A/N: Wow, here we are: The final chapter. I know I must sound like a broken record, but really guys – I just want to say how much all of your encouragement and reviews have meant to me, and how thrilled I am that you guys have enjoyed this story so far. So without further ado, here it is: the last chapter. Enjoy. :)
Disclaimer: I own a very large nothing.
Dr. Cox could only stare, eyes going wide and mouth hanging open. Did...Did Newbie just say he remembered!? "Uh…what?" The older man tried not to openly cringe at his own response, his inner voice already mocking him for it. "'Uh…what!?' The great Percival Cox reduced to 'Uh, what?' Nice, Per. Way to go."
"I, um…I remember last week…?" JD tried again hesitantly, still shifting where he stood. "I mean, I…I, um…I could go. I-If you'd rather not talk about it. I know you're not big on talking about things, and I…I mean, I'm not hear to necessarily talk about it, but maybe, I mean…I'm kinda confused and have some questions? Or…or maybe not. Because I could go, you know…if you really wanted me to. 'Cause it's really not –"
"You're babbling, Newbie."
JD flushed while Dr. Cox silently calmed himself down. The brunet was probably more freaked out than he was at the moment, which was made pretty apparent by his rambling. And it wouldn't do any good to have two doctors stumbling all over their words now, would it? JD remembering certainly wasn't part of the plan, but now that it happened, well, Perry would just have to deal.
"Alright, kid. Standing there staring at your feet isn't going to answer any of your questions now, is it? Come on in."
JD, hesitance still the most dominant feature in his expression, walked in slowly. He stared around the dimly lit apartment, and at first, Dr. Cox thought he was keeping a wary eye out for Jordan.
"The she-devil's resting in her cave, and Jack went to bed hours ago."
"What? Oh...oh, right. No, I…I just kind of, well…I don't remember everything yet – from last week, I mean – but just standing here, looking at your place…I feel kind of sad. Like I miss being here."
Dr. Cox stared quietly for a moment, taking his young protégé in before finally giving a soft nod towards the couch. "Take a seat, Newbie."
JD did as he was told, still finding himself unable to make eye contact with the older man. The two of them sitting on the couch, a good four feet apart from one another, was admittedly awkward. JD swallowed hard. Maybe he shouldn't have come. But just as he was getting ready to add more doubts and worries about showing up at his mentor's apartment, Perry spoke.
"So do you remember the whole week? Or just…bits?"
"Not the whole week, but it's been coming back to me in bits, I guess. More like pictures, really. I'll remember a random incident, and then my mind wraps around that specific moment, and it adds to the rest of the picture so that it actually makes some sense. What I said, what you said…stuff like that."
"Ah," Perry responded simply, clearly taking it all in. "And when did you start remembering?"
"About three days into this week," JD answered, confirming Perry's suspicions. After all, three days in was when Newbie randomly started on that shy streak of his. "At first," JD continued, jarring the older man out of his thoughts. "At first, I thought it was a side effect from my –" here the young doctor paused to make air quotations "– 'Concussion,' though I'm assuming that's not the real reason I missed a week of work, huh…"
Perry stuck with nodding, still focusing on taking everything in.
"But, yeah…" JD started up again. "I realized they weren't side effects, which actually scared me at first, you know? I mean…I thought I was going insane or something. But every time I saw you at work the memories would get clearer and clearer, and then, well…I noticed something that definitely wasn't there the week before."
Dr. Cox quirked a curious eyebrow. "'Something that wasn't there the week before?'" What was Newbie talking about?
But Perry realized exactly what JD had been referring to when he began to roll up his pant leg. Ah, damn it! How did they miss that!? "Your scar," Perry said quietly, even before JD was done rolling up the material.
"Yeah," he answered softly. He startled, however, when Dr. Cox was suddenly leaning towards him. Crap, what did he do wrong?
But Perry wasn't moving closer to rant or to rave. He was getting closer to examine the knee; to make sure the injury was at least healing up alright. JD let a soft smile slip onto his face when he knew the older man wasn't looking. Even before all of this happened, their relationship had improved, JD knew, but he wasn't sure how Dr. Cox would take to him remembering their past week together. If he still couldn't manage to give JD such a simple thing like a hug, would he really be willing to sit down and answer his questions?
But now here he was, sitting in his mentor's apartment and having his injury looked over with a concerned set of eyes.
"Do you remember this happening?" Perry asked suddenly.
Maybe it was just JD's imagination, but he could've sworn he detected a hint of guilt in the older man's tone. "No, actually. I don't. I guess that's kind of weird, considering the scar was the thing that helped me realize I wasn't going nuts, but…every time I try to remember that one, it gets foggy."
