Author's Note/Summary: Every time I watch, "Paging Dr. Drake," I'm annoyed with the fact that we never learn WHY Josh hates hospitals so much. I mean, I love Drake's slutty ways and general cluelessness and the boys using accents as much as the next girl, but you can't give me something like, "Josh is so afraid of hospitals he left his foot swell to ten times it normal size," without a real reason. It just sits in my head and BEGS for fanfiction then. Plus, almost from the first episode I saw of D&J I've been wondering about Josh's mom, and I've long been convinced she died(Josh's instant taking to and love of Audrey? I mean I know Josh is a sweet kid, but its kind of, 'i need a mom' behavior to me, plus Walter just strikes me as the endlessly devoted type..so yeah), and that coupled with Josh's unexplained hospital fear?

It lead to this. 4,300(!) Words of angsty, Josh centric, slashy fanfiction. With Craig and Eric love too. Cause I can.

A couple quick things:

1. I know Josh cries in "Megan's first kiss", but 'I'm so touched by Megan's admitting she loves us' tears, are not the same as, 'breaking down' tears.

2. For the sake of this fic, and my sanity, let's just assume that at some point before this story takes place Drake told Josh about his dad, and then when Drake asked Josh about his mom, Josh like, distracted him with a pretty girl or something. K?

Disclaimer: I got a friend of a mine hooked on the show, and now she is DVRing and watching every episode like a junkie(this show does that to the best of I us I think), and in a e-mail she referred to them as, "my boys." Unfortunately, that is the closest I will ever come to owning them. sigh not mine.


People are always referring to Josh as a 'sweet kid' and a 'nice guy', and in a lot of ways he supposes he is. He has a quick smile for just about everyone, an easy comforting laugh, and a willingness to help anyone that asks. He's generally a happy guy, and when he's angry- quick flashes of anger- he lets it out in long tirades, which while sometimes ridiculous, always make him feel better. He bounces back from most things, anger or nervousness or fear quickly, snapping back into happy Josh mode. It's sadness on that Josh tends to unnerve people. He's not a crier, or a shouter, he just retreats inside himself. He doesn't tell people he's upset, he doesn't need to, because when Josh is hurting, it's almost like he's a completely different person. His voice changes, his mannerisms change, his walk slows down, it's little things that add up to an obvious big thing inside Josh's head. Sometimes he thinks maybe he should let it out a little more, cry a little, yell at little maybe. After all, Josh is an open-minded, in touch with his feelings, bubble bath taking, Clay Aiken listening to, kind of guy- but still, he can't ever really let himself just break down. He doesn't really subscribe to the whole, 'crying will make it better' school of thought. In his experience, tears have never solved anything and it seems silly to expect them to work miracles now.

The year Josh was six, a horrible, confusing, messy, lonely year, he cried enough to last him the rest of his life. It was a year spent sitting in hospital waiting rooms, coloring in pictures with worn down crayons. It was a year Josh was bounced around to different relatives, mostly Grammy, while his dad paced and cursed and yelled at everyone and no one, waiting for test results that never brought good news. It was a year when no one would tell Josh the truth no matter how many questions he asked. It was a year when strangers told him what a 'good boy' he was, and patted him on the head, looking right through him. It was a year when all of the sudden, his mommy was attached to tubes and wires and she looked so tired and far away, and it was terrifying. It was a year, when even on the nights he did sleep in his own house, he'd be kept up at night by the sounds of his father's sobs, so Josh cried too. It was a year of cards and hugs and flowers, and ugly little rooms with dark blue chairs and way too many people. It was the year his dad pulled him onto his lap and said it was, 'just the two of them now.' It was a year when Josh hid behind a chair and watched as aunts and uncles packed his mommy's things into boxes and put them all up the attic.

Josh isn't really bitter or angry. He'd never claim he had to grow up too fast(because really, at 18 Josh is still in very many ways, a kid), or that his childhood was horrible and bleak and depressing because of that year. His dad was great, he tried really hard to be everything for Josh, his Grammy was great, and he always had school- the perfect escape for a boy as smart as Josh. He had friends and video games and books and magic tricks, and really, most days his childhood was pretty ok. Plus, once he was fifteen he had Audrey and Megan and Drake too, and then things were a lot less empty. Not that there aren't lingering effects-like the way to this day seeing his dad at all sad squeezes on his heart or like the way being anywhere near a hospital makes him nauseous. Perhaps most of all it's the way he hardly ever cries, no matter how healthy Oprah says it is, unless things have really gone to hell, because it just never seems worth it. He'd rather just keep it all in, rather just sit in silence, he'd rather be the shoulder to cry on when other people fall to pieces. So people know the facts, they know Josh's mom is dead, and they know its not something he talks about it, ever.

