provided little protection from the emergency room's frigid temperature. He felt like he had been stuffed into a meat locker, and goose bumps erupted all over his shivering body.

"Hmm." Dr. Enis was obviously absent when vocabulary-building exercises were covered in school. "This onset of chills was sudden and severe. Do you feel feverish?"

"No, I'm freezing my buns off."

The doctor laughed. "Actually, you probably feel cold because you're hot."

"He's hot all right," Scully muttered.

Ignoring the horny, redheaded FBI agent, Dr. Enis spoke to the nurse. "We need to get his temperature. Did the new shipment of aural thermometers come in to replace the ones that were recalled, or are we still having to use the rectal ones?"

"Rectal thermometers?!" Mulder shrieked.

"Hmm. I'm not sure I like the sound of your voice. It must have gone up an entire octave in less than a minute. Whatever organism we're dealing with must be mutating at an alarming rate."

"What? Wait a minute! I'm fine. There's nothing wrong with my throat. And you're not shoving a thermometer up my..."

"The new thermometers just arrived," Anne said with a touch of regret. She had been so looking forward to that particular aspect of his work up. Parting her mouth, she rolled her tongue around her full, sensual lips in exaggerated motions while she placed a protective cover over the thermometer probe. Shit. Realizing his partner was standing nearby, Mulder reflexively shoved his hand into his mouth to stifle a whimper of pleasure. That seemed like a logical solution until he bit his knuckles.

Scully violently yanked his fist away from his mouth, causing his teeth to scrape the back of his hand. "Mulder, good grief! Do you know how many germs thrive in the mouth? Do you know that human bites are as dangerous as animal bites? You could develop an infection in that hand so severe it could affect the tendon sheaths. We're talking major surgical incision and drainage. Tissue damage or scar formation could permanently compromise normal functioning of your hand, and you'd never be able to return to field status." With a flourish, she added, "And that's not counting any potential long-term disability from your initial injury, assuming you don't die of complications."

While Scully ranted, he silently counted to ten...and then to twenty. Mulder wondered if all doctors were required to take courses in "Doom and Gloom 101" and his personal favorite, "How to Really Scare the Shit Out of Your Patients by Presenting Worst Care Scenarios."

He suddenly felt something shoved into his right ear. What the hell? Oh, yeah. A thermometer. An aural thermometer. Woo hoo!

Anne solemnly pronounced the results of the handheld device. "Doctor, his temperature is 98.7."

"Hmm. We need to get that fever down as quickly as possible. If we don't, you could develop febrile seizures or brain damage. As soon as I complete my examination, perhaps we could apply some ice packs to your armpits and groin to hasten the process."

Mulder was still reeling from the doctor's statement when Dr. Enis reached for the box of disposable gloves. The crisp snap of latex sent shivers down his spine. The ER physician rummaged through a drawer, and his face lit up when he located the desired item. Squeezing the tube, he applied a liberal amount of K-Y Jelly to his gloved fingers. "Mr. Mulder. For the next part of the exam, I need for you to step over here."

"A rectal? In front of these women?" Mulder's eyes widened in trepidation.

The doctor looked confused. "Who said anything about a rectal? I was going to lubricate the sturdy, flexible, steel measuring rod attached to the scale so I can record your height. It has a tendency to become stuck during cold weather."

"Oh." If a person could die of embarrassment, Mulder was likely to become the first recorded casualty. He struggled to cover the distance to the scale while keeping himself covered with the skimpy attire. Scully was enjoying his predicament entirely too much. Mulder leaned back slightly and tugged at his gown in hopes it would cover his bare ass.

Dr. Enis frowned. "Mr. Mulder, you need to stand up straight. In order for me to obtain a proper measurement, you need to be in a completely upright position."

That was all the encouragement Scully needed. "Oooooh. Can I be of any assistance? Purely for diagnostic purposes, of course."

Mulder wondered if anyone had ever been strangled with a pediatric-sized hospital gown before. If not, she was about to make forensic history.

"I'm six feet tall," Mulder tersely informed the doctor. "You can either take my word for it, or check my driver's license issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles." Pouting petulantly, he sniffed, "That's assuming my partner will let go of my pants long enough to let you find my wallet."

Scully sulked. "I'll save you the trouble. I peeked at his license. He is six feet tall, and his weight is listed at 170 pounds. The contents of his wallet also revealed that his dry cleaning will be ready for pickup on Tuesday, he checked out a copy of 'Steel Magnolias' before we left D.C., he charged a package of new boxers on his American Express card last week, and that McDonald's gift certificate book better not be my birthday present."

