Sitting up, I rubbed my eyes, trying to wake up. With trembling hands, I reached for my cell phone. My father would just be up, getting ready for work.
“Daddy?” I said, when he picked up the phone.
“Daddy, can you make an appointment for me with Doctor Martin?”
“Why?” I could hear the alarm in his voice, but I wasn’t going to hide anything from him. He would find out soon enough.
“I have lesions on my arms.”
Silence came through the other end of the phone, so long that I was worried that he had hung up.
“I’m here, Amy. I’ll do it right away.”
“The sooner the better. You don’t have to come if you have to work…”
“I’ll get you an appointment and call you back. I’ll be there with you, honey.”
“Thank you.” I hung up the phone and drew my knees up to my chest, trying not to cry. Had this been a few weeks ago, I would have called Liam and he would have rushed right over, vampire or not. But now, calling Liam would just seem weird.
And so the only person I called was the production office of Ranger to call in sick. I then left a message with the dorm mother, calling in sick. That was official policy, but when I had been sick before, I had always just told Liam, and that was it.
My father called back just after six, which was when Dr. Martin’s office had opened.
“You have an appointment at 8 am. I’ll pick you up at 7:30. And Amy?”
“Mmmm?” Really, I didn’t want to get out of bed.
“Pack a hospital bag, just in case. Maybe he’ll want to admit you and run some tests.”
My heart skipped a beat. “Dad, I can’t miss that many days on Ranger,” I said.
“I know, I know. I’ll meet you out front.”
My heart was beating so fast I could hardly think straight, let alone pack properly. My hands were trembling and I was hyperventilating. I really wished that Liam was here with me.
But at the same time, it was better this way. Liam was immortal, and I was clearly not. To put him through such a short relationship that ended in death, even I could see that was cruel. Liam had seen too much death already.
The cafeteria was open this early, but I didn’t feel like eating anything. I was pacing my room, doing nothing productive.
Eventually, I let myself out of my room and knocked on Sarah’s door. Both she and Connor answered the door, and I envied her. Connor had likely spent the night with her, her Shield powers keeping his transformation at bay. If only that was something I could have given to Liam, maybe we wouldn’t be where we were now. But all I ever was to him was unappetizing.
I realized she wasn’t wearing very much, and that her door was half open, which made this encounter so much more awkward.
“I, uh… I’m not going to be in class today. I have a doctor’s appointment.”
Her brow furrowed. “You didn’t have one yesterday?”
“Yeah, well, these weren’t here yesterday either,” I replied, and rolled up my sleeve.
Sarah’s eyes widened. When we had first met online, I had told her everything about myself, including the diagnosis. She probably knew more about AIDS than I did and spent the first few months Googling and being overly worried. All I had to do was half mention a symptom and Sarah was on top of it, with about five different remedies. She should have been a doctor if acting wasn’t working out for her.
Which I sadly realize was probably why she knew to take pennyroyal to induce a miscarriage. If there was a good way to use medicine, then there was also a bad way to use medicine as well.
“Call me as soon as you know.” She placed a gentle hand on my arm. “Or do you want me to come with you?”
“No, it’s fine. My dad is coming with me.” I shrugged and tried to put on a smile. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
By the time my dad arrived, I was a mess. The ride to the hospital was silent, both of us lost in our thoughts.
Dr. Martin didn’t keep us waiting long. After all, he had treated my mother right until the end and he had been my doctor since I was born. I had thought a few times about what I would do if he retired, but now I realized I’d probably be dead before he retired. And that wasn’t a very comforting thought.
“Alright, Amy, let me see.” He rolled up my sleeve.
He tried to keep his face neutral, but I could tell right away that he was concerned. I could see the slightest changes in people’s emotions, learning to mimic them when I was acting. But right now, I wasn’t too grateful for that skill.
“Ok, then. So we’ll run a few tests. You’ve got time today?”
