A/N: So here it is. The final chapter. Let me first apologize for taking longer than usual. As you can see, this one is rather lengthy, and it fought me a bit as I wrote it, probably because I know I'm going to miss working on this story. lol But I really do hope you enjoy this, all of you. And before we move on, I have to say it: Thank you to all my lovely reviewers. You guys keep me going, and your encouragement never goes unappreciated. Seriously, thank you guys a lot.
Oh, and while this is completely random, I wanted to share with you guys one of the things I did to get me in the proper mind set when sitting down to write this story: I listened to a lot of Disney songs. I know, dorky me, but it definitely helped when it came to this plot line. lol
Okay then, I'm sure you're all waiting to read the end, so here we go: Onto the final chapter!
Disclaimer: I own nada.
"He is this tower...this tower of inadequacy and damage, but he is so morally in the right place. He really wants to be a caregiver, he wants to make these kids responsible for saving lives and there is no middle ground. So he gets to be this mix of babysitter, mentor, teacher and dad."
-John C. McGinley talking about Dr. Cox-
Perry didn't know what to do with himself.
It had been three days since JD awoke from his hypnotized state, and instead of feeling relieved that things could finally go back to normal, Dr. Cox was finding it very hard to make the transition from "Father mode," to "Alpha-male doctor mode." And really, who could blame him? He had worked so hard this past weekend; ridding himself of his urge to belittle and tease his protégé, letting some actual emotions show with the kid, treating him like the five-year-old he thought himself to be, and now he was suddenly being forced to forget all of that and go back to how things were.
"No you're not!"
That's what Carla had shouted at him over the phone after JD had awoken, un-hypnotized. It happened only hours after the couple had taken him back to their apartment, and Carla had just been calling to tell Perry that besides one hell of a migraine and a bit of confusion, JD was perfectly fine. When Dr. Cox merely responded with a simple, "Okay" the Latina nurse had forced him into sharing his thoughts. Begrudgingly, Perry had confessed that going from babysitter to aggravated mentor was going to be difficult, and at the words, "I'm being forced to forget all that," that had been the nurse's response.
"No one's forcing you to forget, Dr. Cox. The only person in this situation doing the forgetting is Bambi. And yes, while we can't talk to him about it, that doesn't mean we have to forget it all too."
"That's easy for you to say."
"Oh really? How come?"
Dr. Cox could hear rather than see the Latina woman's arm going to her hip, as her eyebrows rose in a challenging sort of way. Even so, he continued. "Because you and Milk Dud get to keep the same relationship you had with him before all of this. Believe it or not – and I really do mean that because I'm not quite sure if I'm ready to believe it myself – but my…"Relationship," with Newbie has changed because of this whole fiasco, but seeing as how he doesn't remember and I do, well…it's kind of useless now, isn't it!? So if I continue down this path of tolerance and understanding towards the kid, he's just going to be thrown off and confused, wondering whether or not I've gone insane, most likely. So yes, Carla, yes – I'm being forced to make the transition all over again, and I'm telling you right now, I'm not particularly happy about it."
"You don't think Bambi would appreciate you being kind to him?"
"Out of nowhere!? Give me a break…"
"But Dr. Cox –"
"No," he answered shortly, suddenly ten times more frustrated than he had been before picking up the phone. "No, I don't want to hear it. Tomorrow I'm going to come in to work, and so is Newbie. It'll be fine. It'll work out. I'll be passed this whole crazy-ass weekend by the time tomorrow morning rolls around, and it'll be fine."
Yup, that had all happened three days ago, but here they were now: JD back to his Newbie like self while Perry struggled somewhere in the middle of the weekend's events to what was supposed to be normal behavior between the two of them, and damn – was Newbie making it hard.
The first day back was definitely the worst so far. Perry liked to think of it as, "Confrontation day."
JD dragged his feet reluctantly to the nurse's station while Dr. Cox made sure to keep himself busy by going over a chart, even though Newbie had yet to look his way.
