OKAY SO THIS IS A THING.
This story is like my Frankenstein's creature or something. I started it nearly four years ago; I was thirteen. I don't think it's my best work by far. I think I'm a better writer now- more experienced for one. Most of this chapter is old, though, so it's probably still no great! All the same, I wanted to finish it.
It's not finished yet. There is one more chapter, which WILL BE UPLOADED. Seven days, max. I doubt it'll be that long.
I hope this chapter and the following aren't huge disappointments. I came across the original reviews the other day, and they just... iasiodsjapdas. You guys. I've never known more dedicated or kind reviewers in my life, and I sincerely thank every single person who commented, liked, alerted or even read this story. You're the kind of people that make everything worthwhile. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
They had been talking in a calm, impersonal and balanced fashion for several minutes now, about surgery and cancer and things that mattered more than just a little.
"So surgery sounds like a good option."
"I… guess so."
"Come on. Of course it does."
"Hey, don't get-"
"Oh, would you just have the operation?" Dr Cox cracked, resting his hands on the back of his head. He had never one for composed or relaxed conversation, after all.
"Because I… don't want you to die?" he said in an awkward, slightly questioning tone.
"You can leave if you want." JD laughed softly. These situations were so surreal, he half welcomed the breaks himself. Perry nodded once, and opened the apartment door.
"Where you going?"
"I don't know, probably to stamp on a kitten or something."
JD smiled as Perry left. He was beginning to 'get' how the other man worked, to understand a bit more. He liked that. He was beginning to consider the awkward mini conversations like the one they had just had to be practice for Perry. They were a little like a class in being human. He was passing so far.
It didn't change the fact that JD would have to make a very hard decision very soon. Therapy had come and gone and yielded no answers. He had been politely asked to make a pros and cons of surgery list, which he had attempted doing. It had been impressively pathetic. He pulled out the crumpled piece of paper from behind him and reread it.
I could live.
People won't worry as much.
No more/less therapy!
More time with Perry
Possible future with Perry?
I could die.
Something could go wrong and I could get sicker.
It could turn out to be inoperable.
Perry could not want me anymore.
The one he showed Dr Jones would have all the Perry bits cut out, obviously. He knew the last one was weird, but it had been a sneaking paranoia lately: the fear that when he wasn't at an emotional extreme, Perry would simply lose interest and leave. He had little time for the boring or routine.
"I shouted at an old lady for getting in my way and I feel slightly better." The voice made JD jump.
"No, but I did find five dollars just lying in the street. So all in all I'm good. What are you drawing, Candance? The oh-so-cute prom dress you just have to have?"
JD threw his arms protectively over the paper. "Haha, no. Just some random therapy thing."
"Lemme see, Delilah."
"No!" JD panicked. Perry lunged for it and JD frantically ripped it up. Perry watched calmly ass white and ink blue confetti rained down on the sofa.
"Feel better now?" he asked.
"It was just… um, pros and cons."
"You mean the pro being life and con being death? Tough choice there."
"And we're right back to stage one," JD muttered under his breath.
"Loretta," Perry signed, leaning on the sofa. "I've tried being nasty and I'm trying to be nice. You know where I stand on this whole you-not-dying-via-cancer thing. I hate cancer. It's a bastard. It's a bastard that beats its kids and kicks dogs. I disapprove of cancer and all cancer related activities, including you having it."
"I can't say I'm on its cheerleading team."
"Then kick it in the ass. Get the surgery. You won't die, Gertrude. Nothing bad will happen. It'll just be like… going to sleep for a few hours, and waking up feeling a lot better."
"A chemically induced sleep during which somebody will basically stab me." JD wildly mime-knifed the air to emphasise the point.
"Yeah, it's hardly fun. But the way you are now isn't fun, either." He hesitated for a second. "Get the surgery. I… promise you won't die."
JD grew still and looked at him, eyes full and trusting. "You promise?"
