Nick smiled as the nurse entered the room. Josie grit her teeth, and tried to ignore his leer.
She was used to this reaction from male patients. She knew that she was attractive, but meeting dozens of strangers each and every day had quickly removed any thrill she got from male attention.
Now she just tried to get through her shift without being clumsily hit on.
“What seems to be the problem, Nick?” she asked, crossing the room and turning off the call light.
“This,” he replied, and lifted his blankets to show her.
The young nurse’s eyes widened—there was an odd swelling between Nick’s legs. It looked like it was a painful, throbbing red, clearly not natural…but at the same time, strangely familiar.
As Josie stared at the young man’s malady, she tried to place it. In her three years working at the large hospital, she’d seen a lot, but this was…different. Like it wasn’t something she’d encountered professionally.
Like it was something she’d seen in her personal life.
She tried to focus. “I’ll get a doctor,” she said firmly, but before she could even turn towards the door, Nick stopped her.
“Please,” he said, a note of urgency in his voice. “I need your help. Now.”
“The doctor will know…—“
“No!” he interrupted. “I’m sure this is something you can help with, Josie.”
Josie bit her lip thoughtfully. On one hand, protocol demanded that she call a doctor in…on the other hand, Nick really looked like he was suffering.
“Okay,” she said, taking a step towards him. “Let’s see what we’ve got here. How long has it been like this?”
“Since you entered the room,” he said, and the young nurse’s eyebrows shot up. She’d entered less than a minute ago—if it was swelling at this rate, it could be dangerous.
“Does it hurt?”
“Mmm…” Nick replied non-commitally. “I wouldn’t say that exactly. But if it stays like this for too long, I think it will.”
Josie nodded. Probably an infection. And the kid was right—if it wasn’t treated, it would continue to grow, and he’d be in for a world of pain.
She glanced at the door once more. This was clearly something she should get a doctor to assist with…but the patient had been very clear that he wanted her to help. Immediately.
“I bet it just needs to be drained,” he suggested, and the nurse nodded. At least in the short-term, that was bound to help. And perhaps if she drained it, he’d calm down enough to let her fetch the physician in charge.
“Let’s see what we can do,” Josie said, pulling a pair of gloves out of the box on the wall. Nick blanched at the sight of them. “What’s wrong??”
“Do you really need those?”
Josie looked at the blue latex in her hand, confused. “Of course I do. If this is an infection—actually, even if it’s not—these protect you from whatever’s on my hand, and me from any germs that the wound might be carrying.”
“I don’t think it’s a wound…” Nick said, glancing down at it. Josie followed his gaze.
Now that he’d said it, she had to agree. Though the swelling was an angry red, there were no signs of abrasion or bleeding.
“Even so,” she said, and a frustrated expression appeared on her patient’s face.
“Can’t you just wash your hands?”
Josie narrowed her eyes at the request, before it dawned on her. He must have had an allergy, and be too embarrassed to talk about it.
There were hypoallergenic gloves back at the nurse’s station, but she felt like he wouldn’t much like it if she headed back to get them. And he looked so distressed by the blue gloves in her hand…
With a sigh, Josie decided that she’d break protocol, just this once. At least until she got help.
“Fine,” she replied softly, crossing the room to wash her hands thoroughly. “But if anyone asks, I was wearing gloves, kapische?”
“Of course, nurse,” Nick replied with a satisfied smile.
When Josie returned to the young man’s side, her mouth twisted with worry. The swelling had begun to leak; looking closer, she saw that there was a slight opening at the very end of the protrusion.
It almost looked like…a neat cut. Just a single small slit, no more than three quarters of an inch in length.
But if it had been an incision, or a tear, she would’ve expected much more than a small dribble of clear liquid to emerge from it.
Something odd was going on here, and Josie was going to investigate.
Reaching out gingerly, Josie brushed her exposed fingertips against the cylindrical bump that her patient had presented her with. She almost jumped as the young man surprised her with a soft groan.
“Are you okay?” she asked clinically, and he nodded. “That feels…good.”
The nurse narrowed her eyes. She’d never encountered a protuberance that felt ‘good’ when touched.
What the hell was this thing?
“You’re sure it doesn’t hurt?” she asked, and Nick shook his head fervently.
Unsure of exactly what to do, she once more stroked the side of the long, thick bulge in front of her. This time, she didn’t let Nick’s moan faze her; instead, she just watched to see how his unusual problem reacted to her ministrations.
After a few gentle strokes, the mysterious medical malady pulsed, and another wave of transparent liquid emerged from the small hole.
“That seems to be working,” Nick advised with a soft groan. “And it feels so good…”
Josie normally couldn’t stand patients who thought they knew better than the trained medical staff tending to their issues…but since his condition had left her baffled, she figured she’d take whatever help she could get.
“Just tell me if you start to feel any pain,” she said, and Nick nodded.
“I swear, I will.”
After just a few minutes of experimentation, Josie started to feel as though she had a handle on what was working to drain the swelling between her patient’s legs. It seemed to respond well to a gentle up-and-down motion, almost like milking a cow.
Before long, she wrapped her hand around it. A quick glance at Nick’s face told her that the act wasn’t causing him any harm—in fact, if she was reading his facial expression correctly, he seemed to be loving it.
The nagging feeling of familiarity kept returning as she increased the pace of her stroking (a change which had yielded an immediate positive reaction from Nick). It was as though she’d done this before…not just once, but many times.
And not just this. It was as though she’d done something just like this, which had led to other…similar actions.
She’d never so much as visited a farm, so she knew it wasn’t milking a cow, or a goat, or whatever other animals one milked. It vaguely resembled shaking a maracca, or grating cheese, or a dozen other repetitive actions…something like that, but none of them were quite right.
As she pumped her bare hand up and down the young man’s growth, wracking her brain for why this seemed like something she’d done before, Josie noticed that something had happened. The bump was swelling, like a flesh volcano ready to erupt.
She pulled back just in time (despite the fact that she was offering medical help, she’d instinctively begun moving her face closer and closer to Nick’s problem) as an off-white discharge left the young man’s growth. It had a strong small (which was also irritatingly familiar)—almost like bleach.
None of it hit her face, but some dribbled onto the hand that she’d been draining him with.
“Feel any better?” she asked, moving to the sink to wash off her patient’s bodily fluid.
“Mm-hmm,” he replied, a satisfied look on his face.
When she returned, she was surprised to see how much Nick’s odd swelling had shrunk by. It seemed wildly disproportionate to the amount of fluid that had left his body…but if there was one thing she’d learned in her career as a nurse, it was not to argue with results.
“It looks like this is going to go away by itself,” she said, using a cloth to wipe the discharge off the young man’s body. “You got lucky.”
“What if it doesn’t?” he asked, sounding strangely unconcerned by the prospect.
“Well, then you’ll tell me, or the doctor.”
“Are there any female doctors?” he asked, and Josie shot him an odd look.
“Of course there are female doctors. Tomorrow night Dr. Singh will be the physician in charge of this wing.”
“Good,” he said, covering himself up with a blanket. Josie opened her mouth—she’d wanted to dress his…wound?
No, that didn’t make sense. Nick didn’t have a wound.
What was she here for?
“I’ll let her know if I run into any trouble with it tomorrow…”
“Great,” Josie said, feeling slightly disoriented. And strangely wet between the legs, as though she’d just spent fifteen minutes engaged in foreplay with her boyfriend. “I’m just glad you’re feeling better.”