A/N: Crap... has it really been almost three months since I posted the first chapter? Well, for anyone who's actually still interested enough to read this, I sincerely appologize. I got around a page written of this back before Christmas, and then hit a giant, King Kong-shaped brick wall, and watched woefully as my promissed posting date came and went. After that, I just plain forgot about writing it, as I flew head-spiningly fast through a prerequisite math course, just to get my application to college for the fall in just under the wire... and then ended up signing up for another course, because I'm a paranoid freak who believes in being prepared for the actual process of learning, by learning ahead of time. Ugh.
At any rate, I resurfaced just this morning, realized how horribly overdue this was, and decided, "To hell with it! I'll just write it until it's done, and post whatever comes out. Re-write's be damned!!"
...and so here we are. I hope that this was worth the wait, even if it did turn out a little more abrupt than I would've liked, and that I haven't been negligent enough to miss out on any reviews you guys feel like leaving... please let me know if you like it!
Oh, and for anyone who doesn't know, and who's going to red flag me for the supposed typo, "murse" is the way I ment to spell it, and it's a nickname for 'male nurse'.
Anyways, on with the show!
"It's about damn time you showed up – I was just about ready to hunt down and kill the next mindless, pee-pants intern that got on the line to tell me they were 'still looking for Dr. Cox', and thanking me for my patience... screw that."
"Nuh-uh, you don't get to talk yet, I'm not done. Do you have any idea what I've had to put up with these last ten hours? Jack's been up all night wailing like a banshee from hell, which had the she-beast in the next apartment banging her ugly paw on the door every ten minutes. I've never wanted to hurt someone so bad in my life, except for maybe whenever you're around, but I couldn't, 'cause my stomach's the size of two freakin' watermelons with the kid still in there, and she's planted herself over my bladder, so I've had to pee every half hour."
"Could I just -"
"No! And another thing: if our plumber ever shows up in that cesspool you work at, you are obligated, under threat of me to have him beaten, probed in every available orifice, and then fed to Kelso; every pipe he so much as laid a finger on in this crummy apartment decided, yesterday night, to explode and spew unnameable filth, until I got our troll of a super to turn off the water. And so, since around four this morning, I've been barricaded in the living room alongside our now soggy banshee child – because of course I was brushing his teeth right in front of the bathroom sink when this place turned into the Pacific – with squirt-number-two tap-dancing on my innards, the Swamp Thing still banging on the door, and a full bottle of Jack sitting on the coffee table in front of me that I could not drink. At this point, I'm not sure whether to burn the building down and dance on it's ashes, beat our neighbor to death with her own hideous clog, or just kill myself. I swear to God, and everything holy or otherwise, that if you even so much as think the words 'double shift' in my direction, I will-"
"Jordan, dammit, I can't handle this shit right now!"
A torrent of previously repressed anguish and fear radiated sharply from his yelled interruption and the sudden and complete silence from the other line made Perry cringe; the last thing he'd wanted was to be a bi-polar pansy to his wife, the one person who had the power to make him feel either like Superman, or like he'd been punted into traffic by King Kong – and in this moment, with his hand accidentally shown, laid bare and utterly raw in front of her, vulnerability (which he would never, ever admit to, not even to his shrink... that smug bastard) stole over him, and he waited for the mocking and reprimanding words that his outburst were sure to earn him from the woman who took no prisoners.
"I'll be there in ten minutes."
He listened to a full minute of the dial tone before he was able to retrieve his jaw from where it'd hit the tops of his shoes and replace the phone on its receiver, after which he stared apprehensively at it, almost expecting it to self destruct after the slightly ominous finality of her words. He wanted to feel relieved that she hadn't immediately crucified him for what he'd said, but all he could feel was dread at the prospect of bearing witness to the apocalypse in person, instead of over the safe distance of the phone.
Sighing deeply, he moved to catch an elevator back down to the ground floor to wait out in the parking lot – he may as well meet Doom halfway.