"I promise. I'll be there when it starts and when it ends, and it will end okay. Don't just lie down and agree to die. That's not who you are. So just… get the operation. Please?"
"Okay." Every inch of JD's body screamed that he was saying the wrong thing, being so very wrong. But Perry hadn't ever talked like that before, not with that much emotion. "Okay, I'll get the surgery."
Through the tears filling his eyes, he thought he saw Perry smile. He felt a light pressure against his arm, as Perry attempted to pat him on the shoulder, but decided against it. Instead, he moved away from JD.
"You should just put in a cat flap for me."
"Need to go punch a baby?" JD joked, sniffing.
"Something like that. But… what you said just now?" JD looked up expectantly. "That's probably some of the best news I've ever heard. Don't think I'll ever hear much better, either. Not even if I hear that Bobbo is turning five thousand and getting one step closer to the big goodbye."
"What about Jack being born?" JD laughed, sniffing.
"It's in there somewhere." He waved his hand dismissively. "I'll call your GP later, okay?"
JD nodded, feeling weak and useless, but not caring. Perry left, closing the door gently. JD curled up and went to sleep.
JD wasn't quite sure when Elliot had drifted back into his life, but she had. Maybe she had come around with Turk one day. Maybe she had phoned him. She fit so naturally into the way he lived his life that it felt more unnatural when she wasn't around. Although, the more he thought about it, the more it was the same with all the friends he had. For the first time in a long time, he was surrounded by people who cared for him: who he cared for equally, and who he kept no secrets from.
"What's he like in bed, then?" Elliot asked casually one night, opening a bottle of beer. JD stared.
"Elliot!" Carla reprimanded. Then turned to him and said "Okay, tell us."
"I will leave!" Turk threatened, looking a little fearful.
"Leave then, we wanna know." Carla leant forward.
"Guys, no. We haven't even… done that." JD insisted.
"Yet," Elliot grinned.
"Yeah, well…" JD muttered, trying not to blush.
"Spoilsport. Well, what have you done?" Carla probed.
"Please, I never asked how far you and Turk went!"
Mainly because he told me before I could even wonder. Turk shot him a look that kept him from expressing this thought out loud.
"Oh come on, JD, lighten up!" Elliot laughed.
"I bet Dr Cox is angry," Carla mused. "Ooh, I'll bet he's into violent stuff."
"I wonder what'd happen if you slapped him?" Elliot pondered. "It might turn him on."
"Try tying him up!"
"Or you could just hit him with a lamp." Everybody stared at Elliot. "What? Barry once had a boyfriend who-"
"Okay, definitely leaving," Turk announced as he stood up.
"Coming with you!" JD followed him, before tripping over a piece of flicked up carpet and falling to the ground. Everybody laughed as he hit the ground, and despite the extra pain in his limbs, he had to grin. It was so very good to feel normal again.
"Freaking out about the operation?" Perry asked, passing JD a cup of coffee that he accepted gratefully.
"Just a lot."
"How far off is it?" JD shot him a look. "Fine, three weeks. Right?"
"I'm just glad they gave me time to prepare myself. Dr Collin rocks like that."
Dr Collin was JD's new doctor. He wore half-moon glasses and a bad toupee that wobbled whenever he frantically scribbled notes. JD couldn't look at him without wanting to burst out laughing. It lightened meetings, and that suited JD fairly well.
Perry had come to the last appointment. JD had nearly fainted from shock when Perry had calmly walked in, explained that he was JD's brother and looked at the doctor as if to challenge him to question it. He hadn't, and Perry had actually stayed fairly respectful through the entire thing. He had insulted the doctor subtly several times and 'accidently' smacked his notes out of his hand twice, but that was pretty good going for someone like Dr Cox.
"I have an idea," Perry declared. "I imagine that you will find it amazing, because everything I do is amazing."
"You're Einstein with better hair," JD said sarcastically. "Go on."
"Didn't Jones tell you to do some stupid 'Ten Regrets' list?"
"Probably." JD mused. "It was a while ago, though."
