My Last Straw

(c)2007 gekizetsu

________________

Hold the phone: are you suggesting that if I sleep with him, that I won't have to deal with problems like this? Because I'm seriously considering taking that hit. I mean, honestly, what is he like in post-game? Is there spooning? Because I don't spoon, I'm not a spooner.
(Dr. Cox re: JD, 4.06
"My Cake")


Three weeks after ‘My Cake’, JD takes issue with the above. Predictable angst and smut ensue. 10,500 words, NC-17 for said smut and random cursing. Also rated wtf for hitting a generally funny sitcom with a big smut/angst stick. Smut/angst sticks are for sale in the fandom store in seven popular colors for only $19.95, for ages 18 and over. Use only as directed.


Disclaimer: NBC owns it, Bill Lawrence owns it; gekizetsu sullies it.



* * *


Three weeks later, after things had started to even out a little, Elliot recounted her conversation with Dr. Cox to JD.

 

“I mean, all he has to do is loosen up a little sometimes, right? It’s not that difficult. You really needed him and I know he eventually came over to your apartment and hung out with you and then you all talked about your dad, that was okay, but it took so much to get him there, why can’t he just take that first step and be nice about something occasionally as a first step and not a last?”


Sometimes Elliot forgot to breathe. He imagined her beginning to shrink; she slowly deflated as all the air she’d ever breathed was depleted from her very cells. That led to inappropriate thoughts about having to reinflate her. His mind jumped back to the present only because she started another sentence with and then Dr. Cox said.


“...I can’t believe this, sometimes the rudest things come out of his mouth, all I did was ask him to give you a hug, right? That’s all I did, and then he said ‘you give him a hug’ and I was all ‘hello, we just broke up again and I’m trying to be supportive but not start things up, he might take it the wrong way and he’s got enough to deal with right now’ or something like that, I don’t think I said that much, really, but you know how it is sometimes and there are things you wanted to say but didn’t at the time and you think about it later and you wish you had said the other thing? Anyway, he said, ‘so if I sleep with him, then I don’t have to deal with things like this? Because I’m seriously considering taking that hit’. That’s when I walked away, I had totally had enough of him and his...oh my god he’s so rude. Anyway, as I was walking away he was still talking like usual and he said ‘what’s he like, post-game? Is there spooning? Because I don’t spoon’. I swear, that’s what he said.”


JD had been mildly enthralled with Elliot’s imitation of Dr. Cox, because it was funny. But then the words actually began to sink in and he realized he had a problem. Something very, very odd had just been suggested to him second hand, and the mental image it produced was brief and had him backpedaling away from it at light speed. But. It lodged in there. It was stuck, and he was stuck with it.


He wished Elliot had kept it all to herself, for once.


“JD? Hey, JD. Aren’t you listening?”


“Yeah,” JD said. “Sorry. I just, uh...I need coffee. I’m kind of dragging, today.”


After that, he couldn’t think of anything else except the words seriously considering taking that hit.


After it had rattled around in his head for nearly twenty four hours, he got tired of hearing it and trying to avoid Dr. Cox. He couldn’t look at the guy, for awhile. That was the safest thing to do, just avoid him.


He wasn’t sure how it made him feel, exactly, and in the end, that was what pushed him to lose his mind and echo the words back even though he hadn’t planned to.


So when he walked into one of the lounges and found him dozing on the couch with his head hanging over the back and his feet on the table, JD snapped.


“‘Seriously considering taking that hit’?” JD said. “Goddamnit, I can believe you actually said that, too.”


“I don’t know what you’re raving about this time, Des’ree, but I’m busy contemplating my navel, and it’s soooo-ho-ho much more interesting than whatever is worrying you today.” Cox remained sitting with his feet up and his head tipped back. He didn’t even open his eyes.


“You told Elliot you’d be willing to sleep with me to get rid of me,” JD said, infusing it with more emotion than he’d intended.“That’s a really big step up the asshole ladder, even for you.” 


Well. He was rapidly beginning to understand exactly how he felt about it.


Cox’s eyes snapped open, but he remained very still. His expression was one of crazed anger, which was even more unsettling when viewed upside down.


“I’ll bet you don’t even remember saying it,” JD said. “Just another one of those really damn clever things you spout, when you’re trying to get someone to leave you alone, because driving people off is really important to you. ‘Seriously considering taking that hit’? You’ll say anything.”


