The peri-arrest period was tough for everyone, but surprisingly enough Ben made it through.
"I scheduled an appointment to check up on your leukemia for once a month for the next year," Jordan started.
"And if you don't show up I will hunt you down and make sure Kaeleigh here is your doctor."
Ben looked up from his new Tonka truck. "Is that a threat? Because I like JD."
JD smiled brightly. He likes me!
"And he's a good doctor," Ben finished.
He thinks I'm a good doctor!
Perry growled. "Why do I even try?" He left with a grunt.
Ben smiled. "That got him off my back."
"This is serious, Ben. You would've died if DJ was having a normal day. Or if Carla wasn't your nurse."
Ben pouted. "I know mommy."
Jordan then, too, left with a grunt.
JD still wore a smile. "So, do you really think I'm a good doctor?"
Ben shrugged. "Is this Tonka truck red?"
JD pouted. "No, it's yellow."
"Huh, you're right," Ben looked around. "Tell you what, you get me my camera back from whichever of the overprotective crazies that has it, and when I'm out of this hospital bed I'll take you out for thank-you beer."
"Just for getting your camera?"
Ben was silent for a bit. "Sure."
Needless to say, Jack's birthday party never happened and Ben highly expected to be yelled at for it. But he never was.
"I'm sorry I ruined Jack's party."
"Shut up, you're life's more important than a stupid party no one cares about. I'm just glad I didn't have to go to your funeral instead." Perry, sitting in a chair, head propped up from his arm on the table, took a gulp from the dirt water pretending to be coffee.
Ben put an arm through a denim jacket. "My funeral. Weird to think about it. I can see you going through a downward spiral of denial, blaming everyone," he smiled, "You'd miss me so much." He slid in the other arm.
"You're damn right I would." Perry stood up, running a hand over his tired face.
Ben took a picture with his camera. "Oh, that's a good one."
"Doctor Cox?" JD stepped into the room, "about Mr. Strauss,"
"Look Carol, I know you think you look dashing in your navy blue scrubs, but I can not deal with you popping your feminine little head in where ever I am thinking that I actually care what you have to say. Just to clear things up, I don't Newbie."
"But I just-"
JD left, just a bit more sullen.
Ben raised his hand.
"Yes Ben?" Perry crossed his arms.
"What did JD looking 'dashing in his navy blue scrubs' have to do with anything?" Perry's post-rant smirk faded. "I mean, that was a borderline Cox complement."
Perry's mind raced to find an answer that disproved Ben's thinking. Why was it taking so long?
"It's quite simple, Benjamin, for if Ilse didn't think she looked even remotely 'dashing' she wouldn't have the self confidence to show herself where ever I happen to be."
The obnoxious ring of his pager interrupted Ben's response.
Vitals dropped, CPR, flat line, AED, time of death.
"How did this happen? Mr. Strauss was fine," JD muttered as he watched the coroner take the body to the medical examiner.
"We missed something Newbie." It was rare to hear anything like that pass Perry's lip. "Only the autopsy will tell." And he left to move on with his life, possibilities of Mr. Strauss's death listing in the back of his mind.
But JD didn't move. He just stared at the bed, hoping that it wasn't something obvious.
That it wasn't his fault.
And no matter what the cause was, JD knew that he'd still blame himself. Because doctors are supposed to know what's wrong with someone. That's their job. It seemed to him that when something like this happened, he wasn't doing his job.
The only thing that made JD take his eyes off the empty white bed was the knowledge that he had other patients that he could help.
"Sorry!" Elliot shrieked as she pushed JD out of her way when he stepped out of the room. JD noticed a pink stuffed dog under one arm.
That's not mine, is it? He thought, getting back to his normal self. Just like always.
The events of the day had made JD reconsider going to the bar, but it was a once in a lifetime change to be invited to hang out with Ben and Dr. Cox (and not have to be a chauffer). For Ben had kept his promise, and JD was going to show up.
The night was nothing special. JD sat and sipped at the beers Ben paid for, watching Perry drink too much scotch and Ben play pool with a few girls he had never met.
"Hey JD," a slurred voice muttered behind him. JD turned around from the bar, and looked at Perry's red eyes. "Don't worry about Mr. Strauss." He sat down and drunkenly slung an arm over JD's shoulders.
For some reason JD found himself holding his breath. "Sometimes you can't help everyone."
JD nodded, looking away from Perry's too close face, ignoring the sudden burst of butterflies in his stomach.
The alcohol induced lingering of Perry's arms over JD's shoulder made him take and awkward gulp of the now lukewarm beer.
It's the alcohol. JD was referring to both the out-of-character arm of his shoulder, and the ridiculous butterflies in his stomach.
And the disappointment that for some reason over took him when Perry finally stood up.
"Looks like it's time to take you home," Ben said in a motherly tone, taking Perry by the arm. "See ya JD." He left after putting a five dollar bill on the bar next to JD's beer.
JD couldn't help but think of Mr. Strauss and if his death really was out of JD's hands. If fate had killed him and not a mistake by a doctor.
How much could he control? Could he control the length of a life, or even the high school-like uneasiness of his stomach. He could control his actions, but could he control his feelings? JD was inclined to think fate had less control than most thought.
He finished off the glass, and went home.