A/N: Sorry for my tardiness. I realized as I sat down to write out this chapter that I kinda screwed something up earlier and that what I originally had planned just wasn't going to work unless I went back and did some major overhauling of some previous stuff. So after spending quite a bit of time trying to bend this to get back on my original track I decided to scrap it and take a new route to get to the old destination! Whew! Anyhoo, thanks for all your patience! And thanks so much to all of you who have reviewed, favorited, C2'd and alerted this fic! I truly appreciate it!
My Perfect Day, Hour Eight, (Our Hour)
"I just have to share this with you all," I begin to calmly address the room full of staff that has been assembled to try and resolve the teeny problem of the 'misplacement' of one of their patients. They await my words, clearly with bated breath. I offer up a smile and am pleased to note at least most of them relax a little bit. "Until today I have always suspected the staff of Sacred Heart just may be the most useless band of imbeciles to walk the earth." Ah yes, there's the satisfying feeling of watching those around you deflate when they realize you're about to destroy them. My smile becomes momentarily authentic, but disappears quickly as one of them dares to return it with a smile on her pert little face. "It seems, though, that you, the staff of SDF General, are to be commended because you have proven to me that, dear God, yes, there is a whole new level of ineptness that can be accomplished with just a little tiny bit of effort. It can't have been easy for you all to attain this height of incompetence, but I must say that it is quite impressive!" I clap and the sound echoes in the otherwise silent room for a few moments.
The man who claims to be the top hospital administrator, Dr. Snodgrass, clears his throat and steps forward. "Now, Dr. Cox," he tries to sound soothing. "May I call you Percival?" When I glare at him in response, he swallows nervously and lets out a small chuckle. "Dr. Cox," he wisely addresses me with my formal title, "I'm sure that we'll get this all straightened out in just a few--"
"Do you mind telling me just how is it that you've managed to misplace my--and I use this term hypothetically nooot as an actual term of endearment--friend, in the first place?"
"Well there appears to have been a little mix-up with Mr. Dorian's--"
"Dr. Dorian," I correct him sharply.
"Um. Yes. There was a little mix-up with Dr. Dorian's chart. We do know wh--"
"A little mix-up?" I repeat back to him incredulously. "I'd say a little mix-up would be more like giving someone an apple instead of the banana that they asked for. Now this? This seems more like a colossal mix-up."
"Dr. Cox, I understand your frustration, but I assure you that we are making every effort--"
"Yap yap yap," I continue for him holding my hand up and making it "talk" as though it were the sock puppet that this man seems to be. "Okay, so let's back up a few steps and figure out what's happened here," I suggest. "Can I safely assume that Dr. Dorian made it out of surgery, and that he does not, in fact, still have a bullet lodged in his butt cheek?" I glare at the intern who lets out a short bleat of what can only be assumed to be stifled laughter rather than an imitation of a rather ill goat.
"I can attest that the surgery has been completed," one of the other men timidly steps forward. "Dr. Reneau," he introduces himself, extending his hand to shake mine. "I removed the bullet from--"
"Bup-bup!" I cut him off, leaving his unshaken hand hanging. "I honestly cannot figure out why you'd think I care beyond a simple yes or no. So, back on point, the surgery was successful and presumably he was then taken to Recovery?"
"Yes, sir," a nurse pipes up, her voice annoyingly squeaky. I wince, but am about to give her points for sticking to the simple yes or no and perhaps even throwing in a few extra for calling me 'sir', but then of course she goes and ruins it by going on to explain how she went through all the blah blah post-op garbage.
"Okay, just stop," I finally cut her off. "Can anyone--other than Minnie Mouse over here--confirm that he was ever actually moved out of Recovery and to an inpatient room?"
"I can," Nurse-with-apparent-radar speaks up, giving me an almost enviable evil eye. "I gave Dr. Dorian his pain medication shortly after he was admitted to room 1408." I raise an eyebrow, noting the room number as she hands his chart--which it appears she has been hoarding--over to the administrator, her accusing gaze not dropping from mine. "He should have been out for at least a couple hours."