He had really, really not meant to let his voice crack on the last word.


Cox sat up, putting his feet on the floor, but he didn’t rise or turn. JD stilled an urge to run even though he’d been the one to start the confrontation. His knees were on the verge of spilling him to the floor, and the anger that had fueled him that far abruptly ran out.


“Not everything is funny,” JD said. “Even I know that.”


Then he did run. He tried to think of it as speed walking. The feeling of dread that had suddenly struck him at the thought of hearing anything Cox would say in response overwhelmed him. He’d said at least some of what he’d meant to say, but not how he’d meant to say it. It had all sounded so reasonable in his head.


He was willing to admit that he’d been pretty emotional over the last several weeks.


And maybe he was blowing things out of proportion.


Kind of late by then, though.


He didn’t hear him coming, and even on tennis shoes he really should have heard someone that big coming. The guy was like a freakin’ mountain lion or something, sneaking up and attacking people like that.


JD watched the world spin unexpectedly in a blur, and then his back was against the corridor wall and there was a large hand splayed in the center of his chest.


“Enya,” Dr. Cox said with deliberate enunciation, “...of all the incredibly patronizing and yet true things I’ve said to you over the last four years, that’s the one that sticks out?” He dropped his hand suddenly, and JD figured the look on his face must have been as odd as it felt. “You’re finally insulted on behalf of your dubious manhood? Barbie manages to chitter and wail out a very special version of one of my greatest hits while sharing hair care tips with you and that anthropomorphized rat’s nest on your head, and it’s just now producing a bush league hissy fit?”


JD shoved by him and kept walking down the hallway.


“That’s perfect, Aahliyah,” Cox yelled after him. “Good for you, real mature.”


JD spun around and came back without even wanting to. “Mature? From you, that’s great. Great. You ask Elliot what I’m like post-game and you’re...” He clenched his fists and made a frustrated shaking motion with them in midair that caused Cox to swipe his nose with a thumb and cross his arms over his chest. JD pointed at him. “This is bullshit. Me and Elliot are none of your business, and you go out of your way to...” he paused again, that time for a palms-up plea to the ceiling. “Jesus, and that’s the second time you’ve made the ‘spooning’ crack. Other people have boundaries too, you know! Not just you! I’m sick of you making fun of everything.”


“You’re sick of me making fun of you,” Cox said. “You twit, just say it.”


JD couldn’t tell if Cox was angry or just baiting him, and he didn’t care. He was busy seeing red.


“Call me a girl,” JD said. “Go ahead. I don’t give a shit. But don’t write checks with your...don’t mouth...goddamnit!”


“The phrase is ‘your mouth’s writing checks that your ass can’t cash’,” Cox said, leaning against the wall as if he was in for the long haul. “You think so, Newbie?”


JD knew that tone. It was challenge and warning and completely serious; but for once it made JD think the same things he’d thought when Elliot was recounting her version of the original transgression. He was close to really screwing up, and he knew it, but he felt like he couldn’t stop. He just couldn’t stop. He wasn’t even sure why he was so angry over something that was, in the greater scheme of things, just another low blow.


“I know so. You want me to leave you alone that badly? Fine, no problem. Consider it done.” JD began to walk away again, shoulders hunched in defensive anger.


“I’ve been begging you to leave me alone for four years, and this is all it took?” Cox said. “I’d have said it straight to your face if I’d have known, Lorelei. Don’t do me any favors.”


JD ignored him. Externally, anyway. He kept walking until he’d made a circuit of the wing. He passed the Janitor at one point, and for the first time, the guy actually backed off at the look JD threw him.


Cox continued leaning against the wall for nearly a full minute. The look on his face, had she seen it, would have caused even Jordan to cower.


* * *


They did not speak again for four days.


There was no ranting. There were no girl’s names. Taking it as the sign of slow-boiling rage that it probably was, everybody avoided Dr. Cox except for brief chart consultation or rounds.


When JD’s hangdog expression went on for the same length of time, it wasn’t hard for Turk and Carla to make the connection.


* * *


Day four and counting


“Dude, are you fighting with him again?” Turk said at lunch, shoving his tray onto the table and dropping into a chair. “I can’t believe you let him get to you, ever.”


