Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2000

Through the Door

By Peggy

August 24, 2000

Disclaimer: All things X-Files belong to Fox and 1013.
But if they don't quit screwin' around with them, that
might have to change!

Spoilers: Chimera

Category: MT, some mild shippiness (or so I've been

Rating: PG-13

Feedback: Gleefully accepted at

Archive: Sure, if you want.

Author's Notes: Thanks to my usual gang of
friends/editors/nitpickers. This story is dedicated to
anyone who's ever said, "If I have to read one more
Requiem post-ep I will lose my mind!" I feel your
pain, people!

Summary: Oh God, I hate summaries. I never know what
to say. Um, okay, let's see. Mulder gets hurt. Like
the guy that he is he decides that "I'll just ignore it
and it'll go away on it's own" is the best treatment
plan. He's wrong.

Pronunciation Guide: parenchyma (par-reng-ka-mah)
What the heck does it mean? Read the story and you'll
find out.


The blood startled him.

His back had ached fiercely ever since Ellen Adderly's
'inner beast' tossed him through the heavy wooden
bathroom door. Had Scully been there she'd have
insisted on a hospital visit and then put him to bed
with an ice pack and a mega-dose of painkillers. But he
didn't have time for that. It was a messy case and
wrapping it up had been time consuming. He'd gathered
his things from the Adderlys' home and checked into a
motel well after midnight, falling into bed exhausted.
He'd been up with the dawn and spent the day running
from police station to crime scene to mental hospital
and back again. He didn't have time to baby his back.
So he'd popped Advil every few hours and tried not to
think too much about it.

Finally, almost twenty-four hours after he'd climbed
out of the bathtub and wrapped a towel around Ellen's
shivering body, Mulder was able to relax. Too tired to
even think about flying home, he went back to the
motel, had a tasteless dinner courtesy of room service,
made a quick call to Scully and decided to call it a
night. Standing in front of the toilet, almost swaying
with fatigue, he glanced down and saw it. The bowl was
full of blood.

He stared at it for a long moment, confused and a
little scared. Where the hell had that come from? He
knew what it probably meant: bruised kidneys. It wasn't
the first time he'd been banged around on the job,
after all. But why hadn't he noticed it before now? Had
there been blood in his urine all day? He tried to
remember, but couldn't. The previous night he'd been
exhausted, didn't even bother to turn on the bathroom
light. In the morning, he'd been only slightly less
tired and didn't have his contacts in. During the
course of the day he'd been in public restrooms a few
times but had obeyed proper men's room etiquette: look
at the wall and nothing but the wall.

Mulder briefly considered calling Scully back and
asking her opinion. But he knew where that would lead:
the local emergency room. Only Scully could browbeat
someone into submission from seven states away. He'd
had blood in his urine before and it had always gone
away after a day or two. It would go away after a day
or two this time. It wasn't worth getting excited
about, he decided, and he was too damn tired to worry
about it. Flushing away the damning evidence, Mulder
climbed into the shower and tried not to think any more
about it.

Four days later he was still bleeding.


"Mulder, are you feeling all right? You look pale."

"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little tired." He kept his eyes
on the file he was reading as he spoke, trying to sound
nonchalant and silently begging her to believe him. The
truth was, he felt like crap. He was constantly
exhausted, his back hurt, he had no appetite, he got
horribly dizzy if he bent over or moved too quickly and
he'd been nursing a headache for almost thirty-six
hours. Part of him wanted to admit everything, sit back
and let Dr. Scully take care of him, but he was
absolutely terrified of what she'd do to him if he did
confess. He hated how shrill she got when she was
pissed at him, hated the long-suffering sighs, the
disappointed looks. No matter how lousy he felt it was
best he kept it to himself. Besides, he reasoned, the
bleeding had to stop soon. Didn't it?

"Mulder?" She was at his side, shaking him. Oh shit.
He'd zoned out.

"What?" He put on his most charmingly befuddled look.

"I asked you if you'd been having trouble sleeping.
Asked you three times, in fact."

"Sorry. I was engrossed in this file."

"You haven't turned a page in 5 minutes." She was
staring at him as if he were a bug under a microscope.
"You're sick aren't you?"

"No," he protested. "I told you, I'm just tired. You
know me and my insomnia. It's no big deal."

"Mulder," Her voice took on the 'don't mess with me'
tone he knew so well.

