Differential

Summary: Magnus investigates why Henry's transformation are accompanied by a fever and coughing. She was NOT expecting the answer she got. Magnus/Henry family

Rating: G

Author's Note: Okay, so this is what happens when a geek who needs to have everything explained in her favorite shows goes "Why the hell would turning into a werewolf give Henry a cough and a fever? How does that makes sense?" Considering Nubbins aired before The Five, I should have figured this one out sooner. Enjoy.

Differential

"Reporting as ordered, Boss."

Magnus looked up from the medical records on the screen, smiling and climbing to her feet.

"Hello, Henry. How are you feeling?"

"Ask a silly question, Doc. In the past twenty-four hours, my internal organs have changed their size and shape and completely rearranged themselves inside of me. Twice. So you could say I'm a little on the achy side."

She gave him a sympathetic smile and nodded towards the exam-table. Henry obediently stripped to his boxers and hopped up.

"How much longer do you think I'll need these mandatory exams every time I change?"

"It really depends, Henry," she answered apologetically. "I simply don't have much experience with Class Nine Proteans. I think we can safely assume you aren't doing your internal organs significant damage when you transform, but your chemistries remain in flux."

Henry sighed as, on that note, she gathered together everything she needed to do the blood-work he needed. Chem 20, electrolyte panel, CBC of course, liver and kidney function, CRP naturally, cardiac enzymes, lactic acid, sed rate, PT and PTT to be safe, assorted hormones, H&H, autoantibodies. She decided to spare him the pain of an arterial blood-gas study, because the last several had shown nothing of note.

"That's fewer vials than usual, isn't it?" he asked as she swabbed his antecubital.

"I'm comfortable enough to start omitting some of the tests that have been consistently coming back normal: serology, a great deal of the immunology, and the ABG to start."

He brightened. "No more digging around for an artery?"

She gave him a mock-scowl. "I do not dig, Henry."

"I know." He grinned. "Remember that assistant you had when I was a teenager? Man couldn't find a blood-vessel to save his life."

"Which is why I did the blood-work on you and Ashley myself whenever possible."

"For which we were both grateful."

She smiled and performed the draw. "You have excellent veins," she remarked as she worked.

"You say that every time, Doc. Doesn't make it hurt any less."

"Cheeky young pup."

He snorted in amusement but quickly turned serious. "This is going to get easier to control, right, Doc?"

She sighed and withdrew the needle, pressing a swab against the puncture-wound with one hand and lifting the other to cradle his cheek.

"Of course it will, Henry." She smiled reassuringly. "You just need more practice. It's only been six times."

"Seven," he corrected her, closing his eyes and leaning into her hand. "I don't like it," he whispered. "I don't want to do it anymore. It's scary and it's painful and, when it's over, it takes time for my mind to be human again."

"Hush," she directed, pressing her lips to his forehead. "We'll get you through this, Henry. I just need you to give me time. Now I can increase your dosages if you want, but that's only forestalling the inevitable. This is a part of your life now, Henry."

"I know, Boss."

"Mmm." She nodded and set about taking his vitals. "Unless you want to reconsider the surgery?"

"No." He shook his head, sighing. "I don't want to stop being me. I just wish this were easier…"

"I know you do, Henry, and it will get that way with time, I promise you. And, in the meantime, you need to understand that I am right here for you, every step of the way."

He smiled weakly up at her.

"You still have a fever," she sighed, shaking her head. "Quite honestly, I'm at a loss to explain it. Proteans are rare, but I've studied several and have never seen a transformative episode trigger a fever."

"Maybe it's not even related?" Henry suggested. "I could just have a chronic bug. I mean, it's not like I take my own temperature on a regular basis and I have been feeling run down lately."

"The fatigue could be from an infection," she agreed, nodding. "It could also be a simple result of the strain these transformations are putting on your system. You do seem otherwise healthy. "Let me run a differential CBC. If it seems to indicate an infection, I can take a blood-culture, get to the bottom of this that way."

"Okay. Can I put my clothes on again?"

She grabbed a stethoscope. "Just let me listen to your chest first, then you can get dressed while I do the differential."

"Okay," he agreed. He jumped when she placed the stethoscope against his chest. "Jeez, do you refrigerate that thing?"

"One would think you'd be used to it by now."

"I don't get sick like a normal human," he reminded her. "Aside from my yearly physical, I haven't really had a lot of experience with these kinds of situations before."

"Well, there is that," she admitted, smiling up at him as she listened. "Well, if you do have an infection, it's not in your lungs."

"Good to know."

She smiled and put down the stethoscope. "Get dressed. I'll just prep a slide for the differential."

"You don't have a machine for that?" he asked. "Got one for everything else."

"A machine can tell me how many white cells are in your bloodstream, but not which kind. For diagnostic purposes, a manual count is far more suggestive. It can even help determine not only whether you have an infection, but also whether that infection is viral, bacterial, or parasitic in nature."

"Really? Neat."

She smiled and turned her attention to making and staining a film.

"Now we just need to let it dry," she told him as he finished dressing. She sighed. "I know this is a difficult time for you, Henry. If you ever need to talk…"

"I know, and I appreciate it. I, uh…" He blushed and looked away. "I've been doing therapy sessions with Will since this whole thing started."

"I'm very glad." She smiled warmly in response to his startled look. "I only want what's best for you, Henry. And, in spite of your sessions with Will, the offer to talk stands. If you should ever need a somewhat more maternal ear. Okay?"

He gave her that shy little smile of his that always made her want to reach out and pull him into an embrace. Which she allowed herself to do this time. He tensed reflexively, surprised, but immediately relaxed and put his arms around her, inhaling deeply. Scenting the woman who had raised him.