“Not fighting,” JD said, poking at a plate of fries. “Not gonna argue with him anymore. No big deal.”


“Looks like a big deal,” Carla said. “He won’t even talk to me, and I’ve tried to get damn near anything out of him.”


“It’s not like we were friends,” JD said without looking up. “He’s a good doctor with a lousy bedside manner, and I gotta work with him. That’s all.”


Turk put his fork down and stared at JD. His eyes darted between him and Carla, who looked similarly alarmed. “You still talking about Dr. Cox? ‘Cause that don’t sound like something you would say about a guy you’ve been following around for so long. You’re obsessed with that guy and you always have been.”


“See, that’s just it,” JD said. “I don’t need a mentor, or a dad. I didn’t need the one I had, you know? It’s time I got past it. Time to grow up.” He left the table suddenly, pushing away. “Turk, eat my fries, huh? I’ll see you guys later.”


Turk and Carla stared at each other for a long moment. “This is not good,” Carla said.


Turk shrugged. “He’ll get over it and be right back to himself by this time next week. He can’t pout for that long. It’s not in his nature. The man is a master at bouncing back.”


Carla watched over Turk’s shoulder as Dr. Cox stormed into the cafeteria, glowered around for a moment, then snarled and stormed back out.


“Whatever it is, it’s gonna be messy,” Carla said.


“Please, baby, whatever you do? Stay out of it. Let them figure it out. They wanna talk, they’ll talk. Or rant. Or duel with spoons. Whatever.”


Carla wasn’t so sure.


* * *


Having spent way too much time hiding on the roof, JD took a shot at doing some paperwork at the table in the lounge that afternoon, well after any soaps were over. It was an odd time to be in there, so he was alone after Elliot spent several minutes trying to get him to comment on any of the latest gossip, up to and including that he and Dr. Cox were fighting.


“You have to be closer than fifty feet in order to fight with somebody,” JD said. “Unless you’re on the phone. Seriously, no fighting is going on, here.”


Elliot blew her hair out of her face. “What’d he say to you? After everything he’s ever said and done or threatened to do, what did he do this time?”


It’s more like, what did you say, JD thought, even though he knew it wasn’t fair. If it hadn’t been that particular jab that acted as the final straw, it would have been something else. Sooner or later, he would have had enough of the same old routine, of being belittled and shot down, no matter how grateful he was for the times Cox had really been there for him.


Liar, it was that one thing, that one rant too far, and you won’t even admit it.         


“It was nothing. He keeps yelling at me to stay away from him, so I’m staying away. Damn, it only took me four years to catch on.”


“JD, is this about your dad?” she said gently. “I know it was really hard on you...and then, we broke up just before that, and maybe it was all just too –“


“Elliot,” he said. “Please. I appreciate what you’re trying to do. Nothing’s going on, okay? I’m following orders, like usual, and it’ll all be good after awhile. I’m fine. It’s all very boring.”


She looked at him as if he was delusional. “Yeah...liar. I’m gonna go stand up to my mom and tell her how I really feel about all her soul-crushing criticism.”


“Really?” JD said, perking up.


“No. I’m just a lying liar like you.”


She huffed away.


He sighed and went back to his paperwork. He had three orders to write up for tests, a battery of insurance referrals, and two charts to update. And he was only on break for fifteen minutes. Ten, now that Elliot was gone. If he concentrated very hard on what he was supposed to be doing, everything else faded into the background again and it wasn’t so much like he’d lost something too good to go on without.


There was a heavy footfall in the doorway behind him. He didn’t look.


“All right. I give up. What the hell do you want from me?”


Oh, man. Dr. Cox sounded mad.


JD refused to look at him, even if it was against every instinct he had. He wanted to be able to see the guy coming, but, he wanted even more to pretend to be unaffected. “I said I’d leave you alone. This is me, leaving you alone. So unless it’s patient-related, feel free to blow it out your ass. Perry.”


He figured a body cast wouldn’t be that hard to live with, for awhile. Maybe he could choose the color. Plus, nothing but pudding and Gilmore Girls for several weeks! It was a win, all the way around. Wait...the Janitor. The Janitor would come by, and stick things to his forehead or into the open toes of his cast. That wasn’t good.