"Now correct me if I'm mistaken but what you all are telling me is that this man was under arrest and thus handcuffed to his bed with a police officer standing guard outside his room, and he was drugged to the gills," I reiterate each point. "And yet in this condition he still somehow sneaks past the armed guard and out of his room? I would think that a hospital bed being dragged down a hallway by a drugged sleepwalking little girl would attract just little a bit of attention. This leads me to believe that, just maybe, he didn't move himself out of that room."
"Well, Dr. Cox, as I said there was a little mix-up with the patient's chart," Snodass tells me again. I feel as though we're talking in circles.
"You see, somebody," Radar-Nurse glares at me again, "was snooping in Dr. Dorian's chart, so I had to keep it with me instead of where it belonged."
I can see the hospital lawyer perking up slightly at the possibility that this is somehow actually my fault, though really, legal issues are the least of their problems. At least for the moment. "If you had asked instead of just assuming that I was 'snooping', I could have told you, and you could have confirmed with Sacred Heart Hospital, that I am Dr. Dorian's primary physician and thus I am granted access to any medical records pertaining to him." I may be stretching the truth a little bit about being his primary physician, but I do know that if they call Sacred Heart, they will back me up, and there's record of me performing at least a couple 'routine' check-ups and procedures. "So back to the point, this teeny-tiny itty-bitty mix-up with the chart leads to Dr. Dorian being misplaced how, exactly?"
"It seems then, that there was also another patient in the room," Snoddy uncomfortably ignores my question continues to explain instead how the fiasco was allowed to occur.
"I'd think that the lovely hospital issue bracelets with patient names would quite possibly keep you from getting confused," I point out. I shake my head disgustedly as Snoderewski winces and Nurse Radar flushes a little bit as she hands him the band that is for some unknown reason not fastened around JD's bony little wrist as it should be. The way it looks like it's been twisted and stretched, it's clearly been ripped off rather than simply cut.
"I found it on the floor," she hurriedly explains even though I don't even remotely care what pitiful excuses they come up with. I don't even want to go into the argument that if he were truly drugged and unconscious there's no way he himself ripped it off.
I let out a deep sigh of annoyance. "Okay. Then tell me. Is it typical for there to be another patient placed in a room with a prisoner?" I ask, glaringly, knowing that under standard protocol it is, in fact, most definitely NOT.
"Well in this case…" he pauses as I thumb my nose, fold my arms across my chest, and attempt an evil eye of my own. I doubt it is as impressive as Nurse Radar's but it seems to do the trick anyway as he looks away uncomfortably. "It's not typical," he admits, "but there was a prisoner transferred here for surgery and--"
I hold up my hand to stop his rambling explanation. "A convicted prisoner?" I ask testily even though I already know the answer. I turn my gaze toward the lawyer and raise an eyebrow. I silently gloat at the way he refuses to meet my gaze. "You put JD in a room with a convicted prisoner. And what, dare I ask, was this man convicted of?"
To his credit, The Snodman pales considerably. To counteract that, he doesn't answer my question but instead starts trying to make excuses again. "Well Dr. Dorian was under arrest for…"
"I know what he was under arrest for," I snap, "but clearly Dr. Dorian was arrested under dubious circumstances and has nooot as of yet been booked, arraigned, or otherwise officially charged with any crime, and most definitely has not been convicted of any wrongdoing. At the very most, were he not lost somewhere here in your hospital he'd be sitting in a detention cell over at county. Not, mind you, in a confined area with…" My eyes narrow and I trail off as a man who, judging from the overly starched suit and extraordinarily large stick up his ass, must be another administrator scuttles into the room. I twitch angrily as he whispers something to The Snodinator.
"Perhaps there is something you'd like to share with the class?" I rub my temple, just to let them know that they are causing me to have one hell of a headache.
Old Snoddypants nods to his counterpart and then looks at me, his expression grim. "We may have a little problem," he announces.