"Okay, maybe I have a touch of the flu or something,"
he hedged. "But I'm fine. Really." He knew it was a
mistake as soon as he said it but there was no taking
the words back.

"The flu?" Her voice, and her eyebrow, both rose. "If
you have the flu, Mulder, you should be home in bed."

"I didn't say I had the flu. I said maybe I had a touch
of the flu."

"And that's different how?"

"It's, I'm not ... " he floundered for a comeback. Oh
God, he was going to lose this argument. She was going
to drag his ass to the hospital, the truth was going to
come out and then he'd have to endure the wrath of
Scully. Again. When faced with a no-win situation, the
best tactical maneuver was retreat. He gathered up the
scattered contents of the file he'd been pretending to
read and bolted for the door.

"Where the hell are you going?"

"To see Skinner. He asked me to look over this file as
a favor. Violent Crimes is getting nowhere and the
killer is escalating. I need to run a couple things by
him, and I'd like to see the last crime scene for

"Mulder, if you're sick ..." she moved toward the door as
if to block him but he beat her there and pushed

"I'm fine, Scully. Really. I'll see you later." He fled
down the hall as fast as his shaking legs would carry


It hadn't exactly been a lie, he reasoned later.
Skinner did ask him to review the case. He did need to
run a couple things by his boss. And he would have
liked to see the crime scene, but it was in rural
Kentucky. What Scully didn't know wouldn't hurt her,
and would save his own sorry ass. So, after a brief ten
minute meeting with Skinner, Mulder had retreated to
the research library and spent the afternoon in an
isolated corner, sound asleep and drooling with his
head cushioned on a thick volume about cult activity in

It was nearly 6:00 when he finally returned to the
office. His plan was to grab his jacket and his keys
and go straight home to bed. In spite of his long nap,
he still felt exhausted and shaky and the chills that
had plagued him for the past two days were back with a
vengeance. The office was dark and quiet. Scully was
long gone just as he'd hoped she would be. He shut down
his computer, gathered his things and headed for the
parking garage. He'd have made a clean getaway if not
for one thing: his partner was leaning against his car
with a grim smile on her face.

"It's about damn time," she muttered. "I thought you
were going to spend the whole night in the library."

"You knew?"

"Of course I knew. I have spies everywhere, Mulder. Now
hand over those keys because you are in no shape to

"Scullee," he whined.

She held out her hand. "The keys."

"Okay, fine." He slapped them into her palm with a
resigned sigh.

"Thank you." Scully took his arm and led him away from
his vehicle toward hers, parked just a couple rows
away. "I'm going to drive you home, Mulder. And when we
get there, I'm going to examine you."

"Aw, Scully, come on! That's not necessary."

"I'm going to examine you," she continued calmly, "and
you're going to let me. And if I'm not satisfied that
it's just a 'touch of the flu' you are going to the
emergency room."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, Mulder, you are. If I feel it's necessary. Don't
waste your energy fighting me on this. You know I'm
going to win in the end."

She was right. She would win in the end, and he knew
it. He was just too tired to fight her anyway. He sank
into the passenger seat of her Taurus with a weary
sigh, wrapped his coat more firmly around himself --
God, he couldn't even remember the last time he'd been
warm -- and was asleep before they left the parking

He woke up in the hospital.


He was flat on his back on a gurney. There were cardiac
monitor patches stuck to his chest, a pulse oximeter
clipped to his left index finger, an IV in each arm and
-- oh damn -- he was catheterized.

"You were unconscious," Scully was at his side before
he even had a chance to look for her. "When we got to
your apartment, I couldn't wake you. Your skin was cold
as ice and you were totally unresponsive, so I drove
you here."

"Alexandria Memorial?" he managed to croak.

"Yes." She raised the head of the gurney a few inches,
produced a small Styrofoam cup and helped him take a
sip of water. "So, now are you ready to admit that
something is wrong?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Good, and while you're at it, maybe you can explain
this." Scully stepped to the foot of the gurney and
hoisted a plastic urine collection bag into view. There
wasn't much fluid in it, but what was there was bright

"I, uh, well ... " Mulder looked everywhere but at his

"Mulder, you're severely dehydrated, your blood
pressure is incredibly low, your body temperature is
96.4, there's an enormous bruise on your lower back and
there's blood in your urine. I can't even begin to
imagine what the results of your blood tests are going
to show. What the hell happened to you?"

Resigned to his fate, he told her the truth. "I got
thrown through a door."

