It starts when we're checking up on one of the hospital regulars. Well, Dr. Cox is checking up on her, and he dragged me along with him but there's not much for me to do, so I'm just kind of standing there and giving myself a mental pat on the back. I've come a long, long way since I first arrived here – I'm getting more efficient, a better doctor, and seriously, I'm pretty pleased with myself right now.
"Did you pick up the results of the tests?" Dr. Cox asks, adjusting the catheter.
...I have to remember not to think good things.
"What tests?" I manage to whisper eventually, which I think is a fairly impressive achievement seeing as I am paralysed by horror.
Dr. Cox straightens up and looks me in the eye. If I stare hard enough – and right now I can't look away, his eyes are pinning me to the wall – I can actually see my hideous death ten seconds from now, playing out right in the middle of his pupils.
"Um – " am I shaking? I swear I'm actually shaking, "um – did you ask me to get them this morning? Because you were talking kind of fast, and you were in one of your ranting moods, and I might have missed it somewhere in all the personal insults, and –"
"Catherine," he says, very slowly, "I don't want to hear about how you broke a nail on your way to pick them up. I don't care if your ex-boyfriend went past and you just had to go after him." He's advancing slowly on me all the time he's saying this, like a shark. With legs. A walking shark. "I just want to know whether you actually have the results or not."
I'm so distracted by the sudden, very vivid mental image of a menacing walking shark that I forget to answer for a moment. When I remember that my life is in danger, I shrink back into the wall and say, in a very quiet voice that only mice and Dr. Cox can hear, that I don't.
Cox puts his hands on my shoulders – I commend myself for not actually flinching, although as I'm about to die it really doesn't mean all that much – and looks into my eyes for a long time in silence. "You're an idiot, Kelly," he says eventually, and then he leans in and kisses me.
I mean, this is Dr. Cox and this is me and we're – we're not – he doesn't do that, he doesn't – I – what?
"What did you do that for?" I shriek in a very manly fashion, as soon as he's let go and I've remembered how to, y'know, breathe.
He turns away from the bed, folding his arms, and stares. "Because, Sparkles, if I hadn't then we wouldn't have been able to find out what was wrong with the patient."
"What kind of diagnostic process is that?" Any time now my voice is going to stop being insanely high and girlish. Any time now.
His expression is one of total disbelief, which I think is a little unfair. I'm the one who should have his eyes starting out of his head. Not that mine aren't, because I can literally feel them bulging, but I think by all rights I should look a little more surprised than he does.
Wait a second. He turned away from the bed when I first questioned him at the top of my incredibly masculine voice.
Which means that he was facing the bed.
Which means that he wasn't facing me. And if he wasn't facing me, that means that he couldn't have...
...whoa. Uh. That's never happened before. I know I have some pretty weird fantasies, but –
– In fact, I'm just going to call this one a daydream. Not a fantasy. A daydream. Possibly 'a symptom of the onset of total insanity'. But definitely not a fantasy.
Right. Probably the best thing to do here would be to excuse myself without seeming awkward and hide from him for the rest of the day.
"I. Uh. I have to, uh, I have to go do the thing."
Right. So I'm walking down a corridor in Sacred Heart Hospital, and I'm worried because I can't figure out what's wrong with one of my patients (which is, you know, reasonably normal), and because I've been having some slightly scary thoughts about my mentor (which is really, really not).
I don't know what to do about this. I'm not going to do anything about this. I'm not even going to think about this, because it's stupid and insane and no matter how many times I play the scenario over in my head, actually talking to Dr. Cox about it always ends with him punching me in the face and tossing my unconscious body into a pit full of Janitors.
So yeah, not going to think about it. Just going to focus on getting the results of the blood test back. Dr. Cox is walking down the corridor in front of me, and I am going to speak to him for purely business-related reasons. Focus, JD, focus.
"Dr. Cox, I need to know – "
He stops abruptly – my mind supplies the 'screeching to a halt' noise – and wheels around. His eyes are even scarier than usual. I can feel myself shrink a little.
"Look, Kylie," he says, raising his eyes to the ceiling, "if you really think you like him, then you should go after him."
Well, isn't that a coincidence?
"Okay," I say, and then I pounce and knock him down onto the cold corridor floor. Everyone turns to stare, which isn't all that surprising, but for the moment I really couldn't care less. Dr. Cox makes a muffled but furious-sounding noise against my lips and grips my arms painfully tightly, and I do care about that, and I'm just trying to work out whether I should run now or wait until his hands are actually around my neck before calling for help when he forces me up off him, glares at me for a moment, and then grabs the front of my scrubs and drags me back down and kisses me again.
That didn't actually happen, of course. What's actually happening is that I'm standing in the corridor, staring at Dr. Cox as the seconds tick by and probably looking more and more stupid. Did he say something just now? I was kind of off in la-la-land.
He's looking at me with those scary eyes of his, and my God he is going to rip me apart.
"I'm sorry, Samantha, are you deaf? Can you actually not hear what I am saying? Would it help if I jabbed these thermometers in your ears?"
I blink. Off in the Happy World of Fantasy, Cox interrupts our kissing by sticking a thermometer into my ear, which is kind of a mood-killer. Then he starts working on removing my scrubs and calls me Jordan.
Wait a second.
"Hey, is that just another girl's name or are you pretending that I'm your ex-wife?" I ask. "Because neither's great for my self-esteem, but I'm hoping it's the girl's-name thing and not the other thing. I mean, the other thing's just creepy."