He heard movement, but it wasn’t in his direction so he kept flipping through the chart in his lap and not seeing a bit of it. He really wanted to jump up and yell you’re talking to me again, this is great, even if it’s to yell at me! Let’s be friends!


It would have been his job to do it; it was what Cox probably expected him to do. So he couldn’t, this time.


There was silence, the kind that told him there was no one behind him anymore. He gave it another few seconds, then glanced around. He was alone.


He purposely tried to ignore the small tremble in his hands, or the way his heart was jumping.


Am I 1)that scared of him, 2)that scared of disappointing him, or 3)that scared of doing without him? 


Why did he walk away? Why doesn’t he care enough to push me into talking to him?


That last part was childish, and he knew it. But it seemed like a valid question, even if he kept telling himself he really didn’t want to deal with a big confrontation. They could just keep away and leave each other alone, and it would be best in the long run. It was just the routine of having each other around that they’d have to overcome.


He cared enough about him to do what he wanted and just leave him alone.


That’s what he told himself.


* * *


Day five and counting


“DJ!”


JD slumped with dread. He wished he had a catch-word like Elliot did that would allow him to express moments like that in a way that would truly capture his frustration. Frick wouldn’t do it, though. What he was thinking had many, many more syllables.


He spun on one heel and tried to look pleasant. “Jordan, you’re gorgeous as usual.”


“Can it, weasel-boy.” She came to a stop in front of him, standing a little too close and folding her arms. “What have you done to Perry? Any mention of you – even if it’s the wrong nickname – has his head spinning around like Linda Blair.”


“Oh, well,” JD said with the beginnings of a false grin, “I can fix that: don’t talk about me. Ever. For any reason. Not that you get that bored, I mean.”


What? Why would she be mentioning me? How would I come up in conversation? Is she just asking him how I am because she’s trying to start something, or is it just small talk? Has he said something? Is he really that upset?


She snapped her fingers in front of his nose to get his obviously waning attention back, then looked him up and down appreciatively. “Finally got a little waltz in your step, Matilda? Good for you. Now cut it out and go back to worshiping him like the good little lapdog that you are, and we’ll all be happy.”


JD snorted. “Thanks, but I’ll pass. He’s made it clear that he’s had all the worship he can take.” He started to step around her.


She blocked him. “Worship’s addictive,” she said. “And, Perry in withdrawal is not pretty. So at least give him an occasional fix, huh, Dr. Feelgood?”


JD looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “You do it. In fact, pick out a couple of interns to do it. They’re easy to train. He can call them all the girl’s names he wants to. I’m a dime a dozen.”


He walked away then. He had to, or he was going to start asking her questions that would make him sound like a silly little kid and give her yet another chance to mock him into the floor.


“You own him, you know,” she said.


He stopped. She sounded sincere, so he didn’t dare turn to look at her. It was a crazy thing for her to say, in so many ways.


“Whatever he did, there’s no way it’s any worse than anything else he’s done,” she said. “Cut him some slack, junior. Grow up and get over it.”


“That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said, and kept walking.


* * *


Day six and counting


Nobody was going to leave him alone.


Everyone wanted to talk to him about it. JD knew no one was crazy enough to try and talk to Dr. Cox about it (except Elliot and Carla) so he was the likely target. Why the hell anybody cared was a source of serious confusion, at first.


Carla was waiting for him when he walked in the front doors the next morning.


“Bambi,” she said. “Talk to him. You’re both miserable. That alone should tell you all you need to know. He says one thing when he means the other a lot of the time, so whatever he said or did, it doesn’t mean anything. He cares about you. Stop trying to make him show you in ways you can understand.”


JD shook his head and shrugged. “Look, Carla, I’m sorry. I drive him nuts, and I can’t get past his giant crunchy outer shell. We’re too different, and even I know when to give up. I’m tired of driving him nuts. He’s just pissed because he’s got no one to yell at who’ll take it as well as I do.”


“But the rest of us get to suffer, too,” she said. “The two of you unhappy at the same time is like some kind of...I don’t know, hole in the ozone layer or something equally bad for the entire world. Stop this, stop it now, or I’m going to tie you together in a small room somewhere until you’re both behaving like yourselves.”


JD felt a winner of a blush begin and did everything he could to stomp on it. “Uh...nope, that’s not gonna work. Trust me.”


She narrowed her eyes at him.


