Michael shook his head. "I'd be sick with it, too."
The seventh week Fi wasn't feeling well. At all.
Sunday, when she laid around in bed all day and threw up six times, Michael thought it was just a tummy bug. He made sure she got plenty of rest and good supply of chicken broth and tea. He was somewhat surprised to hear his mom sound smugly amused when he called to say they wouldn't be over for dinner, that Fi had a stomach flu, but, well, his buddies had been acting a little off for a week or so now. Like there was some big joke they were all waiting for him to notice.
Monday, when she still wasn't keeping anything down, he started to get worried.
Tuesday, her skin was light gray, puckered looking, and he was very worried.
"Fi, stick out your tongue."
She did. He touched his finger lightly to it, and it was sticky and dry. He picked her up, protesting weakly, and took her to the emergency room.
The doctor who saw them was polite, competent, listened to his concerns about dehydration and possible tropical parasites, and began with a basic medical history.
"And when was the first day of your last period, Ms. Glenanne?"
"I don't know. Sometime in 2009. I'm on Depo-Provera and don't menstruate as a result."
"Okay." The doc nodded as she made a note of that. "And when was your last shot?"
When she asked that, Fi's expression changed, she looked even paler, and Michael felt the floor tremble, like it was just about to be yanked out from under him.
"Beginning of October."
"Okay." The doctor didn't look up as she wrote that down. But Mike did a quick bit of math and came up with twenty-six weeks. Depo lasts for twelve. "You've been unable to keep anything down for three days, but you've had no fever?"
"Any chance of food poisoning?"
Michael shook his head. "I'd be sick with it, too."
"About your recent stint abroad, you've been back for how long now?"
"Three months, almost four."
"Okay." Mike's thinking parasitic infections usually make themselves known quite a bit before that. And once again, he should be sick, too.
The doctor palpated Fi's neck, armpits, groin, and then stomach. "None of your glands are swollen. Diarrhea to go along with the vomiting?"
"You've been tired a lot lately?"
"I have been, too," Michael said. He can see where this is going and is starting to desperately hope this is some sort of bizarre environmental poisoning that was hitting Fi harder because she was a lot smaller. "We've moved into a new place recently. Could it be some sort of reaction to the new house?"
The doctor stared at him for a second, and then grinned. "You're not throwing up, are you?"
"Wheezing, coughing, rash, or hives? Those are common reactions when you're dealing with an allergic reaction to something in a new place."
"And let me guess, you're also not using any sort of non-Depo-Provera birth control." The grin got even wider.
"No," Fi said in a tiny voice.
"Okay, Ms. Glenanne, the most immediate issue is you are dehydrated. I'm going to set you up with intravenous fluids. I'm also going to give you a prescription for some anti-nausea medication. That way when you get home you'll be able to keep additional fluids in your body. Do you think you can pee?"
"Not a problem. Once we get some fluids into you, that'll take care of that. But before you leave, we'll do a pregnancy test. Now, when you go home, I want you to rest. The anti-nausea meds work pretty well, but just because you'll start feeling like you want to eat does not mean you should wolf down everything in sight on the first day. Today and tomorrow stick to light, easy foods. Broth, rice, Gatorade, Jello, toast, tea. Build yourself back up over a day or so before you start back on real solids."
"Good. It's a bit premature, without doing the test yet, but ninety-nine times out of a hundred, in a case like this, the issue is pregnancy. So, I'll round up some information for you two about that. It says here you're forty-three?"
Fi nodded numbly.
"You're going to want to see an OB as soon as you can. Even though you appear generally healthy, forty-three puts you in the high-risk pregnancy camp."
"And, if I am pregnant, would this" Fi gestures to indicate being sick, "hurt the baby?"
"Probably not. This early on the baby is getting more than enough nutrition from you. But, that doesn't mean getting this dehydrated is a good idea for you. Any more questions?"
Neither of them said anything.
"Okay. A nurse will be in in a few minutes with the IV, the meds, and some pamphlets about pregnancy and all of your options. Congratulations!"