To JD's surprise, Perry gave a little wince. "That makes sense. We had to drug you up, kid. You were pretty scared to get stitches, so Gandhi went and got you a sedative."
"I knew Turk saw me like that! I mean, I figured he must've in since he was part of the whole concussion cover up, but most of my memories were just of me and you. But then I randomly started getting bits with Turk and Carla and – Oh, God…"
Dr. Cox, now back on his side of the couch, looked to JD quizzically. "Newbie…?"
"I just remembered something. Elliot…you guys let Elliot see me like that?"
"That was not my doing. That was all Carla. Hell, even Milk Dud thought it was a bad idea."
"So I don't get it…why was she here then?"
Perry shifted uncomfortably, making JD squirm a little himself. Dr. Cox so rarely looked uncomfortable, but it wasn't just that. He looked almost…sad, maybe? Guilty?
"I left to get us some food, and you…you kind of freaked out there, Newbie."
"I thought it'd be better for you to just wait at hom – at the apartment, so I called Carla to come baby-sit. When I went to leave though, you panicked. Thought I wasn't coming back… Anyway, I left after you calmed down, but then Carla was called to the hospital, and she decided instead of calling to tell me that, to call Elliot and have her bust into my apartment. I came home to a rambling Barbie and a kid with ribbons in his hair."
JD flushed. "R-Ribbons?"
Perry couldn't help the grin that came across his face. "Apparently she had you playing dress up."
"Oh, God…can we not tell her I remembered? I don't want her rubbing it in my face."
Perry let out a small laugh in spite of himself. "No skin off my nose, kid."
"Thanks." Another silence, though less awkward than the last, took over then. JD broke it with a question Perry hadn't been expecting. "Why did I think I was so young? And how old did I think I was?"
Dr. Cox chose to ignore the first question and skip right to the second. "You don't remember how old you were?"
JD shook his head. "I know I thought I was a lot younger, but no. I can't remember a specific age."
"Wow… So, um…you still didn't answer my first question. Why did I think I was so little?"
"You, uh…you got hypnotized, Newbie."
"I got…I got what!?"
"You got hypnotized."
This was when Dr. Cox had to really stop and think. Should he really go all the way back to when Mr. Edwards first showed up at the hospital? But JD didn't remember any of that, and the kid was already trying so hard to take everything in; processing it and putting it all together at once. And what if…what if JD thought that their relationship had only gotten better because of the initial hypnotism? Sure, that's what led to them finally getting along, but Perry hadn't done that solely because the kid had gotten hypnotized. Yes, Dr. Cox would tell him – eventually – about the original hypnotism, but not now. Not today. It wasn't the right time, and it certainly wasn't fair to JD.
So then how was he going to explain this time around?
"It was a trigger word. You were sleeping in the on-call room, and something was said that hypnotized you."
"Wow," JD answered, eyes going wide. The kid seemed to be mystified, and Dr. Cox couldn't say he blamed him.
Suddenly, JD was giggling. Perry looked over at him, eyebrows raised. "Got something you'd like to share, Newbie?"
"Whenever I remembered something, I would remember it through my five-year-old point of view, you know? And you were really tall. I mean, I know in actuality you weren't much taller than me, but I guess because I thought I was five, everything looked a lot bigger. You included."
Perry let out a short laugh. "Makes about as much sense as everything else that's happened so far. So what else do you remember?" Dr. Cox wasn't honestly sure why he asked. Part of him was feeling much more comfortable with the situation, genuinely curious as to what the kid did and did not recall from their week together. But part of him was definitely nervous. What if he remembered some of the more…emotional moments? Would that be a good thing? Would that be a bad thing? Did he really want adult JD to remember that much of his – God help him – gentler side?
"I remember getting sick," JD answered slowly, trying to recall as much of the memory as he could. "Yeah…yeah, I remember that pretty clearly. I had the stomach flu, and I remember being – oh…"
"What's the matter?"
JD flushed. "No, I…I remember being really, um, scared. Geez, can't believe I was that petrified over throwing up." The brunet gave a short, humorless laugh, eyes turned away from his mentor.
Dr. Cox subconsciously moved closer to JD, doing his best to be reassuring, even if he wasn't used to doing so with the young doctor out of his five-year-old state. "Newbie…you ra-heely thought you were five. There was no questioning it. Hell, the only thing that wasn't five about you was your physical appearance, but that's it. So of course you were freaking out there, kid. You didn't know what was going on."
"Yeah…yeah, I know. Uh…this is going to sound weird, but I should probably apologize for a couple of things, huh?"
"What?" Perry leaned forward on the couch, silently wondering how Newbie was capable of throwing him off guard so many times in a manner of minutes.