"Another aspirin, Bambi?"
"Yes, please…" JD mumbled in response.
Dr. Cox snuck a quick peek at his protégé. He could tell just by the look of suppressed pain that the kid was dealing with one hell of a headache. Damn hypnotist…
Perry inwardly flinched at the sound of JD's questioning voice. Damn. Was he still staring?
"What is it, Newbie?"
"You, uh…you okay?"
"Yes, Newbie, I'm fine. And if I wanted to share my problems with you, you can bet your powdered bottom I'd let you know, but I'm re-heel-y not in the mood for whatever emotional catastrophe you're ready to throw my way, so let's not say we do the whole hand holding bit this morning, alright?"
JD merely nodded, unphased by the response he pretty much expected, but Perry couldn't help but notice the intensity of the glare Carla was throwing his way, or the bitter after taste the rant had left on his tongue.
Only an hour after the seemingly small incident occurred, both Dr. Cox and JD were in a patient's room. The comatose man was showing signs of waking, so the two were spending every extra minute they had on re-checking the guy's vitals and making sure he'd wake up to good news.
Dr. Cox was writing the patient's progress down on a chart when he first felt Newbie's eyes on him, staring. He cleared his throat, hoping it'd help him ignore the gaze while simultaneously getting JD to back off a little. Unfortunately for Perry, throat clearing wasn't doing much for his nerves or the persistent set of eyes unwilling to let go of their hold. Without looking up from his chart, Perry began to speak in a practiced, and rather disinterested, tone of voice. "What is it there, Newbie?"
"Huh? Oh…I just… Were you with us this weekend sometime?"
Well that certainly grabbed Perry's attention.
Dr. Cox looked up then. JD was still staring at him, as if trying to figure out a very complicated puzzled. "Was I what?" Perry asked sharply, as if his protégé's question was ludicrous to begin with.
"I mean, well… Okay, so I woke up Sunday night with a massive migraine, you know? And when I asked Turk and Carla why my head was pounding, and why, well…why I couldn't remember anything since Friday, they told me we'd been out drinking all weekend to celebrate Turks' successful surgery, and I just –"
Dr. Cox scoffed, cutting JD off from his rather hesitant explanation. Newbie had most likely taken his mentor's reaction as an insult; amused that JD would even suggest he'd voluntarily go out drinking with him and his little roomies, but in actuality, Dr. Cox had scoffed at Carla and Gandhi's lame reasoning for why JD couldn't remember a damn thing, even if it was convincing enough… "Listen here, Newbie. What you woke up with? That's called a hangover. Trust me, I've been there. And as far as wondering whether or not I joined you on your drunken escapades, no. I did not. I was at home enjoying my one free weekend off in God knows how long."
"I just…I don't remember a thing, and I never get that drunk. But when I saw you this morning, something in my mind flashed, so I thought that maybe –"
"Damn it, Newbie! I wasn't with you, okay? Now take Mr. Milligan's blood sample down to the lab, and don't forget to get me a coffee on the way back."
"Right…" JD mumbled. Dr. Cox watched his protégé leave the room, the anxiety and guilt sticking to the top of his mouth like rotten paste.
Perry really thought that Tuesday was going to run a lot smoother. After he had gotten home last night, he realized it wasn't all too surprising that Newbie had questioned him. Déjà vu was bound to strike the kid a little. He should've been more prepared. But after JD had come back with his coffee, Mr. Milligan's blood sample dropped off safely in the lab, the kid seemed back to his perky self. So yes, Dr. Cox had truly believed day two was going to go over much better.
He was wrong, except that this time, it wasn't Newbie's nerve wracking questions that set him off. Oh no. It was the habits that he himself had developed over the weekend; his inability to make the full transition back into angry doctor mode.
He and JD walked back to the nurse's station in unusual silence. It had been a long day, and even Newbie wasn't doing much talking.
