Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Sick and Tired

By dee_ayy

August 13, 2000

Category: S, A, MT, post-ep(ish)
Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: My anxiety about what they are doing to
them is high, so I wish they didn't, but they do.
Mulder and Scully belong to 1013 Productions and 20th
Century Fox Film Corp. Lily is mine, and they can't
have her.

Archive: Fer Sure. Go for it.

Spoilers: Sort of, for the 7th-season episode "Brand

Thanks: As always, to Keryn and Peggy. And even though
it's been a while since she bugged me about bringing
this character back, Vickie has been relentless about
it in the past, so this is for her.

Feedback: Is da bomb (that is good, isn't it?).

Note: This story reintroduces a character from my
story "First Case," which can be found at
Knowledge of that story is helpful, but not at all

Summary: An ailing Mulder runs into an old
acquaintance on yet another ER visit. Post-ep for
"Brand X." Sort of.

Sick and Tired

By dee_ayy

Lily Cho rounded the corner with a smile on her face.
She always had a smile on her face, and some of the
more jaded staff in the Emergency Department teased
her about it. "You've been here almost a year," they
kept reminding her. "When are you gonna get tired?"

And what did she say in response? Nothing. She just

She wouldn't get tired. She loved it. Loved the
sprains and fractures, the asthma attacks, the
lacerations, the elderly diabetics--all the grunt work
she got as a first-year resident. Hell, she even liked
the "weak and dizzies" that came in, especially on
weekends like this, when people's personal doctors
were unavailable. She reached the desk, the nerve
center of the ED machine.

"The broken toe has been taped and sent home. What's
next?" she asked.

"Ummmm," the clerk said, "there's another weak and
dizzy in two, but if you don't want another," Lily cut
her off.

"Nope, fine, I'll take it." She grabbed the chart and
headed toward curtain area two. As she got there she
started to speak and read the chart at the same time.

"How do you do, Mr. . . ." then she read the name.
"Mulder?!" she asked and exclaimed at the same time.

The man on the gurney was sitting with his legs
dangling off the side. Someone had taken off his shirt
and put on a gown, but he still wore his sweat pants
and running shoes. He was hunched over, tightly
hugging his abdomen with both arms. He glanced up at
the odd way she had addressed him, but Lily saw no
recognition there.

She'd met him over two years ago, when as a third-year
med student she'd been doing a rotation in the ER in
Baltimore, and he'd come in after a car accident.
She'd spent the better part of a day with him, the
first trauma case she'd ever worked on. And he'd sent
her flowers. No one had sent her flowers before, and
no one had sent her flowers since.

"Mr. Mulder, my name's Dr. Cho. Lily Cho. You probably
don't remember, but I met you when I was a med student
at UMD Medical Center. You had a car accident, broke
your arm and had a concussion, I think it was. It was
over two years ago." As she was speaking she saw
recognition coming to his tired, sickly eyes. He did
remember, and she was oddly glad.

"Yeah, yeah, I remember. Can't believe you do, though.
That was one car accident ago for me, but how many for
you?" He sounded a little hoarse, and weak.

"You never forget some, Mr. Mulder. I don't forget the
ones who send me flowers."

Lily saw the woman who was standing by the bed arch
her eyebrows at the flowers comment, but say nothing.
Lily had met her, too, but for the life of her
couldn't remember her name.

"Then you shouldn't forget that I told you to drop the

"Right, right. So, Mulder what brings you to
Alexandria Memorial on this fine Sunday? You don't
look so good. What's the trouble?"

"I may have barfed up a lung," he said simply, and the
woman got a sour look on her face. For a second Lily
thought she might hit the man.

Instead she settled for an exasperated "Mulder!"

"Okay Scully," he said tiredly. "Go ahead. You tell it
so much better than me, anyway."

Scully, right, that was her name; and she was a
doctor. Now Lily remembered. Normally the young woman
bristled at allowing anyone but the patient present
his symptoms, but since she was a doctor. . . .

"Mulder has been throwing up for the going on three
days now. Virtually unable to keep anything down, so
clearly he's dehydrated. But I wasn't too concerned
until this morning when I talked to him on the phone
and heard him wheezing. You see, six or seven weeks
ago Mulder was exposed to . . . ." She paused,
clearly unsure how to continue; but after a moment she
did. "His lungs were infested with the eggs and larvae
of tobacco beetles. He went into respiratory arrest
several times before the infiltration was stopped and
the foreign matter was suctioned from his lungs. As a
result he had been using a bronchodilator
inhaler--Albuterol--and receiving respiratory therapy
to restore his lung volume up until last week. I don't
like the sound of his breathing, and I thought it best
to get it checked out."