It couldn't last forever though, and really, if Josh thinks about he knows he probably should have seen it coming. In some ways it is totally unsurprising that the one person to see him break down and fall apart is Drake. Drake is the first and the only person to see him do most of things he's done over the years, and he'll probably, if Josh has it his way, be the first and only person to see most of things Josh does in the future. So it makes sense then, that first person he really tells about his mom, the first person to really see him cry in over a decade, is Drake. They're sitting in a hospital waiting room, spring of senior year. They're sitting and waiting for news about Eric, who was in a car accident earlier that day. Craig is a mess, pacing the halls and attacking all the doctors that pass by, begging for news, and it's killing Josh to watch him. Craig had called him in a total panic, they'd been driving and it had been raining and the car had hit this puddle and hydroplaned and could Josh please please come? So now he is sitting and waiting and the hospital is making his skin crawl and Drake is sitting by his side. Drake, who somehow knew Josh would want him there. Drake who probably could probably be out with ten girls right now, but who had, some how, seen that the last thing in the world Josh wanted to do was go sit in a hospital, so he'd offered to come, and Josh couldn't say no. If Josh wasn't so uncomfortable about being in the hospital, he'd probably be overwhelmed and wondering about Drake's selflessness, but sitting in the waiting room, he's having trouble thinking about anything but not throwing up.

Its been an hour and Josh is on his fourth cup of coffee. He keeps trying to get Craig to come sit down, but he won't, or can't and he's making the hospital staff crazy. The only thing Josh is grateful for, beside Drake's presence, is that they're not minors, so waiting on Eric's parents, who were in Los Angeles for the weekend and getting back as fast as possible, won't be an issue. He's pretty sure Craig couldn't take that. Finally a doctor comes out and tells the boys that Eric will be just fine, that they're finishing up some emergency surgery right now, and they'll be able too see him soon and Craig actually sinks to the floor and cries. Josh sits back in his seat, and Drake, still right by his side turns to him and says,

"Dude, are you ok? You look like you're gonna be sick."

"I'm fine," Josh says quitely, and Drake stares at him with such intense disbelief that Josh finds himself wishing that a girl would walk by, and steal Drake's attention, like usual. But the only person that walks past them is crying little boy of about six, which just makes Josh feel worse. He swallows down the rising nausea and takes a deep breath.

"You're not fine." Drake insists, "They said Eric is gonna be ok- so why do you still look all ill?" he asks.

"Hospitals." Josh murmurs, and Drake levels him another disbelieving stare.

"I've never understood what's up with you and hospitals." he says.

"You wouldn't." Josh says and the words come out more bitter than he planned.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Drake asks, pouting a little.

"Nothing, just forget it ok?" Josh asks.

"Whatever. All I know is that you're all freaked out for no reason. I mean, Eric's fine and hospitals aren't so bad. They've got jello and hot nurses." Drake says.

"Yes. Of course. Because if there is food and girls it must be a happy place!" Josh snaps, then feels bad. Drake opens his mouth to snap back, but then he shakes his head and stands up. He walks over to Craig.

"Hey man. Will you be ok if Josh and I go for a quick walk?" He asks. Craig looks up, and despite having no idea what Drake is up to, Josh is relieved to note that Craig has gotten some color back in his cheeks.

"Oh. Yeah- I should go call his parents anyway." He says, blinking at Drake as though he's just woken up.

"Cool. We'll be back in like, ten, fifteen minutes." Drake says, and then, before Josh can protest, Drake is pulling him out of his chair and leading him, with a surprising amount of strength, out onto the hospital lawn. Josh pulls out of Drake's grip, and they're quiet for a few minutes, like maybe Drake is waiting for Josh to speak first. Which is stupid, because this was all Drake's idea.

"I didn't want to take a walk." Josh hisses finally, looking at the sky and the ground and the trees and anywhere but Drake.

"Too bad." Drake says, "cause I want to know why you're acting like this."

"Some of us, you know, people with an attention span longer than a squirrel's, have emotions about things like our friends in car accidents." Josh returns, even though he knows full well that's not what Drake meant.

