I shook my head, then added, "Not so far."
"What does 'not so far' mean?" he asked.
"It means, I came close."
Micah said, "We thought she was going to shift earlier today."
"How long has she been carrying multiple strains of lycanthropy?"
Micah glanced at me. I shrugged. "About six months, we think. When she didn't shift, we just assumed she hadn't caught it."
Dr. North nodded as if that made sense. "Logical, up to a point. The literature says the first full moon and you shift, period. But you're saying she's had six full moons, and nothing."
"Don't talk about me like I'm not here," I said.
"I'm sorry, Anita. I thought I'd give you a few minutes to recover."
"I'm as recovered as I'm going to get," I said. I took in a deep breath and let it out slow. I pushed at their hands. "I can sit up, I'm okay."
"Anita"--and this time it was Micah--"let us help, please."
I tried to find the energy to get grumpy about it, but I didn't have it to spare. "Fine, just hold me, don't hold me down in the chair. It's like being trapped." Trapped, yeah, that about covered it.
Micah held his hand down, and after a heartbeat, I took it. Richard did the same on the other side, and I took his hand, too. I was being brave, but if the news kept being so interesting, I might need something to hold on to.
"The blood work results came back with the same results on all the tests twice. Since according to everything we think we know, that's impossible, I want to do an ultrasound. The ultrasound will show whether you're pregnant or not. We'll be able to see it. If we don't see it, then you aren't pregnant. The home test was a false positive, and the blood work is right."
"And if I am pregnant?"
He fought his face, trying to find some bedside manner that would fit. "Then we'll do this."
"Two babies, one that may grow so fast that it will be ready to deliver in weeks, and a second baby that may try to eat its way out of me, or eat its twin." My voice was mine again, matter-of-fact. I could have been talking about what to have for dinner.
Someone said, "Jesus." Richard's hand tightened on mine until it almost hurt, but I didn't tell him to let go. I wanted to feel him there. Micah added a second hand, holding my arm, too. At least neither of them told the big lie, that it would be all right. It wasn't going to be all right.
Dr. North blinked at me. It's never good to see your doctor do that slow oh-my-God blink. "I think that would be worst-case scenario, Anita. Let's get the ultrasound done, then we'll know what we're dealing with." He stood up, shaking out his pants legs, and not meeting anyone's eyes. I think I'd been a little too accurately pessimistic for Dr. North. Me, being too pessimistic, hell, yeah.
I GOT TO lie down on the bed. Doc North put the railings down so he could get the ultrasound equipment and himself close enough. The railings on the other side went down so that the crowd could gather round. He hadn't been exaggerating about the interns and nurses arm-wrestling. Well, maybe about the method of choosing, but they all wanted to be there. We were making medical oddity, if not medical history, no matter what happened. I felt like a display at the zoo.
Dr. North beat me to it, by saying, "We don't need this many people."
One of the interns said, "Let's clear some of her people out."
I looked right at him, and said, "Get out!"
He started to argue.
Dr. North said, "Get out."
The intern got out. The remaining junior doctors were way more polite.
The nurses got squeezed out completely, though one of the doctors was a woman.
Claudia saved the day, a little, by saying, "Anita, he was an ass**le, but for this, we can get some of us outside. I'm going to assume," and she glared at the white coats, "that some of these people are here to help out. Regardless of what the ultrasound shows, we don't have the medical expertise to offer suggestions." She motioned her people out, saying, "We'll be right outside if you need us."
She called to Travis and Noel. "The two of you, come with us."
"We're not guards," Travis said. "Joseph gave us to Anita, not to you."
"Now is not the time to be a pain in the ass, Travis," I said; my voice wasn't calm anymore. It was starting to crumble round the edges.
He didn't argue after that. He just walked out. Noel followed him, clutching his book and his backpack. Claudia gave me a look before she went out. I almost called her back in, but didn't. We weren't close friends, but I trusted her. I trusted Micah, and to a point I trusted Richard. But they weren't neutral parties, and we might need a cooler head, one not so personally involved. The door closed behind her before I could decide to say Stay. Decision made.
Dr. North started sending interns out, until we were down to three. That left enough room for Micah and Richard to stand near the head of the bed on the opposite side of the ultrasound stuff. I had only one hand to offer, and Micah got that. Richard ended up gripping my shoulder, but bless him, he didn't argue about it. Maybe grown-up reality had finally hit us all, and the squabbling would stop. We could hope.
I'd had to take my jacket off, which showed the gun and its shoulder holster. I was using the extra belt I'd kept at Jean-Claude's, but I was down two, so I'd have to send Nathaniel shopping for more leather belts soon. The lone female intern kept looking at the gun, with quick flashes of her eyes, as if she'd never seen one before.
I had to slide the belt off, and unhook the bottom part of the shoulder rig, so the doctor could snake my jeans down around my hips. The gun didn't stay put when I lay back on the bed, and I had to use both hands to pull it down. I suppose I could have taken it off and let Micah hold it, but I wanted the gun touching me. It was the only security blanket I had with me, except for Micah and Richard. And since both of them were a little responsible for my being in this mess, well, I was having mixed feelings about clinging to anyone who could even remotely have gotten me pregnant. For the first time, I wondered if a vasectomy on a lycanthrope was an absolutely sure thing.
"This is going to be cold," Dr. North said, before he squirted clear gel all over my stomach. It was cold, but it gave me something else to occupy my mind, and I was taking it.
"Micah had a vasectomy about three years ago. We'd discounted him as the possible father, but he is a lycanthrope, I mean..."
Dr. North looked at Micah. "Did he just burn the ends or did you put in silver clips?"
"Both, and I was tested about six months ago and came up clean."
"I've heard about using silver clips; are you aware that there've been two cases of silver poisoning from vasectomies like yours?"
Micah shook his head. "No, I wasn't aware."
"You might let your doctor run a blood test for silver levels, just to be safe." Dr. North looked down at me, and his face was all soft. Good bedside manner. He held up a chunky piece of plastic. "I'm going to run this over your skin. It doesn't hurt."
I nodded. "You explained how it works, doc, just do it."
He started running the chunky wand over my stomach, spreading the clear gel around as he worked. I watched the little TV screen behind him. He was glancing at it, too. It was gray, white, and black, and fuzzy. If it had been my television at home I'd have been calling the cable company and raising hell. The images seemed to make more sense to him than to me, because he'd glance and move the wand. Then he just started moving the wand without looking at it, looking only at the screen.
The tallest intern said, "Well, damn." He sounded terribly disappointed.
North didn't even glance at him. He just said, "Get out."
"Now," and my kindly doctor sounded as mean and serious as I'd ever heard him. He might have good patient manners, but I was beginning to get the idea that his bedside manner ended by the bedside. Fine with me.
"What's wrong?" Richard said. He was leaning over me, trying to decipher the images.
I asked. "What are you seeing that I'm not?"
"Nothing's wrong, Mr. Zeeman," Dr. North said without looking at him. "And what am I seeing? Nothing."
"What does that mean, nothing?" Micah asked, and for the first time I heard a thread of tension in his voice. That iron control, cracking just a little.
North turned back to me with a smile. "You are not pregnant."