As soon as the elevator doors closed on Scary Doctor's oddly resigned, sulking expression, Janitor looked casually about him and began mopping a gradual, discreet path over to the room he'd been staking out for almost an hour, covertly ducking inside and closing the door behind him once he'd reached it. Having promised Blond Doctor that he would alert her and Dorian's other tearful pals the moment Scary Doctor had vacated the one-visitor-at-a-time position, he quickly leaned the mop against the door jam and shuffled over to the bedside, determined to confirm for himself that Dorian was alive and well while he still had the chance to do so unobserved. After all, he had an image to uphold... though ironically, this image was usually only relevant in regards to the man who lay unconscious in the bed before him.
Standing there, watching the annoyingly comforting rise and fall of the man's chest, and refusing to think about the freshly repaired wounds concealed under them or of how close Dorian had come to the proverbial point of no return, Janitor eventually found his gaze drawn to the sole chair, and the plastic doctor's kit that sat in a nest of torn wrapping paper on it. From there, his eyes darted down to the open backpack, and a nagging itch emerged, and a quick peak couldn't hurt, could it?
In answer to the internally asked question, he snatched up the pack and rooted around inside, shoving aside two other presents before, much to his genuine surprise, he actually found one addressed to him. Or rather, it was labeled "To Janitor", but the sentiment was there. Carefully depositing the pack in it's original place, he studied the wrapping paper, which sported a troupe of dancing Christmas trees, and pondered what could be inside the smallish box-shaped package for a silent moment. Then, with a skeptical glance at the bed, he tore through the paper, and stared with growing excitement at the miniature, but well-equipped spy kit he now held. Inside was a selection of stick-on mustaches, a handful of mock-fake ID's, a pen which doubled as a voice recorder, and a pocket book of infamous tales and tricks of the trade.
It was the single best Christmas gift he'd ever gotten... and of all people, he'd gotten it from Dorian.
Emotion knotted in his throat without his permission, and he tucked the box carefully into the inside of his jumpsuit and reluctantly vowed never to use the kit's contents against the young doctor... though his friends and colleagues were still fair game, with the exception of Blond Doctor. Speaking of which, he still had his promise to keep.
Collecting the remaining two presents as an afterthought, the Janitor said a quiet 'thank you', then retrieved his mop, and retreated from the room, turning in the direction of the cafeteria.
Angel was the only word that came to mind as Turk sat watching the little girl who lay asleep in the over-sized hospital bed in front of him. The girl, Lindsay according to JD, had been through almost five hours of surgery to repair the internal bleeding and yet here she lay in her hospital pajamas, fresh from post-op and recovery, the most serene and beautiful child he'd ever seen, a halo of white-blond hair spread on the pillow beneath her head. If he hadn't known better, he never could've guessed that she'd been involved in a car accident with two other fatalities.
According to the police that had shown up the previous night once the accident had been officially reported and attended to, the driver of the car she'd been in was twenty-five year old Trish Yates, a university student with an apartment downtown. Up until just recently, they hadn't known how Trish was related to Lindsay, and then, just an hour ago, a cop at the station had made the connection between the file on the accident and the record of a call they'd received a few hours afterwards; a man called in, desperate, claiming that his daughter, Lindsay Hayes, and the family friend that had been babysitting her hadn't shown up at Sacred Heart Hospital to be there when Lindsay's little brother was born, as had been their intention.
After phone calls to all of their neighbors confirmed that they had left hours earlier in Trish's car, and the surgeon who'd worked on Lindsay positively identified a picture of Lindsay Hayes as being the same girl, her father, Jared, had demanded of every doctor he could corner to be able to see her. And now that Turk had gotten her settled into her room, her father was on his way to do just that... but Turk found he just couldn't bring himself to leave her alone in the mean time, and so here he'd stood for the last five minutes, watching over her in scrubs that smelled of waiting room chairs, and the comfort cookies he'd ravaged when he'd been with the girls in the cafeteria.
This was the girl his friend had almost died saving, and looking down at her now, he knew beyond a doubt he would have done the same... though he really could've done without the near heart attack he'd gotten, having JD turn up in that kind of condition – he shuddered to think what the accident itself must have been like, for him to be hurt like that.
"This is her room, Mr. Hayes, just go right on in – a nurse will be by soon to check up on her."