Lily had turned her attention to her patient during
this implausible tale, but he didn't react at all.
They gave the first-years the stomach flus because
they were always easy ones. This one wasn't going to
be so easy. She tried to keep her expression neutral,
swallowing her urge to exclaim "You have GOT to be
kidding!" and just approached Mulder instead.

"You don't say," she said kindly. "That about cover
it, Mulder?"

He lifted his head slightly. "Yeah, I think so," he

"So why don't you tell me how you feel."

"Like shit, basically." She did hear a little wheeze,
but nothing too pronounced. And after about 5000
asthma attacks, she felt confident in assessing

"Do you feel like you are having trouble breathing?"
She picked up the pulse oximeter clip and stuck it on
his finger.

He shook his head. "No, not really. But, you know,
that's relative. Can't remember the last time I
managed a good, deep breath."

Lily was studying the readout. His blood oxygenation
was only at 91%. That was low, so she turned to
Scully. "Do you know what his pulse ox has been

"Over 95," the woman responded. "They let him get rid
of the supplemental oxygen when it consistently stayed
over that."

Lily pulled the nasal cannula from the holder on the
wall. "How long was he on O-2?" she asked Scully.

But Mulder answered. "I wasn't. Not really. Just
needed to keep it near; took a hit once in a while."

"Mulder...." The woman admonished.

"Except at night," he allowed. "I had to keep it on at
night for a long time."

Lily smiled. "That's not unexpected, I suppose, given
what I just heard. And I'm gonna give you a 'hit'
right now," she said as she fitted the prongs under
his nose and adjusted the flow. He just sighed.

Lily stuck her stethoscope into her ears. "Let's take
a listen." She went around and first put the drum on
Mulder's back, making him take several deep breaths as
she moved it around.

She came back around in front of him and slid the
untied gown off his shoulder so she could listen from
the front. He lifted his head and looked her directly
in the eye, and suddenly she was taken aback for a
second. She'd never really seen his face before--in
Baltimore it had been bruised and swollen. She hadn't
realized until now that he was a really good-looking
guy--and even now he looked pretty bad. What did he
look like healthy, she wondered?

"What?" Mulder asked, breaking the momentary spell.

"Nothing," Lily said too quickly. "I was just
realizing that the last time we met you were various
shades of black and blue."

He merely grinned slightly in response to that. "And
now I'm green," he offered.

"The fractures healed well, I take it?" She placed the
drum on the front of his chest and instructed him to

"Yeah, good as new," he said after he let the breath

Lily finished listening. "Well, there's a slight
wheeze, it's true. But it's not that pronounced." She
turned to Scully. "I'm surprised you heard it over the

Mulder let out a loud breath. "I'm not!" he declared.

The young doctor smiled and asked him, "Who's your

"Dr. Levy," Scully supplied. "He's here. Do you know

"Of him," Lily said.

"He's also gone for the weekend," Mulder added

"Oh. But that does mean your records are here? Without
a point of comparison I really don't know how
concerned to be." She wrapped her stethoscope around
her neck. "But first things first. A chest x-ray."

"Oh, wow, never had one of those before," Mulder said
with a rueful grin.

"But let's take a look at your abdomen first--I
haven't forgotten about your stomach flu! Can you lie
back for me?"

The man flipped his legs up on the gurney and lay
down. Lily pushed up the gown and began the gently
feel his abdomen as she questioned him.

"How long have you been throwing up?"

"Since Friday."

"Did it start suddenly, or was the onset gradual?"

"Umm, I'm not really sure. Sort of sudden, I think.
It's hard to remember."

"Have you been able to keep anything down at all?"

"Uhhh, yesterday. Half a glass of ginger ale and half
a dozen crackers."

Lily arched her eyebrows. "That's it?"

"Hey, it was a moral victory."

The young doctor kept palpating his abdomen. "Any of
this hurt?" she asked.

"No, not really."

"Well, tell me if it does." She continued to press
until her hands came across a small scar on his
stomach. "Have you had laparoscopic surgery?" she
asked, lightly fingering the scar.

"Appendix. Last year," he offered.

"Well, then, that eliminates one possibility. Have you
had a fever?"

