A/N: First of all, let me just say how appreciative I am of the feedback this story has received. It was an idea that I was playing with for quite a while, so I was really encouraged to see that others enjoyed it as well. Originally, however, this story was just going to be a one-shot, but after receiving several requests for a sequel, I decided to give it a go. I really do apologize for having taken this long with Part II though. When I finally decided I was going to add on to the story, I had planned on updating much sooner, but since I didn't have a solid idea for how this would continue, I wasn't really sure where I was going at first. That being said, I decided to make this second part first person rather than third person, though rest assured it's still from Perry's point of view. Anyway, I guess that's about it from me. Thanks for waiting, and I hope you enjoy Part II!
Disclaimer: I own a very large nothing.
My Coming Out Party: Part II
It's been a few days since Newbie decided to come out of the closet, and while that may lead to the assumption that the kid is officially "out and about," he's really not. Yeah, I know he's gay, but his friends? They don't have a clue.
Of course, I didn't take into account when forcing the truth out of him that, by doing so, I'd become JD's go-to-guy in about, oh, every situation imaginable. Okay, let me rephrase that. The kid was already clingy before coming out to me anyway, but now that I know – now that the both of us know that I'm the only one who knows – he's trailing me from the moment I step into the hospital from the minute I step out and into the parking lot. I cannot tell you how many times these past few days I've had to summon the patience I usually save for Jack in order to deal with him constantly being there, 'cause believe you me when I say I've been more than just tempted to turn around and rail into the kid for having up-ed the whole puppy dog routine. Problem is, I wouldn't put it entirely past Newbie to take it as an insult to everything he's just recently confessed. And to be perfectly blunt, I don't think I have it in me to pull his ass out of the closet for the second time in less than a week. I just don't.
But here's the thing: when I say that I've been his "go-to-guy," I mean that I've turned into the one person – the only person – he seems eager to be around. Whenever one of his friends tries to talk to him, he answers as quickly as he can; short, simple answers that have their early departure guaranteed. For the first couple of days, nobody really seemed to notice. We've all been fairly busy, so it wasn't unusual, and since the kid's shifts didn't match up with Carla and Gandhi's, I'm sure it wouldn't have been particularly hard for him to avoid them when coming home from a late one, or dismissing their invites by simply stating that he's tired. They're all beginning to notice now, however, and I've caught Milk Dud shooting him a few hurt filled glances.
I get why Newbie's avoiding them though, I do. Since he's come out, his spirits have been annoyingly high. He trails me like it's his specialty, but he hasn't been moping or sighing or any of that girly crap he's so keen on shoving down my throat. The kid's been all smiles – carefree and feeling good about himself – and it's for that reason that I think he's avoiding his friends. He knows he's going to have to tell them eventually, and the fear of what that could lead to would shatter all the progress he's made so far, along with the happy little bubble of ignorant bliss he's created for himself over the past couple of days.
Like I said, I get why he's avoiding them, I do, but if he really wants to be happy – not this temporary, "The world is made of sunshine," routine – then he has to come all the way out; not just to me. I can't say for sure how his friends will take it. Well, I can at least say that Carla will be fine, but I don't really know how Barbie and Bowling Ball will react. My point is this though: even if they turn out to be shit friends, Newbie has to know that in order to get over it and move on. He's never going to be content – honestly content – if he just goes about pretending that everything's A-Okay.
I absolutely la-la-loathe not knowing how to deal with something, and while it's not that I can't deal with what's happening here, it's just that, much like before, I don't know how to go about bringing this particular subject up. While it's more than obvious he's been trailing me since I'm the only one who knows about him coming out, he makes little to no mention of his sexuality. Except for turning beet red whenever he manages to cross paths with Dr. Geryon – that new doctor from OBGYN who I think Newbie has developed a full on crush for now that he's not in denial – and the occasional, excited remark about what should be included in his "Coming Out Party" (or whatever the hell he's calling it now) he really doesn't talk about it much. Then again, there's no real reason to, which brings me back to my original point. He's comfortable with me because I know. He doesn't have to constantly worry about what he says or does, so it's easier for him to trail me even more than he already did rather than be with his friends, where he'd have to go back to thinking over every little thing he says and does just so they don't figure it out.
They have to know though. It's time. And the fact is, JD knows it's time too. He's just procrastinating at this point; avoiding the inevitable.