“Hey, I’ve been watching your shows on TV. Congrats on that. I love Sites, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw you. Good for you!”
I blushed. “Thanks. Have you seen Ranger?”
“Yes, I have, Miss Cassandra Winters,” he said, and held out his clipboard. “Can I have your autograph?”
I grinned for the first time all day, and looked to my father, who smiled.
“Uh, Dr. Martin, aren’t you supposed to sign this?” I asked, looking at the requisition form.
He flipped it to a blank page and held out a pen. Technically, this was supposed to be a show stopping moment in my life. The guys on set had talked about it: the first time someone really asks for your autograph, and I supposed it counted even if it was your doctor. But I wished that it wasn’t in a doctor’s office when I was facing my death square in the face. Because I would remember this moment for the rest of my life, no matter how short it was.
I signed my name with a flourish and handed it back to him.
“Thanks. I’ll sell this on eBay,” he teased me and then handed me a requisition. “Go on down the hall and get this sorted out. You’ll be alright, Amy, you’re a strong one.”
“Yep,” I said, although there wasn’t much hope in my voice.
We sat in silence in the waiting room for at least half an hour to be called.
My father turned to me. “You’re so much like your mother, you know that?”
“Uh…” I was about to call him out on how this really wasn’t the best time to be telling me that, but he continued.
“You look just like her, you know that? In the wrong light, I think I’m seeing ghosts.”
“Do you think ghosts are real?” I asked him, my breath catching in my throat.
He looked at me a long while, and then looked around, at the ceiling, at the floor, at anything to distract him. “I don’t know, Amy. I’ve seen some strange things in my time.”
“Did you…” I took a deep breath. “Did you see the end of the Sites episode?”
“Yes,” he said quietly, and it surprised me. My father was always a rational man, a logical man. Everything was calm and collected and everything had an explanation. “You saw her too?”
I felt like a whole weight had been lifted from my body.
“I didn’t know what to think, Dad. I mean, I never…” My voice caught and tears began to stream down my face.
He wrapped his arms around me, drawing me close. The emotions that had been pent up all came flowing out, anger and sadness, grief and fear. It had been such a hard few weeks, and I regretted not going to him sooner with the way I felt. I cried until I felt that I was dry, and my head ached and my ears pounded and I could barely see. All the time, he held me, stroking my hair and making soothing noises. Eventually, he spoke.
“It just means that she’s watching over you, Amy. It means that she’s proud of you. And she would be so proud of you. Your mother once fancied being an actress, did you know that?”
“What?” I pulled away from him to meet his eyes. “Really?”
“Sure. But I mean, no more than every young girl did. But when we were first dating, we would go to see theater shows all the time, sometimes two in one day. We didn’t have very much money, but she always knew how to get the cheap seats. She had all these tips and tricks, and we’d line up for hours for rush seats with a hundred coupons.”
“So she must have been so happy when you got a job at the Academy,” I replied.
He snorted. “She was just like you. She wanted to come to work with me every day. I think that she might have tried to be a student there if she was just a little bit younger.”
He shrugged. “Adults don’t often talk about dreams that never were, Amy. You’re so lucky, you know that? You’re living you’re dream. And you’ve turned out exactly the way your mother and I wanted you to.”
“I thought you said acting was just silly and not stable.”
“I did say that,” he replied. “But really, I just wanted you to have a future, to protect you and keep you safe. But you seem to be doing that just fine these days. You don’t need me anymore, Amy.”
I wouldn’t say that it was a nice day I spent with my father, because how nice can it be when you are at a hospital? But with him by my side, the day didn’t seem so long, the tests didn’t hurt as much, and the cafeteria food seemed a bit more passable.
“Where is Liam? He’s normally glued to your side.”
I took a deep breath. I had been waiting for this question all day.
“Oh,” he said, surprised. “That was fast.”
“Well, it was about a year,” I said, blushing when he looked surprised. It’s not like we came out and told him right away.
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. It helps that Sarah is here.”