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It was Wednesday before Vardamir and Elrond approached Glorfindel about the physical. They cornered him (or so that was Glorfindel’s impression) after dinner that evening as he was helping to clean up. Most everyone else had scattered to their own amusements except for Glorfindel and Finrod, along with Amarië, Daeron (who was told to sit in the breakfast nook and relax) and Melyanna, who hovered over Daeron like a worried mother hen, as Daeron had put it, plying him with herbal tea and kisses, neither of which he seemed to mind.
Vardamir and Elrond entered the kitchen together. “Loren, if you have a moment,” Vardamir said, casting a glance at the others.
Glorfindel, who happened to be standing at the sink washing the pots and pans, turned, and seeing the two healers’ expressions, said, “It’s all right. Finrod and Darren know about the physical. When did you want to set it up?”
“Are you fine with it?” Elrond asked, giving his old friend a searching look.
Glorfindel shrugged. “I don’t like it, but I’ll do it and only because Ron assured me that no Mortal would be involved.”
“Unfortunately, that cannot be the case entirely,” Vardamir said. “We will have need of the technicians who do the CAT scan and X-rays and the like, but none of the mortal doctors or nurses will be involved. Is that acceptable to you? One of us will be with you at all times when you are undergoing the CAT scan and MRI and whatever else Ron wants done. You will not be alone with the Mortals.”
“I can live with that,” Glorfindel said with a slight sigh as he rinsed the pot he was washing and placed it on the drainboard.
“Then, I have set up the appropriate appointments through Kyle and Geoffrey for tomorrow beginning at seven in the morning,” Vardamir said. “Nothing to eat and only water to drink after midnight.” He chuckled and Glorfindel gave him an enquiring look.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, nothing really,” Vardamir replied. “When I was relaying to Kyle the tests Ron wished us to perform, he asked, in all seriousness, if he should also schedule a colonoscopy.”
“What’s that?” Finrod asked and Daeron started choking on the tea he had been drinking.
“Never mind,” Glorfindel said quickly. “I assume you assured Kyle that such an exam was unnecessary.”
Vardamir grinned as did Elrond. “Yes, Loren, I did, so don’t worry. None of the exams will be invasive. The most intrusive part will be taking blood samples. My advice to you is to get as much rest as you can. We’ll plan to leave around six, if that is fine with you.”
“Six is fine,” Glorfindel said, “though I can’t guarantee that I’ll rest. I certainly don’t intend to sleep. I don’t need more nightmares.”
“We can guard your sleep if you wish,” Elrond said.
“Yes, I think that would be wise, gwador,” Finrod said. “You have not slept in two days and I can tell you are weary, though you hide it well.”
“Okay, I guess,” Glorfindel said reluctantly.
“Then it’s settled,” Finrod said with a smile. “When you are ready to sleep, let us know and I will take the first watch.”
“Thanks,” Glorfindel said as he wiped his hands on a towel. “Why don’t we go into the library and relax for a while? I think I want to do some reading. It usually helps me to calm down enough to fall asleep.”
“Yes, let us do so,” Finrod said, “and I still want to know what a colonoscopy is.”
Both Vardamir and Elrond chuckled as they and the others filed out of the kitchen. “We’ll tell you later, Finrod. It’s a rather… um… delicate subject,” Vardamir said.
“Amen to that,” Glorfindel muttered with much feeling and Daeron, walking behind him couldn’t help laughing out loud at his friend’s discomfiture. Glorfindel glared at him but Daeron thought he detected a glimmer of amusement in the ellon’s eyes.
Glorfindel woke with a start when he felt someone nudge him, amazed that he had actually fallen asleep, and if he had dreamt, he did not recall. He focused his eyes to see Elrond standing over him smiling. “It’s five-thirty, Glorfindel.”
“Thanks,” Glorfindel said, stretching slightly as he climbed out of bed and grabbed his robe. “I didn’t think I would actually sleep.”
“Well, you may blame Vardamir for that,” Elrond responded with a quirk of his eyebrow, a familiar gesture from days gone by. “He… um… doctored your cup of tea.”
Glorfindel blinked. “He slipped me a mickey? Why that devious little orc.” He shook his head in bemusement as he left his room with Elrond behind him.