"No, not really." She looked at him quizzically, but
he expanded on his answer before she had to ask.
"Sometimes around 99.5. It's higher at night."

Lily just nodded and stuck her stethoscope back in her
ears to listen to his bowel sounds. Her patient lay
quietly while she did. When she finished she asked,
"Have you been having normal bowel movements? Any
diarrhea or constipation?"

"Um, no. Not really. But just about everything's
coming out the top."

She just smiled at the man. "Okay, here's the deal.
Seems we have two things going on here, the breathing
and the vomiting. I'm going to add an abdominal film
to the chest x-rays, and order some tests. Have you
been taking anything? Over-the-counter remedies?"

"Nah, not really. Tylenol. Which I barfed up."

Lily grinned in sympathy. "When is the last time you

"About ten o'clock," Mulder offered.

Lily looked at her watch. "About 4 hours ago. How
often was it occurring?"

"I really don't know. I was too busy puking at the

The woman chimed in then. "Basically within the hour
whenever he ate something. Or every four to six

"Oooh, not pleasant," Lily commiserated. "Well, you
just sit tight and let me go write your orders, and
we'll have this figured out in no time." She sat her
patient up and adjusted the back of the gurney so he
could sit back.

+ + + + +

Lily wrote her orders all right, but then she couldn't
find a nurse to give them to. Everyone seemed too
busy. She knew that some of the other residents just
left the orders until a nurse was available, but she
hated to do that to her patients. She really had no
qualms about drawing blood herself; even if it did
mean sheepishly returning to the patient after a
confident exit.

But she refused to be coy about it--she returned to
him as confidently as she'd left. To her surprise he
was alone.

"Where's your partner?" she asked.

"Went to make a phone call," he answered quietly. He
had curled onto his side. "I think she's canceling
dinner plans, but she'd never tell me that. She'll be
right back."

"Well, that's okay, I was just wondering. All the
nurses have disappeared on me. I'm going to have to
draw your blood work myself. Hope you don't mind."

"Depends," he said. "How good are you with a needle?"

Lily smiled and felt herself blush slightly for some
bizarre reason. "After years of grunt work? I'm a
pro." Mulder just silently offered up his arm. Lily
wrapped the BP cuff around it and inflated it to bring
out his veins. "Aren't you a policeman?" she asked as
she did this. But then she remembered. "No, wait, FBI
agent, right?"

"Bingo," her patient said. He was still on his side,
with his eyes closed, and he didn't bother opening

She rubbed the skin in the crook of his elbow to bring
up the vein, and saw him squeeze his eyes shut. "Don't
like needles?" she asked kindly.

He opened his eyes. "Should I?" he asked curtly. "I
mean, really, who would? Who does? I don't really care
one way or the other, but the anticipation of a needle
piercing your skin brings on a perfectly normal level
of apprehension, I think," he snapped.

Lily was slightly taken aback. "You're right, sorry.
Hold still," she added as she did, indeed, pierce his

"No," Mulder sighed as he felt the needle go in. "I'm
sorry. Out of line."

"It's okay. You don't feel well. Perfectly

"That's just it," her patient said. "I'm sick and
tired of feeling sick and tired."

Lily was filling the various vials with blood. "I can
understand that. Is what she said true? Tobacco
beetles? I've never heard of that."

"Yeah, it's true. Picked it up in North
Carolina--tobacco country. I'd never heard of it
either. No one had. But they got them out. Took a long
time, but I was finally starting to feel up to speed
when I got this stomach bug."

Lily had finished with the vials. "I can see why that
would get you down." She pulled the needle from his
skin and put a bandage in place. "Are you feeling
lightheaded or dizzy or anything?" she asked.

"No, why?"

"I need a urine sample, too. Do you think you're up
for a walk to the bathroom? It's right there," and she
pointed to the door against the wall.

Mulder sat all the way up and stood by way of an
answer. "No problem," he said. "Beats the

Lily went to the shelf and got him a collection kit.
"Just follow the instructions on the package," she
said. "I'll be right here if you need anything."

"Uh huh," her patient said, and he slowly made his way
into the bathroom.

This gave Lily a moment to smile. She remembered Fox
Mulder well. The staff at UMD Medical center had
teased her about him for weeks after the flowers. Told
her he was too old for her to have a crush on. She'd
taken it in stride, but a little part of her had
developed a crush on him, she'd realized then. He'd
been personable, interesting, and she'd helped him.
Not medically--no she'd done nothing for him in that
respect. But she had been able to comfort him, to ease
his mind. And he'd been appreciative. She could still
remember what a heady feeling it had been.

