Original prompt: Imagine Jamie meeting Joe Abernathy
Claire lay a gentle hand on Jamie’s knee. He sighed and shifted in the uncomfortable plastic chair.
“I just – weel. I dinna ken how to start talking about –” he gestured vaguely, wedding ring glinting in the harsh fluorescent light.
Claire captured his hand and threaded their fingers together. “Relax. I’ll do all the talking. It’s all worth it, right?”
He licked his lips and squeezed her fingers. “Aye,” he murmured quietly.
“Mr. and Mrs. Fraser?”
Jamie rose – hand still linked with Claire’s – and allowed her to lead him across the waiting room, past the nurse with a pasted-on smile, and into the hallway beyond. They turned a corner and stepped into a small, bright office.
“Claire! So good to see you!”
Jamie blinked awkwardly as Claire dropped his hand and leaned across the desk to kiss the doctor’s cheek.
“Hi, Joe,” she smiled, standing straight beside Jamie. “Thank you for seeing us. This – ”
“Ah! The Highlander I’ve heard so much about.” Dr. Abernathy’s kind eyes crinkled as he gripped and pumped Jamie’s hand. “I’ve always wanted to meet the brave man who stole the heart of this English rose.”
“Pleasure,” Jamie replied cautiously. “Claire didna mention you’re American.”
Joe gestured for his guests to sit, and stepped around them to shut the door. “Boston, actually. Came here on an exchange a few years back and never left. Scotland is a beautiful country – despite all the rain and fried food.”
Claire smiled as she settled into her chair, taking Jamie’s hand once more. “Joe and I were the only non-Scots here for a long time – we worked together to decipher what you all were saying. And he is one of the most well-known and respected doctors in his field. I trust him.”
Jamie’s thumb traced the back of her knuckles. “So. He knows, then?”
She squeezed his fingers. “Yes.”
Dr. Abernathy pulled a notepad from a desk drawer. “Claire tells me you’d like to start a family. Do you mind if I take some notes while we speak?”
“Aye. Ehm – no, no I don’t mind.” Jamie paused, uncertain. “You see, Dr. Abernathy – ”
“Joe, please.” The doctor smiled behind his spectacles.
Jamie uncomfortably cleared his throat. “Joe. Weel. Claire and I – we’ve been marrit two years now. She isna taking any birth control and maybe it’s the stress from her classes but she hasna gotten pregnant. And we want to know whether she can have bairns.”
Joe scribbled on his pad. “I see. And you’re both healthy otherwise?”
“And how long have you been trying?”
Jamie’s brow furrowed. “We havena been trying - not officially, anyway.”
“I’ve been off the pill since before we married,” Claire said softly.
“I see. And how frequently do you have intercourse?”
“Intercourse?” Jamie’s face flamed.
Claire smiled. “Daily.”
“By daily, do you mean –”
Jamie muttered in the Gaidhlig under his breath. Claire ignored him. “Always once, usually twice a day.”
“I see. And your monthlies are regular?”
“Every twenty-nine days,” Jamie murmured, knee bouncing up and down beneath the desk.
“Have you ever been pregnant before, Claire?”
She shook her head. Jamie untangled their fingers and settled his arm around her shoulders.
“And you’re –”
“31 this October. Jamie is 26.”
Dr. Abernathy quirked a dark eyebrow at Jamie but said nothing. “Any family history of difficulty conceiving?”
“I don’t know. My parents died when I was five – and I was an only child. But definitely not on Jamie’s side.”
“Aye. My mother was pregnant wi’ my brother Willie when she wed my da. My sister has three children already. So.”
“So. You’re curious as to why two young, healthy people who – enjoy – each other daily and clearly want children have not yet gotten pregnant.”
Claire sighed. Jamie gathered her closer. “Yes.”
For a moment, Joe Abernathy watched them from across his desk. They were a decidedly unlikely couple – English and Scottish, medical student and typesetter, five years apart in age. But for all their differences, they were clearly devoted to each other – they hadn’t stopped touching since entering his office, and they clearly drew strength from each other amid an undoubtedly difficult conversation.
“There could be any number of reasons. Stress, for one. Timing with the woman’s cycle – but that isn’t likely in your case. The viability of the man’s sperm, for another – but that’s probably not the case, either.”
Jamie, alarmed, briefly glanced down at his crotch to make sure everything was still – there.
“I’ll start with a physical exam of Claire, and I’ll take some blood for tests. And I’ll need a specimen from you, Jamie.”
“Specimen?” he croaked.
Dr. Abernathy nodded. “And then if all of that is inconclusive, we may need to start with some hormone shots for Claire.”
Claire gently rubbed Jamie’s shoulder. “It’s all right, love. Whatever it takes, right?”
“Aye,” he replied quietly. “Ye’re meant to be a mother. Whatever needs to be done, I’ll do it.”
“Good. So – Claire?” Dr. Abernathy gestured to the exam table in the corner. “Shall we?”
She smiled tightly. “Only if Jamie is with me.”
The doctor nodded. “Of course. And then – I’ll need Jamie to give me that specimen.”
Jamie’s cheeks flushed. “Only if Claire is wi’ me.”
Dr. Abernathy gaped. Claire’s mouth split into a lovely grin, and she playfully shoved her husband’s shoulder.
“What? Whatever it takes, aye?”