“I will let the others know that you are awake,” Elrond said and Glorfindel just nodded as he headed down the hall to the bathroom and a shower.
Fifteen minutes later, showered and dressed in comfortable, loose clothes, Glorfindel joined the others downstairs where they were waiting for him. Besides Elrond, Vardamir, Finrod and Daeron were there to greet him. He tossed Finrod the car keys. “Here, you can drive. I’m not feeling up to it.”
Finrod gave him a searching look. “How did you sleep?”
“Well, considering Mir put something in my tea when I wasn’t looking, I slept pretty well.” He glowered at the healer who responded with a slight smile.
“Tricks of the trade, Glorfindel. You should know how sneaky we healers are. I am sure you watched Elrond while he was being a healer.”
“Yeah, I know, and at the time, I even approved when it was one or both of the Twins who needed healing, but I guess I just don’t like it when it happens to me.”
“No one does,” Elrond said soothingly, “and Vardamir only did it after consulting with me and obtaining my permission—”
“And mine,” Finrod interjected.
Elrond nodded as he continued, “Had either of us said no, he would not have done it.”
“Well, I admit I do feel more rested,” Glorfindel allowed. “We all set?” At everyone’s nods, he opened the door.
“Good luck,” Daeron said at the door. “iMelain ah le, mellon nîn.”
Glorfindel waved as he and the others headed for the van. As Finrod maneuvered it out of the drive and onto the road, Glorfindel, sitting up front, said, “We need to start setting up driving lessons for everyone. I’ll have Daeron make the arrangements for the others to obtain their learner’s permits while we’re in Fairbanks with the youngsters so everything will be set when we get back. I’d like to see you get your license before the end of the summer and as many of the others as we can before winter hits us again.”
“That would be helpful,” Finrod said.
“Don’t you have to work today?” Glorfindel asked him.
Finrod shook his head. “I called Nick last night after you retired to let him know that I would not be in today.”
“Great. Now the whole town will know inside of a day,” Glorfindel groused.
Finrod gave him a merry look. “I doubt it, as the only thing I told Nicholas was that a family matter had arisen that required my full attention and I would be in tomorrow. Don’t sweat it, gwador.”
In spite of himself, Glorfindel barked out a laugh. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to you using American slang. I remember how you spoke when you first arrived.”
“And I still have not forgiven those sorry excuses for Valar for that,” Finrod responded as he made a turn into the hospital parking lot and found a space.
Glorfindel smiled warmly at him. “You’ve come a long way, gwador, and I’m very proud of you.” Then he glanced at the building before them and grimaced. “Well, let’s get this over with.” And with that, he climbed out of the van and the others joined him.
Inside the main lobby, Glorfindel was surprised to see Vorondur and the Twins there. “Looks like old home week,” Glorfindel commented. “Come to gloat over my further humiliation?”
If Vorondur was upset by his attitude, he didn’t show it. The Twins both had pained expressions on their faces. “I never gloat, Loren,” Vorondur said mildly. “I’m here to make sure all is done correctly. Mir and Elrond are too new to this to be able to say either way.”
“And we’re here to lend you moral support,” Elladan added. “Roy and I want to be here for you just as you’ve always been there for us.”
“And I do appreciate it,” Glorfindel said, “but really, I don’t need an audience.”
“Then think of us as your bodyguard,” Roy said with a twinkle in his eyes, “keeping the press and the public from importuning you.”
“I hope you’re not serious about the press,” Glorfindel exclaimed.
“Nah, just a figure of speech,” Roy replied with a wave of a hand. “There are some papers for you to sign giving us permission to perform these tests on you. Let’s go to the registration desk and get you admitted.”
It took about ten minutes to go through the process and then they were all heading for the elevator which took them to the fourth floor where the various imaging machines were. As they went down the corridor with the healers flanking Glorfindel he chuckled. “I feel almost like royalty with my entourage.”
The others chuckled. Elladan stopped before a curtained room and gestured for Glorfindel to enter. “You can store your clothes in that locker. You’ll need to remove any jewelry.”
“And that might be a problem,” Glorfindel said, holding up the hand on which was his Valar-given ring, “since I’ve been told never to take this off.”