“The more attention you give this, the worse it’ll get,” JD said. “Really. Just let it all go. He’ll get over it. He can get over anything.”


“What about you?” Carla said, eyes still narrowed.


JD gave her one of his best smiles, one of the smiles he doled out when he was trying to convince everybody that goodness would prevail and chocolate would fix everything.


“Not buying it,” she said.


JD grinned with genuine excitement. “What if I give you a steep discount? I’ll even throw in a set of steak knives. The ones that can actually cut cans and stuff. That actually worked, you know. Me and Turk had a set in college, and we cut a whole metal garbage can in half.”


Janitor walked by and hit JD in the back of the knees with his mop. “Why don’t you and Angry Doctor kiss and make up, already?”


“Jesus, not you, too,” JD said, rolling away from the counter and heading for the locker room. “You kiss him. I don’t feel suicidal today.”


Carla looked up at the Janitor. “You go easy on him, he’s having a bad time.”


The Janitor made an annoyed face. “Scooter brings it on himself.”


* * *


Day seven and counting


Frick on a stick, JD!” Elliot shouted as she slammed into the on-call room. “What the hell is wrong with you!”


JD opened one eye to stare at her. He’d almost been asleep. “Where d’you want me to start?”


“You told Dr. Cox that I said to you what he said when I said to hug you!”


JD closed the one eye again with a groan. “I’m sad that that makes sense.”


“Is that what you’re so upset about?” Elliot said.


“You were upset about it first,” JD said. “C’mon, I’m on call. Let me sleep, I’m tired of this whole thing and I don’t care anymore.”


“I should never have told you!” Elliot cried. “You stopped talking to each other right after I told you about that! No wonder he’s been meaner to me than usual! I mean, for that, besides the fact that you two are fighting. Which is really mean, you know.”


“That’s terrible,” JD said around the sudden and inexplicable lump in his throat, “and I’d love to hear the whole thing and kind of sympathize with you, but I’ve been awake for....” He looked at his watch. “I don’t know, 800 hours? I’ve lost the ability to tell time.”


“I can’t believe this is my fault,” Elliot said in a sad, slightly whiny voice that heralded her own patented brand of stress. She sank down on the edge of the bunk.


JD sat up and braced his hands behind himself. “Elliot. It’s not. Really. There’s nothing to feel guilty over, because nothing’s actually happened.”


“How can you say that?” Elliot said. “He’s like...I don’t know why most of the time, but you really adore him even if he’s such a jerk. He’s still really great underneath, I know, even though he only shows it like once a year. You guys are almost a pair, not like you and Turk, but you go together really well, and....” Her eyes widened.


“Please stop describing me and Dr. Cox like a married couple,” JD said in a dread-filled whisper.


“JD, are you...”


“You finish that sentence, and I’ll put this pillow over your face,” JD said. “I really want it under my head, so please, just go. Okay? Go.”


“Do you want me to call you a girl’s name so you don’t miss him so much?” Elliot said.


“OUT!” JD shouted. “OUT, NOW!”


* * *


Day eight and counting


And on the eighth day, JD rested.


He was more than ready for a day off. He didn’t have to worry about dodging anyone, or having awkward conversations, or pretending everything was fine.


He laid in bed longer than he meant to. He was just so tired.


It hadn’t been that big of a deal, really. It was actually kind of funny, Dr. Cox offering to sleep with him so he could break up with him and then not have to hug him. Somehow, it had become all about the fallout and not about the real problem.


Hey, what’s the real problem?


He could start a whole argument about respect, and blah blah blah, it would be a total joke and really hypocritical after all this time. He didn’t care about that. He knew who and how Cox was. He’d just hit some sort of tripwire in his own psyche and then gone Chernobyl. It wasn’t about standing up for himself or reaching a point where he was tired of how the same scenario played out over and over. He bounced around like a puppy; Cox ranted at him; lather, rinse, repeat. Except now, he’d broken the cycle, and after awhile Cox would ignore him completely.


It’s what I wanted, right?


Then why does it feel like such a loss?


The lump was back in his throat, and he felt the sting of tears beginning to gather.


He got up and pulled on a t-shirt that didn’t even come close to matching his boxers, and went to make coffee before hopping in the shower.


He was right, it wasn’t as if they’d been friends. Not in any conventional sense. He wasn’t sure what they’d been to each other, exactly. That was the best reason of all to back away from it.