"Look you can insult me all you want, but I'm not going to let you sit there all freaked out in your head and not telling anyone." Drake says looking uncharacteristically stubborn. Josh sighs.

"I don't want to talk about." He says.

"But I'm Drake," Drake says, making Josh smile, just a little, "you can tell me anything."

"Look-dude- I just, I'll be fine, I just hate hospitals and I hate waiting rooms even more, but really, as soon as we get out of here I'll be fine. I promise." Josh says.

"Is this about your mom?" Drake asks, and Josh has a rush of dizziness, because in almost four years he has never, not even once, mentioned his mother to Drake. His face must give away just how horrified he is, because Drake winces and says, "I'm sorry-I just wondered. I mean you never mention, so I thought-"

"Don't," Josh cuts him off, turning away.

"Josh-" Drake calls out.

"Just let it go Drake." Josh says, striding back into the hospital before Drake can stop him.

He doesn't see Craig anywhere when he gets back, so he flags down a nurse, who points him down a hall towards the room Eric is recovering in. Something makes Josh pause outside the door and glance inside the window before going in, and he's instantly grateful for the instinct, because the sight inside the room actually takes his breath away. Eric is sitting up in bed with Craig sitting next to him, his back towards the door. Their hands are joined, fingers laced and they're both crying. Craig's shoulders are shaking, and Eric's free hand, the one with an IV in the back, is wiping the tears from Craig's cheeks. Then, Craig shifts a little, and moves head so that his forehead is against Eric's, and Josh turns away. It has got to be one of the most tender, intimate moments he's ever seen, and it makes him feel like a idiot. So he turns and walks back to the waiting room, where Drake is slumped in a chair, looking dejected. He mirrors Drake's earlier actions and pulls him up, by the arm, and drags him back onto the hospital lawn.

"I'm sorry," He says as soon as they stop walking and Drake looks confused.

"Really?" he asks, pulling his arm away from Josh's grip and standing back to study him.

"Yeah." Josh says, and he really is; Drake had seen how much Josh needed to talk when Josh himself hadn't seen it.

"This isn't my fault?" Drake asks, sounding genuinely puzzled and more than little pleased. He cocks his head to the side and stares up at Josh from behind his hair, and it's one of those moments that always makes Josh remember just how much he loves Drake.

"No. I was being stupid, and I'm sorry," Josh says.

"Are you sure? I know I pushed you-" Drake starts, and Josh shakes his head.

"You were just trying to help." Josh says, "I shouldn't have pushed you away."

"Oh." Drake says softly, "yeah I was."

"So um, if you still want to know.." Josh says, letting the statement trail off and making it sound like a question.

"Yeah. Ok." Drake says, nodding, still looking a little wrong footed at the whole, 'not his fault' thing.

"Ok." Josh repeats, he walks over to a nearby bench and sits down. Drake follows, and once they're both sitting and still and silent, Josh takes a deep breath and says, "Yeah. You're right this is about my mom."

"I'm-" Drake begins, and Josh holds up a hand to silence him.

"I hate hospitals because I spent a year of my life sitting in one, watching my dad pace the halls and waiting on some test result or another, and it was never good news. She never got better." Josh confesses in a rush, and for the second time that night Drake winces.

"How old were you?" Drake asks, and for a moment, Josh thinks it's amazing that Drake, who knows almost everything about him, doesn't know such a simple fact about his life.

"Six." Josh whispers, "I was six and she had cancer, ovarian cancer that spread to like, three organs before they even knew she had it."

"I'm sorry," Drake says simply, putting hand on Josh's shoulder.

"I used to sit in waiting rooms, just coloring for hours, and when I was finally allowed to see her, she was all pale and thin and her eyes were all sunken and no one would tell me why." Josh says, reaching up to take Drake's hand off his shoulder and place it in his own, "I was so scared dude." he confesses, "and people would tell me how brave I was or whatever, and how lucky my dad was to have me, and I just wanted them to tell me why she couldn't, like pick me up. You know?" Josh says.

"Josh I-" Drake starts, then he stops, clearly at a loss and just squeezes Josh's hand and shifts closer to him on the bench. His nearness and warmth provides more comfort than it probably should, but Josh isn't complaining.

