Old Winyards

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Tests, part 1

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Chapter: Twenty
Pairing: Sam/Frodo strongly implied
Authors: Catherine and Thuri
Rating: A (Language)
Warnings: Angst.
Summary: Frodo is called to the hospital for tests, and decides to go by himself.

A/N: The next part will be posted Monday, barring disaster.

Frodo rolled over, reaching to pick up the phone. Sam should sleep in; he looked like death... "Hello?"

"Ah, Frodo! Excellent!" said Paladin. "Listen, seeing as how this is my hospital, I pulled a few strings and promised a few people that I wouldn't fire them, and booked you into a nice, cozy private room, just big enough for two single beds, so you and Sam can come on down any time. By noon at the latest, please. I'd like to start you off with some blood-work and a nice, full-body MRI."

"Sounds wonderful," Frodo replied dryly. "Noon at the latest, you say?"

"That's right. Which gives you... three hours, so you'd better make it fast, and skip the food. Just ask them to page me when you get in. I'm taking a personal interest in your case.” Paladin chortled.

Frodo couldn't help a small laugh. "Why am I not reassured, Uncle Pal?"

"I couldn't possibly say, Frodo," said Paladin. "Oh, shit, I'm being paged. See you soon, son." With that he hung up.

Frodo nodded and turned the phone off. Well, two hours... He might as well let Sam get his sleep.

Sam turned in his sleep, pressing close to Frodo.

Frodo smiled, kissing his forehead softly. Dear Sam. He shouldn't have to deal with any of this... Frodo slipped from bed, scrubbing his face clean and dressing, before sitting down to write a note.

My dearest Sam,

Uncle Pal called early this morning, and told me I had to be at the hospital by noon, for an MRI. I simply haven't the heart to wake you, love. You're sleeping so peacefully, escaping all this stress for a bit. I know you'll join me soon, and – much as I wish you could be spared all this – I'll be glad to have you with me. But I hope you're not reading this until hours from now, and that those hours were spent in blissful sleep. I love you, my Sam, with all my heart.

Love, always,

There. That took care of that.

He stood, got a few things together, and found Daisy. "Daisy, do you think Ham could give me a ride into town?"

"Why, certainly, Mr. Frodo, but what about Sam? I'd 'a thought– That is, well, begging your pardon, but..."

Frodo smiled. "He's asleep, Daisy. I don't want to wake him up. I know he hasn't gotten much rest lately.” He fished the note from his pocket. “Would you give this to him when he wakes? He'll follow me later, I'm sure."

"Oh, bless your heart, Fr– Mr. Frodo, sir," smiled Daisy. "I'll just ring Ham right now."

"Thank you." Frodo smiled at her near slip. Maybe... maybe things would eventually be all right, with all of them.

Daisy persuaded Ham to take a break from mending damaged trellises and collect Frodo. As she saw them off through the kitchen door, she felt a pang as she watched Frodo drag himself out to Ham's car. "Oh, goodness, just what is wrong, Mr. Frodo?" she whispered.

An hour later, Frodo found himself under the crook of his uncle’s well-muscled arm. Not to say that Paladin was fat, by any stretch of the imagination, Frodo mused, but Pippin got his physique from his mother. Paladin was taller with a stocky build that he schooled to athleticism by walking wherever he could, taking stairs instead of the elevator and doing his reading while using the treadmill in his office. The only time he sat down on the job was when he had to tell a student or a patient some serious news, or when he was firing an employee. Pippin’s tales of woe when his father had ‘sat down to have a talk with him’ were legend and numerous.

“Hello, Frodo, you got here fast! How are you, today?”

“I’ve been better, Uncle Pal,” admitted Frodo. “But at least you’re not sitting down.”

“Huh? Oh well, no matter. Where’s Sam?”

“He’s at home.”

Paladin frowned. “I thought he’d want to be here with you.”

“Oh, I, uh, didn’t want to wake him.” Frodo reddened.

“So he didn’t have a choice?” Paladin peered at Frodo.

“Well, I–” Frodo deflated. “No, I didn’t give him one.”

“I think that might have been ill-advised. Don’t cut off your support now, son,” he added, more gently. “Sam loves you–”

“I know, Uncle Pal! I love him, too, that’s why I don’t want to...” Frodo trailed off.

“To be a burden to him?” Paladin finished, gently.

Frodo nodded.

“You’re not,” said Paladin. “Not unless you fight him and think it’s for his own good. Let him have the choice in what he does for you. Talk to him about it. From what I’ve heard from Pip, a lot’s happened to him recently.”

“Which is why I don’t want to give him more to deal with,” said Frodo, evenly.

“Which is why he’ll want to feel he can control something in his life,” countered Paladin.

Frodo bit back his protest and then nodded, stung.

“Do you want him with you today, Frodo? Honestly?”


“If you didn’t have to worry about how it would affect him?”

Frodo bit his lip. “Yes,” he admitted at last. “But...”


