A Long Road Ahead of Her

"Oh, Josh! Drake!"

Josh and Drake looked up to see their parents walking hastily toward them, jackets in hands.

"Is everything okay? What happened?" asked Audrey as she approached.

Walter and Audrey both sat down in the hallway outside Mindy's room and hugged the two boys.

It was a difficult and grueling task for Josh, even with Drake's help, to recount all the events that had led up to Mindy's admittance. As they talked, Walter and Audrey led the two boys to the nearby waiting room, nodding in understanding as Josh explained.

"And I know that's why she's here. I was going to tell you guys, but only as a last resort. I wanted to try to talk to her more first, but I guess that took time I didn't realize I didn't have," finished Josh. His mom just hugged him and stroked his hair.

"Well, her parents do need to know," she finally reasoned.

"I know," he said. "She's going to call them and tell them when she's more settled. They need her parents to fly back anyway, you know, to go over treatment options and bills and insurance and all that stuff."

"I'm going to call Megan and tell her what's happened," said Audrey, taking her cell phone out of her purse and dialing Megan's number.

"I'm proud of you, Josh," said Walter. "You're doing everything you can in a hard situation. We're all here for you."

"Thanks, Dad," Josh said, giving a hesitant smile. He still didn't feel all that proud. He still felt rather guilty, no matter how much Drake had insisted he shouldn't.

An hour and a half later, Mindy's nurse came to the waiting room and informed the family that she could have visitors again for the time being.

"Josh, go on ahead, honey. It's probably best if you and Mindy discuss this alone for a while first," said his understanding mother, with accompanying nods from his father and brother.

Josh nodded and drew in a nervous breath, standing. He made his way back to Mindy's room and opened the door. When he entered, she looked up at him. He came back over to her bed side and sat down, holding her hands. She now had an IV hooked to her arm.

"How are you feeling?" asked Josh.

"Sore," she shrugged. "I've been poked and injected with tons of stuff." She gestured to her IV. "Still am."

Josh nodded. "I hope you feel better," he said in a soft voice.

"Thanks."

The two sat in silence for a moment, both feeling guilty and neither sure what to say.

"I called my parents," she finally said. "They're on their way."

"Good," he said. "I know that was hard for you to do, but I'm proud of you."

She nodded and hung her head. "I'm really sorry, Josh," she said, staring at hands. "You were right, I was wrong. I didn't realize how out of control I was. I'm so ashamed. Now my parents know. I feel completely untrustworthy. I thought I knew what I was doing. I just don't know how it got so out of control," she said, and Josh could tell she meant it in earnest.

"Don't worry," he smiled reassuringly. "You're safe now, and we're going to get you all the help you need, okay? I'm with you every step of the way."

They exchanged smiles. "Okay," she said.

Seeing her smile made Josh feel that everything really would be okay. He stared at her and realized she would get through this, and he would help her through every obstacle she would come across on her road to recovery. He would hold her hand through it all and see to it that she stayed healthy and safe. He knew she had a long road ahead of her. He knew it wouldn't be easy, but important things never are, and Mindy was worth all the trouble in the world.

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Teehee, did you notice how I snuck in key names from the show's credits in the fic, the same way the writers of the show do? St. Schneider's (which really did exist in a Drake and Josh episode as an homage to Dan Schneider) as well as Catania (Joe Catania) in the list of names the nurse rattled off? Well, that's it! Thank you all for reading this and big, special thanks to my reviewers! I hope you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun writing it. And happy Thanksgiving!