Damn. He was saving that for a special moment, certain a five-dollar coupon book would cover the cost of a salad and a Diet Coke. Sometimes Mulder forgot how hard it was to surprise a partner trained in investigative techniques.

Dr. Enis looked at his patient with sympathy. No doubt he was regretting purchasing a five-dollar coupon book for the special woman in his life, too. "Well, there's no need to waste our time measuring your height and weight. Let's get your vital signs, okay?"

Mulder sat back down and dangled his long legs over the side of the gurney, careful to keep his knees together. Anne winked flirtatiously at him as she wrapped a blood pressure cuff snugly around his arm. To reduce the chill of the stethoscope, she excitedly rubbed the bell between her hands. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...faster and faster. Then she exhaled onto the metal disk and observed it steam over from her warm, moist breath. Satisfied, she placed the head of the stethoscope over his artery just below the cuff.

The earpieces now in place, Anne vigorously squeezed the rubber bulb to inflate the pressure of the cuff until the bar of mercury rose higher and higher. Mulder was sensitive to the mounting pressure, and needed relief...soon. He was totally mesmerized by Anne's heaving breasts as she continued to pump him up. Finally when the mercury reached 210 millimeters, she began to deflate the cuff. The constriction around his arm dissipated, and he groaned in satisfaction. He was vaguely aware of her fingers wrapped around his wrist.

"His blood pressure is 168/92, pulse 114 and respirations are 30 and shallow," Anne reported.

Scully leapt out of her chair. "That's abnormally high for him. Do you plan to perform a full cardiovascular workup?"

Dr. Enis scratched his chin. "Hmm. This could be more serious than I thought. My initial impression was that the elevated temperature could be attributed to an infection, but clearly we're dealing with a more complex process. Under the circumstances, it would be prudent to admit him and perform the standard battery of cardiac function tests, just to be on the safe side. I'll arrange for a routine EKG, 2D echo with Doppler, nuclear stress test, cardiac catheterization and colonoscopy."

"Colonoscopy? I'm sorry. I know my specialty is pathology, but how will a colonoscopy be helpful?"

"Oh, it won't. But the radiology department got some new diagnostic equipment last week and has been dying to try it out. The ER bathroom budget was sacrificed to help fund the expenditure, so you could say I have a vested interest."

"What is it with you people?" Mulder demanded. "Ever since I've been here, someone has wanted to shove something up my butt. Are you all a bunch of perverts?"

The doctor leaned toward Scully and spoke in hushed tones. "Must be the fever. He's clearly delirious."

She sadly nodded. "Tylenol suppository?"

"Yeah."

Anne discretely noted the order Dr. Enis was writing in the chart, and quietly left the room. Returning from her errand, she snapped on a latex glove and prepared to dispense the medication.

Mulder panicked in response to the noise. "What are you doing?"

"Sir, you're running a fever..."

"You can't be serious. I'd hardly call 98.7 degrees a fever."

Dr. Enis interrupted. "Mr. Mulder, you've obviously contracted a fast-acting infection from your wound, and you're not behaving rationally right now."

"Like hell I'm not!" he yelled. "You'd be pitching a fit too if people were threatening to stick things into sensitive bodily orifices!"

Scully plucked a glove from the box. "Here, let me do it. I'm his partner. I've been watching his ass for seven years."

Mulder couldn't believe his ears. "Scully, you were supposed to be watching my back."

"Back, front, ass. What's the difference? Pretty damned nice view from any direction, if you ask me."

Miffed at the intrusion into her territory, Anne clenched her fists and stamped her feet. "He's mine, mine, all mine!"

"Look, you shameless hussy, don't argue with me. I'm an armed federal agent, and I know how to defend myself. Besides, I have first dibs."

The sultry brunette lifted her uniform top and proudly displayed her surgically enhanced assets. "Oh, yeah? These babies are registered as lethal weapons. I've accidentally smothered three men to a blissful death, and put a couple of eyes out just from long-distance ogling. I even have a black belt in booby boxing. Your puny tits couldn't go one round with me."

"Bring 'em on!" Scully tossed her jacket on the floor and began unbuttoning her blouse.

