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My Rescue Blues

"Shit… I'm sorry," I mumbled as my sharp turn around the corner bumped me into a steely chest. A scatter of silver and white filled my eyes as I watched the multiple onion-thin sheets of paper and clipboards fall to the ground. When I bend down to help gather the wreckage into my hands, my cup of coffee instantly slips from my shaky grip and spills hot, brown liquid onto the papers and the white sneakers of the man's shoes. "Damn it," I muttered, shaking my head.

A growl sounded above me and automatically I flinched.

I continued to shaky my head back-and-forth, hoping the drastic movements would keep the budding tears from spilling over. This wasn't the kind of day I had been hopping for. Initially Dr. Kelso, in an oddly kind state of mind, gave me three weeks off to recuperate, but I didn't want to stay away from the hospital. You see, being at home would mean having nothing to do but watch old reruns of shows from the 70's and 80's, but, when those shows weren't on or when they were having commercials, it would mean I'd have time to think. Almost everybody knows what my relationship with thinking is. I think too much. Thinking means having to remember…remember…

I don't want to remember.

Coming into work is easier than mulling it over at home. When I come here to Sacred Heart I can bury myself into an amount of charts that would kill any common intern or resident. It shouldn't be a problem getting people to fork over their patients; frankly, I think, I'd be doing some people a favor with getting that load off their minds. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, but sometimes, as a doctor, I can feel overloaded with work. Therefore taking patients from my coworkers is a good thing. It works purely both ways. I want to be buried and other people don't want to be buried.

So, with four days off under my belt, I called Dr. Kelso's office, thankfully he picked up the phone and not Ted or his secretary, and told him I'd be coming in today instead. He didn't ask questions, I knew he wouldn't be one to get involved, but instead told me to get into work and not be late or it'll be my ass.

"Newbie," Dr. Cox growled. "Would you snap the hell out of it?"

Oh, shit. I zoned out in front of Dr. Cox. That would definitely be a no-no.

Shooting out my shaky arms, I grab at the tissue box at the nurse's station and begin to wipe off the stains of brown lining the papers that had spilled from his arms. Trying not to look as nervous as I feel I give a shaky laugh and say, "I'm such a klutz…" but this only makes me feel like some teenaged boy who just hit puberty. I can't get my voice to stop shaking.

Suddenly Dr. Cox kneels down in front of me and fixes me with a hard stare. I'm still looking down at the ground though, I can feel the disappointed glare he's shooting me and I don't want to meet it. He saw me at a vulnerable state; I bet he looks at me differently now.

"Look, Meredith, my patience is wearing extra thin right now and I don't…" he trails off and growls for a third time. "Goddamn it, would you look at me when I'm talking to you!" He grabs my chin and forces my eyes to look into his.

I feel like such a kid.

I blink slowly, savoring the moment of sweet darkness when I don't have to look into the cold brown eyes of the doctor I'd been practically kissing the feet of since I'd first started. When I open my eyes though I see something I don't think I really expected to see. Sorrow? Maybe. Disappointment? Lacking, but I definitely feel the vibes around me.

Shit. He's talking again. Was I even listening?

"You shouldn't be here…" He shakes his head now and runs a hand through his hair. "Damn it, I'm going to kill Kelso-"

"No!" My voice squeaks and momentarily I shrink back as Dr. Cox's gaze turns on me. I gulp down whatever is clogging up my throat. "I asked to come back, Dr. Cox. It doesn't have anything to do with Dr. Kelso. Please… I just need to work."

The Dr. Cox conscious on my shoulder seems to say "What a sissy" but the real Dr. Cox stares at me, hard.

"Don't screw up today, Newbie."

I nod. I'm still on my knees feeling about 3 inches tall.

Dr. Cox immediately grabs the stack of brown-stained papers and clipboards and groans as he stands up. I pull myself up to a wavering standing position and am just about to leave when Dr. Cox places his hand on my shoulder and looks down at me with soft eyes.

