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Dr Archeville

[Nov 2010 Vignette] Confidentiality (Fleur & Miss A)

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Stesha had never been to ArcheTech's main lab before. It was a very impressive, almost intimidating place, even more so because today she was here in her civilian clothes. Her green hair, pinned up in braids and rings close to her head, and surrounded by flowers, was the only obvious sign of her metahuman origin. Besides that, she looked like any other woman in a flowing pink blouse and elastic-waist jeans. The nice receptionist put her somewhat at ease, giving her a pass and directing her to the arrows that would lead her to her destination. After a quick bathroom detour, Stesha headed up in the elevator, following the arrows that led her to a small side laboratory that looked somewhat like a normal doctor's examining room, except for a few extra large pieces of equipment around.

It was also empty, which she hadn't exactly expected. She stepped inside anyway and found a note sitting on the bed. "Sorry I'm a little delayed, please get into the robe and wait just a moment." Stesha sighed and did as requested, stripping and neatly folding her clothes, then slipping into the robe and tying it closed. She sat down on the end of the paper-covered exam bed and covered herself with the paper towel sheet, then hugged her arms to her abdomen and waited in the quiet humming of the machinery. She hoped Doc was right about this referral.

The wait wasn't long, much to Stesha's relief. In just a couple of minutes, there was a light tap on the door, and then a beautiful woman in a white lab coat walked in. A seriously beautiful woman, and if Stesha hadn't been used to dealing with Moira, her jaw might have dropped. The doctor closed the door and took out a fancy-looking iPad with a lot of extra technical baubles attached to it, and gave Stesha a friendly smile.

"Hello," the blonde said, "I'm Miss Americana. You must be Fleur de Joie? I understand you asked Doctor Archeville for a female metaphysician?" Miss Americana did some sizing up of her own, looking over her new patient. She certainly looked the part of the earth mother, with her green, flower-bedecked hair, dirt-edged fingernails, and cutely guileless face. That face was a little green as well, but she couldn't tell at a glance if that was normal or if it were an offshoot of Fleur's current situation. Only one way to find out.

"That's right," Stesha replied, "but you can call me Stesha. Doctor Archeville says that you're very good, and I thought I would just feel more comfortable with a woman doctor for this, you understand?"

"Yes, of course," Miss A reassured her, with a totally believable smile that she didn't entirely feel. She knew more about medicine and certainly more about life science than most doctors, but she'd never actually conducted a proper examination of a living human being before. But a day of practice for her was equivalent to a year of study for the average human, so she felt reasonably prepared. Mostly. "This is a very special time for you, and I want you to be comfortable. Or as comfortable as possible while you're wearing a paper gown, anyway," she added with a wink.

"Yes, that's sort of a limiting factor," Stesha grimaced. "Do I really have to wear this? It's sort of... drafty."

"Sorry," Miss A told her sympathetically. "I have to do a quick pelvic check in a few minutes, so you need to wear the gown."

"Oh God." Stesha's grimace deepened. "Are you serious?"

"It's very important," Miss A assured her. "I need to check and make sure your cervix is tightly closed and in the right position, and get a couple of swabs. It won't take long. If it makes you feel any better, the table has already gotten your weight, temperature and blood pressure, so we've skipped the entire first part of the exam right there."

"I guess, a little," Stesha allowed. "Just don't tell me how much I weigh. I don't even want to know."

"No problem," Miss A told her, "but I will say that you've got nothing to worry about so far. You said you think you're about thirteen weeks, is that correct? When was the first day of your last period?"

"The first or second of September," Stesha replied, with the air of someone who had long since worked out the answer to that all-important question. "That's really why I didn't notice for awhile, the beginning of October and November were both so crazy, I didn't even think about it till sometime in the first week of November."

Miss A nodded and did a few calculations on her pad. "You're exactly right then, you're at thirteen weeks and four days now, with a due date of June 2. Though that's a ballpark, you have to understand. Those can be off by as much as two weeks in either direction."

"Oh, I know," Stesha said with great feeling. "My mom is a midwife, so she's drummed that into me thoroughly. I want her to do most of my care if that's possible, but I want to get a clean bill of health first, before we tell them anything. I'm not quite human anymore, you know?"

"That seems sensible," Miss A agreed. "How have you been feeling? Any dizziness, nausea, heartburn, insomnia, food aversion?"

"Not as much now," Stesha told her, furrowing her brow in concentration. "Still pretty sleepy and hungry, a lot more so than usual. Generally my power allows me to go without when I want, but not anymore. But the nausea's mostly gone away, and I only had a couple of dizzy spells ever."

"That sounds very normal," Miss A said approvingly, making a few notes on her pad. "Are you taking a vitamin and getting plenty of water? You said your appetite has been good, what are you eating?"