Startled from his thoughts by the room's door swinging open, he froze at the sight of the bedraggled man who strode in, blood-shot eyes glued to the bed until he had collapsed into the chair at its side and dropped his head into his hands. He didn't appear to have noticed Turk's presence yet and, judging by the sheer exhaustion that radiated from the way he wearily scrubbed at his face, it would be best for him to take his leave quietly, and leave him to feel all he felt in private.
He hadn't taken two steps before Jared Hayes' muffled voice stopped him, prompting him to turn to face him.
"Where is he?" There was no need to specify as to who he was asking about.
"He's in a room, one floor down – just got out of surgery a little while ago."
"And how... how is he?" An automatic swell of residual fear, and pain at the possible loss twisted Turk's insides, though he fought to hide the reaction.
"He was pretty bad off when he came in, but he's stabilized, and holding his own, for the moment. As long as they didn't miss repairing any internal damage, or underestimate the trauma to his head, he should recover just fine – we'll know more whenever he wakes up."
When it looked like the father had run out of things to say, Turk turned once more to leave, only to be stopped when he reached the doorway, though this time he didn't turn.
"When he does wake up, and he could handle a few visitors, would you... could you let me know? I-I need to thank him, for what he's done for us."
Nodding wordlessly, he escaped back out into the hall, only one destination in mind.
Both women sat in silence, staring miserably into their respective coffees, which remained untouched, though they'd cooled down enough to drink some time ago. Every now and then an intern or doctor or even a patient would wander by, wanting to check up on JD and offering well wishes. Though tired of having to put on a gracious face every time, when all the needed energy had gone into worrying and crying all night, neither could deny that it helped to hear how many people were rooting for them on this, to hear how much their friend was loved around here.
All the same, just about the only thing that would do them any good at this point was to first see him for themselves, and then for him to wake up at least in time for new years.
When Turk had left them earlier to check on the little girl in post-op, it only served to remind them unpleasantly of JD's own uncertain status once he'd finally been moved to recovery, and how terribly breakable he'd looked when he'd been settled into his room. Ever since then, they'd spoken very little, each dedicatedly recalling memories of him as he usually was – happy, bouncing (literally), healthy... stitch-free...
An uncomfortable throat-clearing interrupted their respective stewing and drew their gazes to the side, and then up, as they noticed the Janitor towering over them, looking uncommonly solemn as he relayed that "Scary Doctor (Dr. Cox, they could safely assume) has left Dorian's room", and wordlessly deposited two presents, wrapped in Christmas light-themed paper on the table before making a quick exit, their baffled stares following him out.
Upon closer inspection, they saw that each present was from JD, with one addressed to Elliot, and one to Keith, who strolled over to them from the coffee line just as Elliot was reaching hesitantly for hers.
"Who're the presents from?" he asked as he set his cup down and took a seat beside Elliot. When she told him, his eyebrows rose in surprise and he reached curiously for the distinctly book-shaped one with his name written in JD's scrawl.
"He must've had these on him when they brought him in," Elliot murmured, fingering the edge of the paper. A hand covered hers, and she looked up into Carla's softly smiling gaze.
"Go on sweetie, he won't mind. Open it now, thank him when he wakes up."
Nodding, she began to carefully unwrap hers, while Keith tore plainly into his beside her. When she'd set aside the last of the wrapping (apparently JD still thought triple layering was hilarious), she smiled brightly at the jewelery box which held the rose petal necklace she'd been eying for months in the catalog in the break room upstairs, and the pamphlet that held two all-inclusive day passes to one of the nicest spas in town.
She made a silent decision to tuck away her worry for JD for this one moment to savor his present, which she did all the more now that the worst had hopefully passed and she needn't look at this as the last present he might ever give.
Swearing to herself that she'd have Keith drive by their place to pick up the gift she'd gotten for JD to bring back, she showed the passes to Carla and shared an excited squeal, missing the initial awe in reading the author's hand-written inscription to him, and the now dedicated perusing Keith displayed as he dove into his brand new copy of 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Women and Other Mysteries of the Universe'.