Wasn’t like Cox would ever talk to him again, not willingly. If JD changed his mind about being angry now, he’d end up apologizing for being angry when none of it was his fault anyway. He was tired of doing stuff like that, of being that person. And for what? To go back to being constantly belittled?


But he’s so...great.


“So what?” JD said aloud, washing his hair. “What’s it matter?”


Then he burst into tears.


He was getting kind of tired of not seeing things coming, so crying annoyed him a little.


He’s right, I am a girl.


Mostly that just made him lean his head against the tiles and cry harder.


Lather, rinse, repeat.


* * *


The strangest part about it was not the fact that he was standing outside the kid’s door. It was the fact that it was still morning and he hadn’t been drinking, and was still standing outside the kid’s door anyway. Carla and Gandhi were at work and he didn’t have to worry about witnesses.


The fact that he also had no idea what the hell he really meant to do now that he was there was actually the most negligible part of the whole thing. Talk? Not likely. He wasn’t feeling like having a heart to heart. He’d finally done it, and he knew it – he’d finally driven JD off. He was supposed to feel a little more relieved about it and a little less like someone had kicked him in the gut with both feet. He wasn’t there to apologize or try and make up; he was really there to make sure there was nothing left. And if there was, to kill it off, because God knew they were both better off. He’d finally get some goddamn peace, and JD could run off and be his goofy kid-on-a-sugar-high self without having someone trying to squash his enthusiasm on a daily basis.


Yeah. Putting the last nail in the coffin. That’s all he was doing.


JD was likely home – the scooter was out there, and if JD was out walking, Cox had no problem waiting for him.


Ambushing, you mean.


Fine. Ambushing.


He was also comfortable just opening the kid’s door and going right in, because either that lock didn’t work right or JD didn’t bother locking it at all. In either case, it wasn’t smart. It wasn’t Cox’s problem anymore, though, had never really been his problem. JD would have to figure out why unlocked doors were bad, all on his own.


Finding him asleep in bed with still-damp hair and fresh tear tracks on his face was worse than he expected.


The kid looked like someone had run over that dead dog of his. Maybe that’s all it was. No way he’d have put this much emotion and energy into someone who did nothing but shove him away with both hands.


I’m not sure which one of us is worse.


He kicked the bed. The kid went on sleeping. He could do that, anywhere, through damn near anything; Cox had once caught him leaning against the open doorway of a patient’s room, chart still in one hand and a pen ready to make a notation in the other. Hadn’t even dropped the chart when Cox had whistled at him.


Whatcha doin’, there, Constance? Checking the cheat sheet on the inside of your eyelids?


I was envisioning a new paradigm for corporate healthcare.


Smartass. 


Back to adding that last nail to the coffin, then.


He kicked off his shoes and tossed his jacket on the floor, then climbed onto the bed. JD was turned onto one side, arms held in tight, hair sticking up every which way and falling in his eyes. It was longer than he usually let it get; he’d had a rotten month, after all. Cox straddled JD’s hips, arms folded across his chest, trying to decide if it would be funnier to wait until JD woke up on his own, or to scare the daylights out of him.


Daylights. Definitely daylights.


He whistled, loud and sharp, one he usually reserved for anybody that was too far down a hall for him to shout at.


Years of being trained to jump at the sound of that whistle caused JD to startle awake and lift his head as if he was in the on-call room and needed to get going. He blinked at the contents of his own bedroom in sleepy confusion.


Cox clapped his hands together once, getting his attention. “There ya go, Sleeping Beauty.”


JD’s eyes were suddenly wide and close to panic. “What the hell are you doing?” He dropped his eyes automatically to Cox’s crotch before traveling back up to about mid-chest. Cox watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed nervously, watched the beginnings of a blush color his cheekbones and the bridge of his nose.


“Can’t seem to get you to hold still any other way,” Cox said. “Didn’t even have to sleep with you to get rid of you, right, Newbie? Pretty damn easy.”


JD seemed to be trying desperately to get his eyes to move back to Cox’s face. “Yeah, I let you off real easy,” he said softly, face suddenly falling into a pout. “So, good for you. Get out.” He grabbed a pillow and put it over his own head.


Cox whipped the pillow away. It landed on the other side of the room, knocking over a pile of CDs.