Real-World Dr. Cox stares.
Oh. Right. I have got to stop doing that.
After a moment's silence, he shakes his head in disbelief and turns and walks away. I'm left standing in the middle of the corridor, staring after him and feeling more than a little stupid. I bet Imaginary Dr. Cox said 'Jordan' just to make me look like an idiot. I can't believe he even does stuff like that to me in my daydreams. Jerk.
I turn around.
The Janitor is standing right behind me.
I'm starting to think that this is all some kind of crazy nightmare.
"I thought I'd do you a favour today," the Janitor says, which can never mean anything good, and proceeds to slowly and deliberately mop me all over. I'm not sure why I'm not running – I think I might still be paralysed by my own stupidity – but seriously, why is nobody coming to my assistance? Come on, people!
Eventually he finishes and leans on his mop, surveying his handiwork. I'm just dripping and blinking soap suds out of my eyes.
"There," he says. "Now you're clean."
I think he wants me to say something. What am I supposed to say? If I say 'Thank you', will he somehow manage to get offended? He will, won't he?
So I do the only thing I can. I run like hell.
Actually, 'like hell' is pushing it, because I only make it a few steps before my soapy shoes and the newly-waxed floor (damn him, damn him!) conspire to take me down.
So here I am, hurtling towards the floor at a million miles an hour. Well, if I'm going to die now, at least it's all in the name of getting that stupid Janitor convicted of manslaughter.
...oh, God, my head. Ow. Ow ow ow. What happened to me? Where am I?
My eyes don't seem to want to open, and when I manage to force them my vision's kind of blurry, but I seem to be on a hospital bed in a darkened room. Probably not dead, then.
There's somebody standing by the window. He's just turned around – probably heard my groan of Indescribable Head Pain – and I can't be sure, but I think it might be Dr. Cox. What's he doing here?
After a moment, he crosses the room and sits in the chair next to my bed. I wait for him to tell me what an idiot I am, but he's not saying anything. He's just... looking at me. Not even glaring. It's a bit scary, to tell you the truth.
Ah, there it is. It suddenly occurs to me that, if he smothered me right now, nobody would ever know. I clutch the blankets a little bit tighter.
"Seriously, Newbie, running in the hallways? Do you know nothing? I mean, do you actually not know anything? If I prised open your skull – which, as you know, I can do, so you might want to cut down on the whole driving me crazy thing – would I find anything inside? Would I need a magnifying glass? Seriously, I want to know."
"Um," I say. My head really hurts. There are little fish swimming past my eyes. I thought I was supposed to be seeing stars, but nope. Fish. Good enough.
"I mean, what were you doing? Were you running away from Barbie? Because I could kind of understand it if that's your reason, but it wouldn't make you any less of an idiot." He pauses. I think he's probably waiting for me to explain, but I can't actually remember what happened, and anyway I'm too distracted by the fish to think clearly. "Okaaay, were you running after me? Look, Sally, I know you've got such a crush on me that you can't think straight, but – "
"How did you know?" I squeak.
There is a silence.
A very, very long silence.
I would be willing to bet that this is the longest silence ever.
"...Unless you were kidding. Because I was kidding too, I mean. Not being serious, obviously, because I don't – you know – I don't like you." No, wait, that isn't right! "I mean – I don't not like you, because I do. Like you, I mean. Just not – in that way. Because that would be weird."
There is another silence. Not the Never-Ending Silence of Doom again, but it's pretty close.
"...I don't think I got that," Dr. Cox says eventually. "Could you explain it again?"
I would rather die. I try to convey this with my eyes, because if I open my mouth I am definitely going to say something incredibly stupid again.
No, wait, is that a smirk? Is he asking just to torment me?
"That's not funny," I mutter. I think I'm probably doing my Girly Pout, which would be especially unfortunate right now.
But somehow, miraculously, he's not mocking me. He puts a hand on the side of the bed, and I get a good look at his face, and I don't think I've ever seen Dr. Cox looking so uncertain before. I'm trying to remember, but all I can come up with is the moment just before he flew into a burning building and rescued that family, and I'm not sure that ever actually happened.
"Newbie," he says quietly, "to be perfectly honest with you, it was pretty damn obvious."
What was? That he really is a superhero? That –
– oh. Oh.
No, wait, he can't mean that, I'm pretty sure that I just made it clear that I only love him in a completely heterosexual hero-worship kind of way and wait what the hell is he doing?
...yes, he is kissing me.
So I suppose he did mean that after all.
When I actually regain consciousness, I'm lying in the corridor and the Janitor is mopping my face.
I'm getting really sick of these fantasies.
No, wait, that's a lie. This time, believe it or not, Dr. Cox actually is kissing me. It's insane and impossible and it makes no sense whatsoever, but somehow it's true.
He was actually a better kisser in my fantasies – not that I don't appreciate this – but, to be fair, I probably was too. Right now, I'm just kind of lying here like a stunned fish (why can't I stop thinking about fish today?). I am very, very glad that Dr. Cox has his eyes closed, because my expression right now is probably one that he would be able to mock me for for ever.
I'm not sure what I'm expecting him to say when he breaks off – 'I love you'? A proposal of marriage? 'Stay by my side, JD, and together we will conquer all disease with the Power of Love'? – but what he actually says is, "If you tell anyone about this, Clarissa, I swear to God I will kill you."
And for some reason, that makes me so much happier than an 'I love you' could ever have done.