Perry had only been waiting next to the entrance ramp for fifteen minutes before Jordan's car flew into the parking lot, and promptly stole one of the surgeon's parking spaces as the man was lining up to back in. Unwisely, the balding moron rolled down his window, presumably to yell an objection to her as she stepped out of the car, only to snap his mouth shut, roll his window back up, and park in another surgeon's spot three cars down; whether it was her very pregnant appearance, or some primal instinct for survival was anyone's guess.
That same instinct flared up in his chest as she strode towards him, but he bravely (or stupidly... he'd ask his shrink about it sometime) stood his ground, resisting the urge to run into the hospital and barricade the doors, and managing to keep most of the dread off his face. He therefore felt entirely justified in his falling into a stunned stupor when she proceeded to take one of his hands in one of hers, and place her other on the side of his face, and speaking in a voice more calm and sympathetic than he'd ever heard from her.
"What happened, and how bad is he?"
By the time he finally managed to reestablish a connection to his vocal cords, the most intelligent thing he could manage to say was, "What?"
And again, showing an extraordinary amount of patience, she merely responded with, "JD, Perry. The only thing that could ever get you sounding like that is when you were worried about the kid." He swallowed hard, eyes flickering away before landing back on hers.
"It was really bad, Jordan. Car accident, last night. He was on that damn scooter thing of his when it happened, and he went and played hero afterwards." He couldn't help but lean into her touch, craving the offered comfort as he finished quietly. "He barely got himself here in time, and he almost bled out in surgery. He's finally stabilized, we're just waiting for him to wake up." He noticed then that his son wasn't with her, and couldn't help but be especially curious, after hearing the details of the night. "Where's Jack?"
"Left him with the neighbor on the way out."
"No, Miss Pep Squad Reject, two doors down from her. Loves kids, apparently."
"Ah. Lucky woman."
Any further banter was cut short as Jordan leaned forward to kiss him gently, her thumb brushing softly against his cheekbone. As she pulled back, she let the hand slide away from his face, but kept a firm, reassuring grip on his hand with her other one and used it to lead him slowly back inside.
"C'mon – I'll wait with you."
The first thing he felt was itchy. And it wasn't your garden variety itch, either. It was everywhere. It was the kind of itch that drove a person nuts if they couldn't scratch it, the kind that could have you squirming, and even have grown men crying with frustration. And oh man, was he frustrated.
He couldn't be sure exactly where he was or why, since he hadn't yet opened his eyes, and he felt as though he were waking up after a heavy duty sleeping pill – drugged, and weighed down, and almost like he might still be dreaming. It wasn't until he tried moving a hand to start in on scratching that he got a bit more of a hint, realizing as he became more aware that his hand was wrapped up tightly – actually, both of them were, and they had the mild sting of limbs that would be hurting a lot more if they were allowed to. That got him curious, and while he still wasn't quite ready to try opening his eyes, what with the threads of a headache beginning to thump at his temples, he began work on cataloging himself, expertly ignoring the grating itch.
First, there were the wrapped hands, and the headache that seemed to be originating from a possible wound high on his forehead. Next, as he continued to clear the fog from his consciousness, he realized that the same tight pressure and foreboding stinging as was in his hands, though stronger, encompassed his entire abdomen, practically from his collar bones to his hips, which also felt as though they'd seen their share of bruising. He noticed too that he was a little cold down to his waist, but it felt like he was wearing scrub pants and... maybe a sheet?
Long before the beeping off to the side registered as a heart monitor, he knew the obvious answer: he was in a hospital somewhere, and a little worse for wear, by the looks of it. What had happened? Had he been attacked? Had he been in an accident? Did he crash Sasha?
He thought as hard as he could without making his head hurt worse, until finally an inkling of a memory flashed in his mind, barely an echo really. It was, of all things, the distant sound of Christmas Carols playing. He latched onto it, smiling faintly in triumph before realizing that using scratched up facial muscles was a bad idea, and fought to remember more. Gradually, the flashes of music came with slivers of images and feelings: blond hair... a dark street... blowing wind... cold... driving... happy... nervous...
...squealing tires... breaking glass... screaming... flying...
...a little girl in pain... scared...
