A/N: Happy Spring Break! So I know a lot of readers like the JD/Cox, which is why I put some cute/awkward interactions in the last chapter, which will come up later of course, but I would like to emphasize that they're STILL NOT GAY. I definitely have to write a slash fic after this....
rapid-squirrels-3, you've officially creeped us all out. That's okay, you still get a cookie.
Fun Fact: After six months in Japan, Loth still can't ACTUALLY speak Japanese!
Raising a Hand
by LQ Aredhel
"JD? JD, are you listening to me?"
JD snapped out of his thoughts and focused on Dr. Rice, reclined in the chair in front of him. "Yeah, I'm listening," he replied, although the look on the psychiatrist's face made it obvious that he didn't believe it.
"What would you like to talk about today?" Dr. Rice asked, looking a little concerned. "Work? Friends? We could move on to what happened that night, in Dr. Cox's apartment? What do you think?"
"Work," JD decided quietly. He was not in the mood to delve into anything deep. Then again, when, in any session, had he really felt like sharing? It was just that, today, things felt different. He was exhausted from working the past week and a half, mostly easy shifts, but he'd yet to really get back into the swing of things; he'd been having trouble focusing on the here and now, his mind easily drifting away at the slightest provocation.
"JD?" Dr. Rice asked again. Now he'd placed his notebook on the table beside him and was leaning forward in his chair.
JD finally began, "Uh, yeah, work has been pretty good. I haven't quite gotten used to the long hours."
Dr. Rice settled back in his chair again. "Who can? And as a doctor it must be doubly stressful to have so many people depending on you for those long hours."
JD shrugged, thinking back to the patient's he'd cared for recently. He couldn't recall any of them clearly; he hadn't really connected with any of them, not like he usually did. He just couldn't gather the strength to care that much.
He considered, for a moment, telling Dr. Rice about the rumor that had been circling once more about his relationship with Dr. Cox. It wasn't something he liked to think about, but now that Dr. Cox was always around him – assisting with patients, watching him eat, sometimes even giving him rides home – it had been easy to rekindle the idea that they were together. Some of the staff, mostly jocky surgeons, had started treating him differently, giving him weird, sometimes lustful looks, and just being altogether odd.
But if he explained that to the psychiatrist, he'd have to explain why the rumor was started and why it started up again recently.
"I had some trouble with a patient the other day," JD began again. He tried hard to focus on speaking in an attempt to keep Dr. Rice from getting too worried and prescribing him medication or something.
"Oh? What happened?"
"It, it uh--" JD took a deep breath. "He came in with severe stomach pain. But it turned out that he was just a druggie looking for a fix of morphine." JD used to hate when that happened. Used to be so worried about diagnosing the patient, so concerned that he wouldn't find the source of their pain in time and wouldn't be able to help them. Then they'd get their fix and run off. And JD would feel stupid for ever caring. Of course, it was easier this time; he hadn't really cared about the guy. He was just doing his job.
"What happened, JD?"
"The guy got upset when we wouldn't give him anything right away." Upset was an understatement; the guy had been furious. He was huge, pot-bellied, with shaggy black hair to his shoulders and he was pissed. "So he got a little rough, knocked me over and tried to run off but I guess security caught him before he could leave the building."
"That must have been frightening for you. How do you feel about it?"
How did he feel about it? JD felt nothing. It had been frightening; he'd left out the part where the guy jumped off the bed and punched him in the face, sending him sprawling across the floor. But the guy hadn't just run off after that, he'd jumped on top of JD, yanked at his shirt, tried to bash his head against the floor, all the while screaming that he be given a hit of something, anything, to get rid of the pain. JD could still recall the man's putrid breath on his face.
He'd had a panic attack. In front of the patient, the orderlies who pulled him off, and the dozen nurses and doctors who'd crowded into the room to see what was going on. His vision unfocused and full of holes, he'd searched the crowd of faces for someone, anyone, Carla, Turk, Elliot, Dr. Cox, they weren't there, just a bunch of curious bystanders getting their fix of the freak show.