“I will carry it for you, gwador,” Finrod offered, “and if at any time you feel uneasy or upset, let me know and we’ll stop the exams and I will give you back the ring until you’re feeling safer.”
Glorfindel scowled as he removed the ring from his finger and handed it to Finrod. “I so hate this.”
The others gave him sympathetic looks. “It’s going to be okay, Loren,” Vorondur said with gentle assurance. “Now why don’t you get undressed and we’ll be waiting for you. If you need to relieve yourself, the bathroom is the second door on your right going back up the corridor.” He pointed in the direction they had come.
Glorfindel nodded and stepped inside the room, closing the curtain. He was relieved to see that besides the dreaded gown, there was a pair of cotton pants so he would not be as exposed as he thought he would be. There were also some slipper-socks for his feet. In a matter of minutes he was dressed and rejoined the others who had wandered further down the corridor, speaking in low tones to a couple of Mortals whom Glorfindel assumed were the imaging technicians. They all looked up at his approach.
“We’re going to start with an MRI and work our way around,” Vorondur said.
“How long is this going to take?” Glorfindel said with a sigh.
“We’ll be out of here by noon,” Vorondur promised.
“Good. I was afraid I’d miss my soaps,” Glorfindel quipped, giving them a sniff and Vorondur and the Twins, and even the technicians, laughed, though Vardamir, Elrond and Finrod gave him puzzled looks, not understanding the reference.
“Shall we get started, then?” Vorondur asked and when Glorfindel nodded, Vorondur gestured for the technicians and they all trooped into the imaging chamber where Glorfindel was directed to climb onto the narrow bed and was hooked up to monitors before the bed was slid into the unit. Everyone else crowded into the small room attached to the chamber where the technicians manipulated the machine.
“It helps to close your eyes, Mr. DelaFiore and just relax,” one of the technicians said into a microphone. “Breathe normally, though there will be times when we will ask you to hold your breath while we’re taking certain images. If at any time you begin to feel panicky, just call out.”
“Okay,” they heard Glorfindel’s tinny voice echoing through the speaker.
“Here we go,” the Man said and for the next half hour or so the Elves stood looking over the shoulders of the technicians as they caught the images they needed. Finrod, Elrond and Vardamir watched in absolute fascination, softly asking Vorondur or the Twins questions about what they were seeing. Occasionally, one of the technicians would ask Glorfindel how he was doing and the ellon assured them that he was fine.
Once the exam was over, Elrohir was the first out of the room, so he did the honors of releasing Glorfindel from the machine, unhooking him. Finrod was right behind him. While Elrohir was helping Glorfindel off the bed, Finrod handed him his ring.
“I see no reason why you cannot wear it in between exams,” he said and Glorfindel gave him a grateful look, sighing almost with relief as he slipped the ring onto his finger.
“Thanks,” he said, then looked at Ron. “So where to next?”
“CAT scan,” came the answer. “We’ll need to inject some dye into you.”
Now Glorfindel sighed for a different reason but only nodded as they all trooped out of the chamber and made their way along another corridor. And so it went. After the CAT scan, they did X-rays, followed by a bone density scan. By then, it was nearly nine o’clock and Vorondur suggested that Glorfindel take a break.
“You haven’t had breakfast yet, so let’s go to the blood lab and get a draw and then you go ahead and have something to eat while I check a few things out. I’ll meet you at the cafeteria in about an hour.”
“What more needs to be done?” Finrod asked as they all filed into an elevator. Vorondur pressed the button for the sixth floor.
“Oh, we need an EKG and a stress test, among other things,” Vorondur replied. “I promise, you’ll be out of here before noon. Once we finish with all the mortal tests, I want Mir or Elrond to scan you and do anything else they think should be done so we have as complete a picture as we can get.”
“Do you think all this is necessary?” Glorfindel asked. “After all, what will an MRI or anything else tell you about why I’m having nightmares?”
“Perhaps nothing,” Vorondur answered as the car came to a stop and the door opened. They all filed out and made their way down a corridor to the blood lab. “In fact, I doubt all these tests will show anything except that you’re as healthy a specimen of elfhood as there can be.”