I'm trying to think of a good way to bring it up when, lo and behold, the situation presents itself.
We're passing pediatrics as a girl is getting wheeled back into her room; her fingers curled securely around the plastic string of a balloon she's been given. JD eyes it like the man-child he is, shortly after deciding to nudge me in the ribs with his bony elbow. "If I really do end up throwing a Coming Out Party, I should definitely buy balloons," he whispers secretively. "I'm just trying to think of ones that'll go with the, uh, 'theme.'"
"That's all well in good, Samantha, but a party's pretty useless if no one shows up at your door."
He adapts this look like I just punched him in the face, and I can't help but wonder if I just touched on a few childhood memories.
"You said you'd come though, right…?"
"Newbie, are you even listening to me? Yeah, I'll be there, but only because I'm the only damn person who knows. I'm not saying you have to put up fliers about your coming out there, but you ra-heely need to tell your pep-squad."
JD shifts awkwardly where he stands, hands stuffed in the pockets of his scrubs. "I know," he finally mumbles. "It's just hard to take that final step. I mean…that girl back there with the balloon – I didn't have to think twice before saying what I said. The minute the thought popped into my head, it was out of my mouth. With my friends – okay, I'm like that with them too, but when it comes to me being gay? I have to bite my tongue every single time, and it's just…it's tiring, Dr. Cox. It's why I've been avoiding them. I hate it, I do, but since I came out, being around them feels exhausting. I don't think I can do it anymore."
"Which is why you have to tell them," I reply matter-of-factly. "And to be honest there, Trish, you're not exactly acting like a model example of what makes a supposedly good friend by not even giving them the benefit of a doubt."
His hand runs through the back of his hair while his eyes close in quiet contemplation. Finally, he turns back to me; gaze full of wary hesitance. "What if they leave…?"
My hands find a place in the pockets of my lab coat as I stare at him across the four foot gap between us. I know my answer isn't going to be the one he wants to hear, but it's the only reply I can think of; the only one that's honest, anyway. "If they reject you, Newbie, then they weren't your friends to begin with."
I promised the kid I'd be there for whenever he decided to tell them, but hell, I didn't think he'd do it like this.
I watch from my position against the wall, arms crossed in front of my chest, as JD paces anxiously back and forth, waiting for his friends to answer his page and meet us in the doctor's lounge. I've growled at so many interns and nurses who have decided to come in already that I don't think we'll be getting interrupted any time soon. When I'm angry, word spreads fast.
As you can imagine, word spreads often.
Still, I don't get why the kid just didn't wait till they were all off from work to put his whole coming out plan, if you can even call it that, into action. I mean hell, it's better for me to just do it here and avoid having to make a visit over to Newbie and Gumball's apartment, but still…
When his hand combs through his hair for at least the tenth time in two minutes, I decide to voice my question, thinking it'll make for a good distraction, if nothing else. "Any particular reason why you're deciding to do this now instead of at home, Newbie?"
The kid's eyes dart up to my own like a deer caught in head lights; the panic residing underneath those anxiety ridden orbs staring at me frantically. "This is wrong, isn't it? Completely wrong. Wrong setting, wrong time, wrong decision. Okay, thanks, Dr. Cox. Thanks for letting me know. I'll just page them now and tell them that they don't have to co –"
I push off from my spot against the wall and swipe his pager away before he can even manage a response. "Oh, no you don't. You're finally growing a pair, so no backing down now. I never said anything you were so damn quick to assume, so calm yourself. I just wanted to know why you chose this over the apartment. That's all."
The kid pulls his desperate gaze away from his pager in my hand long enough to answer the question; the hysteria behind his tone calming just a little as he speaks. "I chose the hospital since they could easily get away if they decide I make them uncomfortable, and then I could find a place hidden from them if I need to, um…vent. It would be awkward at the apartment if our only option was to go in our room and wait till the morning. I planned on telling them there originally, since they could always just, you know…leave. Go to the bar, or something… But going out for a drink isn't an option tonight since we're all scheduled for morning shifts. The hospital just feels like the safest place to do it, I guess…"
I give a small nod of quiet understanding as Newbie returns to his pacing. I'll admit that there's a slight – I repeat, slight – knot in the pit of my stomach when I think about the possibility of the kid getting rejected. I told him earlier that Carla would be okay with it, but that's more of an assumption than anything else, really. There are plenty of people out there who talk about being accepting and open minded, but then the minute it happens to someone they know, things change. I don't think Carla would do that to anyone, especially her "Bambi," but I've been wrong about people before…
Then there's Barbie, who is obviously supportive of her brother, but she and JD dated, which could easily bring about a whole new set of problems.