Once there, Dr. Cox was the first to pick up a chart. "Okay, Newbie, seems we have someone we might be able to save, so here's what we're going to do. First, I need you to –" Perry had chosen that exact moment to look up, just in time to see Newbie's head bobbing, eyes drifting closed right where he stood. Dr. Cox whistled sharply, causing JD to stop and look about in confusion. When his eyes landed on Dr. Cox, he visibly gulped. Crap! his inner monologue shouted at him fearfully. I've never fallen asleep when Dr. Cox was talking to me, especially about a patient. Crap, crap, crap! He is so going to kill me! After the initial burst of fear, JD finally managed to make eye contact with his mentor's gaze. Much to the young doctor's surprise, the returning stare wasn't glazed over in outrage. In fact, the expression was more…concerned maybe? Amused? He couldn't tell, but suddenly –
"Go take a nap, Newbie."
"I got this one. Go lay down for a while, alright?"
"I, uh…are you sure?"
Dr. Cox nodded, eyes now focused solely on the chart before him. "Yeah, I'm sure. I'll page you if I need you."
Dr. Cox just nodded as JD strolled off to the on-call room. It wasn't until he was fully out of hearing range did Carla let out a small snicker, her sudden presence surprising the older doctor. "When in the hell did you get here!?"
Carla looked up at him, amusement dancing behind her big brown eyes. "I've been here the whole time. Oh, and Dr. Cox?"
"If you want, I could go get the baby monitors from pediatrics. I could sneak one into the on-call room while Bambi sleeps, and you could carry the other in your pocket. You know…just in case."
Dr. Cox's eyes flared as a low growl escaped his throat. He turned away, coat tails flailing behind him.
"It's fine, Carla, I don't –"
"No, it's not fine. I shouldn't have said that. I know this transition is hard for you, but I just –"
"It's not hard for me, okay? I'm over it. I got over it the very same night Newbie's ass got dragged out of my apartment. I'm fine."
"Dr. Cox, look –"
"I'm fine, Carla. Now if you could go involve yourself in somebody else's business, I'd appreciate it."
The Latina woman just sighed as she left her long time friend alone on the couch. If only he could see it for himself.
Several hours after JD had emerged from the on-call room, he and Dr. Cox were off to discuss physical therapy options with Mr. Milligan, who had successfully awoken from his comatose state. It was on the way to his room when a mysterious mop came jutting out from behind a seemingly closed door, tripping JD and sending him crashing to the ground below. The Janitor revealed himself seconds later, grinning over the young man victoriously. "I missed you this weekend, Scooter. No one to torture, you know?"
"Move it, Jumpsuit."
Janitor turned around to find Dr. Cox behind him, arms crossed and eyes set to kill. "Why? What's the big deal?"
"I'm not in the mood, Soap Jockey. Now move it."
The giant of a man just scowled as he stepped away from JD, heading off in the opposite direction.
Perry finally managed to look down at Newbie, who was currently staring up at him, wide eyed. It was that look. The look he had given him so much this past weekend, and damn it…not only had he allowed himself to get all protective in front of the Janitor, but now, thanks to those pathetic doe blue eyes…
Discreetly breaking free of his gaze, Dr. Cox bent down to the kid's level, taking hold of the knee his protégé had originally landed on. JD instinctively pulled back, letting out a sharp hiss of pain.
"C'mon, Newbie, let me see it."
"I know, I know. It just…" Crap, should he continue? Surely Dr. Cox would make fun of him for being such a girl. But suddenly Perry was finishing his sentence, saying aloud the word he couldn't bring himself to admit.
Dr. Cox immediately paged the nurse's station for one of them to bring over an icepack. Unfortunately for him…
"Bambi? You okay?" Carla asked as she saw them in the hallway, requested icepack in hand.