The unfolding scene was surreal. It was like passing the scene of a horrific traffic accident. Mulder felt guilty and ashamed for watching, yet strangely excited and thrilled. In fact, he almost forgot why they were fighting until the doctor intervened and grabbed the foil-wrapped suppository. Shit. He should have escaped while he had the chance. Maybe it wasn't too late. Mulder slipped off the gurney and stepped onto the cold tile floor. He had scarcely cleared the supply cart when he felt a firm pressure on his upper arm. Busted.

"Going anywhere, Mr. Mulder?"

Mulder sheepishly turned around to face Dr. Enis. "Um, I need to take a leak."

"Sorry. Memory problems, too? Hmm. Could be the early signs of dementia. If you'll recall, we don't have a bathroom in the ER. Since we're going to need a urine specimen anyway, have a seat and I'll harvest a sample."

"Harvest? What do you mean by harvest?"

Dr. Enis mentally searched for the layperson's definition of the term as he steered his unwilling patient back to the examination bed. "I'll insert a catheter through your urethra to obtain a urine sample directly from the bladder."

Mulder blushed furiously. "Why can't I just pee in a cup?"

"Because a sample collected in that manner might contain contaminants that could artificially skew the results."

"No one has ever complained before."

The emergency room doctor massaged the back of his neck and looked at Scully. "Is he always this much trouble?"

"You have absolutely no idea," she replied dryly.

Mulder absently picked at his colorful gown. A loose thread marred Marvin the Martian's face, and he tried to smooth it over while he struggled to regain control of his emotions. "Does anyone care that I came in here for a simple wound from stapler accident? Has it occurred to anyone that maybe all I need is a Band-Aid on my boo-boo? That none of these tests or medications are necessary, and this is all a big misunderstanding?"

The doctors silently conferred and rendered their verdict in unison. "No."

"Is this one of those ambush reality TV shows, or am I trapped in a Twilight Zone episode?"

"NO!!!"

Mustering his most reassuring professional demeanor, Dr. Enis attempted to calm his skittish patient. "Mr. Mulder, we're only trying to help you. Penetrating wounds are extremely susceptible to virulent infections. It's absolutely critical that we accurately establish an accurate diagnosis so we can provide appropriate care as soon as possible. You know the old saying, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'"

"Great. Next you're going to tell me something equally trite like, 'A stitch in time saves nine,'" Mulder griped.

"Now that you mention it..."

"Arrggghhhh!"

"Oh, my God!" Scully exclaimed. "Are you in pain?"

"I'm FINE. Perfectly fine."

"Mulderrrrr...you're not fine. That's why we're here, remember?"

"Hmm." Dr. Enis glanced at Scully. "These memory lapses are extremely disturbing. Does he have a history of short-term memory loss?"

Scully tucked a stray lock of copper hair behind her ear. "Now that you mention it, he frequently forgets to inform me of his whereabouts, but I always assumed he was deliberately ditching me. He also doesn't remember to submit 302 forms and other appropriate case related paperwork. Oh, no! How could I have been so blind?"

The doctor gave her a compassionate hug. "Don't blame yourself. Mental deterioration is usually so gradual it's easy for friends and family members to miss the early symptoms. We'll perform MRI and PET scans, as well as some other tests. But as you know, an autopsy is the best way to determine the type of dementia."

Her expression immediately brightened. "I'm a pathologist. I could..."

"Don't even go there," Mulder warned. "I'm not dead yet. I'm here because I have a staple stuck in my thumb. I do not have a fever or Alzheimer's or any exotic disease."

Dr. Enis smiled condescendingly. "Of course. Let's take a look, shall we?"

The distraught patient extended his right thumb, although he was sorely tempted to extend a specific finger instead.

Carefully examining the injured digit, Dr. Enis murmured his observations. "Hmm. There's slight edema and erythema surrounding the wound. This could represent the initial stages of tetanus, blood poisoning or even gangrene. Yup. We absolutely need to perform a thorough assessment, just to be on the safe side." Releasing Mulder's hand, the doctor removed an otoscope from the wall mount. After inspecting the ears and nose for signs of inflammation and drainage, the physician unwrapped a tongue depressor. "I need you to open wide and say 'Ahhhhh'."

Mulder rolled his eyes in frustration, but nonetheless complied with the doctor's request.

"You have some slight irritation..."

"No shit."

Ignoring his patient's remark, the doctor continued. "You could be developing a streptococcal bacterial infection. Potential complications can include necrosis of the skin and deep tissues, scarlet fever, endocarditis or renal failure. We'll get a culture to determine the causative organism, just to be on the safe side." Palpating Mulder's neck, Dr. Enis asked, "Is this sore?"