"He did, you've whined about it before. So go and fetch it."
"What? Why? I'm not even sure where it is."
"Just look for it. You will see eventually. Trust me, I'm always right."
With a sigh and a grumble, JD wandered off to his room. He upturned a few folders and shifted a few files, and eventually found a torn and dirtied draft of the Ten Regrets list. He wandered back through holding it.
"Yes?" he said expectantly.
"Put it on the table."
"Oh, God. This isn't another expedition into 'niceness', is it?"
"It may very well be. So shut your face, Melissa, and just let me read your stupid goddamn girly hopes and dreams."
"Doing well so far," JD remarked, throwing the paper onto the table and curling up on the sofa. He watched as Perry read it. What had he even written on that stupid list? There had been something about Australia… something about Dan… and oh. Colour drained slowly from JD's face as he remembered some of the more person aspects.
"Actually, I'd rather you didn't-" he started to ask, panic building.
"Shut it. Number ten can be considered irrelevant."
Ahh, yes, the famously unfinished. Never told Dr Cox I-
"'Completed' is probably a better way of phrasing it."
"Fair enough," the other man grunted. "As for the rest, we'll go through them one by one."
"What are we doing?" JD complained.
"You're afraid you might die in surgery. Here is a list of ten- nine things you will regret not doing if you die in surgery. Let's get them done, and then you have nothing to fear. Make sense?"
"Not really. Half of those things weren't even serious."
"Good, less to do. Now, number one." He cleared his throat. "Never got married".
"I don't think we can do that in three weeks."
"And I'm not sure you can marry a man."
"And I'm not sure white wouldn't make your ass look big. I'm not marrying you, Fiona."
"I'm not asking you to. So why are we doing this?"
"We just are. So marriage is kind of out. Is that a big problem?"
"I… I don't know," JD admitted.
"So what's changed? This was one of the most important things to you once. Decided wedding cake has too many calories? Or would Barbie just scratch your eyes out if you got married before she did?"
"I honestly don't know. I just don't think that it matters to me that much anymore. Think I can change it?"
"It's your list, Doris," Perry remarked, handing JD the sheet back. He scrabbled around for a pen, before crossing it out and writing on
'Was never in a long term relationship'.
"Define long term?" Perry asked. "I know everything must seem long term compared to the two day relationships you have with various men in pubs, but it's nice to get perspective on these things."
"I don't know, a year? A few years? And that's not doable in three weeks."
"No, but… we're doing alright, aren't we?" Something in JD's stomach flipped over. "I mean, I don't see it ending any time soon. So that one could work out. Anyway, number two." JD thought it best not to comment. "Never fell in love."
"That one can be crossed off." JD said quietly, not making eye contact.
"Crossed off like 'not doing it', or crossed off like 'done it'?"
"Second one." Nobody spoke as the pen scratched a neat line through number two.
"Okay, so three." Perry continued. "Never had kids".
"See, that isn't doable either."
"And that bothers you?"
"I don't know. I guess it's like the marriage thing. I'd never really thought about it before and I don't want to think about it now. I think… maybe it felt more likely something I should do than something I wanted to do, you know? Maybe I'm too immature for kids, or maybe being Izzy's godfather is good enough. I don't know. But right now it doesn't matter to me."
"Fair enough, ladyface. I'm just crossing that one off completely, then." JD nodded.
"Never perfected victory dance?" JD asked, items coming back to him.
"Indeed, and you are so girlish I'm mildly concerned you're growing breasts." He peered as if trying to see down JD's top, who crossed his arms and glared like an annoyed woman in a bar. "Who's the guy that teaches you that stuff?"
"The heavyset orderly?" JD nodded. "He's still at the hospital. I'll tell him to come around next week."
"You'd ask him for me?"
"I didn't say ask," Perry said grimly. "Okay, halfway through. Never went to Australia. Can't do that in three weeks, but you can certainly do it. People like to throw money at sick people. It makes them feel better about themselves. You can bet we'll have that done by the end of the year."