"So, when I'm in hospitals now, its like all I can see is my dad crying and my mom wasting away, and adults with fake smiles, and it makes my stomach turn and my chest hurt," Josh says, and a tear, then another roles down his cheek, and then he's shaking with sobs and Drake's arm around him and his hands are rubbing up and down Josh's back. Drake isn't saying anything, but his gestures are saying what he can't, and Josh is grateful. He thinks, for a moment, that this must be why people do this. Feeling like someone else really does care, like maybe they can make it all ok, can make you hurt a little less? It's a nice feeling. Josh isn't used to people- to Drake- taking care of him. It's almost like they've reversed roles, Josh is suddenly the less together one and Drake is just holding him, his tiny little frame providing an amazing out of strength.

"I never knew bro," Drake says when Josh's sobs stop and the boys pull back a little, though their arms are still around each other.

"I never told you." Josh answers simply, "I never told anyone."

"Anyone?" Drake asks.

"Just you." Josh says, shifting a little so that his head is resting on Drake's shoulder.

"Mindy?" Drake asks.

"No." Josh admits, and it occurs to him that Drake probably has a point. He should have mentioned it to her at some point, but they're broken up again now, possibly, probably for good this time, so its too late. Besides, letting himself breakdown in front of Drake had made him feel a little better, but the idea of being that vulnerable in front of Mindy, in front of anyone in the world who isn't Drake still makes him want to throw up. It's bizarre, because he really does trust Drake more than anyone else in his life. Which is probably irrational, but Josh can't help it.

"Just me?" Drake says, and Josh smirks at how pleased with himself Drake sounds.

"Yes," he says, sighing a little.

"Why?" Drake asks, placing his chin on top of Josh's head.

"Cause you're Drake?" Josh suggests.

"True." Drake says.

"And you're the best." Josh says.

"I know," Drake says, and Josh can hear the smile in voice. They're silent for a minute, and then Drake asks,

"So what made you change your mind about needing to talk?"

"Craig and Eric." Josh says truthfully.

"Craig and Eric?" Drake repeats, sounding puzzled and pulling his head up to look at Josh.

"It's just, I was watching them, and they need each other, ya know? So I saw that, and I don't know dude, it's like despite all the headaches and the craziness and the stress you cause, I need you- so I came and got you." Josh says, bringing his eyes up to meet Drake's. He's rewarded with a huge grin, one that lights up Drake's entire face

"Yeah?" he asks.

"Yeah." Josh confirms, and Drake grins even broader, then leans in and brushes a soft kiss against Josh's lips, blushing when he pulls back.

"What was that for?" Josh asks in wonderment. He thinks that if this is some kind of karmic reward for letting himself break down, then the universe is way more generous than he's ever given it credit for, because kissing Drake-no Drake kissing him? That's the sort of thing he normally wakes up right after, but Drake is still there, smiling sheepishly at him, and their arms are still mostly around each other, in sort of a lazy cuddle.

"Cause you're Josh?" Drake suggests still blushing, "and for trusting me, and needing me, and telling me? I guess? I don't know man, you kissed me when I got you Oprah tickets!"

"Actually, I kissed you for the backstage passes, and that was different." Josh says even though, in someways, he's not sure it was. Yeah it was quick and a sput of the moment, sheer joy thing, but it still probably fell under that catagory headed, 'things not to with your stepbrother' and it definantly fell under, 'things you shouldn't spend the next year fantasizing about', "that was excited happy kissing this is, was-"

"Real?" Drake offers.

"Was it?" Josh asks, seriously wondering how he could have underestimated the universe all this time. The universe is a beautiful thing.

"I-" Drake starts then stops and puts his head down, so Josh puts a finger under his chin and makes Drake meet his eyes,

"Did you mean it to be real?" he asks softly.

"Yeah." Drake says, "Josh I-" he starts, but before he can finish, Josh has brought their lips back together and they're kissing again. Their lazy cuddle quickly becomes holding, and feeling and touching and exploring, and their tentative kiss becomes a deep, searching kiss and its everything Josh ever thought it could be, only about a million times better. Drake tastes like coffee and watermelon lollipops and something else Josh can't define, and the skin on his upper arms and under his shirt feels even softer, warmer, and sexier than Josh would have thought possible. They might have stayed like that all night, right there on a rickety little bench on the hospital lawn, if his cell phone hadn't rung, vibrating and startling both of them, since Drake, at some point, had ended up on Josh's lap. Josh pulls out his phone, allowing his hand to graze Drake's thigh, smirking as he does. He presses ignore, although he knows he'll pay for it later- Crazy Steve doesn't like to be ignored.