"JD," Oh, God, he called me JD. "The sooner you deal with what happened, the better you'll be and the quicker you'll get back into your regular, annoying routine." I nod. "But," he continues, "don't think I won't be watching you like a hawk. I'll be here."

The length of his words doesn't hit me until he walks away. He tried to be supportive, anybody could see that, but how supportive was he talking about? When he dropped the charts I think I saw my name on one of them…

Of course he'd take some of my patients. Damn it.

XXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXX

Somebody clears their throat; I look up from my half-sitting position, on the floor, behind the nurse's station, and blink confusedly at the blurry image before me. Heaving out a deep breath of air, I slowly push my sore back up from my backrest of the nurse's desk and make my way into a descent standing position. After a while of wringing cricks from my back, I decided this isn't working and instead settle to place my head in my hands as I lean onto the desktop. My eyes waver on Carla's form.

She blinks. "What were you doing back there?"

Clearing my throat, I said, "I was looking for my charts."

"While sitting on the floor?"

I frown and massage the back of my neck gingerly. "Guess I blanked out there for a minute." I laugh nervously, hoping to bring some light humor into the situation, but Carla just looks even more worried than she was before. Seems like I can't do anything right today. "I'm just tired," I claim. "I was catching my breath or whatever…"

Carla regards me wearily.

"Dr. Cox took all of my charts." I shrink in stature once again. I really don't want to run into Dr. Cox again and meet some sort of tense silence and/or staring competition that ends with me nearly peeing my pants from nervousness and thus getting nowhere in a painfully too long conversation. "I'm looking for something…productive to do. Have any ideas?"

"No, Bambi, I sure don't." Carla frowns and moves to pat my shoulder comfortingly. She either doesn't notice the flinch or ignores it completely because she continues on and suggests, "Maybe you can catch up on all of your paperwork? That should keep you occupied for a few hours."

I nodded. "Yeah, that's a good idea." She smiles. I love Carla's smile. "Thanks Carla."

"No problem, Bambi."

Grabbing as many charts as I can into my hands, I give a small wave towards Carla before turning away to look for somewhere to do all of my paperwork, but, before I can make even ten steps forward, I run into the Janitor. He raises a brow at me and holds his broom like a shield. This makes me nervous: here I am with an armful of charts and no way to defend myself.

However, Janitor just nods his head curtly and steps to the side, clearing the way. I look up to him with my own eyebrow raised and he nods his head again. The broom in his hand doesn't look like it's going to whip out and trip me as soon as I turn my back; so, cautiously, I take a few steps forward. Seeing as nothing comes behind me and the Janitor doesn't laugh evilly into my ear, I continue on.

Moving back to the task at hand, I decide not to head into the doctor's lounge, the place where I usually sit to fill out my paper work, and walk the length of the hallway, looking for an empty on-call room. I really don't want to be sitting somewhere with some weirdo resident and/or intern giving me suspicious looks, I can't concentrate like that.

"Someone's in here!" I hear somebody yell as my hand touches the doorknob. There's a scuffle, a groan, and a load curse of, "Damn! Shit…um, hang on a second!"

I'm tempted to move away, and quickly, but the familiar voice draws me back.

The door opens and I'm face-to-face with a wide-eyed Elliot and a disheveled looking Keith.

"Dr. Dorian, sir!"

Keith drops the drawstrings of his scrubs pants as if they were on fire and immediately stands at attention, his hand half-raised in a sort of salute. I would've laughed if it was any other day and I was in any other mood, but, instead, I just lower my stack of charts and stare. He flinches under my gaze and I feel I've done Dr. Cox proud.

"Um…" Elliot blows out a puff of air that separates her blond bangs from her face. "Keith," she says suddenly, turning her back on me, "I need you to do the lab workup on Mr. Myer like I discussed!"

"…discussed?" Keith seems uncertain. "Elliot, I thought we were talking about making-"

"Keith!" I flinch at Elliot's high-pitched squeal. "Now!"

Keith opens his mouth in a sort of "O" shape and, when Elliot clicks her tongue, he leans over and gives her a peck on the cheek. His head moves back towards me and he raises one hand in a semi-wave before rushing off down the hallway and around the corner.

