A/N: Hello, all. I don't really know where this came from; I've never written Scrubs fic before. It's kind of odd. But I'd love to get some feedback.
Disclaimer: I don't own Scrubs (the clothing or the show). And I'm not very funny, so that's probably a good thing.
That was all he ate.
In the morning, he'd drag himself out of bed, open the fridge, and cut a slice of strawberry shortcake to shovel into his mouth along with a cup of coffee. At the hospital, he worked off breakfast by powering from room to room, checking on his patients, making notes on charts, not sitting down until lunch. He would go to the cafeteria, all right, but he always brought a paper bag with two slices of chocolate cake to chew and swallow, without really tasting it, chased with a glass of water or a can of Mountain Dew. After work, not particularly hungry but aware that the clock was inching towards dinner time, he went home, ate three slices of Devil's food cake in front of the blank TV screen, and read medical journals. Before bed he'd devour another slice of whatever was getting the stalest, tilt his head as he daydreamed about getting swallowed by a giant mutant cake, and curled up in bed.
He was quickly becoming an expert on cake. He didn't go to the grocery store anymore. The lady at the bakery now knew him by name. She was a plump Swedish woman called Bibi and always smiled when she saw him coming, pulling out a few cakes to which she was particularly partial that week. He usually just bought whatever she was peddling, which meant there was a wide array of cakes around the apartment.
They sat on the countertops, filled the fridge, half-eaten, icing smudged. Crumbs littered the floor and the garbage can. He'd tried them all: ice cream cake, angel food cake, Funfetti cake, Jell-o cake, coffee cake, yellow cake.
But they all tasted the same.
Turk was getting worried.
He'd never seen his V.B. like this before. He was really freaking him out. So of course, Turk took it upon himself to drag his best friend back up. He walked around the halls of Sacred Heart with bags of chips in his pockets, granola bars in his locker, pudding cups in the trunk of his car. He bought bananas in the cafeteria and stuck them in front of J.D.'s face as if the sight of actual food would make him realize what an idiot he was being and snatch it up, unpeeling the fruit and sticking it in his mouth.
He never did. He would just give a slantways glance to the piece of food being proffered that day and ignore it. Sometimes he would mumble, "No thanks" before moving on to whatever he was doing. He kept himself busy, snatching charts from the interns, taking on more patients than usual. But he got it all done efficiently. Turk had to admit that he was functioning just fine at work. Aside from the time he blew up at Sunny for getting a patient's medication wrong, he seemed fine. A little more subdued than normal, but fine.
He just wouldn't stop eating cake.
It had started small. He'd have a slice of it here or there, skipping meals after declaring that he wasn't hungry only to be found in the supply closet later, cheeks stuffed with cheesecake. And then one day he'd stopped eating real food altogether.
Turk was starting to despair.
Every time J.D. turned down a banana or a granola bar or a bag of chips, he put another tally mark in the "failure" column of how he was doing as a friend, and he would wonder if he was ever going to get his buddy back. But as long as he kept trying to fix J.D., he didn't have to think about how he was dealing with it himself, so he persisted.
Carla told Turk to leave it alone.
Sometimes she would snap at him. Other times she found find herself staring distantly, teary-eyed at the chart of a patient who'd already been discharged. Sometimes Turk would go to give her a kiss, and she would slap him away, tell him she was busy, and go about menial tasks. She didn't like being so volatile, but she knew he understood. Sometimes she would apologize later, in the dark of the bedroom, a soft whisper as they fell asleep.
The truth was that she couldn't deal with J.D. right now. She wanted to. She wanted to help, to make things better. But for the life of her, she couldn't. Sometimes she found herself wandering the halls, absently rubbing a hand over her not-yet-showing stomach, thinking about the unfairness of it all. Sometimes her feet would take her to the cafeteria, where she would see J.D. sitting in front of a slice of carrot cake, looking lost. Sometimes she wanted to go over there and mother-hen him.
Sometimes she felt lost herself.
Janitor thought he was having a mental breakdown.
It was a shame. Janitor had always hoped that if Scooter hopped on the crazy train, it would be because of him.
Actually, that wasn't true. Janitor loved messing with him. He loved it more than anything. He might even have loved it more than Lady (not that he would ever tell her that).
But it was all in fun. It was a game. He didn't really wish the kid ill. He'd made it a policy of his to engage in a short truce when truly bad things happened. The only example he could think of was when Scooter's dad died. He hadn't done anything to him for at least a week. See? He had a conscience. Which was why he wasn't doing anything to him now. He would see him idly chewing on cake and turn the corner so that he wasn't tempted to smear icing over Scooter's face.
Once upon a time there was a man who couldn't stop eating cake.
Janitor wasn't cruel. He killed squirrels by hitting them over the head with a sledgehammer before he stuffed them (totally humane; they didn't feel any pain). He never wanted to cause serious pain. Well, okay, sometimes. But not really.
But that wasn't the only reason he'd stopped torturing Scooter. He just didn't have the energy for it right now. Once upon a time there had been a nice doctor at a hospital. And that doctor had treated everyone well, even the fools who mopped vomit for a living. And then that doctor was flattened by the pickup truck of an uncoordinated patient that had just been released.