I think the kid's main source of fear lies with Milk Dud, though. Those two are closer than Ted and flop sweat, and losing him would leave a mark on Newbie that I don't think anyone would ever really be able to repair. Not to mention the guy has shown his fair share of homophobic tendencies. As stupid as that knuckle headed surgeon can be though, I really don't think his paranoia comes from a place of hate. The guy just doesn't know how to handle himself when he's put into a position like, well…like the one he's about to be put into.
I tell myself that my palms are sweating because the room is hot, while JD continues on in his pacing. If he could only calm down long enough to stand still –
I get my wish as the three musketeers come strolling in, their expressions calm and smiling as their eyes land on JD. Gumball seems cheerier than usual, probably thrilled at having been paged by the same person whose been giving him no more than a few yes or no answers over the past couple of days. The kid smiles back as best he can, but it's undeniably strained. Gandhi's buyout expression suddenly turns grim as he takes in his best friend's tense posture. "You okay, man?" he asks warily.
The question grabs the attention of Carla and Barbie, who had been talking with each other on their way in. They stop mid-sentence to stare in concern at Lillian, who looks like he's getting ready to be sick.
"JD…?" his black wife tries again.
"I…I need to tell you guys something," he starts off, voice wavering just a little. "What I need to tell you…it's why I've been acting so distant these past couple of days, and I'm sorry about that, I really am, which is why I wanted to call you guys in here and tell you that, uh…"
I watch as he puts his arms out behind him in an attempt to look as though he's leaning casually against the head of the couch. From where I'm standing, however, I can see what they can't – his knuckles turning ghostly white as his fingers sink deeper and deeper into the fabric.
Suddenly, the kid's looking at me. His friends follow suit, and while I don't look at anyone other than Newbie, I can tell that my presence makes them even more nervous, as I'm probably looking more like a body guard than a doctor right about now. I think the fact that I'm even here to begin with – standing quietly behind their gal pal – shows them that something's definitely up. After all, when was the last time I publicly "backed up" Tiffany? It's not what most would call a common occurrence.
JD's already pale skin grows paler as he continues to stare at me, eyes pleading. I nod encouragingly and watch him turn back to his friends. It's a small gesture, I know, but I also know that it's all he needs to see to say what he says next.
Closing his eyes and inhaling slowly, JD makes his announcement in a clear, unwavering voice. "I'm gay."
Barbie lets out a shocked, "Holy frick!" while Carla's jaw drops just a little. Gandhi's eyes bulge, wide and unintelligible, as he finds something over JD's shoulder to focus on.
The silence lasts for mere seconds, but I know it's enough to make me – to make Newbie – start to wonder.
I'm about to go over there and wring someone's neck for just staring at the kid like a science project, when Carla starts to speak. "How long have you known, Bambi?"
JD's eyes dart over to Gandhi before answering, and I can tell he was secretly hoping that Turk would be the first to address him, not his wife. Quickly, he turns back to Carla and answers her question. "I've known for years now. When I…when I was a little kid, I kissed a boy I had a crush on, though I didn't realize it was a crush exactly. I mean…I didn't realize liking another guy was gay. I told my mom about it – my first kiss – and she…" JD paused, and I must confess that his next move was a clever one in terms of getting Barbie to understand. "She handled it the way your parents did," he states calmly, eyes desperate for acceptance as he shifts his attention from Carla to her. "She sent me to one of the places your brother was sent to."
Barbie's eyes mist over as she nods. The unidentifiable feeling in my stomach lessens just a little at the sight of her latest gesture. I'm an expert on hate, which includes being able to detect it. As far as I can tell, not a bit of it is coming from Blondie.
"I thought they fixed me," Newbie continues, voice level but reflective. "I thought the councilors there had a point, so I just…I went with it. I believed them. But it never really went away, and the older I got, the harder it was to deny. The only reason I came out was because of Dr. Cox."
I swallow a moan as all eyes suddenly turn to me. Did he really have to phrase it like that? I give my nose a solid flick, quietly daring any of them to challenge me on this one. I'm not going to get lectured for figuring out what they were too damn blind to notice.
