“He’s asking for you again.”
“I'm sorry?” She looks up from her charting at the nurse standing in front of her.
“The patient? Room 42?” The nurse nods toward the door. “The cute FBI agent. He’s asking to see ‘the red haired lady doctor’ again.”
“Haven’t you discharged him yet?” She sets down her pen and leans against the stool back, raising her shoulders up to stretch muscles that are now 10 aching hours into a 12 hour shift.
“He said he had another question for the doctor before he would agree to leave,” the young nurse explains as she walks closer and leans in. “I think he wants your number,” she smirks.
Dana Scully smiles and rolls her eyes and retrieves the patient’s chart from underneath the pile of discharge paperwork. She flips open the file to review the notes she’d made some hours before when he’d come in. She certainly remembered him -- brought in from a scene of a violent break in, babbling about some suspect who had tried to extract his liver. The chart indicates his name is Fox Mulder -- she remembers now, because who on earth would name their child Fox?
She’d come in to examine him, barely glancing at his face, while the nurses filled her in on his reasons for admittance.
“Take off your shirt, please,” she had asked, her eyes scanning the notes about his scuffle with the suspect, who left long scratches across his ribcage.
“Usually I make a girl buy me dinner first at least,” he’d retorted with a grin, shrugging the hospital gown down his shoulders so she could investigate his wounds.
That had gotten her attention. She blushed slightly and looked up from the chart to catch his eye. A gleam of intelligence she was unused to seeing in the weekend knife-and-gun club ER regulars met her gaze and it threw her for a moment. He had deep hazel eyes and a disarming smile, and she’d had to swiftly stuff down her feelings of attraction. He was handsome. But handsome patients arrived in her ER daily, and she always stayed professional, detached, and thorough.
She has him sit up on the edge of the bed while she palpates his neck where he’d been choked, and pushes the stethoscope against his shapely chest to listen to his breathing. With him sitting on the bed, they are nearly the same height. She’s not sure why she notices that.
She makes note of the length of the scratches on his chest. They’re deep across his torso, as if, just as he said, someone had been trying to extract his liver with bare hands. She measures them and makes a note.
“Hmmm,” she says under her breath. “That’s unusual.”
“What’s unusual?” He asks.
“I’ve just never seen a bruising pattern like this, it’s quite a lot larger than what I would expect to see …”
“From a human?” he interrupts her eagerly, a look in his eye like a puppy waiting for a treat.
“From.. a normal man-sized hand,” she finishes, looking at him with a puzzled wrinkle of her brow.
His looks a little crestfallen, and she finishes the exam.
“No permanent damage I can see,” she tells him as he pulls his gown back up. “I’ll prescribe some pain pills and you’ll have a little bruising, nothing serious.”
He nods. “Thanks doc.” He offers her his hand, which startles her a little. It’s a gesture between equals, not the usual posture of a patient in her care.
“You’re welcome agent,” she looks down at his intake docs, “Mulder. You’re welcome.”
Now he’s asked her back into his room for no good reason. She should just send the nurse back in with his prescription and tell him to go home. But he’s, after all, good looking, young and obviously employed. Her mother would give her another talking to about giving guys a chance.
“What is it Agent Mulder?” she asks pulling back the drapes at the entrance of his room. He is sitting in the chair beside the bed and bending down to tie the laces on his shoes. He smiles and looks up at her.
“Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?” He waggles his eyebrows as if he’s telling ghost stories around a fire, but there’s a glint of genuine curiosity in his eyes.
“What?” she stutters. “Where on earth is that question coming from?” She’s confused now, this was not exactly what she came in the room expecting.
“Just curious. Do you believe in alien life forms?” He asks again, standing and picking up his suit coat from the back of the side chair.
“Well logically, I’d have to say no,” she answers stuttering, choosing to treat the question more seriously that it deserves. “Given the distances needed to travel from the far reaches of space, the energy requirements would exceed a spacecraft's capabilities.”
“I didn’t ask if you thought aliens have visited us, I asked if you thought that they existed.”
She smiles. He’s caught her dodge. “Well, there is the Fermi Paradox,” she replies, beginning to explain before he cuts her off.
“Which is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of there being extraterrestrial life in the universe and the utter lack of evidence that any such life exists.” He grins, looking far too pleased with himself. But she smiles in spite of it.
“What if I told you, there isn’t a total lack of evidence?” He asks tantalizingly.
“I think I’d say that I should probably check the dosage on your pain meds,” she replies with a sly smile.
“Could I ask you to take a look at something? As a favor?” He switches tack.
“Doesn’t the FBI have armies of specialists at your beck and call?”
“It does,” he nods, “But let’s just say I’ve run out of favors over there.”
“Agent Mulder,” she begins.
“Just Mulder,” he insists, “the ‘agent’ thing makes me feel like I’m at work.”
“We are at work,” she answers, “MY work. And I need to get back to it. I’m happy to help you in whatever way I can while you’re here, but consulting for the FBI is just a bit above my pay grade.”
“What if I leave you my card and you can call me if you change your mind?” He hands her a slip of paper from his pocket.
“I don’t anticipate that happening,” she shrugs, slipping the card into the pocket of her navy scrubs. “But I will keep you in mind.”
“I hope you will. Nice to meet you,” he holds out his hand. “Doctor?”
“Scully,” she answers. “Dana Scully.”
Something tells her he’s not the kind of guy who gives up easily. She hopes he’s not.