And here he was again. And this time she was going to
be able to help him medically. At least she hoped so.
She decided to look up his records while she waited
for him, and logged on to the computer terminal in the
room. When the x-rays of his lungs from early April
popped up on the screen she was shocked. Blotches of
white spotted his lungs. She read the case history,
and couldn't help but be astounded. She'd never seen
or read anything like it.

"Quite a story," a female voice behind her said.
"Where's Mulder?"

Lily turned to face Scully. "He's in the lavatory.
It's like something you'd read in a science fiction

The woman smiled wistfully. "I wish it was fiction."

"Clearly you know more about this than I do at this
point, but his breath sounds seem pretty good to
me--especially given this history."

Scully crossed her arms. "I felt it best to be . . .
cautious. He was critically ill from this."

"Oh, don't get me wrong," Lily assured the woman. "He
needs to be here, I think. At the very least he'll get
an IV before I'll let him go."

The redheaded woman grinned. "At the very least," she

Lily made her way over to the bathroom door and rapped
on it quietly. "Mulder, you okay in there?"

"Ummm," he said through the door, and then he was
quiet for a long moment. Lily was about to open the
door to check on him when he did it instead. He leaned
on it heavily, and showed her the specimen cup. It was
empty. "Told you everything was coming out the top,"
he explained wearily.

"I was just discussing how dehydrated you are with
your partner. Come on, and I'll get an IV going for
you, get those x-rays, and then you can try again."

"Oh, good," Mulder said as he allowed the young doctor
to lead him back to the gurney. "I was afraid you were
gonna go in there and get it."

Lily chuckled. "We may still have to, so don't get too

"I will dedicate my life to producing exactly what you
want," he promised.

Dr. Cho laughed again. "Get back in bed," she ordered.
He complied and she set herself to starting an IV. The
dehydration made his veins hard to catch, and in the
end she was forced to put it in the crook of his left

"That's the best I can do, sorry," she told him.
"Think you can keep your arm straight, or should I put
it on a board for you?"

"I promise to be good," he said.

"Good," she said. "Someone will be in to take you to
x-ray very soon. I'll make sure of it."

+ + + + +

Lily was at the desk working on Mulder's chart, and
again inspecting his old x-rays in the computer, when
her attending came up behind her. "Whatcha got?" Dr.
Gross asked.

"Umm, 38-year-old male. Presented as a weak-and-dizzy,
but there's more to it. Has had some sort of
gastrointestinal distress for the past 48 hours,
slight temp, dehydration, the normal. But about 2
months ago he suffered some sort of acute lung
infection, and now he has a slight wheeze and a
borderline pulse ox."

"And what's this?" the older doctor asked, pointing at
the computer screen.

"Chest x-ray from 7 weeks ago. Dr. Levy is his primary
for the lung infection."

Dr. Gross studied the image closely. "What _is_ that
in his lungs?" he finally asked.

"Beetle larvae," Lily said, practically ducking in
anticipation of the response she was sure was coming.

"WHAT did you say?" Gross asked, not disappointing

"You heard me. He inhaled the eggs somehow, and they
gestated in his lungs."

"And he lived to tell the tale?"

"Sure did. They killed them with a massive dose of
nicotine, then suctioned them out."

"Oh, wow, that's one for the books," her attending
told her. "Let me read his chart from today," he said.

Lily handed it to him cautiously. She had a feeling
she knew where this was going, and she didn't like it
one bit. She felt rather protective, rather
territorial about Fox Mulder.

"IV normal saline, 4 liters O-2 by cannula? That's all
you've done for him?" the attending asked--but he
phrased it accusatorily.

Don't get defensive, Lily reminded herself.

"I've got a slew of blood work running right now. He
couldn't produce a urine sample, so we'll try again
after he's somewhat rehydrated. I don't see what else
there is to do at this point."

"A nebulizer treatment for one," the man said.

"I planned to look at the new x-rays before medicating
him. I'm not convinced there is a pulmonary problem

Dr. Gross snorted almost in disgust. "Look at that
x-ray, Lily! How can you say there's no pulmonary
problem here?"

"That's almost two months ago," she reminded him.
"I'll compare today's with the set from a week ago
that's in here, then take it from there."