"He realized before I did, actually," JD continues, and I'm quietly thankful that he took the time to clarify his latest comment. "He ranted it out of me." Newbie's lips turn up into the tiniest of grins, and I can almost hear the "Vintage Cox" remark playing out in his head. I swallow my own grin as I wait for the response of his friends.
"It wasn't me, was it?"
Everyone's attention turns to Barbie, who is fiddling with her hands and looking almost as awkward as JD.
"I mean…I didn't, you know…make you realize?"
Honest to God, I don't know whether to roll my eyes or burst out laughing, but the conversation carries on all the same.
"Of course not," JD answers promptly. "In fact…you were the one girl who I thought I could honestly make it work with. I love you Elliot, which is why it was so easy to be with you, in that sense. That feeling like I was constantly fighting against what I really wanted wasn't nearly as dominant when I was with you, but it was still there. Not because of you though. It's just…it's how I was born. No matter what, it was always going to be there, even if the girl I was with was someone who I genuinely cared about."
Barbie smiles as she walks over to JD – the first out of all of them – to wrap her arms around his middle and place a kiss on the center of his cheek. "I know it was a selfish question, and I know from everything with Barry that you don't just 'turn gay' like that, but thank you, JD. And thanks for letting us know what was going on. I was really starting to worry about you…"
"Me too," Carla cuts in then. Elliot steps aside, allowing her to cup Newbie's face in the palm of her hands. "I thought something was wrong, but this…this is not wrong, do you hear me, Bambi? This is you, and it's the same you that I've known for four years now."
I don't like this heart to heart stuff, I just don't, but there is an undeniable relief in me when I hear those words coming from Carla. I kind of want to kick my own ass for doubting that she'd react any differently, but it's for that same damn reason that I feel so relieved. I don't know how well I would have handled yet another person I'd actually chosen to befriend turning out to be an ignorant, backstabbing prick. Carla's not that kind person though; she's never been that kind of person. The very least I can do is swallow a sensitive moment.
JD leans into her touch, the appreciation and love emitting from his body palpable.
That is, until, he realizes that Gandhi has yet to move; has yet to say anything since his coming out.
Carla's looking at her husband expectantly while I myself am trying not to shoot him daggers. I'm in way too deep at this point to pretend I don't feel just a little protective of Newbie. But you know what? Even if I didn't, I know I'd still be angry. Listen…I hate a lot of things, but I defy you to look through my infinite list of things I utterly loathe and find just even one thing that involves blatant discrimination. I'm not that guy. I've never been that guy. You want to call me a jackass, fine, but call me a jackass for the right reasons.
The more I study Scalpel Jockey, though, the more I realize that the look he's shooting JD isn't one of anger. He looks confused, but more than just that, he looks hurt. There's some kind of accusation lingering beneath his stare, and as the seconds tick by, I wish he'd grow a pair and just say what's bothering him already. If Newbie can summon that Y chromosome of his long enough to tell his friends something he's been hiding for years, than Gandhi should be able to man up long enough to at least form some kind of proper response.
JD looks sickly pale as Gumball just continues to stare at him. Carla's mouth is open, ready to break the silence, but her husband beats her to it.
"Why didn't you tell me…?"
The kid still looks nervous, but at his best friend's latest question, a realization sparks underneath his worried gaze, replacing his fear with immediate understanding. "I didn't intentionally choose not to tell you. I mean…for the past couple of days, yeah – I was keeping it to myself on purpose."
"But in college and in med school; all those years together – you never once even hinted that you were, I mean…did you not trust me, or something?"
"I didn't know, Turk. I mean, I've always known to an extent, but I didn't really know-know. If the thought ever entered my mind, I was too busy pushing it back and denying it was there in the first place to even consider telling you. I was too busy telling myself that I wasn't gay to even dream about saying it out loud. Just thinking about it scared me. It was never a matter of trust or friendship or anything like that. I just…I couldn't come to terms with the idea that I could be. Telling anyone – especially my roommate; my best friend. I…I couldn't afford to lose you…I couldn't imagine it. Even now, I…"
Newbie trails off, the mere idea of his best friend leaving him too much for him to stomach. I can't say I blame the kid, but I wish he'd been able to finish his thought so that Milk Dud would actually say something.
He doesn't say anything though. Not a word.