While he felt himself starting to black out he vaguely noticed a hand on his arm, his back, rubbing soothing circles, and a voice in his ear telling him that he was okay, that he was safe. He came back to the real world shocked to see Dr. Cox kneeling beside him, practically holding him up in a sitting position. The crowd was still there.
Dr. Rice was speaking again.
"I guess I was disappointed," JD explained, calling on his memory of how he was supposed to feel. "I work so hard, every day, to help people, and ..." how did it go again? "...it's disappointing to be taken advantage of." Good enough.
Dr. Rice nodded his understanding, scribbling a note in his notebook.
"How about friends? How are Turk, Elliot, Carla? Dr. Cox?" Dr. Rice listed them nonchalantly as though he recalled them from memory. JD almost scoffed, imagining their names listed in his notebook.
He cleared his head, focusing in on the question. "They've been great. I've been spending more time with Turk and Carla, watching TV, just hanging out. We went to the park a couple of days ago."
Dr. Rice smiled; it looked so genuine. "That's great to hear. How about Elliot?"
JD sucked in a big breath. His fingers started to pull at the fabric of the sofa. "She seems okay."
She was fantastic, JD knew.
"Actually, we started dating yesterday," he admitted quietly, watching his hand.
Dr. Rice seemed surprised. "You're dating? That's good, right? I didn't realize you had those kinds of feelings for her."
I don't, JD thought. But I'm supposed to.
Elliot's reaction expressed mixed feelings when JD showed up at her door yesterday, but she let him in and even got him a beer before sitting with him on the couch.
"I just really want to apologize –," JD had began, but Elliot cut him off.
"You have nothing to apologize for, JD," she expressed, her voice low and choked. "I had no idea what was going on, and it was so stupid of me for practically jumping your bones like that."
So Carla had told her. JD didn't know whether to be angry with Carla that she had so easily spread his secret around, or relieved that he wouldn't have to explain anything to Elliot himself.
"Elliot, I just really want you to know that it wasn't about you," JD slowly tried again. "I would be with you in an instant if I could. I just—after what happened, I--" This was the closest he'd come to talking about it with anyone besides Dr. Cox. It felt wrong.
"JD, I understand," Elliot expressed, taking up his hand. "I know what it's like."
JD was shocked. She knew what it was like?! "You mean you...?"
Elliot quickly started, "NO! No, nothing like that. I mean, I had a friend who was raped in college. Actually she was studying in South Africa at the time and one of the guys she was working with, who by the way was from the same school as us, totally jumped her in an alley, of course she says that no matter how much she enjoyed it he shouldn't surprised her like that. I mean, she'll never be the same again, right?" Elliot sighed, then looked JD determinately in the eyes. "But I helped her through it and I can do the same for you. You just have to take it slow and you'll eventually get used to being touched, and everything will go back to normal, okay?" She actually looked excited at the prospect.
JD just stared at her. She looked excited. She looked so excited and he was terrified.
"It's just like practice, JD. We started with holding hands and kissing and work our way up." She slowly rubbed his hand and glanced at his lips. "I know what happened to you was so hard. But, I mean, it was a guy. So I just have to remind you how different it is with a girl." His eyes widened and she added, "Eventually! After lots of practice."
JD searched his mind, his body, his libido for some want or desire to be with Elliot. ANYTHING. But when he looked at her he didn't see a possible partner, he just saw a threat, someone that could trap him, hurt him.
But he had said that he would be with her if he could. And maybe – just maybe – this kind of 'therapy' was just what he needed. Maybe if he slowly worked his way up to sex with Elliot, he could be cured and actually live a normal life. Maybe it would be worth it.
So he swallowed thickly, took a deep breath, and – unable to actually form words – nodded.
Elliot smiled beautifully then, and it was almost enough just to see that smile. Then she kissed him quickly, causing him to jerk away in surprise. She still smiled.