"You what?!" She clipped the catheter bag to the side
of the gurney and came back to stand beside him. "When
did this happen, Mulder? Last night? What were you

"It wasn't last night," he said quietly. "It happened
in Vermont, the Crittenden murder case. When the
suspect attacked me."

"That was almost a week ago! Has there been blood in
your urine all this time?" She was on the verge of that
shrill tone he hated so much.

"Well, um, yeah." He was careful to keep his eyes well
away from her face as he admitted it.

"Why on earth didn't you tell me, Mulder?"

"I thought it would stop on its own. I've had bruised
kidneys before and it stopped on its own after a day or
two. I thought it would do the same thing."

"But when you saw that it didn't, why didn't you tell
me then?"

"I don't know." He was picking at a loose thread on the
blanket that covered him. He felt, and suspected that
he looked, like a ten-year-old waiting for a lecture
from his mother. "The longer I waited the harder it was
to tell you. I knew you'd be pissed. No pun intended."

She smiled humorlessly.

"And I guess I just didn't want to wind up, well," he
gestured around the room, "here."

"But here you are."

"Here I am," he sighed dispiritedly. He fell silent,
concentrated all his attention on worrying that loose
thread, and waited for the inevitable explosion. When
it didn't come, he hazarded a glance toward Scully. To
his amazement and relief her expression wasn't so much
annoyed as it was worried, and maybe even a little bit

"Oh, Mulder," she sighed, stilling his nervous hands
with one of hers. "What am I gonna do with you?"

"I could come up with a couple suggestions," he replied

"I'm sure you could," she graced him with an amused
smile. "Now," she gave his hand a squeeze and then
released it. "I'm going to go find the doctor and let
him know you're awake."


"Through the door?" The doctor's eyebrows climbed
toward his hairline. "You mean into the door, right?"

"No, I mean through it."

Dr. Randolph whistled in amazement. "The guy who
attacked you must have been huge!"

Mulder smiled noncommittally, unwilling to admit that
his assailant was, in fact, a 120-pound woman. It was
true that she was a woman who transformed into a
slavering mutant with razor sharp claws and the
strength of ten men. But she was a 120-pound woman

Mercifully, the doctor didn't pursue the subject.
"Well, Mr. Mulder, that certainly explains the size of
the bruise on your back. When you got here, we weren't
exactly sure what had happened to you, but based on
that bruise and the blood in your urine, we treated you
as if you had blunt abdominal trauma. Guess it's a good
thing we did."

"Yeah, I guess so." Mulder plucked uncomfortably at the
IV line taped to his left arm. "So is that why I'm
trussed up like a turkey? And what's next on the

The doctor laughed as he pulled up a stool and sat
down. "Yeah, that's why you're trussed up like a
turkey. You were unresponsive, dehydrated and mildly
hypothermic and we didn't know why. Once we saw the
bruise and got a catheter in you we started to figure
it out but we still had to cover all the bases. We did
an EKG, drew some blood, got a urine sample and started
getting some fluid into you. I also ordered a CT scan
of the abdomen. They should be coming to get you for
that any minute now. We'll have a better idea of what
we're dealing with when all the test results come back
but I have a sneaking suspicion you've got a small
laceration to one of your kidneys."

"That sounds serious." Mulder groped for Scully's hand
and she gave him a reassuring squeeze.

"It is serious," the doctor admitted. "But how serious
depends on the type of laceration. Based on that fact
that it took you almost a week to keel over, I'm
betting it's very small and will eventually heal on its
own without surgical intervention. But as I said, we'll
know more once we get the test results. By the time you
get back from CT, we should have the results of your
lab work. We'll talk some more then. In the meantime,
how are you feeling? Are you having any pain?"

"My back hurts some," Mulder acknowledged. "But it's
not unbearable. And I feel like crap, basically. Tired,
dizzy and I've got a killer headache."

Dr. Randolph smiled sympathetically. "I'm betting
you've had decreased urine output too."
Mulder nodded.

"Have you been really thirsty but had no appetite?"


"Any fainting spells before today?"

"No, but I've been really dizzy a couple times."

"Probably more so when you bend over or stand up too
quickly," the doctor guessed.

"You got it."

"Any ringing in your ears?"


"Difficulty sustaining an erection?"

"What?!" Mulder sat bolt upright in bed and then sank
back with a groan as he was overcome by a wave of

"Mulder, lie still," Scully admonished, placing a
restraining hand on his chest.