"Huh? Yeah, I'm fine. It was just the Janitor again, but um…" JD hesitated, not quite believing what happened himself. "Dr. Cox scared him off for me, so I'm okay."
Perry watched as Newbie's attention was suddenly focused back on him. "Thanks, Dr. Cox."
The older doctor just scowled as he got up to walk away, pretending as though he didn't notice JD's confused expression or Carla's sympathetic smile.
And here is where Dr. Cox found himself now, struggling to get through day number three.
But apparently, thanks to a surprise visitor, he wasn't the only one struggling.
"Heeey, little brother!"
Recognizing the voice, Perry turned around to see his protégé being lifted into the air, two arms tight around the brunette doctor's waist, their owner laughing out loud in amusement. "No likey sneak hugs!" JD shouted, squirming to get out of his older sibling's grasp. Dr. Cox scoffed. JD not liking sneak hugs was a straight out lie.
Dan finally let go, allowing his brother to regain his balance.
"Hi, Dan. So…why exactly are you here?"
"Aw, that's not anyway to greet your big brother!" the older Dorian replied with an overly amused grin. "But if you must know, Johnny, I come baring gifts!"
Dr. Cox watched as JD took a hesitant step backwards. Apparently, that line had been used before, and he highly doubted whatever "gifts" his older brother had given him in the past were really gifts at all.
JD raised an eyebrow as Dan suddenly reached into his backpack – he hadn't even noticed he'd been wearing one – and pulled out a very large book. Taking a cautious step forward, the young doctor continued to look it over, wondering what about it was so special that made his older brother feel the urge to come visit him.
"It's our baby book!" Dan exclaimed suddenly. "I know, I know. I didn't think we had one either. Well, mom took pictures and all, but I thought they were just, you know, here and there. But she found this the other day, and I'm tellin' ya Johnny, she really over-used that camera. You wanna see?"
Caution had been thrown out the window the minute JD heard what it was. He would never say it out loud, considering he was already looked at as a girly kind of guy, but he really did like photo albums. "Yeah, sure. Let's see what she put in there."
The two Dorians leaned against the nurses' station, the album opened up on the counter before them. The first several pages were filled with what their mom liked to call, "Baby's first." (Baby's first bath, baby's first steps, baby's first smile, etc, etc.) Of course, the first half of the book was all filled with Dan's pictures, so by the time they did come to JD's, an audience had begun to gather, even if the siblings didn't realize it themselves.
Carla kept on peering up from her place behind the counter, smiling at the bits of conversation she heard from the brothers. They were actually getting along quite well; laughing and reminiscing together. But part of her smile was aimed solely for Dr. Cox, who hadn't realized she was standing there, and probably hadn't realized that he was still staring at the two Dorians. He would pretend to read the chart whenever JD looked over in question, but the minute the brunette was drawn back to the book, Perry's attention went straight back to his protégé. Of course, from where he stood, he was completely unable to see any of the pictures. That is, until –
"Ah ha!" Dan abruptly shouted with laughter. "You were such a nerd, little brother, but I gotta say – you always knew what you wanted to be, didn't ya? I'm proud of you, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to rub this in your face."
"No, Dan, don't!"
But the older sibling had already pulled out the photo from its protective sheet, waving it triumphantly in the air, very much out of JD's grasp. "Who wants to see little Johnny playing dress up?" he shouted victoriously to anyone who could hear.
Carla snickered. "Oh c'mon, Bambi, let's see it!"
"No, it's –"
But the photo had been pulled forcefully from Dan's grasp, and was now being held in – Oh God. JD froze. Dr. Cox, his mentor, was staring at a picture of his five year old self. But not just his five year old self when he was in normal clothes, oh no… his five year old self when he was dressed like a –
"Dr. Cox…?" JD looked to Carla, whose voice was laced with quiet hesitance. It was that tone that made JD look back at the very doctor she'd been questioning, and for the life of him, he could not make out the expression (well, more like expressions) that was playing across the older man's face.
