The Janitor shuffled his feet, waiting for Scooter to snap out of his trance. He was no doctor, but he deduced that the yellowing of JD's eyes was not a good sign. For lack of anything else to do, he extracted the penny from his breast pocket and rolled it between his fingers.
"Do me a favor?" JD inquired, breaking the silence abruptly. He swiped at the end of his nose. "My cell is over there." He pointed at the rolling nightstand.
The Janitor nodded. He spotted the chunky silver device and grabbed it, then placed it gingerly in JD's outstretched hand. Normally, he'd toss it in the doctor's general direction and hope it left a visible bruise. But there was something about that hospital bed that made JD look even more vulnerable and defenseless than ever. And not in a good way, either.
"Thanks." JD pressed two glowing buttons and then lifted the phone to his left ear, a distant look in his jaundiced eyes.
"Hello?" Chris Turk answered, separating the word into two distinct syllables.
"It's JD." There wasn't time for pleasantries anymore.
Beat. "Hey, buddy. What's up?"
JD's mind raced for a moment. He really should have prepared before he dialed; he had no idea how to break the news to Turk. In fact, now that he was on the line, JD wished he hadn't called at all.
"You there?" Turk faltered.
JD inhaled deeply. "I'm in hepatic failure, Turk." He fingered the itchy hospital blanket and willed the tears from his eyes.
After several moments of stunned silence, Turk cleared his throat and tried to speak. Nothing came out. He didn't have multitudes of medical knowledge, but he knew enough. JD was terminal. He probably had a day or so left, depending on how long it took him to call.
"I contracted Hepatitis B from a patient a while back," JD explained, steeling himself. "The symptoms took a while to kick in, but that's normal." There was no turning back now. "There's no way I'm getting a transplant with a chronic condition." He would let Turk figure out the rest.
Fortunately, at this moment, the surgeon found his voice. "I'll be right there." He was about to press the END button when it dawned on him: Carla had the car at the hospital. Turk lifted the phone back to his ear. "Wait, JD! You still there?"
JD still had the phone pressed to his ear. "Yeah."
"Can you ask Carla to come pick me up? I'd call a cab, but I spent-"
"Carla's not here," JD cut him off unceremoniously. He gnawed on his lower lip for a moment. "I mean, I haven't seen her in a while. And you know Carla."
Turk nodded arbitrarily, understanding his implication; it wasn't like the Den Mother to be elsewhere in the building while one of her cubs was in danger. "Well, I haven't seen her either." He rubbed a hand over his face. "I'll call her. And if she can't, I'll get Elliot to come pick me up."
A half-formed smile lighted on JD's lips. "Thanks, buddy." He released the blanket from his grasp. "I'll see you when you get here." His tone sounded lukewarm at the most, but it was the best he could muster.
"Fair enough," Turk deadpanned, then hung up the phone.
In an apartment several blocks away, Carla Espinosa rolled over in bed. She rubbed at her eyes and then stretched out an arm until her fingers met cool, soft flesh. Turk always wears t-shirts to bed, she thought. Where am I? Who is this?
Perry's back muscles rippled at the touch. He took a shuddery yawn and rolled over onto his back, catching Carla's hand in his own. His eyes remained closed, his mouth unsmiling. "'Mornin'," he drawled.
Carla's breath caught in her throat. Abruptly, she slipped from beneath the sheets, exposing her bare form to the midmorning sunlight. She tugged her hand from Perry's grip and practically leaped out of bed. "C'mon, up. We gotta go to the hospital." Carla plucked her phone from the nightstand, studying the back-lit rectangular display on the front. Three missed calls, which she decided to deal with later; she had bigger fish to fry.
Perry shifted onto his side, propping his head full of tangled curls on his fist.
Unaware that he was watching intently, Carla scanned the floor until she spotted her bra and panties in a lacey heap. She yanked them on unceremoniously, then glanced over at Perry. Her hand was already at her hip, her mouth open to reprimand, when his face came into focus.
Perry's steely blue eyes were rimmed in red, underscored with violet bags. His freckles stood out starkly from his pale skin. His hair was flat and unkept, and his mouth was twisted in a troubled frown.
Carla pulled the previous day's lavender scrubs on, now fully conscious of her audience. She padded over to the other side of the bed, and Perry rolled onto his back, his eyes never leaving her. Wordlessly, Carla bent over him, studying his desolate half-closed eyes. "Sweetie," she whispered.
He blinked, trapping his lower lip between his teeth. It wasn't as if he hadn't heard her use this epithet before, but it had so much more meaning today. Today, it meant it's not your fault. It meant I'm sorry. It meant I'd do anything to take away your pain, even if it meant taking it upon myself.
With a slightly tremulous hand, Carla tenderly stroked his hair. "I have to go," she told him, but made no immediate physical effort to live up to her words. She had never experienced such a strong desire to split herself in two. At this moment, gun to her head, she couldn't have decided who needed her more; the doctor lying in bed at the hospital, or the doctor lying in bed beside her.
Perry felt himself nod. He closed his eyes and waited for the gentle pressure of her lips on his cheek, then the slight elevation of the mattress in response to her departure.
Carla tugged on her sneakers. She searched the floor for her purse, only to remember that she'd left it at the hospital along with the car. All she had was her cell phone, which she plucked out of her pants' pocket, realizing now that she'd have to call a cab. "You call me if you need anything," she told him. It wasn't so much an offer as it was a command.
At the sound of her voice, Perry opened his eyes. "Will do."
Carla gave him one last long, concerned look, then turned on her heel before she could change her mind.
Perry used her pillow to muffle the click of the deadbolt, inhaling the quickly-departing smell of her perfume.