“Will he be accompanying you?” the receptionist asked in a kind voice when she saw Cris.
Nelson looked at his manager. With a reassuring smile from him, the swimmer turned back to the woman. “Yes, he will.”
“Then you two come with me,” said a nurse that came through the double door at the back.
“You’ve done this before, right?” the nurse asked as he led them to a cramped room with a sofa, some lockers and changing rooms. Nelson nodded and the woman handed him a little plastic basket and a key. “Then you know what to do. You’re size small, right?”
“Ah, yes?” Cris answered a little confused. The nurse nodded and left the room. “Why did she ask that?”
“For the clothes,” Nelson said, putting his cellphone and wallet in the plastic basket.
“I’m gonna need you to elaborate a little more,” Cris said, making circles with his hands.
“You don’t know about this exam?” When the manager shook his head, Nelson turned to him with a blank expression and then chuckled. “How can I say this in the best way? Well, first, we get naked.”
“So far, I like where this is going,” Cris interrupted with a smile.
“Then we change into the medical clothes,” Nelson went on as if not interrupted, though he smiled as well. He showed the plastic basket to Cris. “After we put all metal here, we can go in the exam room.”
“Sounds troublesome.” Despite his words, Cris placed his wallet and cellphone as well. “Why do we need all this?”
“If there’s any kind of metal, the exam might not go work. Metal interferes with the machine or something like that. So the patient and those accompanying can’t enter the exam room with any kind of metal. Even zippers and buttons.”
“Again, it sounds troublesome. But I’m not here to make the rules,” Cris said, taking off his shirt.
“Why are you taking off your shirt?” Nelson asked in a hushed whisper, looking at the door as if expecting the nurse to come back at any second.
“To change clothes?” Cris said, his voice indicating it should be obvious.
“Yeah, well, there’s a changing room in the back. And you don’t have the clothes in it yet!”
“I know, but this way is more fun, I mean, to speed things up. Besides, why are you getting all worked up? We’re both guys, so there’s no need to get embarrassed, right?” Cris showed his sly smile.
Before Nelson could answer, the nurse opened the door. “Here are your clothes…” She went silent when she noticed Cris without his shirt. With a forced smile, she handed them their clothes. “I’m waiting outside for you two to change,” she said in a courteous tone and left the room, though not before Nelson noting her cheek reds.
Cris laughed and before the swimmer could say anything, he ran to one of the changing rooms.
With a sigh of defeat and his cheeks red, Nelson went to change his clothes too.
“I gotta say. This is strange. Too strange,” Cris said from the other side of the plastic partition.
“I know I’ll regretting asking, but I’m an idiot,” Nelson mumbled and then sighed, both loud enough for Cris to hear. “What’s strange?”
Cris laughed again. “I wasn’t gonna say, but since you asked.” Even without seeing, Nelson could feel the sly smile. “Normally when I take my clothes with a naked man inches away from me to go in a room with the said man, I expect something a lot different from an exam.”
Nelson opened his mouth to reply, but midway he gave up and the laugh escaped his lips before he knew it. “I’m really glad you’re here. Last time by this hour I was about to see my lunch again.”
“And I’m glad I didn’t have to see that today.”
“Me too. Well, I hope we get a happy ending today too. Though in a different way than you’re used to,” Nelson said, walking out of the partition wearing a hospital gown.
A second later, Cris pulled the curtain from his own partition. “How do I look? I feel oddly constrained wearing this,” he said before Nelson answered. He turned his head to look at his own back. Then he turned his body around, showing his small and shaved butt. “I like this clothes has quick access. In and out without the hassle of pulling down or taking off your clothes.”
“You say that as if you didn’t like taking off your clothes,” Nelson mumbled. He blushed, chuckled and ran a hand over his face. “You know you can wear your underwear, right?”
The swimmer knew Cris was faking it, but he still couldn’t help but smile when the manager’s face suddenly lit with comprehension.
“Oh! That makes way more sense. Though it’s less fun.” Cris pouted in a cute way before walking back to the changing room. He walked out a few seconds later. “Even more constrained… but, well… Let’s go?” He offered a hand to his swimmer.
Nelson outlined a smile, but it only lasted a second. He breathed slowly with his eyes unfocused as he turned to the room.
“Hey…” Cris walked closer to Nelson and putting a hand on the swimmer’s shoulder. “Everything’s gonna be fine,” he said in a low and comforting voice.
Nelson looked at the manager. Those reassuring and firm eyes gave the swimmer strength. With a deep breath and his courage renewed, he walked to the door with Cris by his side.
“Right this way, please,” the nurse lead them through a corridor.
