AN: So I took a break from coughing my own guts and vomiting (evil glare) to complete this random little one shot. Written for the new challenge on the scrubsficchallenge community on lj. Hope you like, but it's not my favourite. please let me know what you think!
Oh, history has been changed ever so slightly. JD and Elliot are not on speaking terms following the 'I don't love you' incident when JD's dad dies. That's all you need to know. :)
My Small Step
He was sitting on the grass a few feet away, but she stood back. She wasn't sure whether she should approach him. Things hadn't been good between them for a few weeks. He told her he didn't love her and they had hardly spoken, save for the arguing. She didn't want to speak to him; she couldn't even look at him without feeling the urge to scream in his face, call him the vilest names she could think of. But then Carla told her that his dad had died, and all of her rage, anger and hurt seemed insignificant.
She stood there, just watching him as he looked across the park, occasionally wiping a tear from his eye. The park was quiet. As far as Elliot could see, there was just a woman reading a few metres away to her right, and to the back of her the faint sound of a family playing emanated. It was so quiet that Elliot wondered briefly how JD hadn't heard her approaching. Maybe he had, but just didn't have the strength to argue with her. It's not like he'd expect anything else.
Elliot could feel the butterfly nerves in her stomach. She almost felt like a hypocrite being here trying to offer him her support when she'd been giving him nothing but hell for the last month and a half. But she needed to do this. She just needed to, even if she got shot down. Taking one last courage-plucking breath, she stepped forward.
"JD, I'm really sorry about your dad." Her was quiet and apprehensive, almost full of shame.
JD turned his head to look at her. Elliot was surprised. He didn't look angry, and he didn't look like he was about to curse and tell her to get the hell away. If anything he looked relieved. "Thanks," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He moved his gaze away from Elliot and back over the park.
Elliot moved to JD's side and sat down, but she was still wary of being here. "How are you coping?"
"Well," he sighed, " my dad is dead, members of my family whom I've met once at the most keep sending me cake, and my loser brother has barricaded himself in the bathroom. How do you think I'm doing?"
"That really sucks, JD. I'm so sorry." Elliot considered for a moment laying a comforting hand on his arm, but she decided against it. Inside her heart sank. That just acted as a further reminder (not that one was needed) of how much a mess their friendship was in. A few weeks ago, she wouldn't have thought twice about a comforting pat the arm, but now… Now things were different. He hurt her. Bad. And something, she didn't know exactly what, was stopping her. Maybe it was that girl whose boyfriend told her at Turk and Carla's rehearsal dinner that he didn't love her and the girl that threw said boyfriend across the table and sat back down, as if nothing had happened. Elliot didn't want to be that girl, but part of her still was, even in the face of a tragedy.
"Thanks," JD smiled. "I'm sorry I snapped at you there. It's just… it doesn't matter," he trailed off.
"It's okay," Elliot sympathetically said. "You can tell me if you want. I don't mind."
"I just… I feel so lost. Like everything's spiralling out of control. All of a sudden I don't have a Dad anymore. I mean, how is that even possible?" He glanced at Elliot as his eyes filled with tears.
"I… I really don't know."
"You know I can't remember the last time I spoke to him." JD laughed bitterly. "I was probably too busy to speak to him, or just couldn't be bothered speaking to him. I always thought I'd speak to him another time."
"You never think the last time is going to be the last time, do you?"
There was a silence between them. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence, but a reflective one. And Elliot realised then that the JD sitting next to her now wasn't the same one that told her he didn't love her. He was just a guy who felt lost in this new, fatherless world he was living in. Elliot almost couldn't compare the two.
Almost with the innocence of a child, JD asked, "Do you think this would have happened if I'd made more time for my dad?"
"No," Elliot said frankly. "No I don't think it would have been different if you'd had spoken more with your dad. And you can't go on thinking like that."
"Yeah. You can't blame yourself; it was just his time to go. I know that probably doesn't make you feel any better, but you can't."
"I'm a doctor, shouldn't I have been able to stop it?"
"No. JD, you can't save everyone. And you can't blame yourself. Do you think your dad would want you to blame yourself?" Elliot asked quietly.
JD was hushed as he thought about it. "No."
"He'd probably want me to be proud of what I've done, even if it didn't help him." Elliot looked to see a small smile playing on his face.
"There you go."
"He was always like that, you know. Even if I did something wrong he'd try to make me proud of what I'd done. Like, there was this one time when I was about eight and I entered a karate competition."
Elliot's eyebrows furrowed and she shot JD an incredulous look.
JD laughed. "Yeah, yeah. It's hard to believe I took part in any kind of sport."
"What's hard to believe is you having the balls to fight anyone even if it was in a controlled environment," Elliot said, also giggling.
JD looked at her sheepishly. "That's the thing. I didn't."
"Oh, what happened?"
"I just froze. This kid, who was easily twice my size, or at least he seemed it, was knocking the stuffing at me and I completely froze. But at the last second before the end of the fight, I somehow got the guts to punch this kid in the face. I smacked him, square in the jaw. It was awesome. The fight was ended a few seconds after that and I'd lost. I was so sad, I thought I'd let my dad down. So I walked over to him and started crying. He asked me why and I said I'd disappointed him because I let that big kid beat me up. Then he kneeled down to my height, looked me right in the eye and said 'But Johnny, you gave that kid a black eye'. I know, you shouldn't take pride in someone's black eye, but he told me I'd still managed to fight back. I had still tried And then he told me he was proud of me."
"That's really sweet, JD."
JD raised his eyebrows enthusiastically. "And there was this other time…"
They sat like that for a while, Elliot contently listening as JD reminisced about his father. They were completely comfortable there. They laughed, they joked, even cried a little.
"Here," Elliot said, pulling a tissue packet from her handbag. "I think you need these."
"Thanks." After taking a few seconds to wipe his face, JD asked, "Hey, shouldn't you be at the hospital?"
Elliot glanced at her watch. She'd been gone over an hour. It really didn't feel like that long. "Yeah. I probably should be. Carla's covering me but it's only so long before she starts getting pissed at me too."
"Yeah, you don't want her to start her hands-on-the-hips-Carla-from-the-block attitude thing. That's never good for anyone."
"Nope," Elliot joked, as she stood up from the grass.
"Hey Elliot," JD quietly said, as he also stood up. "Thanks. For being here. It was good to talk to someone for a little while."
Elliot smiled. "You're welcome. You know, just… if you need to talk, you can call me. Anytime."
"Thank you." JD looked down at the ground. "Look, I know things have been really bad between us lately, and what I did was extremely horrible-"
Elliot raised a hand to stop him continuing. "I don't want to talk about it."
"I'm really sorry, Elliot."
Elliot sighed. "I know you are. But it doesn't make it any easier any easier for me to forgive you. I'm not even sure I can. But I do want us to be friends again, and I want to help you through this. Just… small steps, okay?"
"Small steps," JD smiled.
Elliot stepped forward just slightly and put a hand on JD's arm. "Stay strong, okay?"