The attending scratched his chin thoughtfully for a
moment. "This can get awfully complicated, Lily. Maybe
I should take it from here."

"No!" Lily protested. "I know him,"

"You _know_ him?" the doctor accused.

"No, not really. I met him once years ago, but that's
not what I meant. I know his symptoms, his case, I've
built up a rapport with him and his partner."

"We're not here to build rapports, Lily! How many
times do I have to tell you that? Treat 'em and street
'em. That's the order of the day down here."

"Well, that may work for you, but it doesn't for,"
Lily didn't get a chance to finish her sentence. The
desk clerk pulled the phone away from her ear and
called her name.

"Lily? That weak and dizzy you had in two? Mulder?
X-ray's on the line. He's in there puking."

Lily looked at her boss expectantly. He had a dilemma
now. Did he really want to claim the interesting case
for himself if it involved dealing with annoyed x-ray
techs and a vomiting patient? Or would he back off?

"Keep me in the loop," Gross told her. Lily smiled.
She knew he wouldn't want to deal with it.

"I'll be in X-ray," she announced to no one in

+ + + + +

continued in (2/2)


disclaimed, etc., in part 1

When Lily arrived in Radiology, with a shot of
Compazine at-the-ready, she found Mulder sitting on
the table dry-heaving into an emesis bowl.

"Hey Kate," she said to the technologist. "He make a

"Nah, he gave me plenty of warning. Just thought you'd
want to know."

"Yeah, thanks," she said as she approached the man. He
seemed to be done when she reached his side, and was
just breathing heavily with the bowl still at his
chin. "Are you done?" she asked him simply.

He lowered the basin. "Yeah, I think so. Fuck."

Lily looked in the bowl. "You're not bringing much up,
Mulder," she told him.

"Not much _to_ bring up," he reminded her.

"True. I've got some Compazine here, which should help
with the nausea."

"Do I have to?" he asked.

Lily was taken aback. "But why wouldn't you?"

"I dunno," he sighed. "Just sick and tired of the
drugs, too."

"Well, here's the deal," she explained. "You are
extremely dehydrated, as anyone can see, and that IV
isn't going to be enough. You won't be properly
rehydrated until you can keep something in your
stomach. And we've got to stop the nausea so that can
happen, right?"

The young woman watched as understanding, then
resignation spread across his face. "Yeah, okay," he
finally said.

"Excellent," she told him. "I need a hip, so could you
lean to one side for me?"

He did, and she quickly injected the drug. "That'll
take a few minutes to take effect. You tell Kate when
you think you're ready to continue, okay?"

"I'm okay," he said. "Let's just get this over with."

She left as Kate was positioning her patient for one
of his chest films.

+ + + + +

Lily had used the time to check up on another patient,
and by the time she was done she was sure Mulder was
back in his treatment room. She checked for his
x-rays, found them, and headed in. As she approached
the curtained enclosure she heard a very familiar
voice talking to her patient. It was Dr. Gross, her
attending. She only caught the tail end of what he was

". . . very young. I just thought, given the special
circumstances of your case and your condition, that
you'd be more comfortable with someone more

The _bastard!_. The largest part of her wanted to pull
the curtain aside and call her superior just that. The
smaller, more sensible side of her knew that could be
a huge mistake. She didn't know what to do.

But then, to her amazement, Mulder settled the issue
for her. "Well, you thought wrong, doctor," he said
quietly. "I like Lily; Dr. Cho. I'm quite comfortable
with her. And I think Dr. Scully is, too. Scully?"

Lily didn't hear Scully say anything, so the young
doctor could only assume that she had nodded her
agreement. She couldn't stop the huge grin that spread
across her face at what she was overhearing.

At the same time, though, she knew enough not to burn
any bridges--she still had several more years in this
Emergency Department working for and with Dr. Gross.
She quickly turned and headed back into the hallway.
Once there, she merely turned around and walked back
into the room as if she'd never been there at all.

"Oh, Dr. Gross!" she said with mock surprise upon
seeing him there. Then she turned to Mulder. "I've got
your x-rays," she told him, and walked past her
superior to the light box on the wall. The first one
up was the abdominal film, which showed nothing, just
as she knew it would. She pulled it off without
comment, and put up the chest films. She heard the
steps, and knew Gross was standing behind her--far
enough away so that it wasn't obvious he was looking
over her shoulder, but close enough that he could do
just that.