“Then what’s the point?” Glorfindel insisted.
“The point is, we need a baseline by which to proceed,” Vorondur replied. “If all these tests show is that you’re as healthy physically as the proverbial horse, then we’ve automatically ruled out one reason for why you are having these nightmares and why you’re not eating properly and feeling fatigued all the time. It’s a process of elimination of probable causes and it’s not something that can be done quickly. I’m sorry. I wish I had a magic wand to wave and everything will be better, but that’s not how it goes.”
“Well, after today, I can honestly say that I have nothing but respect for any Mortal who has to endure these kinds of exams on a regular basis.”
“And if all you get out of today is that, then it’s not been wasted,” Vorondur said in all seriousness.
Inside the lab, Glorfindel was directed to sit while Vorondur spoke to the lab technician explaining what tests he needed, filling out the prescriptions for them. There were other patients being administered to, all of them goggling at the contingent of Elves hovering over Glorfindel, who, in spite of wearing a hospital gown and slipper-socks, sat almost with an air of royalty about him as he waited for one of the nurses to draw his blood.
“I didn’t think you Elves ever got sick,” an older gentleman said from across the room where he was having blood drawn. “Whacha doin’ here?”
“We’re trying to get a baseline of elven physiology so that Mortal doctors will know how to treat us if we suffer injuries during the Dagor Dagorath and Loren’s agreed to act as a guinea pig,” Vorondur answered with a straight face.
The Man gave them a skeptical look. “And it takes six of you to see it done?”
Glorfindel leaned over so he could see the Mortal around Elladan. “They’re my security,” he answered.
“Security!” a Woman exclaimed. “You expect someone to come after you with a scalpel or somethin’?”
Glorfindel grinned. “Not that kind of security. They wouldn’t let me bring my teddy bear to hold while undergoing all these stupid tests so they take turns holding my hand.” He paused, flashing everyone a wicked look. “I hold them very hard.”
For a moment there was dead silence all around and then one of the nurses sniggered even as she was drawing blood from another patient and the Man who’d asked the original question started laughing and some of the other Mortals began making rather rude commentary while the Elves just rolled their eyes and shook their heads.
“We’ll wait for you out in the corridor,” Vorondur said, shooing the Twins before him. Vardamir and Elrond followed, but Finrod elected to remain to keep Glorfindel company, so Glorfindel was not completely alone among the Mortals. One of the nurses began going through the procedure of checking Glorfindel’s ID before performing the draw, automatically asking for his date of birth.
Glorfindel chuckled. “I have no idea, but for legal purposes, it’s five-thirteen-fifty-five.”
“You don’t look like you’re almost sixty,” the nurse said in surprise.
“And I’m not,” Glorfindel said. “I’m very much older than that.”
The nurse just raised an eyebrow and then shrugged. A minute later, she was done with the draw and was labeling the tubes of blood. Once done with that, she handed him a small plastic cup with his name scrawled on it. “Do you think you can give us a specimen, Mr. DelaFiore?” she asked without embarrassment.
Glorfindel sighed as he took the cup. “Where?” was all he said.
“Bathroom’s to your right,” the nurse replied, already moving on to her next task. “You’ll see a small door in the wall. You can just leave it on the shelf and then you’re done here.”
Glorfindel glowered as he stood and muttered something low that even Finrod could not hear, though he could guess. “I’ll be out in a minute,” Glorfindel said to him. “You can join the others in the corridor.” Finrod nodded, suddenly having an idea what the Woman was asking of his gwador and refrained from saying anything to compound Glorfindel’s embarrassment.
Out in the corridor, Finrod found the others congregated around the drinking fountain speaking arcanely (to his ears) in medical jargon. They looked up at his approach. “Glorfindel will be out shortly,” was all he said and the others nodded in understanding.
“As soon as he’s done, take him to get some breakfast,” Vorondur ordered. “I’m going to check on some things and I’ll catch up with you in a bit.” With that, he left them.
No one said anything as they waited for Glorfindel to show up, which he did a couple of minutes later. “I really hate this,” was his only comment.
“Let’s go get you some breakfast, Loren,” Elladan said sympathetically. “You’ll feel better.”