JD's eyes shot open at that, and he kept them open despite the dramatic thumping in his head against the fluorescent lighting as his memory settled like a cold weight in his chest. He only remembered as far as starting to walk, and feeling as though he'd been walking forever, the slight weight in his arms trembling and getting harder and harder to hold up. He'd needed to help that girl... but now he was here, and she was...
...gone, with the rest of the memory of that night.
He sat up in a panic and felt something in his chest creak, while a warning pang shot through him and the room spun and he panted through the nausea. The need to know overruled his common sense, both as a doctor and simply as a man who felt himself teetering on the edge of his limitations, and he braced himself on shaking arms to drag himself to the edge of the bed. The simple act of draping his legs over the edge to touch his feet to the floor sapped nearly all of his energy, a point which he unwisely ignored as he pushed himself up into standing, his knees shaking as badly as his arms had, and then twisted to reach for his IV and monitor stand.
The pang from before returned as a full blown jagged stab that stole the breath from his lungs and turned the edges of his vision gray, while previously weak knees chose that moment to buckle so that his legs literally folded beneath him. He managed to catch himself on the edge of the bed to slow his momentum, but his arms had had enough, and he quickly lost his grip and slid down to sit roughly on the floor, where he listed to the side and ended in laying on his back, probably the least painful position, considering the alternatives.
The failed escape attempt had done little to temper his panic, however, and he was in the midst of calling on entirely spent reserves of energy to get up from the floor when he heard the click of a door opening, and then the very familiar sound of inventive cursing, and knew quite definitely that, injured or not, he was in serious trouble.
He was gonna kill him.
Not now, no – he'd wait until he was all healed up and wasn't quite so damn sad looking, and then he'd kill him and be done with it. He couldn't take much more of this crap.
Walking in to check on JD only to find his bed empty with the idiot on his back on the floor, panting like he'd re-broken a rib or two, with his skin a stark white had damn near given Perry a stroke, and he couldn't be held responsible for the words that had come out of his mouth as he'd raced forward and dropped to a knee beside him, which was where was was now, trying to calm the kid down enough so he could check him over.
"Shit, shit, shit. I swear to God Newbie, if you've broken something, or punctured anything after the night of hell you put us through..."
"Shut up while I cut through this gauze. And stop squirming – if I slip and cut a suture, Wen will have my ass, and I quite like it where it is, thank you." He'd just managed to finish cutting up the center when a hand, thankfully warmer than it had been the night before, came up to grasp his wrist, drawing his gaze to the surprisingly lucid, and more than a little terrified one of the man beneath him.
"Please, I need to know. Is she... did I..." He couldn't seem to finish, but Perry knew what he needed to hear, even before he'd struggled to ask, and his features softened as he laid his other hand over JD's.
"She's alive, and recovering well. You got her here in time, kid – you saved her life."
Like magic, his words bled the fear from the younger man's face and body on a relieved sigh, and he released his hold on his hand, allowing JD's to slide back to the ground while he carried on. Pulling back the gauze, he expertly suppressed his grimace at the patchwork of stitches and bruising, yanking on a pair of gloves from the bedside table before assessing the recently set bones with as much care as he could manage. He'd never been so thankful for heavy-duty pain meds as he was now, as his probing resulted in nothing more than tired winces, until at last he sat back with a relieved sigh of his own.
"Looks like you lucked out; everything's where it should be, not even a torn stitch. Now sit tight and don't you move one girly finger on that manicured hand of yours while I go find a murse to help get you wrapped back up and back into bed." At JD's slight nod of agreement, the other doctor got to his feet on a groan of popping joints and left the room in search of aforementioned murse, letting his mind wander as he stalked down the hall.
After Jordan's arrival, they'd gone back up to JD's room to find Ghandi sitting in his seat with a look on his face that clearly said he was ready to glue himself to the freakin' thing, if necessary. Too tired to argue with the scissor jockey just then, he'd left him to it, and walked with his wife to the cafeteria, where she'd forced him to join the table containing Newbie's two other gal pals and Blondy's boy toy. As sad as it was to admit, he'd actually (almost) enjoyed their company, and the sheer normalcy of the small talk that kept them all from thinking about things that would – good God, please, not again – result in more waterworks on all counts.