"There's a good man," she murmured, rubbing his back in slow circles.

"Thank you, Doc. For everything in the past twenty-four years."

"My pleasure," she assured him, feeling warm and loved and genuinely hopeful for Henry's future. Her 'family' may have been odd, but it was still hers and she loved everything about it.

"I wish you could have been my real mother," he whispered.

"Well, I could do worse for a son but, if I were your mother, that would make you related to Ashley. Which would make your crush on her a bit of a problem."

He pulled out of the hug, taking several long steps backwards and staring at her with wide eyes, his expression a mesh of surprise, embarrassment, and fear.

"You know about that?"

She smiled and shook her head. "Henry, I may be 157, but my eye-sight's just fine, thank you. And it would take a blind woman not to notice the way you sometimes look at her."

The apprehension in his expression was replaced by perplexity. "And it doesn't bother you?"

She frowned. "Why should it? Ashley's a sweet and beautiful young lady and I know your intentions towards her could never be anything but noble. In all honesty, I'm surprised you haven't approached her yourself yet."

"We grew up together!" he protested, shaking his head.

"Oh, come now, Henry. I never raised you to be anything resembling siblings. If I was maternal towards you, that has no real bearing on your relationship with Ashley. The Sanctuary is an inpatient treatment facility. It's no different than if the two of you attended the same boarding school as children and no one would consider that an obstacle to a relationship. You should broach the subject with Ashley. I think you'd find your overall anxiety level considerably diminished if you were having routine orgasms."

"Jesus H. Christ!" Henry protested, staring at her with wide eyes and his mouth having open.

Magnus didn't think she'd seen him that embarrassed since she gave him 'The Talk' all those years ago. Well, given his abnormality, it had been a rather more detailed explanation than most young men received, with a great deal of emphasis not only on mechanics and his own instincts, but also the importance of remaining completely in-control at all times during sex unless he was securely tied down. The young boy had looked ready to die of mortification, and Henry's expression now was a spot-on imitation of that one. Which she supposed was her cue to change the subject.

"The slide should be ready now," she told him. "This will only take a few minutes."

"Uh, yeah."

He cleared his throat and looked 'casually' around the room, refusing to even look in her direction as she walked to the microscope. She wasn't entirely sure how a man raised by her developed that many hang-ups over his own sexuality. Ashley was the same way in many respects. Perhaps her absolute openness and honesty with them had backfired?

Too late for her to change anything now, but perhaps Will could be of some use in that regard?

"Very strange," she murmured after a few moments of scanning the slide. She didn't even need to do a full count to see it…

"Problem?" Henry asked, watching her uneasily.

"It may be nothing, but your eosinophil and mast cell counts are considerably elevated. I'd like to run some tests for parasites if you don't mind. You spend enough time out of the country that it's a consideration I can't ignore, even if it does seem rather unlikely in light of your symptoms. I'll need a stool-sample."

The embarrassed look was back, although not to nearly the same degree as before.

She ran an occult blood study as well because, while she had no reason to expect it to come back positive, she did have the sample right in front of her. It, like the rest of the battery, came back negative.

"Well, you almost certainly don't have a parasite of any sort. I could do a full-body scan, but I'm frankly reluctant to expose you to that much radiation on the off-chance when you really have no other symptoms suggestive of a parasite as opposed to any of a dozen other conditions."

"What kind of other conditions?" he asked.

"Perhaps something inflammatory," she mused, considering the possibilities there. "Any joint or muscle pain? Other than that associated directly with the transformations, I mean?"

"Not that I've noticed." He shook his head.

"And I didn't notice any signs of swelling when I looked you over earlier. Hmm… What else could it be? Never a Doctor House around when you need one, is there?"

"Think I'd rather have you, Doc. That character is a pill-popping jerk who's allergic to common sense and nearly kills his patient two or three times an ep. Not the kind of person I want making my treatment decisions."

"He is impulsive," she admitted with a shrug. "Still, in the final equation, it's hard to argue with that brand of genius."

She spent a few more minutes considering what else could cause a fever and an elevation in eosinophils, then looked up sharply, staring at Henry with wide eyes. It could not be that simple?

"What?" he asked, shifting uneasily under her scrutiny. "You know what's wrong with me, don't you?"

"I think I have a pretty good idea, yes." She climbed to her feet. "Last test for now. If this one doesn't come out positive, I'm going to have to start consulting with other physicians at other Sanctuaries."

"But if it is positive? Is it serious?"

She smiled reassuringly, retrieving what she needed for the test. "Not remotely serious, Henry. And, better still, quite manageable with medication."

"So we're hoping for a positive result, then?" he asked, frowning down at his forearm as she scraped the tiny piece of plastic across the skin there.

"Well, I don't know that we're hoping for a positive, but it would certainly explain everything." In a very twisted way.

"God, what was that?" Henry asked, frowning and reaching for his arm where she'd abraded the skin.

"Don't," she directed, catching his wrist. "Is it painful?"

"Itchy." He frowned down at it as a massive raised welt appeared. "What the hell?"

"A positive result," she answered, shaking her head. "Un-bloody-believable…"

"What? What is it? What does it mean?" he demanded, watching her anxiously.

"You have an allergy, Henry. A simple allergy."

He frowned. "That would explain the cough, but what about the fever?"

"A considerably less common but not unheard of reaction to the presence of an allergen. An allergic reaction is, after all, an immune reaction at bottom."

"Okay, so that theoretically explains the fever and the cough," he said, shrugging. "But why would they only crop up right around a transformative episode?"

She gave him an apologetic look, grasping his shoulders lightly in both hands as she explained, "Probably because what you're allergic to happens to be… well, dogs, Henry. You're allergic to dogs…"

The End