He does, however, walk over and wrap his arms around him in one of thee most intimate hugs I have ever seen; at least between two men, anyway. JD practically melts into him, and I'm almost certain he lets out a whimper of sheer and utter relief. The surrounding atmosphere screams "Hallmark Card" as Carla smiles lovingly while Barbie starts to mist over again.
But despite all of that, I'm happy about his friends' reactions, I am. I attempt telling myself that it's solely because the kid won't be following me around the hospital as much anymore, but when the two let go and JD's eyes lock with mine, I can't help but meet his joyous expression with a small nod of my own.
'Atta boy, Newbie.
"Are you excited about tonight?"
I roll my eyes as Carla stares up at me from behind the nurses' station, chin placed on her hands as she gives me a teasing grin.
"If by 'excited' you mean 'morbidly curious' then yes."
"Oh come on, you know you're looking forward to it a little. After all, it was your idea."
I look up from my hepatitis patient's chart, eyebrows raised in what I believe is my best "Are you kidding me?" look to date. "It was Newbie's idea to have this little Coming Out Party, nee-hot mine."
"As I recall," she retaliates immediately, "It was technically your idea first. Did you not mention it in a rant a couple of years back, or was Bambi just making that part of the story up?"
I silently curse myself – and Newbie's big mouth – for having forgotten that part of this whole fiasco. Not that I regret letting him know I was okay with him being gay (even if he didn't get that at the time) but did I really have to start the speech out by talking about a party, of all things?
"He's really excited that you're going, you know," Carla adds suddenly.
I give a small grunt in response. I really don't want to do this whole party thing, but I know it would really crush the kid if I didn't show up. And yeah, I'm usually okay with a good crushing. Anybody who works here could tell you that, but all be damned if I wasn't serious when I told him I'd be there.
I just forgot how much I despise parties when I made that promise.
As if on cue, the two sorority sisters come strolling into the hospital. I can't help but wonder what they're doing here, since the both of them took the day off, nor can I help but wonder if their taking the day off together had anything to do with planning for Newbie's party tonight.
I'm about to ask what they're doing when I notice it: a glob of glitter on JD's cheek.
Okay, I don't care if you're straight, gay, bi, transgender, whatever. But no man, I repeat, no man, should choose to voluntarily walk out into public with glitter on his face.
"Hi, Dr. Cox!" he greets cheerily.
I eye his streets to see if there's some kind of corresponding theme that would entice Newbie to put the dreaded stuff on, but from what I can tell, he's wearing your every day t-shirt and jeans. I flick my nose and cross my arms, focusing in on the glob that's slowly driving me insane. I see him back up a step, wary of my annoyance, so I wait as patiently as I can for him to wipe the stuff away.
Nothing? Have it your way then, Newbile One.
Ignoring his look of curiosity driven horror, I give my hand a good lick before bringing it to the side of his face and smearing that nonsense off. It lands on his cheek with a small smack – just enough to remind him to never wear that stuff again without being hard enough to leave an actual mark. Of course, knowing Newbie –
"Ow!" The kid rubs his cheek as he gives me a full on pout, while Gandhi turns to me and glares. "Not cool!" he barks.
"Listen here, Clarice – ever since your coming out, I've seen you grow an actual spine. I don't feel the immediate need to write you out a prescription for a pair of testicles nearly as often as I used to, so don't go ruining that by strolling into this hospital with glitter on your face, of all things. Now I let your coming in here with face paint that one time go with just a warning –"
"I was a cougar."
"But glitter is where I draw the line, understand?"
The kid looks at me for a second, then to my saliva and glitter covered hand. I'm surprised when he grins a little, though I'm fairly relieved by the answer he gives me in response to my latest demand. "I didn't know there was glitter on my face, Dr. Cox. It must've gotten on me at the party store."
Well, that answers my question from earlier. I wipe my palm against the side of my leg, wondering why Newbie is grinning like he just won some long sought after prize. I do my best to ignore the happy-go-lucky look he shoots Carla before responding to his latest comment. "So I'm guessing you two gal pals have the apartment decked out then, huh?"
"Not yet," JD responds. "We were going to go do that right after going to the party store, but Turk told me on the way home that he made some fliers for my Coming Out Party, so we're here to take them down."
"Unbelievable," I mutter in annoyance.
"I haven't seen them anywhere," Carla suddenly pipes up. "Where did you hang them, baby?"