I blink. "A little problem," I repeat back to him slowly. I thumb my nose absently as I carefully consider whether to laugh or just let my head explode into millions of tiny little pieces. If I thought he would have to clean it up himself, I'd probably go with the latter. More likely they'd just send in some nameless janitor to do the cleanup, though, so I opt to out a small chuckle. "Well, now, Champ," I drawl, my jaw clenched in a dangerous facsimile of a smile. "I would just love to hear how you came to this stunning revelation of yours. No really. Tell me. Is it that Dr. Dorian has been eaten by his lovely roommate, Hannibal Lecter? Or perhaps he's been sucked into the evil netherworld that is room 1408? Or…"
A stray thought strikes me and I feel my stomach twist just a little bit. The prisoner was here for some sort of surgery. I close my eyes for just a moment, and I try to focus on what little of that patient's chart I'd seen. Unfortunately I only saw it long enough to note that it wasn't JD's. Good god, how could something like this happen in this day and age? I know that mistakes happen, but there are so many safeguards that have somehow all failed. Newbie, this just isn't your day! I just hope whatever they've done is reversible. "What sort of malpractice suit for unnecessary surgery are you facing?" I ask, keeping my voice level as to not betray the borderline fear gnawing at my gut.
For a moment I swear that the hospital lawyer is about to pass out, but Snodmeister only looks confused for a moment. Then realization hits him. "No, no. It's not like that. He hasn't been sent into surgery."
I'm at once relieved, and then another explanation hits me. "He's been transferred," I deduce.
Snoddy-Snoddington has the grace to look me in the eye as he nods.
Well, okay. This isn't so bad. This is fixable. "Well, all right, so we just need to call transport--"
"Well, there's a problem," the administrator hastily cuts me off. As if I wasn't already well aware that there was a problem? I can feel my face turning a nice shade of what I like to refer to as annoyed auburn as I wait for him to explain himself. "The transfer was completed," he tells me. My coloring may just be turning a little bit steamed scarlet. "We'll need to get a court order to--" Make that rage red.
"A court order to release an innocent man who was mistakenly transferred due to hospital error? A man who should not have been released from the hospital after having just completed surgery."
"I assure you that he's been given the proper antibiotics and he would have been released later this evening. He was only under minimal anesthesia and I'm sure that he'll be well taken care of in the infirmary until we can get this all straightened out. It should only take a couple hours to get the court order and then it's just a matter--"
"--That will be cleared by the time I get there to pick him up myself." Snodface raises his hands defensively, but I'm having nothing of it. "Because if Dr. Dorian is not ready to be released into my care as soon as I arrive, I will personally see to it that this teeny tiny little error of yours becomes the most ginormous headache your little lap dog here," I motion to the hospital lawyer, "has ever encountered. As it is, I can only imagine how Sacred Heart's lawyer will be frothing at the mouth when he hears about this ." I conveniently leave out the fact that Ted Buckland would only be frothing because he was on the verge of vomiting from fear. "And the press alone…"
"Okay!" the Sheriff of Snoddingham momentarily places his hands on my shoulders, jerking them away quickly as if he can feel my rage boiling over. "Mr. Clements will get right on that court order and will meet you at Atwater within the hour," he assures me as he motions for said lawyer to get moving.
Wait. Atwater. The facility that begs the question: Is it a mental institution acting as a prison, or a prison acting as a mental institution? Yes, Atwater: our state's very own housing project for prisoners with mental illnesses. Ooh, Newbie, I knew you'd be institutionalized someday; I just figured it'd be of your own doing!
I let out a frustrated growl, my fists clenching and unclenching a couple times as I try to keep myself from tearing the man limb from limb. I don't have the time to waste giving him the beating he so deeply deserves for letting this sort of fiasco happen under his watch. "You better make it within the half hour," I demand, knowing full well that will be an impossible feat to fulfill. "And you better damn well hope that when I get there, Dr. Dorian is in as good if not better shape than he was when he left," I warn through grit teeth.