Do not comment on the use of 'we'.
"Never learned to like scotch," Perry grinned, and JD suddenly felt very unnerved. "We will begin work on that as soon as your health is alright. I would water it down but I'd have to get a sex change first. I'm a man. I take my scotch straight, with a shot of Tabasco or sulphuric acid if I can."
"I'll keep that in mind," JD commented dryly.
"Okay, now the next two I can get behind. Punching Dan and Keith seem like very good ideas."
"You know, I don't actually think I have a problem with Dan anymore," JD said, surprised.
"What the hell brought that on? He's such an annoying, girly manchild he actually makes you seem a productive member of society."
"Probably best not to punch him then, if he makes me look good. And I don't know. Maybe this has all shown me how much I need my family?"
"He has no idea you're ill."
"Yeah, but he's still family."
Perry ended up sadly scribbling it off. "And Keith?"
"Oh no, I'm still up for that."
"Excellent. Last one. Never 'came out'." He looked at JD in a very knowing way. "Really?"
"What? What's wrong with that?" JD asked defensively.
"Everybody already knows, for one."
"That isn't true."
"Well I know, Carla knows, Barbie knows- even your heterosexual life partner knows. Who else is there left to tell?"
"I guess you have a point," JD said slowly.
"Of course I do. So the only ones you actually have to do are go to Australia, do the victory dance, get drunk most days and punch Keith. You could probably do all four at the same time if you really wanted."
JD looked at Perry, smiling. "What? Oh no, come on. Don't do the girlish smile at me, Mercedes." JD leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips. Perry froze for a minute, and JD braced himself for a punch. Instead, Perry just glared.
"Still such an incredible little girl." Then, to JD's shock, he kissed him back.
"Took it back?" JD asked, confused.
"No, it just turns out I like little girls." Perry paused as he realised what he had said. JD began to laugh. "Stop it! No, stop! I- I will cut you, Newbie!"
"Pop the hips, JD! Pop the hips!"
"I'm trying, Roland!"
"You sure are," Roland muttered, glancing over at Perry. He waved from the doorway in a mildly menacing way. It was only two weeks until the operation.
"I'm not sure this is going to-" Roland began. Perry did not look impressed. He straightened up and flexed his fingers. Roland gulped.
"Wait- wait, that's right! That's amazing, JD!" Roland suddenly started to exclaim.
"Really?" JD gasped.
"Of course! Wow, that's even better than mine."
"I know, right? It's the hand movements that really carry mine home." JD continued to proudly display what resembled an octopus having an epileptic seizure. Perry mimed clapping at Roland, and announced that it was time for him to leave.
"I have glasses. I'm not alright with giving you alcohol right now, Marigold, so here is apple juice." Perry explained.
"Okay, so you just said like ten things I didn't understand," JD looked up from the book he had been quietly reading before Perry's entrance.
"I meant, Sunshine, that whilst you need to learn to like scotch at some time, it can be a bit violent for a…"
"I was going to say toddler, but that works too. 'A person with cancer' would also have been an option. Right now I'd rather not get you drunk, amusing as I'm sure it is. I imagine you fall over crying about a boy who dumped you twenty years ago and try to have sex with a lamppost."
"I do get handsy," JD admitted. Perry had a Vietnam style flashback of the disastrous night in the pub right before JD confessed about the cancer. He decided to deal with it how he dealt with everything he didn't like thinking about- supress it, and move on. He placed the two glasses down neatly on the coffee table.
"We are going to practice 'downing' things. This apple juice has a fairly strong taste and even looks a bit like scotch. You are going to knock it back like a bitch, okay?"
"I thought you didn't like apple juice?" JD questioned, taking the glass that was held out.
"I don't. Mine is scotch."
It was only a week until the surgery. Seven days. Crap. JD tried to block it out by gulping down the apple juice in one go as he had been instructed. It went down the wrong pipe and he started choking and spluttering. Perry looked over, smiled smugly, and poured himself another drink.
