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Dr. Dani

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“Jamie?”

Jamie usually went in early on Tuesdays to handle deliveries, insistent it was a one-person job. Dani had, of course, pushed back. So they’d eventually come to a comprise: Dani would join her every other Tuesday.

Dani had come in last week, though, so today she’d slept in and was now walking in a few minutes to 9. Jamie, however, was nowhere to be found.

The back room was the only place left to check. She’d knocked but gotten no response. So now she was opening it for good measure. If Jamie wasn’t in here, it was then time to start panicking.

But, as it turned out, she was… and Dani immediately started panicking. Jamie was curled up on the floor, shaking, breathing heavily and alarmingly pale.

“Jamie?!”

Dani rushed over and knelt beside her, but she didn’t touch her. Her first thought, naturally, was that Jamie was having panic attack, and she was cursing herself for not being here. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened if she had been.

But as Dani continued to process the scene, she realized she was wrong. Jamie’s breathing, while heavy, was slow, controlled — like Jamie was nauseous.

“I’m… I’m fine… will be… happens… sometimes.”

Her mouth sounded a bit full, like she was eating something. She sat up shakily, not meeting Dani’s eyes, and started moving toward the counter to their left. Dani looked over.

A big orange juice carton was sitting on a half-torn paper bag. Some had been poured out into a glass, but the glass was mostly full. And beside them was an open packet of peanut butter crackers. One cracker had a small bite taken off, but otherwise, they were untouched.

As Dani watched, Jamie tried to reach up for the glass. Dani beat her to it, and Jamie slumped gratefully against the counter. Dani handed it to her.

“Thanks.”

Her mouth still sounded full, and Dani hadn’t seen her chewing. It was almost like she was holding the cracker bite in her mouth.

The glass shook as Jamie held it with both hands, slowly brought it to her lips, took the smallest of sips, then slowly lowered it, gasping. Dani cupped her cheek. It was clammy.

“Jamie, do you have hypoglycemia?”

Jamie gave her a blank look.

“You really need to eat but you feel too sick to?”

Jamie’s eyes went wide. She nodded vigorously. Dani exhaled, not realizing she’d been holding her breath.

“Okay, I’ll be right back.”

Jamie’s eyes got even bigger. Dani cupped her other cheek.

“I’m just running out to get something for you. I’ll be right back, right back, I promise.”

Jamie nodded, relaxing slightly.

“One more sip for me, okay?”

Dani took her hands off Jamie’s face, shifting one to her shoulder and the other to the bottom of Jamie’s glass, gently lifting it up. But she let Jamie control the angle, not wanting to force feed her. Jamie again took a very small sip.

“Good, Jay. Good job.”

She knew it sounded patronizing. But she also knew from experience that it was the right thing to say in this situation. And she also knew Jamie.

Sure enough, the corners of her mouth turned up as she laughed at the ostensibly pathetic praise. It was a brief sound, more like a cough, but it was something. Dani smiled as she leaned in to kiss her forehead.

“Right back, I promise.”

*****

“I’m such an idiot.”

She heard Dani breathe in to object, but she kept going.

“Didn’t eat enough yesterday, and this - ”

“Jamie - ”

“Never even occurred to me.”

She looked down at the pack of gum she was fiddling with. Two sticks in and she was already feeling loads better: much less nauseous, much less lightheaded, and the shaking was fading. Years of struggling with this, and she’d never thought to try something she didn’t have to eat or drink to take the edge off.

She looked over at Dani, who was sitting next to her against the counter with her legs out in front of her. Dani was rubbing her knee as she sat cross-legged. It was past 9 now, but Dani wouldn’t hear of leaving her. She was insistent, in fact, they not open before noon at the earliest, knowing Jamie would need hours still to recover and eat. She had a breakfast sandwich — just egg on a plain bagel — ready to go when she felt up to it. And then they would move on to lunch.

Jamie was, as always, in awe of her. To go from having no one to take care of her, to having Dani was quite jarring sometimes — in the best possible way, of course. But this time, Dani had truly outdone herself — knowing Jamie had a condition that she herself hadn’t even known she had.

Granted, Jamie could probably count on one hand the number of doctors she’d seen in her life. It was Dani, in fact, who’d just booked her appointments with a GP and a dentist. She saw Dani smile now as she met her gaze. Dani hadn’t taken her eyes off her once since she’d gotten back.

“So… ”

“Taylor.”

Jamie cocked her head. Dani laughed.

“No, no, not you. I had a student named Taylor. She has it, too. What you have.”

“Hypo… ”

Dani nodded.

“-Glycemia. Just a fancy word for low blood sugar.”

Jamie nodded, processing.

“Low blood sugar… so is that… is that like… ”

Dani gave her an encouraging smile.

“Diabetes?”

Dani took a moment before answering. She didn’t want to hold anything back, but she didn’t want to scare her.

“It can be. It’s a symptom of it.”

Jamie nodded. Dani felt her shaking start to worsen again, just slightly.

“And Taylor… is that… ”

“That’s what she has, yes. But - ” Jamie’s eyes widened. Dani squeezed her knee. “But Taylor has Type 1.”

Jamie nodded again but was still shaking.

“And Type 1, that’s… ”

Jamie had vaguely heard people talk about a Type 1 and Type 2 before, but she’d never been sure what that actually meant.

“Oh, sorry, I - I should’ve… It just means you would know by now… if you had it. It starts affecting you when you’re a kid.”