"Oh God, everything's spinning," he moaned. "Make it
stop, Scully."

"Close your eyes," she said gently, her hand still
firmly on his chest. "Take some slow, deep breaths.
It'll pass."

It did and he opened his eyes cautiously. "Remind me
not to do that again."

"I will." Scully released him and moved back a step.

"Sorry about that, Mr. Mulder." Dr. Randolph looked
somewhat more amused than sorry. "But it was a
legitimate question. Impotency is one of the signs of
chronic blood loss. Reduced blood volume, reduced blood
flow ..."

"I get the idea," Mulder interrupted. "And the answer
is no." He hesitated for a long moment and then
sheepishly admitted, "Well, I think the answer is no.
It's been a long week, Doc. And I haven't exactly felt
my best and, well." He shrugged helplessly.

"I understand completely, Mr. Mulder." Dr. Randolph
rose from his seat. "I'm going to order something for
that headache and see what's keeping radiology and I'll
see you back here in an hour or so okay?"

"I'll be here," Mulder said dryly, gesturing an arm to
encompass all the tubes and wires that chained him to
the bed.


Aside from the fact that Mark, the CT technologist, and
Dr. Patel, the radiology resident on call, were clearly
in the midst of a lover's quarrel, the next hour passed
fairly quietly. Mulder was back in the ER, curled up on
the gurney and half asleep when Dr. Randolph reappeared
accompanied by a man he introduced as Dr. Marzetti, the
urologist on call.

"Got all the test results back," Randolph announced,
holding up the chart he carried.

Mulder forced his eyes open and squinted against the
bright overhead lights. Whatever he'd been given for
his headache had helped, but not much. "And?" he
questioned wearily.

"And you do indeed have a laceration to your right
kidney, which is why I asked Dr. Marzetti to come talk
to you. The good news is that the laceration is a minor
one. According to the radiologist's report it barely
qualifies as a Grade I tear, the parenchyma is not
affected and ... "

"Wait a minute," Mulder held up a restraining hand.
Scully clearly understood what the other man was
talking about and seemed pleased by it but as far as
Mulder was concerned the doctor might as well have been
speaking Swahili. "Grade II? Parenka-what?"

Dr. Randolph smiled. "Sorry. Forgot you're not fluent
in doctor speak. I'll try to stick to English from now
on, okay?"

"I'd appreciate it."

Dr. Marzetti spoke up. "Kidney lacerations are
classified Grade I through Grade IV based on the depth
of the laceration and the type of tissue involved.
Grade II heals on its own nearly 100% of the time."

"So no surgery?"

"Barring unexpected complications, I can almost
guarantee you won't need surgery. The parenchyma," he
continued as Mulder sighed in relief, "is the
functional part of the organ, the part that actually
does the work the kidney is supposed to do. In your
case, only the outer surface of the kidney is torn. The
laceration doesn't go deep enough to affect the

"And that's good?"

"That's very good," the urologist reassured him and
Scully nodded in agreement. "The deeper the laceration,
the more damage to the functional part of the kidney.
The more damage, the longer it takes to heal and the
more likely you are to need surgery.

"So now what? When do I get out of here?"

"I'd say anywhere from three to five days. Maybe even a

"What?!" Mulder resisted the urge to sit up in outrage,
remembering what it had done to his equilibrium the
last time. "But you just said I didn't need surgery."

"Mulder," Scully's voice was soothing as she hitched
her chair a bit closer to his bed and took his hand,
threading her fingers through his. "Calm down and
listen to what they have to say."

Mulder groaned in frustration. "Okay, okay. Go ahead,

"Mr. Mulder, you are in no shape to go home," the
urologist said firmly. "The laceration will heal
without surgery, but you need bed rest and IV
antibiotics in order for that to take place. In
addition, you've been bleeding for a week and your body
is feeling the effects. You're dehydrated, hypothermic
and anemic."

"Your red blood cell levels are low as are your
hemoglobin and hematacrit," Dr. Randolph chimed in,
leafing through Mulder's chart as he spoke. "Hemoglobin
is the part of the blood that carries oxygen to your
body so as you can imagine having low hemoglobin level
is serious. A normal hemoglobin is 8 or above. Yours is
just barely 5. That's very low. The same with your
hematacrit, which measures how much of your blood
volume is actually composed of cells. It's a little
below 20, again very low. As long as you continue to
bleed, these numbers are only going to get worse. Dr.
Marzetti and I are in agreement that you need a blood
transfusion and fluids to correct the anemia and
dehydration. And since prolonged blood loss and anemia
can affect the heart and the respiratory system we need
to keep you on a heart monitor and keep track of the
percentage of oxygen in your blood and your blood
pressure which is also a bit low, I might add."