Through clenched teeth, Mulder hissed, "It wasn't until you started poking around."

"We'll run some thyroid function tests, just to be..."

"So help me, if you utter that phrase one more time, I'm going to shove that stethoscope up your ass. Then you can have the privilege of being the first patient to try out that fancy new equipment the radiology department is so eager to play with."

Before his irate patient had an opportunity to make good on his promise, Dr. Enis removed the stethoscope from his neck. "Um...I need to listen to your heart and lungs. Unlike Anne, the doctor didn't bother to warm the metal disk, and placed the icy cold object on Mulder's chest. Listening intently, he moved the stethoscope around several times as Mulder took deep breaths. The chilly air triggered a tickle in his throat, and he reflexively coughed.

Dr. Enis appeared perplexed. "That's odd, your lungs sound clear. We'll get a chest x-ray to make sure we're not overlooking the early onset of pneumonia or tuberculosis. Your heart rate is still elevated, perhaps a precursor to a life-threatening arrhythmia."

"Of course my pulse is racing," Mulder sputtered. "I'm pissed. P-I-S-S-E-D. Pissed."

"Ah, yes. Irritability. A classic sign of tetanus. Have you experienced any muscle cramps or weakness?"

Didn't he already have this conversation with Scully? "No. My only problem is an itty-bitty staple embedded in my thumb, remember? Or maybe you're the one suffering from memory impairment."

Handing his agitated patient a blue paper sheet, Dr. Enis patted the gurney. "We'll take care of that, I promise. Right now, I need for you to lie down so I can complete your exam. It will only take a minute."

Mulder grudgingly followed the doctor's instructions, and settled into a supine position. While the doctor palpated his abdomen, he stared at the ceiling. What the fuck? Directly above him was a full-length mirror with writing in the lower right hand corner. On closer inspection, he was able to make out the faint writing: Objects in the mirror are larger than they appear. What kind of a hospital was this?!

As he performed his examination, Dr. Enis dictated his findings to Anne. "Hmm. No masses or rigidity of the liver or spleen." Lifting the flimsy paper drape, he noted approvingly, "And definitely no inguinal shrinkage!"

Scully couldn't resist the urge to sneak a peek, and pulled the sheet back more than was medically necessary. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, she mused, "I'm in love...or at least in lust."

Totally mortified, Mulder wrestled for control of the sheet from his resolute partner, finally ripping it out of her hands. While Scully dejectedly surveyed scraps of blue paper in each fist, Mulder repositioned the mangled drape in a feeble attempt to restore his dignity. In a low voice, he mumbled, "Kill me now."

His brow furrowed in concern, the emergency room physician reached for the chart. "In view of the sudden onset of depressive symptoms, I'll order a psychiatric consult, just to be on the safe side. In the meantime, we'll do some tests to rule out an organic etiology."

After a brief conversation with the doctor, Anne set up the appropriate laboratory paraphernalia. Smiling at her apprehensive patient, she wrapped a tourniquet around Mulder's arm. "Don't worry, I usually find a good vein on my ninth or tenth try. With these huge boobs, it's hard to see what I'm doing sometimes." Satisfied she had located a suitable vein, she energetically rubbed the area with an alcohol prep pad before penetrating the skin with the needle.

"Arrggghhh!"

"I'm so sorry," Anne apologized. "Silly me. Let me try this again."

"Shit, that hurt!"

Anne bit her collagen enhanced lower lip in concentration. "Maybe third time is the charm." Plunging the large bore needle into the bulging vein, she squealed with pleasure when his blood forcefully pumped through the tubing and into the receptacles. "Wow. You can really squirt that stuff out!" Once she had collected and labeled the appropriate number of vials, she unwrapped a large cotton swab.

"What is that?" he asked suspiciously as he propped himself up on his elbows.

Scully firmly pushed him back onto the gurney. "She's going to culture your throat so they can determine if you have strep throat or not. Early intervention is important in these cases, otherwise..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he grumbled, "or I'll develop some hideous life-threatening complication."

She playfully tugged at his toes. "At least your memory isn't totally shot yet."

The nurse waved the giant Q-tip in front of him. "Sir? I need you to open wide." Resigned to the situation, he submitted to the inevitable procedure. Cupping his jaw in her left hand, Anne carefully tilted his head back and thrust the long object down his throat, inch-by-inch, pushing it deeper and deeper until...