Vorondur met them at the cafeteria about a half hour later as Glorfindel was finishing eating. The others sat with him drinking coffee or tea and snacking on muffins since they had all had breakfast earlier.
“All set?” he asked Glorfindel, who nodded, taking a last swig of his coffee.
“Yes. Let’s get this over with before I start hurting people.”
Vorondur gave him a serious look. “Relax, Loren. We’re almost done. I know this hasn’t been easy on you, but we’re all on your side, I promise.”
“Whatever. Let’s go.”
They made their way to the third floor and there Glorfindel suffered an EKG and then he got on a treadmill and began walking as he was directed, eventually running at a fast clip all the while holding a conversation with Finrod.
“So, I’m thinking that when we get back from Fairbanks with the youngsters we should seriously start training ourselves. I think I’m sufficiently recovered from my surgery that I can wield a sword again.”
“We’ll have to train in separate rooms, though,” Finrod said in all seriousness as he leaned casually against a wall with his arms and ankles crossed.
“Why?” Glorfindel asked, giving him a puzzled look. “Are those babies still afraid of us? Please! I really am so sick of them treating us this way.”
“Those ‘babies’, as you call them, created this entire universe and the least of them can destroy galaxies with a single thought,” Finrod said mildly.
“Well, I really don’t care,” Glorfindel huffed. Then he looked in the opposite direction to where the technician was in front of the monitors goggling at him. “I can go faster if you want. This is pretty slow.”
“Slow?!” the poor Woman squeaked. “How can you be talking at all? You must be running faster than Jesse Owens.”
“Well, who do you think helped train him?” Glorfindel quipped.
“Seriously?” the Woman asked, her eyes widening even more.
The Twins started laughing. “He’s just kidding you, Maggie,” Elrohir said. “Stop showing off to the lady, Loren.”
Glorfindel smirked, then returned his attention to Finrod. “I’m serious, Finrod. I want to start training again and I want to start training with you. You’re probably the only person who can give me a real challenge. Dan and Roy are excellent sparring partners, but we’ve been together for so long that we can practically read each other’s minds. These days, I need at least a couple of other ellyn fighting me at the same time to keep me distracted enough to make sparring a challenge. Except under strict supervision by the Valar and their Maiar, you and I haven’t actually fought since that damn tournament.”
“Well, we can certainly discuss it during the trip,” Finrod said. “I too am itching to beat you to within an inch of your life.”
“Hah!” Glorfindel exclaimed with a smile. “So are we done yet?” He directed the question more at Vorondur than at Maggie, who just stood there blinking in disbelief at what her instruments were telling her about the Elf. Vorondur glanced at the Woman, giving her an understanding smile, then turned to Glorfindel.
“Yes, we’re done. You can stop now. Dan, you want to get the wires off him?”
Elladan nodded and Glorfindel slowed to a walk and then stopped altogether, barely breathing hard, though there was a sheen of sweat on his brow. Elrohir gave his brother a hand with the wires while Vorondur spoke softly with Maggie, thanking her for her time. Five minutes later, they were leaving the room and heading back to the fourth floor where Elrohir showed Glorfindel where he could take a shower before getting dressed.
“Dan and I have rounds to finish, so we’ll catch you later, okay?” he said and Glorfindel nodded.
“Thanks, both of you. I appreciate you standing by me through all this.”
“It was our honor, Captain,” Elladan said soberly, giving him a slight bow of respect which Elrohir echoed. Then they nodded to the others and went on their way.
“Take your time, Loren,” Vorondur said. “There’s no rush.”
“But I want to get back to Edhellond so I don’t miss Days of Our Lives,” Glorfindel countered with a straight face. “I swear, sometimes, I feel like I’m living in a soap opera, except I don’t have an evil twin.”
And with that parting shot, he headed for the shower room while Vorondur just shook his head in amusement, though the other three ellyn looked a bit puzzled.
“So, what exactly is a soap opera?” Finrod asked.
“Why would Glorfindel think he has a twin, evil or otherwise?” Elrond asked almost at the same time.
Vorondur chuckled at the expectant looks on the faces of the others waiting for his answer.
iMelain ah le, mellon nîn: (Sindarin): ‘The Valar be with you, my friend.’
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