Lily studied the x-rays for a long moment, saying
nothing. Then she turned back toward her patient and
ignored her superior. "I need to compare them a little
closer, but these look pretty much the same as the
last set in your records. Those were from last week,
weren't they?"

"Uh huh," Mulder said tiredly. Scully walked over and
looked at the x-rays herself. Lily noted that Dr.
Gross stayed in his spot and said nothing.

"Well, there is an empirical number we can get. There
are spirometry readings in your chart. I can get
respiratory in here and get a lung capacity
measurement, and then we'll know for sure, okay?"

"I hate those things, but okay."

"I bet it hurts," Lily sympathized.

"Not as much as it used to," her patient admitted.
"But it's still not fun."

Finally Dr. Gross couldn't resist. "A nebulizer
treatment wouldn't hurt," he offered up.

Lily saw her patient's eyes go wide. "No way," he said
quickly. "Not unless I absolutely have to."

"Why not, Mr. Mulder?" her attending approached the
bed as he spoke, and Lily seethed as she watched.

"That stuff makes my head spin. I hate it."

"It's perfectly safe, and if we can open up your
breathing passages some more you'll be much more

"They're not closed. Don't you think I'd know by now
if they were? No."

"Well, you're not getting sufficient oxygen on room
air, Mr. Mulder. There has to be a reason for that."

"No," Lily's patient insisted with a determined look
on his face. She looked at Dr. Gross and saw him
beginning to flush; he was getting angry. She looked
at Dr. Scully, and the look on her face was remarkably
placid. She sensed that a battle of wills was in the
offing here, and that neither man would back down. It
was her job to be her patient's advocate, and she
agreed with him. She didn't think the treatment was
necessary. Not yet, anyway. But at the same time, she
didn't want to cross her boss, the man who would be
evaluating her performance and determining her future
in just a matter of weeks.

"Tell you what," she said, stepping slightly in
between the two men. "Why don't we wait until the
blood tests come back, and see what they say. And get
that lung capacity reading. Okay?" She addressed the
question to Mulder, to make it appear to Dr. Gross
that she was taking his side. She turned to face the
older doctor. "It should only be a few minutes."

"Okay," the doctor agreed. "Okay. I'll see you later,"
he told Mulder, and left the room.

"I hope not," Mulder said under his breath at the
retreating man.

Lily chuckled. "Don't worry about him. He's okay."

"He's an asshole. He tried to take over. Before you
got back."

"I know, I overheard. Thanks for sticking up for me."

Mulder grinned. "Why didn't you say something when you
came in?"

"Diplomacy," Scully offered, drawing both doctor and
patient's attention to her. "The one person you don't
want to piss off when you're a resident is your
attending. Right?"

Lily smiled. "Right." She turned back to Mulder "I'm
gonna go find your test results. But you, sir, still
need to do something for me." She picked up a urine
collection kit and handed it to him, garnering an
exaggerated eye-roll from her patient. But he sat up
and took it.

+ + + + +

Lily actually made the walk to the lab to get Mulder's
blood work. She had to wait, but it was worth it. She
didn't want the labs to come back to the desk and let
Dr. Gross grab them out from under her.

She found herself wondering why she was being so
fierce about this particular patient. It wasn't as if
she was truly intrigued by the medical oddities of the
lung condition--she frankly didn't much care. She felt
confident in the level of care she could provide, and
didn't appreciate being second-guessed, it was true.
But that wasn't it, either.

It was him; Mulder. She had to admit to herself that
she wouldn't be this assertive and underhanded about
just any patient. But there was something about him.
She couldn't put a finger on it, but there was
definitely something about him.

The lab technician handed her the test results, and
she headed back to the ER.

+ + + + +

"Hey, I just talked to the respiratory therapist,"
Lily told Mulder when she reentered his curtained


"Lung volume is only slightly decreased over last
week's readings."


"Well, I can't say for sure--that's for a specialist
to say. But I will say that the drop in the numbers
isn't anything beyond what I'd expect from anyone who
has had the stomach flu for two days. You're sick, so
you're not working out your lungs. Makes sense to me."

"Me, too. So I can go?" Mulder sat up straight in
anticipation of the answer he'd been hoping for.

"Not so fast," Lily admonished. "I'm officially not
worried about your lungs, but the rest? It has me very

Lily saw Scully's eyebrows arch, and Mulder slump
dejectedly back onto the inclined head of the gurney.
"What rest?" he said finally.