Aaaaaccccckkkkk! Mulder struggled to simultaneously suppress a violent coughing spasm and quell the rising nausea that threatened to overwhelm him. "Damn it! Are you...trying to...choke me to death?"

Scully immediately sensed the impending doom, and shoved an emesis basin under his chin. While her miserable partner threw up the meager contents of his lunch, she rubbed his back in soothing circular motions until the heaving stopped. "Are you okay now?"

"I'm fine. Positively fucking wonderful." Seeking to alleviate her concern, he hastened to clarify the reason for his reaction. "I have a sensitive gag reflex, Scully. I am not sick."

Anne gestured for Scully to hand her the nearly full emesis basin. "Dr. Enis has written orders to strictly monitor his intake and output, so I'll need to measure that."

The hairs on the back of Mulder's neck stood on end. Intake and output? That would mean the dreaded Foley catheter. Before he had an opportunity to protest, Anne placed a plastic specimen cup and a couple of tattered current issues of pornographic magazines on the small stand beside his gurney. Was she about to propose what he thought she was?

Even Scully was taken aback at this unusual development. "Um...Anne? I don't understand how a semen sample could possibly prove diagnostically useful in Mulder's case."

"Oh, it won't," Anne admitted. "I'm still trying to establish the paternity of my eighteen-month-old son, and figured it wouldn't hurt to obtain another DNA sample. However, after 1013 negative results, I'm not as optimistic as I used to be." Reaching into the cabinet, she retrieved a sterile kit. "Mr. Mulder, I'm going to need to harvest that urine specimen now."

"Over my dead body!" Snatching the plastic cup from the bedside table, he positioned it under the sheet. "Excuse me, can I have a little privacy here?"

A puzzled Scully started to reach for the paper drape. "Mulderrrrr...what are you doing under there?"

"I'm going to pee in this cup. No one is going to go prospecting for my liquid gold."

"Mulder, you're crazy. For heaven's sake, you didn't even wash your hands or anything else first. Do you realize how many contaminants..." Her voice faded away as the implications of her words sank in. "Contaminants! Mulder, your hand!"

Dr. Enis jerked off the blue paper sheet, exposing Mulder in all his glory. The physician immediately inspected the injured digit, and did not appear pleased with his findings. "Hmm. Obviously the wound has been exposed to additional pathogens. It would probably be best to amputate the thumb immediately, just to be on the safe side."

Mulder bolted upright. "What? You can't be serious!"

His medically overcautious partner advised, "He tends to respond adversely to general anesthesia."

"Hmm. Then I suppose we'll have to perform surgery without it." Dr. Enis examined the injury again and grimaced. "No doubt the infection has spread far past the point of entry. Perhaps we should amputate the entire arm all the way to the shoulder, just to be on the safe side."

Scully cringed. "Ooooh. Without anesthesia that will be excruciatingly painful. If only he had something to take his mind off the pain." Suddenly a logical solution occurred to her. Climbing onto the gurney, she straddled herself across her recumbent partner.

"Scully, you can't let them do this! Help me!" Mulder thrashed violently as Dr. Enis and Anne wrapped Velcro restraints around his wrists and ankles and tied them to the gurney.

"Shhhh. It's okay," Scully purred kittenishly. "I'll keep your mind off your pain."

"Sculleeeee!"

"Yes, Mulder! I want to hear you shout my name again and again! She gently traced the line of dark hair on his abdomen until she reached her destination. "I want to take you places you've never been!"

"Scully, the only place I want to be is off this gurney! I want to get off now!"

"Of course, Mulder! You know I'd do anything for you!" Embracing his impressive manhood in her small hands, she passionately began stroking him.

Frustrated by the huge misunderstanding, he rolled his head back and forth. "Fuck, Scully!"

Delighted with this turn of events, she practically drooled in anticipation. "You mean you want to come inside me?"

"No!" he gasped. "I mean, yes, but not like this! Don't let them cut my arm off, Scully!" His desperate attempts to free himself from the restraints were interrupted by the loud buzzing of a Black and Decker saw. No, this was not happening. He uttered a series of raw, primal screams before he mercifully passed out.