"Well, there was the finger painting incident, which was actually the first thing I remembered. Then there was me singing too early in the morning. Then there was me trying to make sandwiches when you said not to, even if things after that do get a little fuzzy... Then there was me drinking your coffee, and then –"
A sharp whistle cut the blue eyed doctor off, making him jump in his seat. "Newbie, did you not hear my whole, 'You thought you were five,' explanation from before? It's fine. You don't have to come over here and apologize for normal, five year old things. Hell, it's not like you went around throwing tantrums. You were…you were a really good kid, JD."
JD couldn't help the warm feeling that fluttered at the base of his stomach, or the small smile that overtook him as his cheeks turned a faint shade of pink. "O-Okay, then. I…thank you."
"Don't mention it, kid."
"No, I don't mean just for that. I mean…thank you. Thank you for taking care of me when I was like that. I know it must've been awkward for you at first, but…God, I just…thank you so much, Dr. Cox. For everything you did. And…and thank you for…for finding me…"
It took Perry a moment to realize what JD meant about finding him, but when it hit him, it hit him hard. He remembered that? Oh, God… "You, um…you remember the beach, Newbie?"
JD nodded softly. "I remember getting there and you taking me down to the ocean. That was nice… Then I remember being at the ocean again, but with Carla. I wanted…I can't remember what I wanted, to be honest, but I knew I was supposed to go back to our set up; to you. And I remember a crowd of kids with their parents cutting in front of me, and then when they moved aside, I…I couldn't see you. And then I just remember panic. I think at one point somebody yelled at me. I don't remember why, but then my memory clears again, and there was the fun house. I don't know why I thought that'd be safe. I just…did. But I remember really freaking out. There was…there was too much noise and not enough light, and I just…I guess I crawled into the safest place I could think of."
Perry closed his eyes, the words bringing back the image of JD curled up and alone; petrified.
"And then you came," JD continued, voice even softer than before. "You came and…and you got me out of there. I remember me hugging you and you…you hugging me back. You didn't push me off at all, and I…thank you, Dr. Cox."
Perry stared at his protégé for what felt like forever. The kids' hands were folded tightly in his lap, thumbs fiddling together nervously. His voice had been dangerously close to cracking when expressing his gratitude, and his eyes…his eyes were filled to the brim with unshed tears.
"And I remember," the young doctor started up again, gaze still focused solely on his lap. "I remember me calling you…calling you, well…what young kids call their father. And you…you saying that was okay."
Dr. Cox felt his stomach twist nervously. When JD first told him that he remembered, these were the kind of moments he'd felt unsure about. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? How would JD react to this memory? But watching the young doctor before him seemed to push whatever worries he had about their current situation aside. He looked so…little. So hesitant and scared. And the craziest part was that only a few months ago, something like this would've made Dr. Cox angry. Not that he didn't actually give a damn back then, but he just wasn't at a point where he ever imagined letting JD know he cared. He probably would've said something along the lines of learning to grow a pair or how he just had to suck it up, but everything was different now, and Perry couldn't find a single protest to the change in their relationship.
"Did you know," JD continued, startling Dr. Cox from his silent contemplation. "I didn't even call my real dad that? Dad. Just dad. But for one reason or another, I never called him… Well, it doesn't matter. I just…I just came over here to say thank you, and…and I know I was kind of bothering you about giving me a hug – before all of this started, I mean – and I just…you've given me so much more than I could ever really ask for, so I won't keep on asking for that, okay? And I…I'll get why things might be a little awkward at first, but part of me was scared to come over here because we seemed to finally be getting along, and I didn't want to mess things up again. I just –"
JD turned to him slowly, expecting to be told he'd been rambling again, or that thank you's and apologies weren't necessary. But instead he came across a sight he in no way ever expected to see. Ever.
Dr. Cox was still sitting on the couch, but his body was turned towards his protégé; back straight and arms out and open - waiting. Oh my God. Was he…was he really offering a…? No. No way. Dr. Cox had pulled this prank on him a number of times before. He'd lure JD in, and then bam! He would turn him away, leaving JD to feel rejected and embarrassed.
But that was before all of this, and after everything JD was remembering, was it really so odd to imagine Dr. Cox sincerely offering him a hug?
Surreal? Yes. Odd? No. Not anymore.
JD didn't realize he was still staring until the older man nodded encouragingly. "C'mere, kid," he said in a voice that JD, or anyone for that matter, so rarely heard coming from Dr. Cox.
Slowly, cautiously, JD leaned forward. The moment his chin found a spot on Perry's shoulder, two large arms wrapped around him, allowing JD's own arms to return the gesture. JD couldn't help but sigh, the feel of the older man's embrace unbelievably comforting. "I didn't expect this," JD commented softly, still not letting go.