"Awww," Elliot sighs, "that man of mine…"

I nod, shifting the load in my hand uncomfortably. Suddenly I wish I just continued on when I heard Elliot's voice before; then I wouldn't have to be in this situation. She wrings her hand nervously and continues to attempt to blow her bangs away from her face. I just stare. Finally, she just brings her hand out and tucks her hair behind her ears.

"Did you slip out before I got up this morning? I didn't even see you sign in-"

"Yeah." My voice cracks slightly so I clear my throat. "Um… I got up around 6 a.m. and didn't want to wake you."

"Did you walk?" Elliot questions. "I know your scooter's still in the shop."

I gulp at the memory. "Yeah, it was no big deal."

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming in?" She looks hurt. I hate that. I did that. "I was hoping to get to talk to you tonight. We haven't seen each other much between me being at work and with Keith and you…" She shrugged. "You being in your room all day… Maybe we can still do that, though? Talk, I mean?"

With plans to avoid Elliot tonight and tomorrow morning already cooking in my mind, I easily say, "Sure."

"Really? Cool! Well…okay, I guess I'll see you later then, I've got lots of work to do." A big Elliot-sized grin plasters her face and she stands on the tip of her toes to reach my cheek to give me a small kiss. She lingers there for just a minute to whisper in my ear, "Take it easy, JD. Seriously."

My eyes open, I hadn't realized they closed, and I pull away from Elliot's hug. For a second I'm ashamed of myself for having ideas of avoiding Elliot. After all, all Elliot wanted to do was help me.

God, what kind of friend am I?

The disturbed kind.

Elliot stalks away in her odd fast-walk and turns down the hallway in the same fashion Keith had done before her. I watch her and listened to the tiny click, clack of her heels as she leaves my sight.

My eyes closed and opened again slowly before I quickly ducked into the on-call room. I sighed contently and flopped down exhaustedly on the stiff bed across from the brown oak desk, where I was finally able to unload the pile of charts from my arms. Hissing softly as I rolled up my long sleeves, from the sweatshirt I wore under my usual dark blue scrubs, I undid the white bandages on my arm and checked the cut that trailed across my shoulder. It didn't look infected but it was a bit irritated, and it hurt like hell. I made a mental note to grab some Tylenol.

After I placed my sleeve back into its rightful place, I stood up from the bed and scooted the short distance towards the chair near the desk. I pulled the silver chain of the tiny desk lamp and squinted as the light hit my face. Grabbing the first clipboard, I pulled a pen from my breast pocket and got set into reading and writing.

XXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXX

A rugged hand takes my shoulder and grips it hard, shaking me slightly, pulling me away from the uncomfortable darkness I had fallen into. My arms flail slightly at first but a spasm of pain rips through my shoulder and travels down my arm, causing me to sink underneath the throbbing. The hand that had been on my shoulder travels down suddenly and pins my arms to my side.

"JD"

My eyes bolt open suddenly and the fear that had been engulfing my entire body suddenly leaves me in one swift motion as I spot the concerned eyes of Turk waver above me uncertainly. When he sees me awake and alert he lets go of my arms and brings his hands back towards his own side. He gives me a small smile and, as the mattress shifted, he settles down near my side and grins slightly, trying not to make me more embarrassed than I already am.

"Hey, buddy. Carla told me you were in here doing some charts." He scoffed as he gestured with his eyes towards the pile of charts that were stacked on the oak desk to our side. "You all done?"

I cleared my throat, but to no avail, "Y-yeah." I coughed.

Turk frowned. "Better not be sick, man. Carla and Elliot'll have my head."

Smiling, I said, "What time is it?"

"It's lunch time, I was wondering if you wanted to hit the café with me and the girls."

My stomach growled, but I didn't know if I could really keep anything down.

"It's Chili Day, dude! Come on!" Turk seems to have read my mind.