The incessant screeching of an alarm pierced the air, and Mulder instinctively opened his eyes. How odd. This certainly didn't look like any hospital room he'd ever seen, and the dreadful pastel painting of a lighthouse was an exact replica of the one in his motel room. Wait a minute...everything was identical, down to the discarded pizza box precariously balanced on the trashcan. Thoroughly confused, Mulder ran his fingers through his hair with his right hand. What?

His right arm was still miraculously attached. It had all been a horrible dream! Thank God! He gleefully flexed his fingers before silencing the digital alarm clock. An exuberant Mulder jumped out of bed, knocking the empty grease-stained pizza box onto the shag carpeting in the process. He glared at the object with contempt. That damned pizza was probably the source of his nightmare. How on earth did Scully ever convince him to forego the usual traditional toppings in favor of roasted garlic chicken, red peppers, pecans, mango and pineapple? Surely that combination would make anyone have night terrors. Staring in the mirror, Mulder held up his right hand and made an oath to hereby stick with pepperoni and cheese from this day forward. No more living la vida loca for him.

A familiar voice on the other side of the connecting door intruded upon the solemn ceremony. "Mulder, it's me. Are you decent?"

For the first time since he had awakened, he realized he was wearing the same t-shirt and jeans he had worn yesterday. He must have passed out from exhaustion before he could strip down to his usual sleeping attire.

Without waiting for a response from Mulder, his bedraggled partner stumbled into his room. Scully's usual porcelain complexion was ghastly white, accentuating the dark purple circles under her eyes. Her hair was sticking in every conceivable direction, giving a whole new definition to the term "bad hair day." Collapsing into a faux velvet covered chair, Scully massaged her aching temples. "I feel like shit."

Immediately concerned, Mulder knelt at her side. "Scully, are you okay?"

"I had the most horrible nightmare last night. It must have been that damned pizza."

"Pizza?" So he hadn't been the only victim of the gastronomical abomination.

"Yeah. I was up half the night with indigestion. Then when I finally managed to fall asleep, I had the dream from Hell."

Mulder cleared his throat and solicitously rested his hand on hers. "Want to talk about it?"

Scully hesitated for a split-second then blurted out, "I married Frohike."

"You did what?"

"I dreamed I bid for Frohike at a charity bachelor auction as a joke." Shuddering at the memory, she confessed, "He licked my entire body like I was a postage stamp, sucked my toes and everything. I fell completely under his spell, and begged him to marry me so I could be his sex slave."

Recalling his own dream, Mulder laughed nervously. "No wonder you look like something the cat hacked up this morning. That must have been a scary experience."

"You have absolutely no idea." Noting her partner's haggard appearance, she asked, "What about you? Did nightmares keep you up last night?"

He shrugged his shoulders and tried to appear nonchalant. "You know me and my insomnia." An annoying tickle in the back of his throat provoked a violent bout of coughing, and he covered his mouth with his left hand. When the attack subsided, Scully was staring at him. There was something in her expression that made him uneasy. "What? Did I forget to zip my pants or something?"

She grabbed his left hand and carefully examined a deep gash on his forearm. "Geez, Mulder. How did you cut yourself?"

"Huh?" He had been so relieved that his right arm hadn't been amputated he hadn't noticed the injury to his other limb. Crap. He probably hurt himself during the throes of his pizza-induced nightmare.

Immediately shifting into her infamous doctor mode, Scully raced to the bathroom and fetched a couple of towels. Wiping the partially dried blood from the wound, she delivered her professional opinion. "This is pretty deep. The edges are jagged and inflamed. You're definitely going to need stitches and probably antibiotics. Mulder, given your propensity for developing bizarre complications, it's important that you have this injury treated as soon as possible."

The familiar phrase evoked an eerie sense of deja vu, and chilled him to the core of his soul. Without thinking, he abruptly pulled his arm away from his bewildered partner.

"Mulder? What's wrong?"

"Nothing," he lied. "I'm just convinced all doctors overreact to every little bump and scrape, that's all."

"I suppose we do tend to envision worst case scenarios sometimes, especially in my field." Setting the soiled towels aside, Scully lightly squeezed his hand. "There's a small hospital not far from the county morgue. I'm sure you can get in and out fairly quickly." Inexplicably, she erupted into a fit of convulsive giggles.

"What's so funny?" he asked warily.

"You're going to love the name of the facility. Dick Long Memorial Hospital!"

Mulder's jaw dropped in astonishment. Hmm. He briefly considered his options and decided under the circumstances he should forego treatment and risk a tetanus infection...just to be on the safe side.

finis


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