Michael managed to whisper "Thank you" as she left. Then they sat there, Fi in the ridiculous little paper gown, and him, one hip on the hospital bed, one leg supporting him, both of them too shocked to speak.
Sam, Madeline, Jesse, and Elsa had a pool going for what day Mike and Fi would figure out they were expecting.
Four more minutes and Sam would have won.
Michael knocked on the door to Sam's place, holding a bag from the nearest drug store. Sam can see Gatorade, some sort of prescription bottle, and pre-natal vitamins through the nearly translucent plastic.
"Mike?" Sam isn't sure if congratulations are in order or not. Michael is definitely in Blue Screen of Death mode. He has a thousand yard stare going, and barely seems to have noticed the door has opened.
He blinks, shudders, and says to Sam, "Can I borrow your bathroom?"
This was so far outside of what Sam was expecting, he's starting to get worried. "Ummm... sure. Mikey, you okay?"
"Just need to be alone for a little bit."
Sam points toward the bathroom; Mike put down the bag, and heads to it.
The first thing Sam hears is the faint squeak the towel rack makes when you whip a towel off of it too fast. Next comes the sound of the ventilation fan. After that, the water turns on full blast.
For a moment, that was all he heard, and he figures that if Mike needs to have a good cry somewhere private, or whatever the less girly sounding version of that is, that's fine. The not nearly muffled enough scream a few seconds later gets Sam moving.
He doesn't bother to knock.
Michael's sitting, back against the wall, towel shoved into his mouth, full-out screaming. For a second, Sam really wished Madeline was here, because Mike needs a hug more than anything else.
No, what Mike really needs is a father. A best friend will have to do.
Mike picked his place because he can't stand to let his ladies see him like this. He's got to be strong for them. But no matter how strong you are, a full on freak out can happen, and it makes a lot more sense to let it happen, get it over with, and then regroup and go on, than to try and pretend it isn't happening.
Sam shuts the door, turns off the shower, sits next to Mike, his knees popping as he eases down. He takes the towel away, and puts an arm around Mike. He doesn't say anything, just lets Mike cry and hopes that this is a freak out, and not news that there's something seriously wrong with Fi.
He's known Michael for over twenty years now, and never before has he seen Mike this broken looking. From what Jesse said, this is what Mike was like on the flight back to Miami after Nate died. Once again the fear that something might be really wrong with Fi hits, and Sam wishes he had spent a few seconds snooping in that bag to see what the prescription was.
A few more moments pass, and Michael seems to calm down some. Finally he says to Sam, "We can't be parents. Who in their right mind would leave either of us alone with an infant for more than ten minutes at a time?"
Sam sighs and relaxes. All things considered, this is good news. "You'll be fine, Mike. Both of you. You're fast learners. Babies really aren't all that complicated."
"It'll be a target. Between the two of us we've got a medium-sized city's phone book worth of enemies."
That unfortunately is both true and a much more real concern than being bad parents.
"And we're both over forty which means not only are the risks of some sort of serious birth defect high, but it's also really not good for Fi to be pregnant at her age. When they gave her the anti-nausea meds, she fell asleep, and I read all the 'helpful' information they gave me about high-risk pregnancies. Which is apparently designed to torture new dads because it tells you about all sorts of terrible things that can happen, but doesn't tell you about how likely any of them are.
"We don't know how far along she is. More than four weeks, less than twelve, but she's been drinking, at least a glass of wine a night, every night. And God alone knows how many hours of smoke Fi inhaled from my mom."
Sam considers it a good sign that Michael appears to be concerned about the baby as well as Fi. "Your mom quit smoking around Fi three weeks ago, Mike. And a glass of wine a night is unlikely to cause any problems. Everyone drank and smoked pretty much all the time my mom was pregnant with me, and yours with you, and most everyone got through just fine."
"Fi isn't most everyone."
"I know, brother, I know."
"There's nothing I can do about this. I can't fight it. I can't outsmart it. I can't fix it."