Perry swallowed, his adams apple visibly bobbing. He tried desperately to smirk, to raise an eyebrow in typical Cox like fashion. He tried so hard to say something witty and sarcastic that would have the kid swelling with embarrassment, but all he could do was stare at the picture in his hand.
All he could do was stare.
Dr. Cox blinked. Ignoring Dan and his stupid nickname, Perry slammed the picture down on the nurses' station's counter, physically rattling the top with his open palm as he did so. He stormed off, his pace brisk and fierce.
"What just happened…?" JD asked in shock. He had been sure his mentor was going to mock him for that.
Carla didn't answer; just smiled sadly at the picture in front of her. A five-year-old JD smiled back. He was waving at whoever took the picture, his fake stethoscope and oversized lab coat portraying him as the doctor he'd always wanted to be.
Perry was walking briskly through the hallways, not quite sure where he was going. That picture…that picture was the little boy he'd taken care of all this weekend. That was Newbie. His Newbie. Too familiar. Too, too familiar for someone who was trying so hard to forget.
Speaking of which…
"Dr. Cox, wait!"
"What do you want now, Newbie!?" he barked without breaking his pace. He couldn't do this, not right now.
"I know I'm going to sound like a girl, but…are you okay? I mean, I really thought you'd have a field day with that…with that picture, but you looked, I mean…when you left you seemed really pissed. But I've told you I wanted to be a doctor pretty much all my life, right? And really, how could you be mad at me for something I did when I was fi –"
Dr. Cox spun on his heel, the linoleum floor actually squeaking from the friction. JD stiffened as his mentor's eyes locked with his own. The anger was all too visible, too real, too –
"Listen, Dora! I couldn't care less about how much you pined to be a doctor, and how much of your sad little child hood you got recorded back there in that book of yours, alright? I couldn't care less! Stop following me! Stop asking such stupid questions! I know, I know – it's hard to stop when you're just so damn good at it, but I've had enough, you hear me? Abso-lu-hu-hutely enough. Do you understand me, Jasmine? ENOUGH!"
The look on JD's face was practically the mirror image of that first night; that first night when the five-year-old boy had stayed at his place. When Dr. Cox had yelled at him for the broken glass. Yes. It was that look, and that same horrible, horrible realization of what he just said that burned and boiled in the pit of his stomach.
Except this time, he could do nothing.
He couldn't do anything as JD simply nodded, turning to walk away slowly from where he came. He couldn't call him back or pull him close and tell him sorry; that it was all going to be okay. No. He couldn't do it, because that wasn't him. That wasn't how their relationship was supposed to be. So he watched as his protégé's back faded from his view before slumping against the wall of the now very empty corridor, feeling physically and emotionally drained.
Carla watched as JD passed the nurse's station, ignoring his brother's questioning look and her own sympathetic stare. She watched Dan follow after him, knowing very well he'd never get Bambi to tell him what had transpired. She watched when several minutes later, Dr. Cox passed by the station too. He never looked at her. Never grunted, never scowled. Just picked up a chart and walked in the opposite direction.
She watched for the entire rest of the week as the two doctor's relationship slowly slipped back into normalcy. JD following his mentor like always, clearly over the tongue lashing he had received just a few days ago. She watched as Dr. Cox demeaned him, calling him girls' name after girls' name. (Though strangely enough, she noted, that these girls names were only from kids shows or Disney movies, never anything else) She watched as every time JD would walk away to do what his mentor had instructed, Dr. Cox's eyes would follow his retreating form, sad and remorseful, then suddenly go back to that angry indifference.
And for what felt like the millionth time that first week after JD awoke, she pulled out her phone to stare longingly at one of her favorite pictures in the world.
Dr. Cox, looking so calm and peaceful, his arm wrapped protectively around her Bambi, who in turn looked so innocent and serene, it just… Her eyes welled with unshed tears as she put the phone away.