I decide not fill Carla in until I have JD safely home. She needs rest, which she clearly won't get if she finds out that he's not just sleeping peacefully in another room. I also decide to let Gandhi stew in his own guilt for a while. Besides, he'd only go and blab to his wife, probably sobbing hysterically.
I am truly astounded as when I reach the Atwater facility, there is actually someone waiting for me.
"Dr. Cox, I presume," a man in a business suit greets me and extends his hand, which I leave hanging.
"Lawyer whose name I don't even care to know, I presume," I return his welcome. "I assume you have Dr. Dorian ready to be released into my care? And though it may sound like I'm actually asking, I assure you that if you say no--"
He has the audacity to laugh a little bit, though it seems slightly forced. I suspect he's been warned about me. "Oh, no. I assure you, the order was faxed over and we have all the paperwork ready to go."
"And yet Dr. Dorian is not here," I point out the obvious.
"He's waiting in the infirmary. Right this way."
Now we're getting somewhere.
As he escorts me past the gates and down a long hallway, I start to get an uneasy feeling. I want to pass it off as simply being a reaction to the dankness of the hall and the occasional unsettling scream that really seems to set the mood. Still, I can't shake it. Only JD would somehow end up being accidentally locked up in a place like this.
And me, I reluctantly have to add myself to that short list a moment later as suddenly the hallway goes completely dark. Though I will deny it to anyone who asks, in the moments before the emergency lights and an alarm bell come on, I am pretty sure that I was about to start screaming bloody murder.
"We need to get back to the gate," Mr. Lawyerman urges. I hope I don't look nearly as freaked out as he does.
"We need to get to the infirmary," I insist.
"They're going on lockdown!"
"Fine, you get out, just tell me where it is," I bark at him, not believing the mess that Newbie's gotten me into this time. Anyone else, and this would be completely unbelievable. And though I'd never admit it to anyone else if this were anyone but JD, I'd probably be the first one out that door.
"End of the hall, take a left and it's right there," the coward tells me before he turns and flees back the way we came.
I hesitate for only a second before I break into a run the opposite direction. I frown as I notice a man in a lab coat racing past me toward the exit. The facility doctor, I have little doubt. That, folks, is our tax-dollars at work. And, of course, he didn't even bother bringing his patient with him. I can't believe I'm doing this. Newbie owes me.
He owes me a lot, I amend as I burst into the infirmary and find it oddly empty. A whole lot, I fume as I hear the unmistakable sound of a lock slamming into place. Great. And now I'm stuck until they clear the lockdown. And Newbie isn't even here!
Which, of course, begs the question if he's not here where the hell is he? I cringe as I imagine him being dragged off into one of the cells. Even at his healthiest, he's not the sort of guy who would survive in a place like this, and he's sick and injured. Damn it! I should never have let him leave Sacred Heart. He was sick, he had a concussion, Lord knows Gandhi wasn't responsible enough to take care of him. Carla was, of course, but still, I should have…I don't know. But this shouldn't have happened!
I flop down on one of the cots and let out a frustrated yell.
Was it my mistake or did I hear something?
I sit up and listen carefully. Nothing but the alarms going off in the hallway. I frown. I know I heard something else. I look around, verifying that I do appear to be alone here.
But appearances can be deceiving. I can't help but grin as my sight settles on the cabinet beneath the wash basin. If I were trapped, hurt, freaked out, and alone, in a place like this, I'd like to think I'd come up with a much better hiding spot, but this is JD we're talking about.
I silently get back to my feet and cross the room to him. I know I should really say something to let him know I'm here, but there's a small part of me that is a bit afraid that he's not really there. Or that someone else is.
I throw open the cupboard door and am rewarded by a terrified yelp as JD tumbles out of his hiding spot, his arms and legs flailing every which way as he tries to scramble to safety. That can't be comfortable--he's probably really aggravating his sutures.
"Newbie," I greet him non-chalantly and he freezes for a moment before he looks up at me, wide eyed, breathing erratically, and covered in sweat.