Sam tries to pick his words carefully here, not sure if this is a welcome idea or not. "You might be able to... fix it."
Michael shakes his head. "I can't bring that up unless she does. And she's Catholic enough I don't think she's going to bring it up." He stares at the bathroom cabinets for a long minute. "My mom stopped smoking three weeks ago?"
"So, you all knew?"
"Kind of hard to miss, especially if you live with a woman who's been pregnant. Elsa noticed when Fi started talking about how her clothing was fitting differently. Your mom caught the same thing. Apparently there's only one reason why a woman suddenly adds a cup or two to her bra size without surgery, and that's baby on board."
Michael makes some sort of sound that could be assent, or could just be him letting Sam know he's listening.
"Mike, do you want her to terminate the baby?"
Mike's head falls back against the bathroom wall, and he half-gulps half-sniffles, and Sam swears to himself he'll never tell a soul about this. "I can't allow myself to want anything else, or it will break my heart.
"We'd have to leave. At least as long as she was pregnant. She'd be too tempting a target, soft and slow and clumsy. If we gave up the baby, we could come back after, but..." Mike doesn't have to say how hard it would be, for both of them, to go through nine... six?... however many months are left of their baby growing inside Fi just to give it away. Even if that is the safest option for everyone involved. "And if we didn't, we'd be on the run forever to keep it safe. Half of the guys on the NOC list got 15 years or less. And there's no reason someone on the other half won't escape and come after us. We'd never be in one city for more than a year or two. New names, new jobs, that's one thing for adults, but for a kid."
"Mike, I think you're taking this a little too far. Most of the real psychos that hate you or Fi are dead. A lot of the others are unlikely to want to see what you'd do if they kidnapped your kid. What happened to Anson and Card was an awfully good 'Don't mess with my family' warning to everyone else who might come up against you."
"Would you want to take that risk with your child?"
Sam shakes his head, sadly.
"We keep the baby, and we spend the rest of our lives looking over our shoulders. We say good-bye to everyone we love. We give it up, and we go into hiding for the next... however long, and we have to say good-bye to it. It never gets to know us. My mom loses her second grandchild in a year." He sees the question on Sam's face. "Ruth's changed her phone number. She's made it pretty clear she doesn't want anyone with the name of Westen involved with her or Charlie."
"Not being an uncle to a child I've barely even seen isn't too hard. Mostly, I feel sorry for my mom. Not being a father to my own child is..." He stops talking, tries not to cry, and fails miserably.
"You want this child, don't you?"
"Yes." Michael pauses, staring at nothing. "I'm not father material, and I've never felt a desire for kids. But I was half-sitting on her hospital bed, watching her sleep, reading those evil pamphlets, feeling how... It's the worst feeling in the world. All of this danger, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. And at first it was all about the risk to Fi. This could kill her or cripple her. But I kept reading, and they've got pages and pages of things that could be wrong with the baby as well, and I realized it wasn't just Fi I was scared for. And when that hit, the entire rest of our life and the massive fucking disaster it's become hit with it as well.
"Look, I'm not oblivious, and neither is Fi. Willfully ignorant, probably. You think I didn't notice she'd gained two cup sizes, was sleeping all the time, or missed her appointment for her shot? Or that this managed to happen at exactly the right time, when the danger was gone and life could finally go on? The only way this was ever going to happen was as an accident. And so, oops.
"I knew; I just didn't want to.
"But I don't think it matters that I want it. Or that she probably does, too. Any child of ours would be better off raised by other people. People who don't have to hope that most of the psychopaths they've pissed off have been scared away."
"Mike, you've been able to do anything you've been willing to work for. This is just another challenge. If you want it, life with your child, here, near the people you love, you can get it."
"One step at a time, brother. First step, go home, tell Fi you love her, and find out what she wants to do. And remember, you aren't alone. There's at least three, and really a whole lot more, sets of eyes watching your, and any child you may have's, back. And I want you to remember something else when you're thinking about going into hiding, here, we've all got your back. Somewhere else, you're own your own."