"My heart?" Mulder was getting scared again.

"Is fine," Scully reassured him. "You had an EKG while
you were unconscious and it looked perfectly normal."

"It did," Dr. Randolph agreed. "And I'm sure it will
stay that way. You're young and otherwise healthy. The
monitor is strictly a precaution. Now, I'm going to
hand you over to Dr. Marzetti who will be in charge of
you from here on in. You take care, Mr. Mulder and good

Mulder knew he should thank Dr. Randolph and that he
should pay attention to the in-depth conversation that
Scully had started with Dr. Marzetti but his head was
pounding again and he couldn't stand to keep his eyes
open any longer. He curled onto his side, tugged the
blanket firmly under his chin and allowed himself to
slip into a foggy state somewhere between asleep and

He vaguely heard terms like packed red cells versus
plasma, Rh factors and normal saline but made no
attempt to understand what they meant or how they
related to him. His head hurt, he was tired, and he was
secure in the knowledge that Scully would take care of

Things moved rapidly from that point on. He was
transferred to a room in the progressive care unit. PCU
was a step down from ICU but a step up from a regular
room on the medical floor, he was told. He'd be staying
there until the results of his blood tests were stable
and the cardiac monitor was no longer necessary. The
first hour of his admission was a flurry of activity.
He was given IV medications: something for nausea, a
powerful antibiotic plus several others that no one
bothered to explain. Since Scully raised no objection,
he assumed everything was fine and didn't ask for
details. Instead he resumed the semi-fetal position
that seemed to relieve his back pain and did his best
to sleep. He was roused a few minutes later when a lab
tech came to draw more blood.

"But I thought I didn't have enough blood," he
protested. "Why do they keep taking more?" Scully
started to explain but he drifted back to sleep while
she was still talking. The pain of the needle pricking
his skin didn't even register.

Soon after that, someone -- a nurse, a doctor, he was
never really sure -- shook him awake and launched into
a lengthy and detailed explanation about blood
transfusions, how they were done, the risks involved
and how possible reactions were treated. Mulder lasted
all of five minutes before drifting off again. The
woman -- she was a persistent little thing, he thought
to himself -- shook him awake again.

"Mr. Mulder, it's important for you to pay attention to
this," she told him somewhat impatiently.
"We need an informed consent to give you a

"Scully'll do it," he mumbled sleepily, wrapping the
blankets a little tighter around himself. He smiled as
he heard Scully move forward and insert herself between
him and the annoying woman with the clipboard.

"I'm a medical doctor," he heard her saying as he
drifted back to sleep. "I have his power of attorney."


Mulder was momentarily disoriented when he woke.
Hospital, he soon remembered. Kidney laceration. Blood
transfusion. He raised his head off the pillow and
peered around the dimly lit room. There was Scully,
slumped in a plastic chair just a few feet away. Her
arms were folded, her chin was on her chest and she was

He called her name softly and she startled awake.
"Hey," she said with a smile.

"Hey yourself. What time is it?" Then he noticed a
small clock mounted on the wall a foot over her head.
"1:30? In the morning?"

"Yes." She rose and stretched hugely. They both winced
as her back issued a series of loud pops. "How are you
feeling, Mulder?" she asked as she approached the bed.

He had to think about that one for a minute. "Better,"
he finally decided. "Still really tired but not as weak
and my headache is finally gone."

"You look better," she told him, plucking a clipboard
off the foot of his bed and studying it.

"You're not nearly as pale as you were. And between the
IV fluid they've been pumping into you and the unit of
blood, you should be feeling a lot better. Your last
set of vitals signs showed a big improvement. Your
blood pressure is up; your temperature is back to
normal. You're starting to put out urine."

"There still blood?"

"Yeah. That'll take a few days to clear up. But overall
you're doing well."

"Good. Then go home, Scully."

"No, I'm fine here."

It was an argument they had every time Mulder was
hospitalized. Sometimes she won and stayed until she
was damn good and ready to go home. Sometimes he won
and chased her out. As worn out as she looked, he
suspected this would be one of the rare occasions when
he won and he was right.

"I'll stop back in the morning on my way to work,"
Scully promised as she headed for the doorway.