"We should probably go check on Eric and Craig," Josh says, breathing still heavy.

"Why?" Drake asks pouting a little, "I'm sure they're fine."

"We should check." Josh says firmly, "Besides, if we're going to do this," he says, planting a soft kiss on Drake's lips, "We might want to go somewhere a little less public."

"Public is hot." Drake says smirking.

"Drake!" Josh chides, but he's grinning.

"Oh fine, fine lets go check on Craig and Eric." Drake says, reluctantly untangling his limbs from Josh's and getting off his lap.

"Good." Josh says, standing up and rebuttoning the top few buttons on his shirt.

"So you're gonna be ok if we go back in there?" Drake asks tentatively.

"I think so," Josh says, smiling slightly.

"I could hold your hand if you want," Drake says, teasingly, raising his eyebrows. Josh laughs, "Seriously Josh," Drake says, "That was some crazy stuff that just went on, all of it you know? So- you're good right?"

"Yeah. If you had any idea how long-" Josh stops- unwilling to let Drake know just how long he's been fantasizing about kissing him. "Never mind, just yeah. I'm good."

"Kay," Drake says smiling, and starting to walk towards the door, running his fingers through is make-out ruffled hair as he goes.

"Hey-" Josh calls, "Drake?"

"Changed your mind about public?" Drake asks grinning as he turns back around.

"No," Josh says laughing again, "I just wanted to say thank you."

"For what?" Drake asks, raising his eyebrows.

"Everything, making me talk, listening to me talk, letting me cry-thank you." Josh says.

"You don't have to thank me for that," Drake says with an embarrassed shrug.

"Yeah. I do." Josh says. Drake sighs.

"Ok. You're welcome then. Let's go see Craig and Eric now." He says impatiently.

"Four seconds ago you didn't want to and now you're rushing me?" Josh asks incredulously.

"The faster we see them, the faster we can go home. Home is less public," Drake says, ginning devilishly.

"So you're saying you don't really care, you just want to go makeout more?" Josh asks, smirking a little.

"Is that bad?" Drake asks, "and come on. I care. You know, sort of. I just have other priorities."

"Priorities?" Josh questions, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah. Priorities, You know important crap, my guitar-." Drake starts.

"I know what priorities are," Josh cuts him off, "I was just surprised you did."

"I was going to say you next. But if you're going to be mean to me. Whatever." Drake says, putting on a mock offended pout.

"I'm really right after your guitar?" Josh questions, knowing that in Drake's world, his guitar comes before oxygen and food and sleep, which means JOSH comes before all those things, which takes his breath away a little.

"Yup, maybe even before my guitar." Drake says, "but since you insulted me, even after I was so nice and I-" Josh cuts him off with a kiss.

"Shut up Drake." Josh says, and Drake smiles against his mouth.

"Can we go home now?" He asks, blinking up at Josh coyly.

"Craig and Eric first." Josh says, firmly. Drake sighs and starts trailing a hand up and down Josh's chest in a lazy, but highly seductive way, "Stop that!" Josh hisses, blushing.

"You're no fun." Drake pouts. Josh laughs, slings an arm around Drake, and half pulls half leads him into see Eric and Craig.

----------------

The weird thing is, Josh thinks later, laying on his bed, Drake asleep next to him, is that this day should have really freaked him out. Eric was in a car accident, he accidentally saw a highly personal moment between two of his best friends, he told Drake about his mom, he made out with Drake- all things that should lead to major panic. Somehow though, the only one that really still seems at all shocking is Eric's car accident, and he'll be fine, battered and bruised, but nothing to freak out over. Josh thinks it probably should be awkward, the other things, at least between him and Drake, only its not. Drake is still Drake, and Josh is still Josh so together they're still Drake and Josh, except that now everything is up a level. Josh always thought that next level was really far away, but it doesn't feel like they've traveled all that far. Maybe it's because he shared something so personal first and emotional intimacy can be much scarier than physical. Maybe it's because, once Drake knew about his mom, it only made sense that Drake knew Josh's other secret too. Whatever the reason, it's the simplest, the easiest, but by far the best thing in the world to be in bed, arm around Drake. So maybe Josh was wrong about tears, because this is nothing short of miraculous.