"I only had a little time left after my shift last night, so after finishing up with my patient's C-Section, I hung some up in OBGYN. I'm sorry man," he says, turning his attention back to Newbie. "I honestly thought you'd like them. I mean…it's not that big of a deal if people see them since you're out now anyway, right?"
JD sighs. "Yeah, Turk, I'm out, and if anyone really has seen them, I'm going to tell them the truth, but that doesn't mean I want to publicly announce it to the whole hospital, you know? Let them find out in their own time. Besides, I sort of wanted this party to be just for the people closest to me…"
Maybe it's just my ego, but I'm a little flattered (though not at all surprised) that I'm on the kid's, "People closest to me" list. Not that it matters to me either way, or anything, but still…
"Anyway, we're gonna go take them down," Newbie chimes in again. "See you guys later tonight!"
Carla waves while my hand immediately reaches from the bridge of my nose, eager to massage away the on-coming migraine. I can't help but notice JD giving said appendage another fond look before frolicking off with Gandhi. What the hell?
I look back to Carla once he leaves, only to find that she's also grinning at me; her brown eyes in the know of something I'm clearly just not getting. "What?" I bark irritably.
"You licked your hand to clean JD's cheek."
"Oh, come on, Dr. Cox. You're a parent; you should know this!"
Maybe I really am losing my mind, because I have no idea what's she's talking about.
She shakes her head at me – probably the only person besides Jordan who can get away with that – and presses on. "If Jack has something on his face, what do you do?"
"Wash it. What else?"
Carla rolls her eyes. "Okay, if there's no soap or water available, then what do you do?"
"I lic –" the words aren't even out of my mouth before I feel my eyes bulge with realization. "No," I say firmly, but Carla is smiling from ear to ear now. "No," I repeat again. "I did not mean it like that."
"It's nothing to be embarrassed about, Dr. Cox. Parents act on their parental instincts without realizing it all the time."
My hand goes back to the bridge of my nose and pinches; hard. "I'm going to the kid's party. Isn't that enough for today?"
I can feel more than see Carla's grin turn into a softer, much more sincere smile. "Of course it is, Dr. Cox. It's just nice, you know…to watch you guys after everything's happened. You were…you were there for him when we didn't even know what was going on. It's just nice to see how supportive you've been."
I open my mouth to tell her how that doesn't mean anything. That them not knowing Newbie was gay doesn't make them bad friends, and that me figuring it out doesn't make me some kind super dad, but then another thought hits me, and all of the sudden I'm wondering how Newbie's biological father would have handled all of this; if he would have reacted like I had or how his ex-wife – JD's mother – once reacted. I also can't help but wonder if the kid has thought about the same thing…
I say goodbye to Carla after she reminds me what time the party is before going to the men's room to wash my hands. I had planned on scrubbing till my skin was raw after realizing what it was I did to JD, but, for one reason or another, I stop only once the glitter is off.
In front of Newbie's door, I know I'm the last one to show, since I spotted Barbie's car in the parking lot before coming in. According to Carla, who had seen JD and Milk Dud prance out of the hospital while I was washing my hands, no one had commented on the fliers. I think Bethany was actually a little disappointed that nobody questioned him about it though, since he's ready to answer truthfully to anyone who asks. Still, I like knowing that it's a small group waiting for me in there. Even if they consist mainly of people who annoy me on a daily basis, at least they're people I can maybe-sort-of-kind-of get along with if I ra-heely try.
Inhaling slowly, I raise my hand to the door and knock. Newbie is there in a flash, grinning at me like he's already inhaled wa-ha-ha-hay too much sugar.
"Dr. Cox! You're here!"
I can't help but roll my eyes at this. After everything that's happened so far, did he honestly think I wouldn't show? "I told you I'd be here before you even had this thing planned out, remember?"
"That's true… Still though, you're here!"
"Yes, Newbie, I'm here. How about letting me in then?"
"Oh, um, right…"
My mouth is open to make a quick jab as the kid stands aside to let me in, but I'm cut short as my gaze falls on the various decorations that have been hung around the apartment.
Oh – dear – Lord.
Rainbow colored streamers hang from the ceiling while different colored balloons grace their presence above our heads. Multi-colored confetti is scattered everywhere – the floors, tables, counter tops – while the kitchen counter itself is littered with various trays of food. I'm fairly hesitant to give the appetizers a closer look, my comment about Newbie buying a penis shaped cake suddenly fresh in my mind, but when I do turn to the counter, I'm relieved to see it's just your every day ice cream cake. This too, of course, is decorated with rainbow frosting and sprinkles, not to mention the elegantly written, "Happy Coming Out Party, JD!" on its front.