I finally nodded my head. "Sure. I'll meet you down there in a few minutes, all right? I just gotta put up these charts and check something out." I hated lying to Turk, but I didn't want him worrying about me. You see, over the few seconds that had past between our conversation, my vision had suddenly become blurry and a wave of nausea hit me. I was doing all I could to not cough again.

"You sure, man? I can wait for you."

"Yeah. Go ahead."

He looks at me for a few more seconds before nodding. "All right."

Turk was never really good with expressing his feelings, but I knew he meant well as soon as his hand squeezed my shoulder. It was a simple gesture like that and I could read him like an open book.

He was worried. Simple as that.

I watched Turk leave and close the door, the room succumbing to the impending darkness. I sat up slowly. My eyes glazed slightly as I unsteadily pushed my legs over the side of the mattress and placed my hands on my knees. Unlike before, the darkness was welcoming, as I felt the slight thump above my left eye grow steadily. I shook my head and raised slightly, wavering slightly before catching my balance.

Suddenly the light flicked on.

"Newbie"

My back to Dr. Cox, I cringed. Lucky for me, though, my vision cleared and I stood straighter.

"I was… M-My charts," I stammered, scratching the back of my neck nervously. "I was just getting my charts."

I turned and faced his gaze, flinching unconsciously.

"Take your break, Newbie." He blinked slowly and shook his head. "You can take this patient," he held out a chart, not entirely in my reach, "right after you get a descent meal."

"Yeah." I nodded gratefully. "I'll do that."

He raised a brow. "Get a descent meal, Newbie, I mean that."

I nodded as I gathered the charts in my hand. "Carla won't see it any other way."

Dr. Cox let me pass. I still felt his gaze on my back as I walked away.

Lucky for me, after riding the elevator for a few seconds, I was able to burn off the nausea in my stomach and gulp down the odd taste of bile that had nearly climbed up my throat. When I entered the cafeteria then, as all the aromas of different food (maybe not all of it being food) substances hit me, I didn't have the sudden urge to run away. I ducked into line–able to avoid the Todd as he exited the cafeteria–and ordered a bowl of chili. Elliot spotted me in line and waved me over enthusiastically.

Keith was nowhere in sight.

"He and Ted ran off somewhere, something about testing something," Elliot explained to me as I sat across from her and Carla, taking the only other empty seat next to Turk. I hadn't really asked though, so it weirded me out a bit. Though, not as much as the thought of Keith and Ted going somewhere together.

"You all right, Bambi?" Carla questioned in her best mother-hen voice. "You don't look so good. Are you sick?" She reaches over and makes to touch my forehead, but I quickly duck my head out of the way just in time. At this, she tsk's disapprovingly.

Turk frowns. "Baby, leave him alone. He doesn't need you to get all mother-hen on his ass."

Best friends think alike.

"I'm fine. Honestly." I dig out a spoonful of chili and dunk it into my both. "See?"

Carla gives me her best "don't get smart with me" stare and frowns.

Conversation starts slowly at first, I think it was mostly because of my presence, but quickly it moves faster until the normal routine picks up. Though, it doesn't seem normal, actually. I feel left out of the conversation, if anything.

"Sohetellsmeitwasn'thisfault–" Elliot screeches, throwing her hands in the air. "Hewon'tevenlistentome!"

"Come on, Elliot." Carla says, "Stand up for yourself!"

Turk frowns. He gulps down his chili. "You ever think Keith is the victim in all this?"

Two pairs of eyes turn on him and Turk flinches back.

"Sorry!"

Carla and Elliot turn back to each other and continue on their Keith-related conversation, leaving Turk to turn to me.

"So…" he says, gulping down another bite of chili, "you gunna eat, or what?"

I look down at my half-eaten wrapper of crackers, full bowl of chili, and blueberry muffin and shrug. "If I want to see at least one patient today I guess I'm gunna have to."

Turk raises a brow. "Cox blackmailing you?"

"Sorta."

"Well…" his eyes float towards my muffin. "You gunna eat that?"

"Have at it."

Turk gulps the muffin down before I can even finish the sentence.