"The hospital isn't on your way to work," he pointed
out with a smile. "I'm a big boy, Scully. I'll be fine.
Go home, go to bed and don't worry. Come see me after
work, if you want. Bring me a cheeseburger."

"Mulder, your stomach is not ready for a cheeseburger.

"No, it's not," he admitted ruefully. "But by
suppertime I bet it will be."

"Maybe it will," she replied with a smile. "I'll check
in with you tomorrow before I come, okay?"

He nodded.

"And have the nurses call me if you need anything."

"I will."

"Oh, and Mulder, they'll be coming soon to draw more
blood to check your hemoglobin levels and such. If it's
still low you'll have to have another unit of blood."


"Maybe I should stay until ..."

"Scully. Go home."

"But I ..."

"Go home."

"I'd feel better ..."

"I'd feel better if you went home. Go."

"Mulder ..."


She went, finally, and Mulder pounded his pillow --
gotta remember to tell her to bring me my own pillow,
he thought blearily -- and went back to sleep.

Later, he wished she'd won the argument and stayed.


Just as Scully had predicted, a lab tech came and drew
more blood. Mulder dozed off again a few minutes after
the man left, only to be awakened by the arrival of a
nurse just over an hour later.

"Lemme guess," he murmured wearily, "another

"You got it," the nurse's voice carried a note of
sympathy as she flipped on the overhead lights. "Sorry
to keep disturbing you, Mr. Mulder. We try not to give
transfusions at night for just this reason, but you
were so anemic we couldn't wait."

"Yeah, I know. Guess it's my own fault for not coming
in sooner."

The nurse said nothing, just set about hooking up the
unit of blood and checking his vitals. "Okay, all
done," she said finally. "I'll be in periodically to
recheck your vitals though."

"Oh joy," he sighed. "Nothing personal."

The young woman chuckled as she turned off the lights
and prepared to leave the room. "I won't take it
personally," she reassured him. "And, hey, you slept
through every vitals check with your first transfusion,
maybe you'll do the same this time."

"Maybe," Mulder conceded and, in fact, was soundly
asleep by the time the nurse returned ten minutes

But he was wide-awake thirty minutes after that. He
woke up shivering; his body was wracked with chills so
intense he'd have sworn the whole bed was vibrating.
Fever, his weary brain supplied. The nagging ache in
his back, which had eased thanks to the painkillers
he'd been given, was back with a vengeance and had
brought a thumping headache with it. He wondered what
the hell was going on. Groping for the call bell, he
found it and pressed the button with a shaking hand.

A nurse appeared a moment later. "You okay, Mr.

"I don't think so."

She was at his side in a flash, turning on the light
and reaching for him. "You're burning up," she
exclaimed the moment her hand made contact with his
skin. She stuck her head out the door and called for
one of her coworkers then returned to his side. Next
thing Mulder knew he was the center of attention in
PCU. Three nurses and a young woman with a serious case
of bed head who was introduced as the resident on call
surrounded his bed.

"What's going on?" Mulder asked through chattering

"We're not exactly sure," the young resident admitted,
as she disconnected the unit of blood, stopping the
transfusion. "It looks like you're having a transfusion
reaction but we don't know what kind or why."

This information did not make Mulder feel any better.

"I've discontinued the transfusion," the resident
continued "and we're going to be doing some tests to
try and figure this out." Turning to one of the nurses
she reeled off a long string of letters and numbers
that sounded vaguely familiar to Mulder. Blood tests,
he concluded. "We'll get a handle on this, Mr. Mulder,
you just try to relax, okay?" She didn't wait for an
answer, just patted his shoulder and whisked out the

The nurses continued to buzz around him, taking his
temperature, -- 101 he heard one of them say -- drawing
blood, injecting medication into one of his IVs. None
of it made him feel any better. In fact, he felt like
shit and he informed them of that.

"I bet you do," one of them said sympathetically. "But
we gave you something to bring the fever down and
something for the pain so you should get some relief
soon. Just hang in there, okay?"

"I'm trying," Mulder replied, still shuddering
uncontrollably with chills. "I'm freezing."

"I know. It's the fever. I'm sorry but we can't give
you another blanket. It would just hold in the heat and
makes the fever worse."

Mulder nodded. He'd had fevers before though he never
remembered having chills this bad. He curled himself
into the smallest ball he could manage and shivered
while the women continued their work.