All nice things came to an end eventually.
Dr. Cox could not help but look at the purely clinical, medical side of things.
Fact was, the kid wasn't getting the right kind of nutrients. You just couldn't live off a diet of only cake. It wasn't healthy. Newbie was going to make himself sick.
He wouldn't admit it to Gandhi, who seemed to be bending over backwards to get the kid to eat, but Dr. Cox was putting a lot of thought into how he could fix this problem. This had its medical side. This he could deal with. So he watched from a distance, trying to devise a plan that didn't involve tying the kid up with duct tape and force-feeding him a plate of vegetables (though he wasn't completely ruling that out).
He'd suggested this idea to Jordan one night as they were sitting on the couch watching TV. She'd gone quiet for a moment before asking, "What would you do?"
He knew what she meant. "Honest to God, I don't know," he replied. "I'd probably be doing some binging too, but not cake. Well, not unless someone invents a scotch-based cake."
Then he snatched little Jenny out of Jordan's lap and gave her a quick peck on the top of the head. Jenny giggled. Jack was off somewhere playing with his toys; he would have to give him a hug later. With Jennifer Dylan between them, Dr. Cox leaned over and kissed Jordan as well. She didn't have to ask why.
He felt too antsy at the hospital to just sit in his office. He needed to be moving around, helping patients, doing something productive. Around lunchtime he walked into the cafeteria and spotted Newbie sitting by himself, staring at a very large piece of cake. After getting his food and dragging out the chair across from the kid, Dr. Cox plopped himself down and said, "Cake again, Tricia? And here I thought you were watching your figure so you could fit into that pretty little number that's been sitting in your closet waiting for prom." He almost made a face at himself. Not the most delicate way to spit it out.
Newbie glanced up at him, then back down. "I know it's messed up," he replied.
Dr. Cox wanted to strangle him. Not in the usual oh-dear-god-Martha-you-annoy-me-more-than-Hugh-Jackman way but in more of a why-can't-you-see-what-you're-doing-to-yourself-you-idiot way. "Then why don't you eat something else? Burgers are pretty good today."
The kid's eyes flickered to Dr. Cox's plate, then back to his own. He carefully picked up his fork and shoveled a huge hunk of cake into his mouth, chewing it as though it tasted like sandpaper and swallowing it the way a young child swallows a steaming forkful of broccoli.
Then Dr. Cox was angry. He thought of Carla and Gandhi and a flash of red invaded his vision. "You know, princess, you're not the only one she left behind, so stop drowning your sorrows in sugar and start taking care of yourself so you can do your job," he spat.
When the kid tilted his head to the side, a swell of relief came over Dr. Cox because of the familiarity of the motion, and then annoyance because since when did he enjoy Newbie's ridiculous daydreams? The kid snapped out of it, mumbling, "…could never doggie paddle through all the frosting" and oh, dear lord, was he actually fantasizing about drowning in cake?
Then the moment was gone, and they were just two doctors sitting at a table with a plate of half-eaten cake between them. Newbie finished the piece, closing his eyes and getting it over with quickly, then said, "Bye, Dr. Cox," and stood up, throwing his paper bag in the trash on his way out of the cafeteria.
Dr. Cox could only sit there, staring down at his own uneaten burger which no longer looked appetizing and the layer of brown crumbs littering the other side of the table.
His anger was gone; had rushed away like air from a deflating balloon. As he stared at the crumbs, he remembered Gandhi telling him about the first cake the kid had bought. It was a wedding cake. He'd spent a ridiculous amount of money on it, stared at it for a while, and then gobbled up the whole thing.
Once upon a time there was a wedding that never happened.
He put his head in his hands.
The sight of food other than cake made him sick. But the taste of cake made him sicker.
After his awkward lunch with Dr. Cox yesterday, J.D. decided to avoid the cafeteria. He'd brought an entire chocolate cake today. It was sitting in his locker. When he thought about it, he felt an odd attraction, and yet was somehow entirely repulsed. It reminded him of birthdays growing up. He never had big celebrations, but he still looked forward to having a slice of cake, even though he knew that as soon as the fluffy texture entered his mouth he would instantly get a feeling of dread—he was eating cake; there had to be something wrong; someone had to have died. But he would enjoy it anyway, and he would savor those moments of confusion, of mixed emotions.
He loved cake. But it tasted like death.
Lunch. J.D. went to the locker room, finding it empty, and pulled out the large round cake, setting it down on the bench. He'd brought a fork and knife. Sitting down beside it, he started to cut, and he started to eat, and the more he cut, the faster he ate; his mouth could never be filled with enough chocolate; it was crammed, he could barely breathe.
As he stabbed his fork into the dessert, he thought of that patient. He shouldn't have been given his driver's license back. She'd cured him, and he'd returned the favor by steamrolling her.
He couldn't stop eating. His eyes were dry; even thinking about her, they were dry. The cake was dry, too. He realized it had gone a little stale sitting in his locker. He needed water to help choke it down, but he didn't have any. Instead he just kept swallowing. His stomach groaned in protest, but he ate and he ate.