"JD?" Dr. Rice pulled him out again. "Can you tell me why you decided to start a relationship with such a close friend?"
A close friend. Sure, okay.
JD thought hard, but his ideas were like water falling through his fingers; he couldn't catch enough to make sense of them.
"She's in love with me, has been for a while," he explained. "She's like my dream girl."
"That must be nice for her," Dr. Rice commented. "JD, can you tell me...did you start this relationship because you wanted it? Or because she wanted it?"
JD wanted to laugh; a small puff of air managed to escape his lips. "She thinks she can cure me."
And maybe she can. Maybe this is just what JD needs. Only one way to find out. It's not like it's going to hurt him, he's already too screwed up.
"Cure you of what?"
Well that's the million dollar question.
JD glanced up from his hand to see that Dr. Rice didn't look curious or confused. He looked expectant, hopeful. He already knows.
When no reply comes, Dr. Rice sighs and moves on. "What about Dr. Cox? How has he been?" He asked it as thought it were a lighter question, something he used to move JD away from clamming up completely. JD tried to note that and keep his voice light.
"He's been...helpful," he began. "He's been helping with patients. He even eats lunch with me sometimes." More like hovering over his shoulder to make sure he doesn't screw up and the have another panic attack, and watching him from the next table over to make sure he eats all of his food, but it was still ... helpful ... to know that someone was paying attention. Of course, it didn't exactly help the rumors die down.
"It's nice to know someone's there for you," Dr. Rice commented quietly, scribbling away. JD watched him for a moment before continuing.
"But, uh...he's decided to take a vacation."
Dr. Rice looked up. "Really?" He seemed genuinely surprised. JD had been too, when he found out.
"Yeah, apparently he hasn't taken one in 12 years," JD told him. It was gossip, just another rumor, but knowing Dr. Cox it was probably true.
"Do you know why he's taking one now?"
I could guess.
"I guess he's just stressed out about everything that's happened." JD tried hard to keep the guilt out of his voice, but he was pretty sure he'd failed. "I mean, he was involved in the whole 'hostage at the hospital' thing too; he got pretty cut up. Then the whole thing at his house...."
The psychiatrist was looking at his expectantly, JD knew. But he wasn't about to go into it.
"I mean, he deserves it. It's not his situation, it's mine," JD shuffled uncomfortably in his seat.
"But you just mentioned that he was involved in all of it," Dr. Rice pointed out.
"Well, yeah, but it was my friend who cut him up, my fault he got bashed over the head and tied to a chair!"
He really hadn't meant to say that.
Dr. Rice pursed his lips thoughtfully, an almost pained look crossing his face. "I wasn't aware that you were giving the orders either time, JD." Yeah, here comes the 'it's not your fault, it's Daniel's fault. No one really got that saying it over and over wouldn't change the fact that JD was the one who kept going back to him, kept provoking him into doing what he did.
"Have you asked his forgiveness?"
His eyes jerked up, shocked. "Have I what?"
Eyebrows furrowed as if in pain, Dr. Rice continued, "Even if all the logic you could muster told you that it wasn't your fault, the guilt would probably still be there. If you feel responsible for what happened, you're not just going to be able to convince yourself otherwise. So, maybe having his forgiveness would lighten the burden, make it more bearable."
JD felt his chest tighten and his eyes well up with tears. He took a deep breath, urging himself to calm down. But no one had ever seen it like that, understood it like that. Not even Dr. Cox, who got everything. And then to have it spelled out in plain words just like he could never do himself, not even in his own head, was shocking and the most reassuring thing he'd heard in so long.
After a few more deep breaths, JD was able to respond; "Thank you, Dr. Rice. I'll keep that in mind."
"Please, call me James," Dr. Rice said, his face softening into a smile.
JD chuckled awkwardly. "You've never told me to call you that before."
The psychiatrist shrugged. "You've never said my name before."