"Mr. Mulder?" The worst of the furor had finally died
down and two of the nurses had left the room. The
third, the one who'd hung the transfusion in the first
place, leaned over his bed and rubbed his arm gently.
"Doing okay?"

"Hanging in there, as ordered."

She smiled. "Good. Feeling any better at all?"


"You will soon, I promise."

"Gonna hold you to that," he warned.

"The little redhead who was here earlier, the doctor,
is she your girlfriend?"

"Not in the traditional sense of the word," he said
with a hint of a smile.

The nurse looked almost as confused as Ellen Adderly
had a week earlier. And like Ellen she didn't press him
for details. "Well, whoever she is, do you want me to
call her?"

Mulder stared blearily at the clock. It was just after
3:30 in the morning. There was nothing he wanted more
than to have Scully there, holding his hand and
explaining what the hell was happening but it was 3:30
in the morning and she'd looked so tired when she left.
"No," he said finally, reluctantly. "It's late. I'll be

"Are you sure? Might be nice to have a familiar face
around. And I'm sure she'd want to know what's going

Mulder was silent for a long moment, while the nurse
watched him patiently. She must have been able to see
that he was wavering. "What's the number?" she asked
kindly and wrote it on her palm as he reeled it off.
"I'll go call her now and be right back to check on

Mulder just nodded and curled into an even tighter


"I'm sorry," he said miserably, when Scully walked
through the door.

"Sorry about what?" She tossed her coat onto the chair
and came to stand beside him.

"For waking you up. You look exhausted. I shouldn't
have told them to call you."

Scully lowered the bed rail and perched on the edge of
the mattress. "There would have been hell to pay if
they hadn't called me." She laid the back of her hand
against his face. "Still feverish," she observed. "Did
they give you anything for it?"

"Yeah, but it hasn't helped. Scully, I really am
sorry. I shouldn't have let this go so long. I
should've told you as soon as I saw the blood."

"You ARE feverish," she teased.

He just stared back at her miserably.

"Mulder, it's okay," she reassured him. "You're right,
you should have taken care of this immediately. You
might not have needed a transfusion if you had and you
wouldn't be feeling this bad right now. I hope you'll
remember this next time you're sick or hurt. But now
isn't the time to worry about it. Now's the time to
concentrate on getting you well. All right?"

"All right."

"Now, did they tell you what they gave you for the

"I don't think so."

"I'm going to go talk to the nurse. I'll be right

"I'm not going anywhere," he groaned. "Scully, what the
hell is this?"

"Some sort of reaction to the blood transfusion.
They're testing your blood and the donor blood to try
and find out exactly what happened and why."

"Is it serious?"

"It can be but it's usually very easy to treat once you
know what's going on."

"Well, let's hope they figure it out soon because I
feel like hell."

"I know, Mulder." She rubbed his back soothingly for a
minute then went in search of the nurse.

She was back fifteen minutes later, a nurse and the
rumpled young resident in tow. In spite of the fact
that he felt like death warmed over, Mulder had to
smile. Dr. Scully to the rescue as always.

"Still feeling lousy, Mr. Mulder?" the resident asked.


"What's his temp?" she asked the nurse.

Mulder flinched as the aural thermometer was inserted
in his ear. It didn't hurt but for some reason he hated
the sensation. "100.2," the nurse announced after a few

"It's coming down but not as fast as I'd like. Your
blood tests aren't back yet so we still don't know
exactly what the problem is but let's see if we can
help you feel a little better. I'm going to order a
stronger dose of the analgesic we gave you earlier to
try and get your fever down. I'm also going to give you
an antihistamine which will help if this is an allergic

"And if it isn't?"

"Then it won't hurt you," the doctor reassured him. "We
should know one way or another soon. I put in a call to
a hematologist and he's working on it right now."


"Soon" ended up being nearly two hours but by then
Mulder's fever had come down to under 100 and he was
feeling almost human again. Scully spent her time
alternately sitting at Mulder's bedside and harassing
the hospital staff. She bristled when he chided her
about it. "I'm not harassing anyone, Mulder. I'm just
trying to get answers in a timely manner."

"PoTAYto, poTAHto," he murmured with a smile.

Finally, just before dawn, the resident returned,
accompanied by a sour looking middle-aged man dressed
in golf pants and an inside-out tee shirt. He was the
hematologist and he was clearly less than thrilled at
being awakened in the middle of the night.