She had hoped, she really, really had, that the older man's attitude would change after all of this; that his realization for JD would stick. She had considered the photo as blackmail more times than she'd care to admit, but wouldn't that be pointless? Yes. Dr. Cox knew his feelings for his protégé were very real and very there. Showing him the picture would only anger him, probably hurt him too. And it would be meaningless if the man only came to terms with his feelings just because he didn't want to be embarrassed in front of the whole staff. No, Dr. Cox needed to do this by himself; to admit what he knew was there.
She hoped desperately he would admit it soon.
"Newbie! Just the gal I was looking for."
JD turned around to come face to face with his mentor. The man was grinning mischievously, clearly up to something, but JD just sighed. "I get it, I'm a girl." It was then that the doctor noticed Jack, who was currently staring at him from the crook of his father's arm.
Dr. Cox turned to his son, clearly amused. "You heard it right from Aunt Janice's lip glossed mouth, didn't you Jacky?"
"She's a gwirl," the three year old repeated with pride.
"Atta boy." Perry looked back up then, grin still firmly in place. "Here's the story, Belle. The she-devil and I are going out tonight, and Jacky here needs a babysitter. Seeing as how you're probably dying for a little tyke of your own, what with those mothering instincts of yours, I figured you'd be up for the job. Whaddya say?"
Despite the speech full of insults, JD was admittedly flattered. "Oh, um…sure."
"Very articulate, Newbie. Anyway, be at the apartment by 7:00, and I do mean 7:00, Wanda. Not 7:05, or 7:00-whenever the hell I want, but 7:00. Are we clear?"
JD scowled in a "manly," way, clearly frustrated. "Yes, Dr. Cox, we're beyond clear."
"Easy now, Newbie. No need to get those panties of yours in a bunch. Would be a shame to get them twisted after having waited all month for that sale at Victoria's Secret to begin."
JD rolled his eyes. "Okay, okay! Your apartment at 7:00, babysitter, got it."
Dr. Cox was nervous. No, nervous was most definitely an understatement.
He didn't want Newbie to come over. It was Friday, and officially two whole weeks since JD had gotten himself hypnotized. If he stayed and watched the kid stroll around his apartment for too long, emotions would surely begin to resurface, and he didn't want that, no. It was hard enough at the hospital already. JD had clearly forgiven him from the tongue lashing that took place just days ago, but he wasn't quite sure he'd forgiven himself yet. And oh God, Newbie's expression… Five-year-old state of mind or not, it sucked seeing the kid look so damned hurt, especially when that look was caused by his own words.
No. Newbie babysitting was a bad idea, but their nanny was sick with the flu, Carla and Gandhi had plans of their own, and well…JD was trustworthy. He was the last and, oddly enough, one of the most reliable choices.
When JD finally arrived, Dr. Cox was quick to open the door, and even quicker to glare. "Do you not remember my little 7:00 lecture, Newbie?"
"I'm five minutes early!"
Perry just snorted as he swiftly turned back into his apartment, JD following hesitantly behind. "Wow," the brunette commented softly. "It's been a while since I've been here, huh?"
Dr. Cox was very grateful that his protégé's attention was currently focused on the large screen TV. His muscles had instantly tensed upon hearing JD's words. God, Newbie, you are not making this any easier for me… Perry shook his head, clearing his thoughts before speaking. "Jack's in his room, but you know where that is."
JD looked at him, eyebrow raised in question. "Uh…am I supposed to? I haven't been here since before Jack was born, remember?"
Shit! "Right…yeah, okay."
JD's eyebrow shot up a notch. "You, uh…you oka - ?"
"Don't finish that sentence, Raggedy Ann."
The younger doctor swallowed. "Right… So, um…where's Jordan?"
"Out in the car, which is where I'm heading as well. Later, Newbie. Try not to permanently scar my son."
"Right. Bye, Dr. Cox."
