Perry let the answering machine pick up.
"Hey there Per-Bear. It's your former ball and chain again. Calling to let you know that Bob Kelso died this morning."
He sat up, twisted awkwardly on the couch to look behind himself at the phone. He wha-
"Yeah, real shocker there, I know. You always said he was going to live forever; something about being the Anti-Christ. Anyway, his wife invited most of the hospital staff to the wake and funeral, and she told me to ask you to come, god knows why; maybe she's blind, deaf and dumb, because your relationship with her husband has never exactly been peachy keen."
He had to agree with her there.
"So since you were supposed to take Jack this weekend, I figure that if you're coming, you're welcome to the guest bedroom. Chris is out of town, but I doubt he'll mind you staying over. Give me a call back when you've decided if you'll grace us with your presence. And Jack says hi, and that he wants to show you the model dinosaur he built."
Perry rubbed his face tiredly with his hand as the answering machine beeped off, leaving the small apartment humming with silence. Jordan's voice coming over the machine was bad enough, but the situation it described to him was even worse.
Five years… god, had it really been that long? He hadn't walked down the halls of Sacred Heart in five years; hadn't breathed the scent of the janitor's cleaning products, or watched Carla and Laverne yapping about the latest hospital gossip behind the nurse's station, or even…
It had been a long time.
The years had done things to Perry Cox. His fiery read hair was peppered and streaked with gray and white; dyeing it was not on his agenda. He'd lost a lot of the tone and fit look of his body, though he still looked better than any forty-nine year old man he knew.
At least my body looks good, he thought bitterly, taking a sip of the wine glass that had been on the table next to him (his doctor had forbade him from hard liquor for a while, telling him that he'd dissolve his liver before his fiftieth birthday if he continued to drink that way. If Perry hadn't been a doctor himself, he might've flipped the man off and gotten drunk to spite him. As it was, he'd only done the first thing.) The rest of my life isn't in as good of shape.
He'd moved down to a more southern area of California after leaving Sacred Heart, joining up with another hospital desperate for more employees. They'd given him his old position almost immediately after his request; his credentials made him too important to lose.
And really, it wasn't too different from his life back at Sacred Heart. Same types of nurses, surgeons, intern- well, mostly everything was the same. Even a carbon copy of Bob Kelso for a boss.
The Bob Kelso that was now dead. Right.
Perry stared up at the whitewashed ceiling overhead and contemplated his options. He could ignore Jordan's message, pick Jack up and go driving up and down the coast with him all weekend. Or he could pack up his best black suit, drive over to Jordan's house, and attend the wake and funeral of the man he loathed.
The choice should have been an obvious one. But there was one thought that made him pick up the phone and dial Jordan's number to tell her to clear out the guest room.
And that was seeing JD again.
"Dr. Cox. Dr. Cox? Pe-"
"You even think about calling me Perry, Newbie, and you won't see what hit you. Now why-," he asked, smacking his fist on the countertop of the nurse's station and turning towards JD, "must you annoy me every time you have to perform a medically relevant procedure? My god, Newbie, I am not Ask Abby!"
"Sorry!" JD shuffled slightly, grasping a chart with one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. "I was just trying to give you this…" he held the cup out imploringly. "You did tell me to get you some caffeine before you decided to wring my neck, right?"
Perry raised a brow before nodding and yanking the cup away. He watched JD over the rim of the cup as he brought it to his lips, noting how the other man repeated his usual habit of waiting to see if he'd gotten the cream to sugar ratio right. Of course, JD had, being that this must've been the ten-thousandth cup of coffee he'd brought Perry.
Perry gave a nod and grunt of approval, taking another sip and recognizing the combination of vanilla and hazelnut that JD had specially ordered for him. "Tell me, kid; why is it that you're a doctor and not a barista?"
JD's face lit up in a grin, recognizing the hidden compliment of his attention to detail. He suddenly got a blank look; one Perry recognized immediately as his 'JD daydreaming' look, and he had to snap his fingers in front of JD's face to get his attention back.
The younger man gave him a sheepish smile. "Would I look good in an apron and French beret?"
The image of JD wearing nothing but said items suddenly decided to pop itself into Perry's head, and he forced it away immediately, shocked that his mind would conjure such a picture for him. Where had that come from?
JD was apparently oblivious to Perry's shock, as he was still gazing at the man in a pleased, yet curious fashion. Biting back a gulp, Perry grit out, "Whatever gets you through the day, Sherry. Now scoot, you have a job to do."
He watched the younger man flit away, chasing down the hall after Turk for some godforsaken reason that Perry really wasn't interested in. Except maybe he was a little pissed that the kid hadn't even said goodbye before galloping off. Maybe.
If ever there was a cliché, it was rain during a funeral.