Michael stood up slowly and gave Sam a hand up as well. "You're a good friend, Sam."
"Damn skippy. Now, off with you."
Michael crept into their bedroom, quietly easing the door shut, hoping not to wake Fi.
She rolled over and watched him come in. So much for that plan. He's not sure if he woke her, or if she was already awake when he came in. She was sleeping when he left. Once the anti-nausea meds kicked in and she wasn't throwing up, the pregnancy tiredness took over and knocked her out.
He put down the bag and sat on the side of the bed.
"Did I wake you?"
"No. I was half-dozing, half-awake."
"Okay. How are you feeling?"
"Tired, thirsty, and terribly stupid."
Michael shrugs, grabs one of the Gatorades, opens it, and hands it to her as she sits up, and then says, "Not like you got pregnant on your own."
"It's also not like you're in charge of the birth control. You should be able to rely on me to do the job and do it right."
"Fi, I know what sort of birth control we use. I know you've got to go to the doctor at least once a season for it. We talked about this when you got out of prison. I knew how it worked well enough to ask about it then. You told me when your next appointment was. And we both forgot. It's not like we weren't busy at the time."
"We've been awfully not busy recently."
"True. Still, I don't want you thinking this is all your fault. There's plenty of stupid to go around here, and half of it is mine."
She sips the Gatorade and winces a little. "Don't like this flavor."
"I've got blue, red, purple, green, and orange, too."
"You know there's something very wrong about a drink when you can identify the color easier than the flavor."
"How about the orange stuff? It's probably orange flavored."
She nods. He fishes it out of the bag, opens the new one, and hands it to her. "I got the anti-nausea meds and the vitamins. Do you want them?"
"I've got a few more hours before the stuff I'm on wears off."
She drinks more of the Gatorade. "This one is better."
He lies on the bed next to her, looking at the ceiling. He's spent hours, full nights, doing this, but in the past what he's been pondering has been a lot more dangerous, and a whole lot easier for him to control.
"What if I didn't forget?"
He rolls onto her side to face her. He couldn't put a name to the emotion running through him right now even with a week's worth of time and a thesaurus.
He doesn't like the way his voice sounds as he says that, and he's guessing his face looks pretty off as well.
She shakes her head. "No, I don't mean skipped the shot on purpose. I wouldn't do that, not to you, not to anyone. Just... I don't know... It's not the sort of thing I'd forget. I've been having sex since I was fifteen. I've never even had a close call before. Not when I was a girl with stars in my eyes and hormones running like crazy. Not in Ireland where birth control wasn't easy to get ahold of, and I was in the middle of a war zone. Not when I've never known where I was going to be or when or who I was going to be with, never. No matter how illegal it was to have it, I always had something and used it to make sure this didn't happen."
Michael smiles a little at her and says, "Willful ignorance. I said that to Sam less than half an hour ago."
"You went to see Sam?"
"You were asleep when I left. I needed some alone time, and didn't want to risk waking you up."
"What were you doing that you were afraid might wake me up?"
"I'd really rather not say."
She looks at him carefully, noticing the redness in his eyes and the slight puffiness to his eyelids, and realizes they aren't from lack of sleep.
"So, Sam knows?"
"Yeah. And apparently my mom, Jesse, and Elsa, and possibly all of Miami. Somehow we ended up being the last to know about this, which is where willful ignorance came in."
She nods and drinks more. "Are you angry?"
"A little. At myself."
A long quiet moment passes before Fi asks, "So, if you aren't angry, what are you feeling about this?"
"Scared and sad." He kisses her forehead. "I love you."
"I know. What do you want to do?"
"Be someone else. Someone who could celebrate having a child with a woman he loves. Someone who's not worried about evil sociopaths using you or the child for revenge or leverage. How about you?"
"I want to keep the baby and build a home and life with you. But I know we can't. It would be safer with someone else."
Another long quiet moment passes.
"I'm sorry, Michael."
"For putting you, us, through this. If it was just up to you, you'd handle this differently, I'd think."
He shrugs again. "It's not just up to me."