Of course, I can't help but notice the plate full of sugar cookies shaped like rainbows. You just had to do it, didn't you, Newbie?
"Do you like it?" JD pipes up from behind my shoulder.
I open my mouth to say something, anything, but I honestly don't know how to answer that one. Do I like it? No. No, I do not. Do I dislike it? Not particularly, no. Do I wish I was home right now, milking a bottle of scotch and watching whatever's on ESPN? Yes, yes I do.
"It's…bright," I finally manage.
JD laughs. "Well, what did you expect?"
"To be honest there, Trish, I'm not entirely certain. I'm pretty sure you could start a whole pride parade with what you got going on in here though."
JD laughs, genuinely, and I'm taken slightly off guard by how relieved I am over his reaction. I don't want the kid to crawl back into his cave of denial or think that I've suddenly changed my mind in terms of accepting him, I don't, but I also don't think I could spend the rest of my life walking on egg shells around him either. I don't think I can do that with anybody, to be honest. "I know it's a little over the top," he finally answers, "But c'mon, it's a party! Parties are supposed to be a little crazy."
"Got crazy down," I reply dryly. A new, horrifying thought enters my mind then, and while I'm hesitant to ask, I know that I sort of have to if I'm going to avoid being pulled into them. "Puh-lease tell me there aren't any games," I practically moan.
"We thought about it, but there weren't any games that would work for our group. Well, there weren't any games at the party store that would work for this 'theme' in general, so we ended up going to the sex shop."
Oh dear God, here we go…
"We had to go to the bacherlorette section since they had all the cool penis toys."
For the love of –
"They had a lot of games there, Dr. Cox. There was one called, 'Pin the Junk on the Hunk,' then they had this cool ring toss game where the pole you tossed it on was actually shaped like a penis. Oh! We found all these different party favors there too. It was insane! But the crazy-awesome kind of insane. They had lollipops shaped like penises called, 'The all day suckers,' penis straws, penis pens, and you're not going to believe this one – they had candy necklaces with penises at the end! Those were my favorite. Anyway, they also had some penis –"
"I'm pretty sure I get it there, Newbie…"
"Oh, um…right… Anyway, I decided not to get them since I think it would've been a little too much. That, and I'm pretty sure Turk was getting really uncomfortable and just didn't want to say anything."
I can't help but grin at the mental image of Gandhi looking awkward and out of place in the middle of everything that was just described to me. It almost, almost makes me wish I'd been there to see it, though I won't lie: I'm glad he decided not to go all out. I mean, Barbie and Carla may have gotten a kick out of that crap, but what in the hell would Gumball and I have done?
"I also figured that you and Turk would've been pretty bored if I got that stuff…"
"'Bored,' wasn't the word I was looking for, exactly…"
Newbie gives another small chuckle, and the tension in my shoulders dissipates just slightly. I can't help but notice that, ever since he's come out, my insults don't seem to bother him nearly as much as they used to. Granted, I've been laying off these past couple of weeks, but when I throw him a girls' name or take a jab at his femininity, he doesn't seem too fazed. Besides knowing now what it is that I'm actually making fun of when I decide to just go at it, I think a part of it has to do with him feeling comfortable in his own skin for the first time in what I'm guessing is forever. Don't get me wrong: I can't think of too many things that are more fun than teasing the kid, but at the same time, it's oddly refreshing to see him holding his own and not getting so damn emotional over everything that comes out of my mouth.
Carla walks over to me, all smiles, having just come out of her bedroom with Gandhi. It's not too long after that when Barbie steps out of the bathroom sporting a, "Gay? Fine by me," t-shirt. I can't help but scoff at her apparel, to which she completely blows me away by flipping me off. Without blinking, I send it back to her, and I'm even more surprised when her reaction to that is to smile.
Well hell, who knew Backbone Barbie was so much fun?
The rest of the party is – wait for it – actually not that bad. Despite the insane decorations, party food, and the story that went along with it, the situation itself is just basically your every day get together. We watch a few movies like, "Harvey Milk" and "Saving Face," drink, eat a shit load of pizza, and drink some more. Before I know it, it's five hours later. I get up to get another beer from the kitchen (and yes, another rainbow cookie, but only because JD wouldn't stop pestering me to have one) when I turn around to see Newbie leaning on the counter, staring at me. His skin is flushed from the alcohol, but he's smiling; eyes glazed and happy.