Well, Perry mused, gripping the steering wheel and turning it to the left as he changed highway lanes, technically it's not the big day yet, but it's pretty damn close.
The rain-soaked highway lanes were surprisingly bereft of traffic, and with little need to watch for crazy drivers, Perry had time to think. The route he was taking would get him back to the city in an hour or so. He'd head to Jordan's apartment, drop off his stuff, say hi to Jack and the babysitter, and then go with Jordan to the funeral parlor for Kelso's wake.
He noted the topless bobbling hula girl on his dashboard, and reminded himself to remove it if he was going to have Jack in the car. God knows he didn't need the kid taking after him with those traits just yet.
There was a box on the shotgun seat, a shoebox brimming with loose papers and other things sticking out. Perry's eyes flicked to a familiar photo strop nudging its way out of the overstuffed container. Growling as he realized what it was, he smacked a fist on top of the box to try and keep it closed.
The effect was the exact opposite of what he had hoped. The lid fell off and scattered several things onto the seat, papers catching on the air and sailing to the floor of the car. Perry cursed and slowed the car, pulling over to the side and stopping at the edge of the road.
He shifted to park, keeping the engine on, and reached over the gearshift to pick the papers up and pile them back in the box. Again, that photo strip was peering up at him, taunting him. He reached out slowly, gripping the edge and turning it over to look at the other side.
It was one of those small black and white strips that you could get from photo booths. He remembered the day JD dragged him into one like it was yesterday…
"Come on Perry, pleeeaaase?"
"Newbie, what makes you think that I'm going to get into a cramped booth with you to take tiny, useless photos that you only want as proof that I actually went somewhere willingly with you?"
Perry thought he heard JD mumble something like "barely willing" under his breath, but chose to ignore it. It was true that Perry had agreed to go with JD into the mall that day; for some reason, the kid thought that Perry was good at shopping for tuxedos, and JD wanted to look perfect for the extremely fancy restaurant he was taking his current girlfriend to that night.
Perry had only agreed because JD had promised to buy him lunch. And that was the only reason. He would never admit that he'd been less annoyed and more eager at the chance to spend a day outside of the hospital with the kid.
And there were those goddamned puppy eyes that Newbie always had…
Perry cursed under his breath before grunting out, "one strip." JD's face lit up instantly, twisting a feeling in Perry's chest that he beat back down as JD grabbed him by the arm and pulled him towards the booth in a small, cooped corner of the mall.
He and JD squeezed into the booth, thighs and shoulders pressing against each other as they attempted to fit on the bench inside. Perry's stomach flopped at the close body contact, warning him to the situation.
'It's only for a few minutes,' he thought to himself, glancing over at JD, who was reading the small screen in front of them that told them how to operate the booth.
"So we can get ten pictures for two dollars; just gotta put some cash in…" JD reached between them to grasp at the pocket of his jeans, and Perry again had to scold his body for the slight shudder that ran through it when JD's arm skirted against his side. JD muttered a quick apology, opening his wallet and pulling out the cash, not noticing that Perry didn't seem to want an apology at all.
What was wrong with him? Why was he acting like this? Being in this close of proximity to the other man was driving him insane; it had been happening for the past few months now. Perry would get up in JD's face to berate him and then have to subtly back away slightly, realizing the… tension of sorts between them. It wasn't bad tension; at least, Perry was pretty sure it wasn't. It was just… different.
And how had he been stupid enough to agree to something like this? Where had his mind gone? This was the worst idea he'd had in ages, and he was just about to tell JD that he could shove his pictures 'where the sun don't shine,' when a beep came from the booth.
"Okay," said JD, sitting back and looking over at him with a goofy grin. "It should start in a few moments." Perry stared back weakly, unable to tear his gaze from the dark depths of JD's pupils; he was swimming in them, drowning in an ocean of his Newbie…
"Perry? What's wrong? Why are you giving me that look?"
The photo booth clicked on, and the first image was of JD and Perry gazing at each other; one face concerned, the other unsure.
The second had Perry reaching his hands out towards JD's shoulders, with JD's eyes flickering down to look at them in shock.
The third was taken as Perry was leaning towards JD, hands already firm on the other man's shoulders. If it had been able to capture sound, it might've caught the shuddering, "P-Perry…" that fell from JD's lips, so full of apprehension and fear that Perry almost stopped.
The fourth picture showed a wide eyed JD and a close-eyed Perry, their lips joining in the middle of the frame.
In the fifth picture, JD's face had melted into an expression of dreamy lust and satisfaction as Perry pushed him towards the side of the booth.
All of the other pictures were of their various stages of kissing; from JD's tongue against Perry's mouth, to the tug of Perry's teeth on JD's lower lip.
Perry really kind of wished they'd put more money for picture time in the booth, especially to capture their sweat-soaked faces after JD had jerked him off inside of it.