"Perry?" he gasps out, clearly disbelieving that I'm really here. Purely out of habit I give him a glare until he amends, "Dr. Cox?"
"Having a rough day?"
I watch as his body visibly relaxes and he smiles warily. "Just a little," he rasps out hesitantly, playing the game.
I bob my head a few times as I look him over appraisingly. Aside from the smattering of dark bruises around his neck and face and aside from clearly being worn out, he appears to be okay. "You look like you could really use a hug." I open my arms. When he wavers, I give him a little smile and motion for him to come on ahead. My smile widens as he slowly gets up and shuffles toward me. I curl my arm and cuff him--
--on the back of my head.
I knew it! I knew he was just messing with me. The worst part is that I knew but I fell for it anyway. And I know part of it is just because I'm so exhausted that I can't control my emotions, but it really stings. I turn away from him quickly, hoping that he can't see my eyes start to water. God, I hate this. I hate being so...weak. And I can't give him the satisfaction of knowing he finally did it. After all this time, he finally managed to make me cry and it'll be the second time he's seen me today and he's never going to let me live it down and it just proves to him that I'm nothing but a little girlie boy and oh hell, it doesn't even matter, I don't care. I don't care! I already know what he thinks of me and how can I expect him not to hate me when my own best friend hates my guts? Oh, God, I can't breathe. Turk hates me. I know why, and I don't blame him. I knew the moment I saw his fist coming at me. I failed. Carla's dead. She's dead and they think I did it because she wasn't alive to tell them it wasn't true, and that's why I've been arrested and thrown in here. I didn't do it, but really that doesn't matter. She's dead and it's my fault. I deserve this. I can't breathe! I feel my legs starting to give way.
And then I feel Cox's arms wrapping around me, steadying me as my body tries to fall. I reluctantly rest more of my weight against him. I try, but I'm too tired to fight it. "Whoa there, JD," he murmurs softly into my ear. "I've got you. Just relax."
"I'm sorry," I can only mouth the words and I know he can't even see them since my back is turned. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry!
"Shhh, it's okay," he lies to me. "Just breathe, kid. You're okay."
Except that I'm not. How can I possibly be okay? Still I let him lead me--rather half carry me, but who's counting?--over to one of the cots. I let myself drop heavily on to it.
"That's it, JD. You rest until we get out of here." As if on command, my eyes drift shut, though I'm still awake as I feel him adjusting my gown, covering the backside I forgot was pretty much still exposed. Great. Talk about humiliating. I really hope they give me something else to wear. Prison orange may not be my color, but it'd be better than the practically nothing I've currently got.
I feel a cold hand brush against my cheek and then press against my forehead. "You're burning up, kid," Cox mumbles quietly and I suspect that he's talking more to himself than me. "Damn it!" Or maybe not. A moment later I feel a sheet being pulled over me, followed by a blanket that Cox inexplicably tucks around me.
I want to ask him why he's being so nice. I don't deserve it. Not that I'm going to argue with what will probably be one of the last acts of kindness I'll experience in a place like this. I just don't understand why. For that matter, I realize, I'm not even sure why he's here. I should ask him, but I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. Or any horse in the mouth for that matter.
I'm in a beautiful field and standing beside a beautiful white horse. I stroke it gently and it nuzzles it's nose into my hand, snarfing the bits of apple I'm holding for it. "That's it, Windstar, open up!" I coax her. She shakes her head and whinnies."Come on, Windy," I coo, holding up some more apple. After a few more tries, she opens her mouth wide and I lean closer…only to have her mouth snap shut at my neck--
"Don't eat me, Windy…" I blurt out, and am somewhat thankful that my voice doesn't seem to be working quite right. I don't think I could even understand the croaking sounds that came out.
I feel Cox gently rubbing my back. I must still be dreaming. That would explain a lot. Like why he's actually called me by my name a couple times.
I know it's not real when he quietly says, "Just rest, JD. You've done good." Or especially when he softly adds, "I'm proud of you kid."
A/N: As always, comments and constructive criticism is highly appreciated!