"You'll get the hang of it, Rachel. We've got all the time in the world for practice."
"I'm going to get out of the car, and you're going to get out of the car five minutes later. Do you understand?"
"I guess so." JD said. He was deathly white. He clutched at the seat as if he was going to be ripped away from it.
"If you aren't out in that time, I'm going to come out and get you. Otherwise I'll be hanging around, pretending to do work. Okay?"
"Okay," JD gulped.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm trying to remember a movie I once watched on how to hot-wire an engine so that I can drive the car out of here. And possibly into a lake."
"Thatta girl. See you soon."
JD felt like sulking, but the sense of dread squashing him overpowered it. He was going to have surgery today. Surgery. He got nervous watching operation scenes on TV, for God's sake. Why the hell was he agreeing to this? The only thing making him willing to do it was Perry.
Perry, who refused to even enter the hospital at the same time with him. Perry, who wouldn't be seen with him.
JD checked the face of his watch, trying to stop shaking so he could see the numbers. 2:37. Three minutes until he went in after Pe- Dr Cox. He was under strict instructions to say 'Dr Cox' if he had no choice but to address the man for some incredibly important reason.
He turned on the radio, but people nearby looked and he quickly shut it off again. It's a hospital, he told himself. You won't stick out. There are hundreds of cancer patients here.
Yes, but how about gay cancer patients who had quit their jobs without telling anyone, disappear for weeks and who was actually date the meanest doctor in the place, before coming back for surgery?
… maybe I can just hide in the trunk.
It was 2:39. Why wouldn't time slow down? There was no point in putting it off much longer, but he still waited every agonising second tick by until the time flickered to '2.40'. JD took a deep breath and slowly opened the car door.
"Is that Dr Dorian?"
"JD? Hey, JD!"
"No, it can't be! He's gotten so skinny."
"And that hair! JD would never let himself get hair like that."
"No, guys, look at his eyes. You can tell he's Dr Dorian."
"No, look at the way he's scampering after Dr Cox. That's how you tell he's Dr Dorian." Perry scowled at the giggling nurses, who didn't seem particularly upset.
"Hi," a shaky voice said, almost too quiet to hear. Dr Cox nodded slightly in acknowledgement.
"How you doing?" he muttered back, suddenly finding great interest in his clipboard.
"Kinda crapping myself." JD tried to laugh, but he couldn't pull it off.
"Kiss!" a random intern yelled. Dr Cox looked up to shoot him a glare from the deaths of hell itself. The man looked physically wounded, and scuttled off. There were few seconds of incredibly awkward silence. Dr Cox glanced up to see JD suddenly looking pissed.
"You're ashamed, aren't you?"
"Dear God, Melinda, is this really the time?"
"I might not have much longer." The weight of the sentence hit them both. "I didn't think you cared of what people thought of you," he said, voice shaking with fear and anger.
"All the secrecy about… well, us. I thought I'd be okay with it."
"But I'm not. It just doesn't make any sense. I thought you didn't give a shit what people thought."
"Just because I don't feel the need to suck face in public like a desperate sixteen year old-" The silence was incriminating, so he changed track. "I don't know. This is just different".
"Oh come on, Rachel, don't be like that."
"I… I came here." JD began. "I came to this hospital. Not St. Giles. Because I wanted to show you that I don't care. I managed to get transferred to Sacred Heart because I wanted to prove that I was ready to stop hiding, stop pretending. I guess that's just a lesson you still need to learn. If you'll excuse me-" JD took a deep breath, and finally looked Dr Cox in the eyes. "I have a surgeon to meet."
He had taken a few steps when he heard a voice shout "Newbie!" He spun around, waiting for insults or an apology or… Dr Cox was calmly but firmly holding Keith by the arm.
"You forgot something," he said, some kind of light dancing in his eyes. Slowly and deliberately, Dr Cox extended his other hand and took hold of JD's.