The doctor walked over to the EKG monitor in the room
and pulled it toward the bed. As she did she saw her
patient shift uncomfortably. "Your electrolytes are
completely screwed up," she told him. "Undoubtedly
from the dehydration. You're suffering from
hypernatremia, but what's most concerning is the

Mulder scrubbed his face with his hand. "English,
Lily, please!" he said exasperatedly.

"The sodium concentration in your blood is way too
high, and the potassium level is way too low. Clear
enough?" She pulled his hospital gown down off his
shoulders and started to attach the EKG leads. "One
expects these levels to be somewhat off when you have
the stomach flu like you do, but not this off.
Especially the potassium. Have you felt any twitches
in your muscles, or weakness?"

"Some weakness, yeah, but I just thought it was from
being sick. No twitches, though. What's this for?"
Mulder asked, motioning toward the heart monitor.

"Well," Lily started, "abnormal potassium levels can
affect the heart rhythm. So we need to do an EKG to
make sure everything is okay. And we need to keep you
on the monitor while we bring the potassium level back
up, because if we do it too quickly it can affect the
heart as well."

"Oh," Mulder said quietly. "So are you trying to tell
me I'm not going home?"

The young woman smiled sympathetically at her patient.
"I am. Sorry, Mulder, but we really really need to
keep an eye on these things." The man just nodded. "If
you'd waited much longer to come in you really could
have been in trouble. You could have had a seizure, or
gone into a coma. You're lucky."

Mulder let out a breath. "No, I don't think I am," he

That statement tugged a little at Lily's heart. Poor
guy. Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, isn't
that what he'd said? "Look, I'm sorry about all this.
But we'll keep you on the anti-nausea medicine through
the night, we'll keep pumping you with fluid to
eradicate the dehydration and dilute the sodium, we'll
give you some potassium, and by tomorrow you'll feel
like a new man. Okay?"

Mulder apparently couldn't help but smile slightly.
"Is that a promise, doctor?" he asked.

"Just a figure of speech. I do have good news,
though," she said.

"Oh, what's that?"

"No nebulizer treatment! Asthma inhalers can adversely
affect the body's absorption of potassium. When did
you stop using an inhaler?"

"I was taking prescribed hits off them several times a
day up until last week."

"And that might explain why the potassium level is
lower than we'd expect. But I'm not letting that stuff
near you until Dr. Levy has had a chance to look
things over."

"Has he been notified?" Scully asked. It was the first
time she'd said anything in a while, Lily realized.

"Yes. His office has been notified that Mulder's being
admitted, and he's been asked to come in to see him
first thing tomorrow." Lily turned her attention back
to her patient. "We'll be keeping you on oxygen until
then, too. Sorry."

"Stop apologizing, Dr. Cho," the patient advised.

"Sorry..." She realized she'd done it again and
blushed. "Oh, um, well, never mind. I just keep
thinking about what you said to me earlier about
feeling sick and tired."

"Yeah, well then, my young doctor, make it stop."

"I'm working on it, I'm working on it."

+ + + + +

Non o'clock and her shift was over. Lily checked the
computer to find his room number and headed up to Fox
Mulder's room. The lights were off, but the TV was on,
and she wasn't sure what that meant.

"Hey there," the patient said when he saw her form in
the doorway. "Turn on the lights and come on in."

Lily flipped the switch for the low light at the head
of the bed, and the first thing she noticed was that
he was alone. "Where's your friend?" she asked.

"Scully? I sent her home. She hovers."

"Good thing for you that she does." Out of habit Lily
let her eyes scan the visual evidence of his
treatment. The heart monitor showed sinus rhythm; the
pulse oximeter showed the oxygen level of his blood
was at 99%; There were two bags of solution hanging on
his IV pole, one containing potassium chloride, she
knew. "How're you feeling?"

"Better, I suppose. Chicken broth and Jell-O for
dinner, but it hasn't made a reappearance. Sit down."
His voice was devoid of inflection, as if he was
giving a report about someone else. He turned on his
side to face the vacant chair, and fitted his arm
under his head.

Lily did sit, and spent a moment just looking at the
patient before her. Though a tall man, he looked oddly
small in the bed, hunkered down under the blankets the
way he was. He seemed as if he'd resigned himself to
being ill.

"What?" he finally said, breaking her reverie. That
was the second time he'd done that to her.

"Nothing." She paused and decided to just ask. "You

Mulder stared intently at her for a moment, then
relaxed and shrugged almost imperceptibly. "Yeah," he
sighed finally. "Just sick and tired."