Picking up my spoon cautiously, I take a stab at the reddish substance before me before taking a small gulp of it. Cold. Cold chili always tasted weird. Turk must've noticed because he scrunched his nose up and shot me a disgusted look.

"Man, you waited too long. Now it's bad."

I took another bite of it. "No problem."

"You brave soul."

Zoning out of the conversations between my three friends I slowly continue the trek to finish my chili, every so often nibbling at my crackers and sipping the bottle of water I had picked up before. Nobody seems to mind that I've dislodged myself from the social activity going on because they don't question me or ask why I am eating so slowly. I swore I saw Elliot sneaking my worried glance though, but I'm pretty sure Carla was kicking her under the table in order to keep her from asking questions. I know because Carla accidentally kicked me a few times.

"Rhonda."

I looked up, the conversations around me stopping, and found Dr. Cox staring at me. He ignored the oddly-shaped glare Turk was giving him and inspected my now-empty chili bowl from a distance. He nodded and tossed a chart into my lap.

"Better get on it," he told me before swiftly walking away.

"Was that a chart?" Elliot questioned. "Is it important?"

I flipped through the chart and frowned.

"What's wrong?" Turk leaned over my shoulder and I watched his face fall. "Man, this is your first patient?"

I nodded my head. "First and only of the day." I shut the chart and massaged my head. "Figures."

Elliot and Carla still looked clueless.

"Hangnail," I muttered, shuddering. "Goddamn it."

Still, I wasn't sure about this. Was I happy or sad that Dr. Cox gave me a faulty patient?

I honestly don't think I could handle a full-blown, troubled patient right now.

XXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXX

Somewhere, between the void of nothing to do and the nail-biting remarks from my hangnail patient, I had made it towards the hospital's wheelchair ramp just outside the building. I took a seat on the cold railing and leaned carefully foreword, placing my hands on my knees, and stared out into the dark abyss of the parking lot. I breathed and watched the air as a puff of my oxygen appeared and disappeared from a ball of smoke. My mind wandered from reality.

Honestly, to all the truth, I hadn't really expected the day to go much different than it did today. It figured that Dr. Cox would talk my patients away from me and it figured everybody would be walking on eggshells around me. Dr. Kelso must've figured it would've gone like this too; he probably called Dr. Cox and told him I was coming. That's the whole reason I came back. If Dr. Cox didn't agree to take up the load, I wouldn't have been able to come.

This, of course, just makes me become a burden to everybody here.

It's true, as much as I hate to admit it. Dr. Cox was running around trying to intercept all my interns' calls, Elliot was probably juggling the half of my patients that Dr. Cox hadn't grabbed, Turk was my humor buddy, and Carla was trying to keep me so busy with nothing that I wouldn't be able to figure out what they were doing.

Oh, yeah. That worked real well.

"Newbie." Dr. Cox. That figured. "I knew I'd find you here."

I don't look at him; I just continue to stare into the parking lot.

"Where the hell's your jacket?"

I shiver involuntarily. "In my locker. I forgot it."

Dr. Cox growls "Get inside. You're shivering."

"Yeah." I nod and turn slightly. Dr. Cox is leaving already, making a quick exit as always. "Do you think it's too early?"

Shit. Curse my uncontrollable tongue.

Dr. Cox turns to me suddenly and stares at me, hard.

"If I'm going to fill out charts the whole day, avoid every single trauma so I don't waste people's time to throw me out of the room…" I look down in shame and shrug uselessly. "What's the point? When I'm not here it'll be better for everyone-"

"No." Dr. Cox's steely voice causes me to look up. His eyes center on me. "Newbie, it wouldn't be better. What happened…? What you went through…" He shakes his head and frowns. "Nobody expects you to just bounce back from that as the same jittery, happy-go-lucky intern you were before. Things take time…"

I frown. "I'm not ready."

"Maybe not yet." Dr. Cox walks towards me and stops when he's directly in front of me. "You will be though."

"How do you know?"

"I know you."

Still, even though Dr. Cox's words put a smile on my face, I couldn't help but be worried.