Perry nodded once before closing the door behind him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a voice was mocking him, informing him of what he actually felt like he was doing: Leaving two kids alone; not just his son and a babysitter.
"Jack?" JD opened the door with hesitance, but instantly softened as Perry's son jumped up from behind his bed, hands held over his head in a "scary" fashion. "Boo!" he shouted. JD pretended to jump (okay, so maybe the kid had startled him a little bit…) and Jack began to giggle.
"Okay, Jack. Daddy and mommy are out for the night, so what do you want to do?" It was strange for JD, to be referring to his mentor as "Daddy" in conversation, but somehow it felt…
"Huh? Oh right…you want me to read you something?"
Jack nodded, instantly heading for the little book shelf in the corner.
JD sat on the edge of the bed as the boy continued his search for just the right story. He didn't know why, but just sitting here, looking around at what was supposed to be an unfamiliar room, he just couldn't help but feel…safe. Warm.
He blinked, and suddenly Jack was in front of him, story book in hand. He held it up for JD to see, searching his face for a response. "Oh!" the doctor exclaimed cheerfully. "Dr. Seuss! I used to read him all the time. Okay, Jacky," JD patted his lap. "Hop on."
Jack climbed up enthusiastically, handing the book over to JD in the process. The doctor cleared his throat and began to read aloud: "One fish, two fish. Red fish, blue fish."
It was one of those rare occasions in which Jordan drank more than he did.
She stumbled into the apartment, leaning against him while simultaneously barking that she didn't need his help. Perry just rolled his eyes as Jordan finally let go of his shoulder, swaying over to the bedroom. She turned around at the last minute and made a motion with her hand towards the living room couch. "Don't forget to pay DJ," she slurred. And then she was back in the bedroom, undoubtedly unconscious.
Dr. Cox was staring straight ahead now, all attention focused on the seemingly empty couch, while the TV was alive and playing some very familiar images. He hadn't drunk much at all, so he couldn't blame what he was seeing on the alcohol.
With a raised eyebrow, he took a step forward; finally close enough to confirm what he already knew was on the television.
He watched with a small intake of breath as Simba climbed to the top of Pride Rock, the rain beating down on him and the others. The part where Newbie had fallen asleep and –
Lazy mumbling caught his attention then. Taking another step forward, Dr. Cox now found himself standing behind the couch, staring down at an image he would never allow himself to forget.
Jack lay sprawled out on JD's stomach, fast asleep, while the doctor himself lay flat on his back, his face nuzzled against the cushions.
Dr. Cox allowed himself an amused laugh before picking up Jack and bringing him to his room. He tucked his son in quietly, making sure to turn the lights off on the way out.
Slowly, cautiously, he made his way back over to JD, who was still fast asleep on the sofa. "That movie puts you to bed even now, eh Newbie?" Dr. Cox asked with a genuine grin, watching the slow rise and fall of his protégé's chest.
What was he doing? Shouldn't he be waking him up? Shouldn't he just shove a twenty in his hand and tell him to get the hell out, right? Right!?
Perry made his way back to his son's room, almost instantly finding what he came in for. Grabbing the same blue blanket JD had seemed particularly fond of during his time there, Dr. Cox made his way back to the living room, placing the fabric over his Newbie carefully.
He was getting ready to walk away when JD woke up with a start.
He breathed in sharply, surprised at the lack of weight on his chest and the curly haired doctor who was staring down at him quizzically. "Where's Jack?" he asked at once.
"Relax, Newbie. I put him to bed."
"Oh…" JD sat up slowly, and Dr. Cox couldn't help but watch the familiar image that was Newbie rubbing the sleep away from his eyes. "Wha' time is it?"
"A little after 1:00. Sorry about that, Newbie."
"Is' okay," he slurred sleepily. It was then that he noticed the blanket thrown over him. He looked up at Dr. Cox, embarrassed. "I, uh…I don't remember falling asleep with this, but, um…"
"Relax, JD. I'm not after your dignity, and no – you wouldn't remember falling asleep with it because I put it over you just two seconds ago."