"Everything I can get my grubby little hands on," Stesha admitted with a laugh. "I'm trying to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, drink a lot of milk, but the other night I sent my fiance out at three in the morning, in costume no less, to buy me another box of Rice Krispie Treats cereal. I think I've eaten a case of it by now. But it's vitamin-fortified!" she added, looking imploringly for Miss A's approval.

"There are probably worse things you could be eating right now," Miss A allowed with a chuckle, "but sugary cereal is not going to take the place of a good prenatal vitamin. Why don't you lie back, and I'll let the sensors take a look at you before we do anything else. They'll be able to tell me what your internal chemistry is up to, and anything we might need to watch out for. We'll save the rest of it for last." She wasn't looking forward to that part any more than her patient was.

"All right," Stesha agreed with a sigh, laying back against the bed with her head on the flat foam pillow. "I'm a little cold," she admitted. "Is there a thermostat in here?"

"No problem," Miss A assured her. "I'll take care of it." Maybe it was out of some kind of nascent guilt for misrepresenting herself, but Miss A made sure to take good care of her patient. She dimmed the overhead lights and bumped up the thermostat, covering Stesha with a permeable sheet that the sensors could look through easily before retreating to the booth to take readings. As an afterthought, she turned on the ambient speakers to the soothing channel the company used in the wellness rooms for scientists in sort need of naps. Relaxing chime music played softly as the scanners went to work, checking over the prone superheroine's unique body chemistry. It was interesting enough work to hold Gina's attention, even as the scans revealed Stesha relaxing into a little nap on the table. The plant controller's body chemistry was very strange, but seemed stable and in balance for what it was. Gina wished sorely for a set of baseline readings, but apparently Doc had never managed to talk her onto one of his lab tables before today. She'd have to work with what she had, but it all looked pretty promising.

As she worked, using the robot's senses and hands to access and interpret the data, Gina acknowledged to herself how much she actually enjoyed doing this sort of thing. The engineering was her first love, and what she was best at, but she liked helping real people, live people like this as well. Maybe that's why she'd been drawn to the idea of building medical prostheses in the first place. She didn't want to waste time in medical school or anything like that, but maybe it was time to improve her knowledge of the field even more.

Miss A spent long enough looking over the readings for Stesha to get a restful little nap, waking gradually as the lights came up over a period of a minute or two. She yawned, disoriented for a moment, then looked around to see the labcoat-clad heroine coming around the partititon. "Mm, I guess I fell asleep there. How do I look?" she asked, a little nervously.

"I don't have a set of baseline readings to go off," Miss A began, "but what I'm seeing now looks good. You both seem to be very healthy and doing just fine. I see a strong heartbeat and good blood flow. You can hear it too, over the microphone." She pressed a button, and suddenly the air was full of a fast, swooshing patter that sounded like a water pump working at full capacity.

"Wow," Stesha said with a silly grin. "That's great. That's amazing. Wait till I tell D- Dark Star. He's going to be over the moon. Maybe literally." She laughed, closing her eyes to listen to the sound until Miss A deactivated the speakers. "It's all really good to hear. I feel so much better. Better enough to even be ready to get the pelvic over with."

"It's good news," Miss A agreed, "but I think you really should get some continued monitoring here, just to be on the safe side throughout. I'm sure you'll be most comfortable doing most of it with your mom, but we have the equipment here to check up on your unique physiology. I want to make sure everything keeps looking as good as it does today." The talking helped to distract her as she got set up, enough of her mind on her work to let her be competent, but not enough to let her think too much about it. "All right, now scoot to the edge of the bed and put your feet in the stirrups."

"I guess that's a good enough compromise," Stesha said, a little reluctantly, even as she moved to comply. The pelvic exam was about the same as she remembered, uncomfortable but fast, and then it was done and she could sit up, as quickly as possible. "Uck."

"But now it's done," Miss A reminded her, hiding her own squick behind a perfect professional smile. She was just glad Stesha hadn't looked up to see her face. "The results will be back in a week or so, and I'll let you know if there's anything to worry about. In the meantime, get a good vitamin regimen going, and make sure to keep up with exercise at whatever level you feel comfortable with. And congratulations, you and Dark Star are very lucky."

"I know," Stesha said, her reservations melting away into a brilliantly happy smile. "We're the luckiest people in the world. I'm so excited! Thank you so much for your help, Miss Americana. I really felt very comfortable with you as my doctor."

"I'm glad," Miss A replied. "Just let me know if you have any questions or if anything comes up. My phone is always available." She left to allow Stesha to get dressed, waiting till she was outside to take a deep breath. In a life full of strange experiences, Gina wasn't sure that hadn't been one of the weirdest.


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