Dani saw Jamie’s eyes widen once more and realized, kicking herself, that Jamie probably had had blood sugar issues since childhood. She took her hand off Jamie’s knee and cupped her face again.

“No, no, sorry! I’m explaining this poorly.” She sighed. “Type 1 is very serious. That’s why I knew about Taylor, in case something happened at school… If you’d gone undiagnosed this long, you… you wouldn’t… ”

“Oh… ” Jamie looked back down at the gum pack again. “And Type 2?”

Dani put her hand back on Jamie’s knee and resumed rubbing it.

“Well, that usually affects older people.” Even with Jamie looking down, Dani saw her eyes starting to go wide yet again. “Like old people, I mean… And given those abs of yours… ” Dani grinned as she saw Jamie smile shyly and blush furiously, just as she’d intended. “I’d say it’s pretty unlikely you have it… Probably just hypoglycemia, in your case, which is much easier to manage on its own.”

She saw Jamie nod but could feel she was still tense, though her shaking was dying down again.

“And I’d say you’ve been doing pretty well so far.”

Jamie looked over at her, arching an eyebrow.

“No, seriously! That’s - that’s why you stick to protein for breakfast… isn’t it? And eat first thing?”

Over the past several months, Dani had noticed that while she would usually opt for just a coffee and some toast or a pastry, Jamie would always eat a full meal almost immediately after she woke up. In fact, when they’d been on the road, she’d gone for takeout quite early every morning. Dani had just assumed she’d been doing it as gesture — which she still probably had been, but it was making even more sense now.

And she almost never had cereal or juice and would only have a donut or a muffin or a pancake if she had eggs to go with it. And most of the time, it was just eggs — and tea, of course — and maybe some of Dani’s toast. Dani had noticed she was also careful not to have too much sugar at night or, in general, really; and tried to eat regularly throughout the day. Dani had just assumed Jamie ate that way to be healthy. But now it seemed that it was more than that.

Jamie lowered her eyebrow and looked down again. She’d never really thought of it that way. She’d just discovered at a fairly young age, having had to take care of herself, that if she didn’t eat that way, she would feel shitty for the rest of the day or the next morning.

So, naturally, a lot of the time, she had felt shitty, given that it was pretty hard to plan meals when you didn’t always know where your next meal was coming from. But it had never actually occurred to her that she might have a medical condition.

She felt Dani squeeze her knee again.

“We can talk to the doctor about it next week, okay? See what she says.”

Jamie looked over at Dani, her lips curving into that crooked grin. The moment Dani had started looking into local doctors for them in Vermont she’d preemptively assured her that she would go to any and all of her appointments with her, if that was what Jamie wanted.

She rested her head on Dani’s shoulder now, looped her arm through Dani’s and placed her hand on Dani’s, rubbing it as Dani continued to rub her knee.

With her other hand, Dani reached up behind her to the counter, feeling around blindly until she landed on tinfoil. A second later, she was unwrapping the breakfast sandwich in her lap.

“You ready?”

She felt Jamie nod, so she put her hand out in front of Jamie’s mouth.

“Dani?!”

Dani laughed.

“It’s fine.”

“No, I have the wrapper here somewhere.”

She felt Jamie sit up. Smiling and rolling her eyes, Dani ripped off part of the foil and put her hand back up. She felt Jamie pause, then after a moment more of hesitation, spit out her gum.

“Thank you,” Dani quipped, as she squeezed the foil around it, then let it drop to the floor.

She picked up half the sandwich, as she felt Jamie lay her head back down, and brought it to her. Jamie went to take a bite, but then suddenly sat up again and turned to her.

“Wait, have you eaten?”

Dani felt her heart melt.

“Yes, before I left the apartment.”

“Oh, right, right.”

Jamie looked down and laughed awkwardly. Dani leaned in and kissed her temple. Jamie laughed again and looked up, smiling shyly, then leaned her head back down for a third time. Dani brought the sandwich to her once more. She took a bite, and Dani was relieved to feel her actually chew and swallow it.

“Thank you.”

Dani kissed the top of her head.

“Just promise me next time you’ll let me know, okay? And if I’m not there, you call me, right away.”

She felt Jamie nod, then take another bite, chew and swallow.

“Can you just be my doctor?”

Dani laughed, putting the sandwich down and grabbing the oj glass.

“You’ll like Dr. Ryan. She’s nice.”

She brought the glass up, and Jamie took a sip.

“Won’t be as hot as you, though… ”

Dani laughed even harder, putting the glass back down and picking up the sandwich again. Jamie was definitely reviving, but she wasn’t back in full Jamie mode… yet.

“I don’t know… ”

“Oi!” Jamie sat up and turned to her, trying and failing to keep a straight face. “There somethin’ I should know about, Poppins?”

Dani giggled.

“I didn’t say she was hotter than you, did I?”

Jamie cleared her throat dramatically.

“S’pose not.”

She laid her head back on Dani’s shoulder.

“Maybe you’re the one who should be worried, then.”

“Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t need this sandwich, then.”

Jamie laughed as Dani brought it toward her own mouth. She reached over with her free hand to grab it, then shifted over to sit in Dani’s lap, as Dani slid the foil containing the other half of the sandwich onto the floor. Jamie leaned back against her and sighed contentedly as she felt Dani wrap her arms around her stomach.

“Take another bite, Jay.”

Jamie cleared her throat.

“Right.”