The young doctor stared up at him, wide eyed. "Y-You called me JD!"
Perry swallowed. Every single emotion he'd been trying desperately to get rid of was, as he predicted earlier, resurfacing. However, he did not predict how good it would feel, and how little he would care that he was allowing them to show. "Yeah, guess I did. I could…I could probably manage to call you by your name every now and then."
JD just stared up at him, shock clearly written all over his face. Dr. Cox let out what sounded like an embarrassed laugh, though the brunette couldn't completely trust his ears at the moment.
"Oh c'mon, kid. I'm going to run out of girls' names eventually, so I might as well just start using your real one now." The older man paused for a moment, his voice regaining a bit of its Coxian tone when he continued. "But Newbie's still in, understand?"
JD nodded slowly, finally regaining his own voice in the process. "I-I don't really mind 'Newbie.'"
Dr. Cox raised a curious eyebrow. It wasn't the response he'd been expecting. "Oh really?"
"No. I mean, it's not really bad is it? I mean…Carla calls me Bambi, which is a little endearing, so I always convinced myself that the Newbie thing was also…" JD cut himself off then, afraid to say anything else that would only take back the words his mentor had just said to him. But Perry just nodded, clearly understanding where JD had been going with that one.
"Listen, Newbie, I..." he made a gesture with his hand, waving it back and forth between them. "I'm not good at this stuff. I feel like I can just barely be a good father to Jack, and…and you just…"
"JD…you know I...you know I don't hate you, right?"
The young doctor just stared at him, clearly at a loss for words.
"I mean, it's just…Damn it, Newbie! I get angry sometimes, okay? But I actually…you're actually…"
"Yes?" JD encouraged, voice soft and shaky with anticipation.
"I give a damn, alright!? I mean…I care. What happens. To you. I, um…I care."
And all at once, everything JD had hoped for from this man seemed to blossom. All the name calling, the speeches, the mocking – all of that was worth it; this moment in time he would never, ever allow himself to forget. The beginning of something new and healing and - "Yeah," he finally answered, voice quiet. "I know, Dr. Cox. And…thank you."
Perry nodded. The message was clear, and the silence that followed was anything but awkward. In fact, it was quite comfortable.
Dr. Cox, who had stopped staring at JD to stare at the floor, was suddenly brought back to attention as Newbie let out tired yawn. He didn't even bother to stop the grin that came to play across his face. "Tired, Newbie?"
"Sorry," JD mumbled, blue eyes suddenly much dimmer than they had been moments ago.
Dr. Cox rolled his eyes. "You're sorry for being tired at 1:30 in the morning?"
JD let out a sleepy giggle. "Guess that doesn't make much sense." To Perry's astonishment, the kid was actually beginning to stand, clearly getting ready to go home, but –
"Stay, Newbie. You can sleep here tonight."
"Are you sure…?"
Perry nodded. "You betchya'."
"No problem, Newbie." The older doctor remained where he stood, quietly watching as JD pulled the blanket up to his chin, falling back lazily into the warmth of the couch.
"Night, Dr. Cox," JD murmured sleepily.
Parental nature overtook hesitance as Dr. Cox leaned over the couch, allowing his fingers to comb through the dark hair that was his Newbie's half sleeping form. "Night, kid."
The last thing JD heard before falling asleep was the tranquil sound of someone humming above him. It was low; warm. And while he didn't know the song itself, it seemed undoubtedly familiar. He let it wash over him, allowing the nights events to provide him with the best night's sleep he'd ever remember having.
A/N: I want to thank you guys again for all the wonderful support you've given me through this entire story. I hope you guys enjoyed the ending, I really do, and I definitely hope you've enjoyed this story as a whole. Thanks again for sticking with me. Until next time!