"What you had, Mr. Mulder," the grumpy doctor told him,
"was a sort of allergic reaction to the donor blood.
Specifically, your body rejected the white blood cells
in the donor blood. Have you had transfusions before?"

"Yes," Scully spoke up. "He has. Quite a few, in fact.
He had surgery following a gunshot wound in 1993 and
required massive transfusions again a few years later
after developing a rare blood disorder."

"That probably explains it then. Sometimes patients
who've had multiple transfusions develop an antibody
against foreign white cells that causes the body to
reject them. Fortunately it's easily solved. Instead of
whole blood, we'll switch you to WBC-depleted RBCs.
That's blood that's run through a special filter so
that 99.9% of the white cells are removed."

"Could this happen again?" Scully asked.

"Yes, it could. We'll make a note of it in your chart,
Mr. Mulder, but if you're ever treated at another
hospital you must remember to tell them about this. You
might even want to get a medic-alert bracelet."

Mulder wrinkled up his nose at the idea. Except for a
brief period in college when he'd thought an earring
might look cool, he wasn't much for wearing jewelry.
He'd just have one of the doctors write the pertinent
information down on a card and stick it his wallet. But
even as he thought it, Scully piped up with, "I'll take
care of it first thing in the morning."

Oh damn. Was it worth fighting about? Probably not.
Particularly when he was this tired. They'd have plenty
of time to argue in the morning.


From that point on, Mulder's recovery was uneventful.
Within 48 hours of his admission he felt well enough to
be bored and chafed at the forced inactivity. Scully
came everyday both before and after work, bringing him
books and crossword puzzles, his Walkman and a handful
of CDs and, to his utter amazement, the latest issue of
Celebrity Skin hidden inside Psychology Today. He knew
she was just trying to keep him busy enough that he
didn't annoy the nursing staff but he lapped up the
attention anyway.

His blood and urine were monitored daily and the
results showed a gradual improvement. A repeat EKG was
normal, the cardiac monitoring was discontinued and he
was moved out of PCU into a regular room. Thanks to the
antibiotics and bed rest the urologist had prescribed,
a repeat CT scan on the fourth day of his
hospitalization showed a marked improvement. By the
fifth day, the blood in his urine was being classified
as 'trace amounts' and Dr. Marzetti discharged him.

"I want you to go home and take it easy," the urologist
stressed. "Lots of rest and no strenuous physical
activity for the next two weeks. Then we'll do another
CT scan and if that looks good I'll release you to go
back to work."

Mulder was so happy to get the hell out of the hospital
that he didn't even protest, just nodded his agreement
and signed the discharge papers. What he did, or didn't
do, when he was out from under the doctor's thumb was
his own business, he reasoned.

He should have known better.

Scully drove him home from the hospital. To her home,
where, she announced, he would be staying until he was
cleared to go back to work. He protested. She shot him
down. He protested again. She gave him a dirty look.
Then he gave in, as they'd both known all along he
would, and made himself at home on her sofa. He grabbed
the remote, started flipping channels and asked, "So,
honey, what's for dinner." She pushed his feet off the
coffee table and ordered in Chinese.
Life was back to normal.

The results of his follow-up CT scan were excellent.
The laceration was completely healed and Dr. Marzetti
granted him permission to return to work. On his first
day back, Mulder arrived at the office early. There was
a package on his desk, wrapped in brightly colored
paper. He looked around the room suspiciously but there
was no sign of bloodthirsty mad bombers or little gray
men. Mulder picked up the box and shook it. It rattled
intriguingly. Might as well risk it, he decided, and
tore off the neat wrapping. Inside the small white box
he found a chunky gold ID bracelet. There was a small
red medic-alert insignia on the front and the words
"WBC-depleted RBC transfusion only" engraved on the

"Want me to help you put that on?" a familiar voice
inquired. Scully stood in the doorway smiling at him.

Recognizing a losing battle when he saw one, Mulder
nodded and handed her the bracelet. She slipped it
around it wrist, just above his watch, and fastened the
clasp. She adjusted it a bit so it lay 'just so' and
patted his hand. "There. It looks nice with your watch,
don't you think?"

Mulder stared at it. "Yeah, I guess so."

"Well, I'm going to go get some coffee. Want some?"


"Back in a few."

"I'll be here."

Mulder watched her walk through the door. "Dr. Scully
takes care of everything," he murmured with a fond
smile. He unclasped the bracelet, slipped it in his
pocket and turned to the stack of files on his desk to
see what was new. It was good to be back.

The End


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