Except for him, of course – because he didn't cry. Dirt. It was dirt. Dammit.
After that, they'd each taken their turn visiting and sleeping in shifts throughout the day, and dropping by their apartments for showers and fresh clothes until finally convening for a group supper around five, leaving JD to rest in private, with his stats saying that the earliest he'd probably be awake would be the following evening.
Stubborn little bastard. It was a big part of why they got along so well... in their own way. They just worked, like Frankenstein and Igor. But with scrubs. And, preferably, living patients.
The kid was lucky that Perry, suffering from temporary insanity that had him practically twitching to check up on him, had left dinner early, saying that he needed to "check on Suzie Q before the shift change at the nurses' station", studiously ignoring their irritatingly knowing looks as he went. If he hadn't have shown up, the imbecile probably would've dragged himself halfway down the hall before any of the incompetent schmoes on rotation that night got around to finding his empty room. And then he'd be forced to kill someone and make it look like an accident, and really, he was just too tired for this bullshit.
Still... he was glad it was him who found him. But he refused to comment on the matter, to himself, or anyone. He was still a badass... honest. He had the scowl to prove it.
It was said scowl that made a guest appearance when he finally located the sought after murse, a man who looked no older than twelve and who skittered like a startled rabbit to collect the necessary supplies before following Perry back to the room.
By the time they got there, JD was barely keeping awake, his latest stunt having obviously drained him of what little good a morning of drug-induced rest had done. He didn't have it in himself to get mad, however, when the kid looked up at him with those freakin' doe eyes and thanked him – for patching him up, for telling him Lindsay was okay... all of it. Just... 'thank you'.
And as they settled him back in bed, freshly wrapped and with an extra blanket, Perry dismissed the startled rabbit with a glare and then reclaimed his seat, pulling it a little closer so that he could squeeze JD's shoulder; he was here, he was alive, he was going to be okay, there weren't any goodbyes to struggle through. There was just a few more words that needed to be said.
"You did good, JD. I'm proud of you."
The kid fell asleep with a smile on his face, and Perry, hand having not moved an inch, decided he'd tell the others he'd been awake. Later.
The next thing JD knew was waking up warm and pain free to a darkened room filled with the sounds of deep breaths and soft snores. By the dimmed light above his bed, he could see Elliot and Keith asleep on cots next to the window, with Jordan sleeping soundly next to them on what looked like the sofa from Kelso's office.
Carla and Turk were curled and sprawled respectively in chairs to his right, their hands loosely entwined on the armrests between them, a pair of velvet reindeer antlers in Turk's lap, and to his left was Doctor Cox, reclined in his chair facing him, his feet propped up on the beside table, and a hand resting almost protectively over JD's left arm. Unsurprisingly, his snores were the loudest, and JD couldn't help but smirk, and action which he was relieved to note was much easier this time around.
A closer look at his bedside table left his heart aching happily, and his smile blinding, even in the near-dark; next to a line of wrapped gifts, which he could see were all addressed to him from Turk, Carla, Doctor Cox, Elliot, and even Keith, was a framed picture of the Janitor standing grinning beside his Sasha, who looked almost as good as new with a new windscreen and paint job to boot. A set of keys had been taped carefully to the frame's uppermost corner.
And hanging on the wall behind it all was a Christmas card, hand-drawn in colorful crayons, and accompanied by a tacked on Polaroid photo of a beautiful, smiling girl in a hospital bed, held closely by a bright-eyed man on her left and a woman on her right, who was glowing in every sense of the word, a newborn baby wrapped warmly in his blanket in the cradle of her arms. The card read, "Merry Christmas JD – thank you for being my guardian angel. Love always, Lindsay Hayes." A smaller inscription, written underneath in neat handwriting stated simply, "Thank you for our daughter. We will never forget you."
Feeling lighter than he had in seemingly forever, since even before everything that happened with Kim, JD sunk back into his pillow, silently wishing all of his friends his own Merry Christmas, and falling asleep to the age-old excitement at the thought of opening his presents in the morning.