He heard his mentor give a small chuckle. "Yeah, kid, neither did I. You remembering last week wasn't exactly part of the plan, but…"
JD froze. But what?
"But it's alright, Newbie."
Much to JD's disappointment, Perry began pulling away from the embrace, but when he placed both hands on JD's shoulders to look him in the eye, the young doctor realized he didn't do it out of annoyance. "Listen, JD…not every day is going to be a montage of fluffy moments between Sacred Heart's favorite mentor and protégé, you get me? Work's still work, and I'm still, well…I'm still me. I'm gonna get angry and I'm gonna go on rants, but you…Newbie, you know I give a damn now. You have to. And it won't be awkward if you don't want it to be, alright? 'Cause I…I wouldn't like that either. And I know this is going to sound insane, but seeing as how I'm already sharing a hell of a lot more than I ever imagined, well…here it is: I think I'm sorta…sorta glad you remembered there, Newbie. So no, this won't be awkward. Not if you don't want it to be."
JD swallowed, praying to God a thousand times over that he wasn't off in yet another fantasy. He blinked several times, testing this theory out, but when he opened his eyes after the eighth or so blink to find Perry simply staring at him, eyebrows slightly furrowed, JD couldn't help but smile, his shoulders finally easing as he did so. "No, I definitely don't want it to be awkward. And…and I know you care, Dr. Cox. I've always known…"
Perry rolled his eyes at this comment, but there was definitely a trace of humor in his expression as he did so. It just made JD smile wider. "So thanks, Dr. Cox. I…thank you."
Perry removed his hands from JD's shoulders then, the anxiety from awaiting his response melting in the process. "Any time, kid. Not to say you should go and get yourself hypnotized again, but you get me."
JD giggled. "I get you. Oh! I just remembered: I was unpacking my duffel bag earlier this week, and I found a stuffed bear and a, uh…a giraffe. Are they…are they mine?"
Perry would've kicked himself for having been so careless as to having personally packed evidence right into Newbie's bag, but with everything that had happened tonight, it just didn't seem to bother him. "Yeah, they're yours." A mischievous grin came over Perry then, to which JD couldn't help but ask what.
"Do you remember their names?"
"They have names?"
Dr. Cox had to laugh. "Coco and George, apparently. Or at least, that's what you told me you named them."
JD's face was now a fiery red, causing the older man to laugh a little more. "Don't worry about it, kid. But yeah, feel free to keep them."
"What would I do with them?"
"Oh, c'mon, Newbie. I've been in your and Milk Dud's apartment before, remember? I've seen that stuffed dog, not to mention your 'horse with a sword on his head.' I'm sure your two new friends can find someplace to make themselves comfortable."
Just a few months ago, JD would've found that mini rant insulting, but now? Maybe a little embarrassing, but that was it.
It was then that a sudden yawn escaped JD, causing him to realize how tired he really was. He looked to the clock, surprised to see that he had been there for a full two hours.
"You can spend the night here," Perry cut in after following JD's tired gaze to the clock.
"Newbie…you just spent an entire week here. Hell, even when you weren't hypnotized, you spent the night here, remember?"
JD nodded, another yawn escaping him in the process. "Guess so…"
A mere two minutes later and Dr. Cox was back with a blanket and pillow. JD took both gratefully, stretching out on the couch with yet another yawn. "Thanks, Dr. Cox."
"No problem, kid."
"Mmm…I hope I have another car ride dream tonight."
Dr. Cox, who had, had his mouth open to say goodnight, stopped abruptly. "What was that, Newbie?"
JD, who was now already half asleep, responded drowsily. "I had a dream earlier this week. We were on a car ride and it…it had magical powers…"
Perry bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. He stopped, however, when he again peered down at his protégé. The image of him laying there so peacefully and carefree…he couldn't believe that he had ever once questioned that the five-year-old JD he took care of was different from when JD had really been five years old. They were so undeniably and unmistakably one in the same. "Night, Newbie," Dr. Cox whispered softly.
"Mmm…'Night, Dr. Cox."
Perry turned for his room, an air of peace around him so strong and so present; almost as if he was floating. Yes, things would go back to being a little crazy. And yes, he was still Perry Cox, but right now, he was happy. And why wouldn't he be? His whole family was safe inside of the apartment. Jordan, Jack and yes…even JD.
A/N: I can't believe this story is finished. I'm going to miss working on it, but I do have other works in the making, so let's hope that'll help fill the void. lol Anyway, guys, I had such a fun time writing this story, I really did. And once again: Thank you so much for all of your encouragement, and I really hope you enjoyed the ending to this little saga. Until next time!