"Hey, don't worry. You'll probably be out of here
tomorrow some time." Her patient smiled slightly at

"That's not it. I don't want to be here, hooked to all
this crap, sure." He showed her his hand, with the
pulse oximeter clip attached to the index finger. "But
the most disheartening part is that I'm used to it.
It's no big deal any more."

Lily thought about that for a second. In the ER she
often encountered chronically ill people, who spent so
much time in hospitals she sometimes thought they knew
more about how they worked than she did. But this guy
was different. He was young, vital, healthy. Hospitals
shouldn't be routine for him, even with an apparently
dangerous job. She didn't know what to say to him in

"Were you hospitalized for a long time with the lung .
. ." she suddenly didn't know what to call it.
Infestation? Infection? So she settled for the
inelegant ". . . thing?"

Mulder laughed once, sort of. "The lung thing," he
repeated to himself quietly. "Yeah, yeah I was," he
answered finally. "Close to three weeks."

"Well, then, it's only been about a month since you
saw the inside of a hospital. Who can blame you?"

"It's only been about a week, Lily. I was wandering
these halls just last week, as I've been doing twice a
week since I got released from the hospital in North
Carolina. I'm just tired of all of it. You don't mind
that I call you Lily, do you?"

The nonsequitor caught Lily by surprise, and she felt
her cheeks begin to flush. "No, I don't mind," she
said somewhat shyly. "The lung thing--what was it
like?" She'd been trying to imagine since she read
about it, and while he was being candid she decided to
take the opportunity to ask. But she watched Mulder
shift in the bed, and immediately regretted it. The
question seemed to make him uncomfortable.

He was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Have
you ever been in a situation where you can't breathe?"

Lily thought for a minute. "Like when you're swimming
under water too long, and you realize that your lungs
are completely out of oxygen so you have to race to
the surface or you think they're gonna burst?"

Mulder nodded. "Yeah, something like that. Just
imagine having that feeling, and no matter how hard
and fast you swim to the surface, you never make it."
He reached up and pensively touched the nasal cannula
still feeding him oxygen.

"Drowning," he finally said. "Yeah, that's what it
felt like. It felt like drowning. You know it's
happening. You can feel it. But you can't do anything
to make it stop. The more you try to breathe, the
worse it becomes."

Lily shuddered. "It must have been horrifying."

"I've been shot, I've been in a coma, I've crashed
cars." He said the last with a nod of acknowledgement
to her. "But I've never felt anything like that. And
I've never been more scared in my life." He let that
admission sit between them for a moment, before he
added, "And if you tell Scully I said that, I'll

"Why?" Lily asked. "You guys seem really close."

"We are, we are. But she worries too much. She worries
enough without me adding to it."

Lily nodded. "Is that why you make light of it?"

Her patient arched his eyebrows at that. "You noticed.
Yeah, I suppose so."

"She notices too, you know," Lily informed him.

Mulder sighed. "Yeah, I know. It's an unspoken thing
between us. I know she's worrying. She knows I'm
trying to keep her from worrying. It works for us."

"If you say so," Lily said with a smile. She looked at
her watch and was surprised to see how long she'd been
sitting there. She stood up. "You need to get some
sleep. I'm going to tell the nurses to leave you
alone. There's no need to wake you in the middle of
the night to check your vitals--not with all this
stuff," she said, motioning toward the EKG and pulse
ox readings.

Mulder nodded to her. "Thanks."

"No problem at all. I'm on tomorrow, so I'll try to
drop in and see how you're doing."

"I'd like that," he said, making the doctor start to
blush yet again. She was thankful for the dimness in
the room as she turned toward the door. She was almost
there when he spoke again. "Lily?"

She turned back to him. "Yeah?"

"You hang on to your bedside manner, okay?"

This time she blushed in earnest, and she knew he
could see it. "That's a promise," she said. "Good

"Night," he said, and she could hear the fatigue in
his voice. She flipped off the light, but then thought
of one more thing.

"Mulder?" she asked tentatively.


"Just don't send me any more flowers, okay? I never
lived it down the last time."

She could hear him laugh in the dark. "That's a
promise," he said, and she quietly closed the door.


"I'm convinced it's somewhere between |
conversation, chocolate, and dancing." |
--Mel Gibson, when asked what women want |
X-Files fic? |
Emergency! fic? Only a couple, at | |