On the walk home JD thought about forgiveness; would it really make a difference? And even if he asked Dr. Cox, would he grant it? Or just shrug it off as another sissy thing that JD was doing in his depression? Would he understand how much he needed it? Sometimes Dr. Cox understood so much more than JD expected.
He thought back to three days before, when he'd first found out that Dr. Cox would be taking a vacation. His first in so long, it couldn't have been a coincidence in timing; he wanted to get away from JD, from the entire situation. JD was an emotional wreck, filled with rage and fear and guilt seeping out of him as he practically jogged to Dr. Cox's favorite bar after work to confront him.
JD had charged up to the bar and shoved Dr. Cox, nearly causing the man to topple off of his stool in his drunken state.
"Why?" JD had demanded. "Why are you leaving? Is it because of me? Of course it is, you just can't take it anymore, can you? Babysitting me day after day, making sure I don't kill any patients or myself!" Dr. Cox just stared blearily up at him. The bartender wandered over and told JD to keep it don't and not to start a fight, but JD just continued.
"You don't have to watch me all the time, you know. Like it's not bad enough that half the hospital thinks we're fucking, you have to be around me all the time so they think we in love or something, too. Thanks for that. You know, if you can't handle it, why don't you just stop! Just stop following me around and stop watching me eat, you don't have to fucking leave!
"I know it's because of me, so just TELL ME!" In his fury, JD barely heard his mentor respond.
"I don't like the way everything has changed, Newbie."
JD just held his hands out, waiting for more. "Is that it? Want it to go back to normal? 'Cuz I sure as hell do, but apparently it doesn't work like that. There's no magic fix, remember?" Goddammit, there were tears on JD's face now, just what he needed.
Suddenly Dr. Cox was looming over him, his face beet red with alcohol or anger. "This isn't all about you, JD!" The name shocked JD quiet. "I'm tired of this!"
JD was shocked. "You're tired of this? You're tired of this?"
Dr. Cox swayed, and his voice was so much quieter than his when he said, "I'm tired of feeling guilty all the time. I used to hear Carla complain about you being with your little 'friend' all the time, and now she complains about you being with me.
"I'm not his replacement, JD."
JD saw white and could no longer hear or think. He'd started screaming, but he couldn't recall what he'd been saying. Something about Dr. Cox actually wanting to be his lover, something that made him redden every time he thought of it, but he'd felt so angry, so upset, so abandoned.
He'd screamed, raised his hands and tried to hit his mentor, tried to shove him into the bar into someone, tried so hard to make him angry until suddenly Dr. Cox was screaming back:
"I'M NOT GOING TO HIT YOU!"
And the world came crashing back, and JD stared at Dr. Cox's beet red, tear stained face, his drunken yet piercing gaze, and realized that that was exactly what he wanted him to do.
JD arrived home feeling that deafening wave of anger hit home just like it had that night. He hadn't really wanted Dr. Cox to hit him. Had he? Why would he want that? Why would anyone want that?
He went straight to the bathroom and locked the door behind him. The face in the mirror wasn't nearly as haggard as it had been, but he still didn't recognize himself. He briefly considered wetting his hair and trying to style it up again, like he used to....
He remembered calling Dr. Cox a coward that night. Screaming it. After all he'd put him through, would he ever really forgive him? Was it even worth asking?
He'd called Dr. Cox the coward. But it was really him. He couldn't...he couldn't ask if there was even a chance that he would be turned down. If Dr. Cox said, no, if he wouldn't forgive JD for all the tortuous months he put him through, then how was JD ever supposed to forgive himself? He'd given up on getting over it, but moving on almost seemed attainable when he actually believed that Dr. Cox would say it. When he pretended that it work work out like that....
Such a strong wave of despair suddenly rushed through JD that he didn't even realize what he'd done until he looked down to see why his hand hurt. Tiny shards of glass stuck out of his skin at every angle, and the sink was filling with his blood. The mirror in front of him was in pieces.