“He gives so much, I worry that he doesn’t take care of himself enough.” Frodo looked into his uncle’s eyes. “I don’t want him dropping everything to be with me all the time. He needs a life of his own, and he hasn’t had much of a chance at that, lately. Not since we started seeing each other.”

Paladin gave him an affectionate squeeze. “You two have had an interesting few weeks, haven’t you? Regardless of whether or not you want him here with you, I’d talk to him about your concerns. You want him as healthy as he can be, for lots of reasons. And yes, it’s all right that you need him,” added Paladin at Frodo’s furrowed brow.

“You must see a lot of this,” said Frodo, ruefully.

“A fair bit,” agreed Paladin. He rubbed Frodo’s arm. “Want to call him and let him know where you are?”

“I left him a note.”

“Good! I’ll tell the staff to expect him.” Paladin smiled as Frodo shuffled his feet. “When did you last eat, son?”

Frodo sighed, grateful for the change of subject even though it did nauseate him. “Oh, god, I don’t know... Yesterday at lunch, I think. Oh, no, wait... It was that slice of quail I had last night around 5:00 or so at Pip’s.”

Paladin looked at his watch. “Seventeen hours. We usually go with fourteen.” He frowned. “Should be all right for the tests, though the lipids might be a bit off... Well, we’ll see. Let’s go straight to phlebotomy, then. She should be ready, now...”

“Oh, joy.”

Paladin steered Frodo to a small room on the left about halfway down a long, angled corridor.

"All right, son, we have to take a few gallons of blood from you now, and if these tests come out all right, we shouldn't have to take any more. I know how your veins like to hide, so Miss Wolfson here was cashiered for this job. She's the best in the business."

Frodo smiled wanly at Miss Wolfson, who gave him a business-like nod.

“Mr. Baggins,” she acknowledged, glancing at her clipboard and pointing at the phlebotomist’s chair, “please have a seat and roll up your left sleeve.”

Frodo sighed and did as he was told, preparing himself to be poked and prodded at least half a dozen times before they found a vein.

"Now while she does her work, I want to tell you a bit about what's on the menu for the next couple of days. Right after this, you'll have your MRI, which we should be able to have read by tomorrow morning. Normally, we’d do that after the other tests, but we had a – well, a cancellation, as it were...”

“Someone died, right?”

“Afraid so,” said Paladin. “At home, in their sleep, at least.” He patted Frodo’s shoulder. “She was very old,” he said gently. “Anyway, in addition to CFS, of course, I'm testing you for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, syphilis, gonorrhea, AIDS, prostate cancer and substance abuse. We’re also going to repeat the CBC, liver function, chem profile and mono spot that Ell ordered for you, just for comparison’s sake."

Frodo nodded, looking away from the woman with the needle, and biting his lower lip. He hated having his blood taken...

"Now after we take the blood, I'm afraid you have to give me a urine sample, as well, and I have to watch you do it. This would be for the drug test. Later on, we'll be getting more from you, but you can give that up in private, at least."

Frodo blushed, but nodded. "All right... "

"Then you get to rest up a bit before you get to talk to the staff shrink about your childhood for an hour or two. If you're very good, he might give you a lollipop."

"Uncle Pal!"

Paladin laughed and squeezed Frodo's unoccupied hand. "Oh, look, Miss Wolfson's finished with you! Well done!"

Frodo looked over in surprise. "I didn't even feel that!"

Miss Wolfson grinned.

"They call her the vampire around here," nodded Paladin.

Miss Wolfson smirked, but shot Paladin a dangerous look.

"Oh, shit! I forgot I have to have my sugar checked this afternoon."

"That's right," said Miss Wolfson, silkily. "I'll see you in two hours and fifteen minutes, exactly. Nice to meet you, Mr. Baggins." She finished labeling the tubes of blood and adjourned to her inner sanctum to prepare them.

"I think she scares me...'

"I know she scares me! Anyway, after the spinal tap tomorrow, you can rest up for a few hours, at least, while we check the results. If everything scans normally, you might even be able to go home tomorrow evening."

"Oh," Frodo said faintly. "Um. All right. I suppose I have to be awake for all of that?"

"I’m afraid so, yes. Have a seat, Frodo. I’ll be doing the driving to Nuclear Medicine.” Paladin directed his nephew to a wheelchair, smiling at him as he sighed and sat.

Frodo swallowed. “All right. Let’s get it over with,” he sighed. “Does an MRI hurt, Uncle Pal?”

“Well, you don’t get anything stuck in you, but it’s noisy and very enclosed. You’re not claustrophobic, are you?”

“No,” swallowed Frodo. “Not really.”

Paladin squeezed Frodo’s shoulder as he wheeled him down the corridor. “We’ll give you ear protection, and there’s a little TV mounted in there for you to watch while it’s being done.”

“No reality shows, I hope?”

“No, we don’t have those. More like nature shows without the ads or the narration.” Paladin wheeled Frodo toward the elevators. “It’s not most people’s favorite experience, but it’ll be over soon.”

Frodo gritted his teeth as the elevator descended into the basement.
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