"Can I help you with something there, Jessica?"
"No," he answers softly; a tone I hadn't expected from a fairly tipsy Newbie. "Not because you can't, but because you already have. I know I told you this already, Dr. Cox, but thank you. I'd probably still be deep in denial while awkwardly attempting to ask one of the new nurses out if you hadn't confronted me about…about everything, I guess. I know it's not your comfort zone; I know you don't like doing things like…like what you did for me then; like what you've been doing for me for these past couple of weeks, so I just…thank you, Perry. I really appreciate it."
I nod silently, not quite knowing how to respond to a speech I hadn't expected. "You're okay, Newbie." I'm not even sure what I mean by that. Maybe I meant to say we're okay. Maybe I meant to say that he – we – were always okay; before I knew, before he knew – that none of this is going to change anything, at least not for the worst. I don't know what I'm trying to say, exactly, but it looks like he's filling in the blanks for me as his smile only widens.
We both snap out of it when a sudden knock at the door catches our attention. Newbie wobbles a bit as he pushes himself off of the counter, but he regains his balance long enough to answer the door in a decent amount of time. Of course, by the look of shock that's currently etched onto his expression, I can't help but wonder if he wishes he answered faster or not at all.
From the couch, Carla and Barbie share excited little gasps, while Gandhi seems both surprised and, for one reason or another, guilt stricken. It's not until I notice the bright purple flyer in the hand of the apartment's newest occupant that I understand why.
"Hey, John," Dr. Geryon greets amiably. "Sorry I'm late. I wanted to be here on time, but I thought it'd be pretty unprofessional of me to ask Mrs. Germanotta if she could please push her baby out quicker."
Both Carla and Barbie snort with laughter, and I won't lie to you – I kind of did too.
What I'm really grinning at is Newbie though. His skin is ra-heely red and I know it's not just the alcohol anymore.
"It, uh… The fliers were never supposed to go up, actually. It was kind of, I mean…it was kind of a mistake."
Okay, I know he's nervous, and yes, I know he's a little drunk, but honestly, Charlotte, could you be any less smooth?
I'm pretty sure I hear the girls give an awkward moan in response to Newbie's latest spewage of verbal diarrhea, while Dr. Geryon looks fairly embarrassed himself. "Oh! I, uh…well that makes sense, I suppose. I mean, I found this last night, so, uh, yeah…" He clears his throat awkwardly; free hand making to pull at the rubber band around his pony tail in what I can only assume is a nervous tick. "Well alright then. See you at work, I guess."
He turns to leave, and while I am in no way shape or form any kind of "match-maker," I'm almost tempted to go push the stupid kid out of the door in order to correct his mistake. Thankfully, his senses come back to him before the guy is completely out of his sight. "Wait!" he practically yelps. Dr. Geryon turns around, his expression casual but understandably confused. "It, um…I didn't realize fliers had been put up until earlier today, but that's not a bad thing, you know? I mean, if you still want to come in, y-you can. There's pizza too, if you're hungry…?"
Geryon was already grinning before Newbie even finished trying to invite him back, his words only slurring here and there in the process, which I think made him grin even more.
"I'm starving," he confesses to Susan's latest ramble. "So yeah, pizza sounds great."
Seconds later and Dr. Geryon is being introduced to us by Newbie, which is a little odd, since the kid barely knows him himself. Truth be told, when I had originally gone to the kitchen for another drink, I was also thinking of heading home. Or rather, calling Jordan to see if she could come pick me up on her way back from spending half of my latest paycheck on shoes. But when somebody asks Geryon if he's ever seen "Gray Matters" and he answers that he hasn't (and quite frankly, neither have I) I know I'm in for at least a few more hours.
I take a seat on the couch – Carla on one side and Newbie on the other – while the kid himself is placed in between me and his little crush. I don't miss the excited look he shoots me before the movie begins to play. I chug back my drink in order to hide my grin, realizing what I should've known from the start.
No matter who JD ends up with, he is so going to be the girl.
A/N: I know the second half was a lot different from the first, but I wanted it to end on a funnier, more relaxed note than it's prequel and the first half of Part II; just to kind of show that life for them is returning back to normal, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed the second and final part of this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Until next time!