As he sat there, eating his cake, he couldn't help but think about the unfairness of life. He started to narrate this to himself but even in his head he couldn't talk about it, and he settled for his monologue-voice trailing off as he absorbed his mind with cake, cake, cake. His new obsession.
And then he looked down and discovered that he had eaten it all. The entire stale cake was gone.
Closing his locker, he went back to work.
Denise was on him first, all brusque business, shoving a chart in his face. "There you are, Dr. Dorian, we've been looking for you." Sunny was right next to her; she gave a smile and a nervous little wave. "Mr. Gordon isn't responding to treatment. I think we need to… Dr. Dorian, are you okay?"
He was bending over, one hand pressed against the wall, the other splayed flat on his stomach like a woman might do if she just found out she was pregnant. Eyes screwed shut, his stomach turned over, roiling, cramping, as if there were a fist inside of him clenching into a tight, painful ball. Oh god, the cake. It was coming up. His stomach gurgled. And then it was rushing out of him—sharp, hot, putrid.
As he vomited, he recalled his frequent puking when he'd needed to get his appendix out, his unfortunate spewing on Dani's shoes that one time at the carnival. Chunky brown liquid splashed onto the floor. He couldn't stop. It kept coming, like an acidic waterfall.
Sunny squeaked and ran off to get help. Denise tilted her head and murmured, "Gross."
His stomach clenched, begging for release. He didn't know how long he stood there, hunched over, puking his guts all over the floor, goopy tendrils of brown vomit dangling from his lips, but it was long enough for Denise to start looking bored and Sunny to return with Turk, Carla, and Dr. Cox on her heels.
Finally it seemed as if the cake had all come back up, because it stopped.
J.D. looked up through watery eyes. There was a sea of vomit on the floor in front of him. He sagged against the wall, thinking two things: that Dr. Cox was going to start making fun of him for being a Bulimic girl and that the Janitor was going to accuse him of puking only so that there would be a big mess for him to clean up.
But Dr. Cox just grabbed him and led him to an empty patient room, and as he glanced back at Sunny and Denise talking in hushed voices, he saw the Janitor appear and quietly start to mop.
Once in the room he sat on the bed, leaning over, feeling weak and shaken and abdominally sore. There was a sheen of perspiration on his forehead. He felt as if he had just given birth through his mouth.
Dr. Cox, Turk, and Carla were standing in front of him with varying degrees of worry etched onto their faces. Turk shoved a glass of water into J.D.'s hand, and he rinsed out the sour taste in his mouth. He could feel them watching him. Then Carla, with a look in her eyes that spoke of heartbreak, turned and left. Turk looked at Dr. Cox. Dr. Cox looked at J.D.
But then Carla returned, slamming a packet of saltine crackers and a can of 7 Up onto the bedside table before turning around and leaving again. J.D. blinked, realizing that there was any number of medication she could have gotten for nausea, but instead she hadn't acted as a nurse—she was acting as a friend. Turk watched her leave, looking pained, and he threw a glance at J.D.—torn, apologetic—and J.D. realized that his friend was so busy being there for him that he was neglecting his wife, and he didn't begrudge him when he turned around and followed her out the door.
They had to take care of each other. They were married. Honestly, J.D. had only really thought of marriage a couple of times, and then only in goofy fantasies about what it would be like. He hadn't been planning on proposing. It hadn't even crossed his mind.
Not until the autopsy, at least.
That was when they found out. J.D. hadn't known. She'd only been about a month along; she probably hadn't even known. Doug was the first.
Once upon a time there was a kid that was never born.
All this time she wanted a baby, and nobody even knew until the autopsy that Elliot was pregnant.
Dr. Cox picked up the pack of crackers, tore it open, and pulled one out for himself. Then he turned the open part to J.D., as if they were just two buddies sharing a bag of potato chips. After a moment's hesitation (it wasn't cake), J.D. gingerly took one out and started nibbling on the corner, the salt sharp on his tongue.
He felt purged; empty; like a carved pumpkin. Puking had somehow allowed all the toxic stuff eating him up to come out. There was no cake inside of him. He had been cleansed. Now he could eat something else.
"Feeling better?" asked Dr. Cox.
J.D. popped open the 7 Up and took a swig. He nodded.
Once upon a time there was a wedding that never happened; a kid that was never born; and a man who couldn't stop eating cake.
But then he did. The cakes vanished from the fridge, the countertops. The crumbs were swept away. The icing-crusted knives went in the dishwasher. Bibi the Swedish baker stood behind the counter with a hopeful smile, waiting for the nice young doctor to return.
Sometimes he still thought about cake. Sometimes he would wake up and think about having a slice of strawberry shortcake for breakfast. Sometimes he would bring a slice of cinnamon streusel cake to the cemetery and leave it on the grass. Sometimes he would stare at the chocolate cake in the cafeteria for a long moment before passing it by.
But he thought about it less and less. Life moved on. He ate burgers and bananas and pudding cups.
And then came a day when he didn't think about it at all.