“Hey, Nelson. It’s been a while. How are you?” the medical technician was waiting for them at the end of the corridor. When he saw Cris, he showed an intrigued expression. “You’re not with your parents today?”
“Hey. This is Cris, my friend and new manager.”
“That’s good. You got a new manager,” he said, smiling.
As Nelson lied down on the machine and the man fastened the swimmer’s legs, they catch up on their conversation. After he finished, he picked up a thin and long button connect to a cable and handed to Nelson.
“Do you still remember the drill? Do you want a blanket?” The swimmer nodded to both questions. The medical technician placed the white sheet over Nelson, covering almost to the torso. “If it gets too uncomfortable, press the button. I’ll stop the machine right away.” The man left the exam room and a music was turned on.
“That’s huge. Way bigger than I thought,” Cris commented, staring at the MRI machine.
“It’s loud too. Wait until it’s on,” Nelson said, his voice a little shakier than he would have liked.
“How many times you’ve done this?”
“More than I’d like,” he admitted.
“Seems scary.” Cris leaned over Nelson so he could peer inside the machine. “Lucky you’re checking your legs. Imagine putting your head inside this.”
“You’re not helping.” The long and dark tube seemed even scarier from the swimmer’s perspective, but he didn’t say anything. Though he had the impression his voice was doing that for him, he kept trying to act normal.
Before Cris could speak, the machine turned on. The conversation ended as they turned to the noise. It was low at first but, little by little, the sound grew. Then it was so loud it felt as if vibrating inside them.
Nelson’s breathing became faster as the familiar and unpleasant sensation of ‘about to go down some huge monster’s dark throat’ filled him. “I can never get used to this.” He almost had screamed above the noise to be heard.
Slowly the machine’s bed seemed to swallow him. Nelson held his breath while making sure he stared at the ceiling all the time.
The humming became even louder as he entered the machine. It was so loud the swimmer couldn’t hear anything else, not even the music. He didn’t even know if Cris was saying something or not.
Nelson started sweating despite the cold room. He felt his body itching here and there, but the worse was his legs. The urge to press the button and stop the exam filled him. I didn’t remember it was this bad, he thought, trying and failing to control his breathing.
Even though he inhaled, he was out of her. The more he tried, the more out of air he became. He closed his eyes and was about to press the button, but then he felt something involving his free hand. Nelson opened his eyes and looked around.
Cris was looking back at him with a firm expression. He nodded slowly, showing the same reassuring eyes as before.
Nelson gulped and squeezed Cris’ hand. As the manager squeezed the hand back, the swimmer loosened his grip over the button and his breathing slowed down.
He had no idea how much time it passed, but finally, after what seemed an eternity, the machine’s rumbling died down little by little.
“That… wasn’t as bad as I expected,” Nelson lied in a shaky voice when the bed slid out of the machine.
“Speak for yourself. It kinda hurt quite a bit,” Cris said, shaking the hand Nelson had squeezed the entire time.
“Sorry for that… I just…” The swimmer averted his eyes and blushed. How could I act like a kid…? He sighed and faced Cris. “Guess I was a little scared…”
“Yeah… let’s call that a little.” Despite closing and opening his hand to subdue the pain, he showed a mean smile. “Since we’re gonna be spending a lot of time together, I’ll tell you this now. I don’t hate a little rough. Actually, scratch that. I love when a man gets all rough on me. Even so, I’m not into S&M.”
Nelson opened and closed his mouth a few times, no idea how to react. In the end, he averted his eyes. “Sorry,” he said again. He placed the button on his belly, reached out and got Cris’ hand with his both, pressing and massaging the palm.
“Hey, it’s actually working,” Cris said in surprise, his expression softening as the pain went away.
“It’s a swimmer’s trick for hand cramps.” Nelson applied more strength. “I have no idea who thought me though.”
“Everything went great,” the technician said when he entered the room again. Nelson finished massaging Cris’ hand as the man released him from the machine. “We’ll have the results by the end of the day.”
“What? S soon?” Nelson had trouble supporting himself on his numb legs and sat on the bed. “Last time it took four days.”
“Yeah, well, we received an order of priority from the border of directors to speed up the results,” he said with an uncomfortable smile.
“Wow…” Nelson looked at the floor. “I… I’m not sure if I should be happy or worried about this…”
The technician’s smile stiffened. “I’ll call you when I have the results. I’ll send it to your doctor too.”
Nelson thanked him, then he and Cris left the room. They went back to the cramped room, changed back into their clothes and got their stuff.
“All day waiting huh…” Nelson let out a sigh. “I forgot that waiting for the exam was way worse than that machine…”
Cris looked at him in silence for a long time. Then his face lit with a smile. “Instead of worrying all day, how about spending it having fun with me?”