"I don't know if I'm doing the right thing," he muttered. "And I'm not about to pretend that this feels comfortable or that I'm not panicking inside, but I'm going to do it anyway because it's what right. You get that?"
JD nodded, smile spreading over his face. There wasn't much else he could do.
"Um, fellas- did you need me for something?" Keith asked, puzzled.
"I'm very sorry, Keith." JD said apologetically, before drawing his fist back.
"You need to work on your punches."
"I'm sure you have much experience. Possibly with nuns or orphans."
"Both. And a unicorn."
"How dare you."
"You know, this is probably the weirdest conversation anybody has ever had in this situation." Turk commented.
"Well this is hardly a normal situation," Dr Cox argued. "Sharon's going to go get those annoying little tumours out in a few minutes time. Anything that relaxes her has got to be a plus."
"I can hear you, you know." JD scowled.
"Oh, lie back down, Kate. And pull your gown down, the thong is showing."
JD glared, but adjusted his gown anyway. The trolley was as hard as the doctor's table had been all those months ago, and it rattled as they pushed him to the theatre.
"Yes, I'm sure that abuse is known for being a great relaxant," JD said. "What's wrong with soothing music and massage?"
"Okay, nobody is massaging anything while I'm around," Turk proclaimed. "It's unhygienic."
"Oh Gandhi, did you have to go there?" Dr Cox winced.
"I think I did," he said apologetically. They reached a set of doors. "This is as you can go, sorry."
"You're kidding me."
"Come on, man, it's hospital rules."
"I'm pretty sure there's a rule against putting hats on coma patients and posing with them for Facebook pictures too, but we've all done that."
"Yeah, well. I'm not sure it'd be a good idea for you," Turk said, quietly enough that JD had to strain to hear it.
"Why the hell not?"
"It can be upsetting. To see a friend or a… whatever go through something like that. I mean, it'll all go fine, but-"
"But nothing, Gandharella. I told him I'd be in there and I'm sticking by that, you understand?" They were talking about JD like he wasn't there again, but it didn't matter quite so much this time around. Dr Cox got his way (as usual), and soon JD found himself staring at the ceiling as an anaesthetist prepared things nearby. He could feel himself beginning to hyperventilate, nerves firing overtime and brain running a thousand horrific scenarios.
"Hey." A familiar calloused hand pressed down on his arm. "I'm here, okay? I'm not going anywhere."
"Okay," JD whispered, still seriously debating just getting up and running.
"Yeah, it is. It's going to be okay." And Perry remained there, solid and dependable, his hand still anchoring JD to reality as the smiling woman turned to him. She explained that he was going to need to count down from ten, all the way down to one. It was only ten seconds, but they could be his last ten. That would have been a fully terrifying moment, utterly consuming, if not for the one tiny part of him that began mentally humming The Final Countdown.
Well, that was life, he guessed. Even in all the angst and the pain, there was always something worth smiling about.
Looking over at Perry, a familiar emotion tugged at his heart. And as he looked around and saw Turk smiling reassuringly behind his mask, and Elliot and Carla sat watching, he felt his whole self begin to relax a little.
Sometimes, if you were lucky in life, you smiled even more than you cried and the good outweighed the pain. There are not many men with cancer who believe themselves to be blessed; but in that moment, JD did.
"I'm just going to put this mask on you now, JD. It's going to be fine, and you just need to breathe in deeply," the woman told him, and JD twisted frantically on the table to look Perry in the eye.
"I love you," he said out loud, not caring if anybody heard it. And then the mask was descending on his face, and he breathed in sweet air and began to count backwards, trying to stay as calm as he could. Ten… nine… eight… seven…
The world was growing dim and fuzzy, and JD found that his eyes did not want to stay open. Perry held his gaze as his muscles slowly relaxed, and his eyes began to close. It was only when JD reached four that he got a reply.
"Same here, kid," the whisper came, as JD's world grew black and sleep enfolded him.