JD twisted until he was on his back, eyes darkening. “What the hell do you want? A signed declaration? You don’t have to put up with me anymore. Be happy.”


Cox folded his arms across his chest again with a smirk. “Oh, I am,” he said. “Or at least I’m not huddling in my bed like a little girl, crying my eyes out because someone who’s never been my friend, not even for five minutes, was mean to me.”


JD automatically wiped at his face, an expression of annoyance and embarrassment crossing it. “Don’t assume it’s about you,” he snapped. “And even if it is, it’s not about mean and you goddamn well know it. You’re mean every day. Nobody cares. Can’t you just go away?”


Cox scrunched his face into a mocking grimace. “Waaah, I’m JD, nobody loves me, from my silly hair to my bird-like bones to my complete inability to grow up and fend for myself. Go ahead and pout over the little things, Christa, it’s exactly what I expect from you anyway. Don’t for one minute think anybody is actually paying attention to your little bout of PMS, though, since it’s just like every other bout you seem to have, twenty times a month, including the bloating and the mood swings and the chocolate cravings – “


“You’re almost done, right?” JD said, face turned to one side. “Don’t you get tired of trying to come up with bigger insults?”


Cox leaned in and dropped his voice. “You don’t have to lay there and listen, now, do ya, Gwen?”


JD looked up at him and shivered.


Cox tilted his head a little.


And there ya go. He got it. A wounded and overemotional JD, plus badly repressed and confused feelings for certain people, plus the wrong suggestion at a bad time equaled...


Wide, panicked blue eyes and a very tense body between his knees. JD’s eyes were centered right in the middle of his chest again, and the kid looked absolutely horrified.


At first he’d meant to be joking when he’d said he’d sleep with JD, and then didn’t care how it was all taken. In the end – and this was the end – it all came down to one thing:


He’d never run across anyone who wanted him so badly, to the exclusion of their own dignity and common sense, their happiness. It was either very misguided and adorably sad, or it was the tagline of a serious mental illness.


It was still too hard to pass up, no matter how he felt about who it was and what it entailed. The who wasn’t much of a problem, if he was honest, and the what had been done before. It was the goddamn worship, the unabashed adoration that hooked him and made him plant his hands on either side of JD’s head and lean in until his face was too close to the other man’s.


“You just now figuring this out, Doris?” he said, dropping his voice to its lowest register.


JD laced his fingers across his own chest and panted through his nose. “You have to go,” he said, and it came out so shallow and cowed that Cox wanted to laugh. Oh, they should have been drunk for this, at least, to have something to really blame it on later. But God (and anybody else who wanted to chip in) help him, the need in the kid’s face was such a turn-on.


Cox slid a hand into JD’s hair, under his head, registering how silky it was at the nape of his neck, pressing, causing JD to arch his neck and drop his head back. JD’s eyes squeezed shut but there wasn’t even a hint of resistance, not even when he brought a hand up to grip Cox’s shoulder. Cox used his free hand to pin JD’s wrist to the bed, and JD’s hips jerked beneath him.


This was so, so messed up, but oh, that was just irresistible. The kid was damn near going to come from the idea alone.


“Look at me,” Cox said. “Hey.” He whistled, and JD’s eyes snapped open again, dark blue and stunned. “You say the word at any time, and we’re done, here. I’m not gonna ask you. You understand?”


JD nodded.


Say it.


“Yes,” JD said, low and breathless, and Cox felt his body respond. All he had to do now was get the kid to beg a little and it was a done deal.


“You ever do this before?” he said, and he could tell by the look on JD’s face that he understood the question. With a guy. The blush was back in full force when JD shook his head.


“Aw, Newbie,” Cox sighed. “You –“


JD slipped his hand free and leaned up off the bed, grabbing Cox’s face and pressing his lips to his. Cox wrapped one arm around his back in response and kissed back, rougher than he meant to, one hand still in JD’s hair, gripping. Soft, warm mouth like he’d always suspected, damn good kisser, used to not always having the upper hand. Then he pressed JD down into the bed with his hips and JD tore his mouth free with a gasp and wrapped his legs around Cox’s waist.


“Shit,” Cox whispered against the skin of JD’s throat, resting his weight on JD long enough to slide his hands under the kid’s shirt and strip it off him. “Not wasting time here, are we.”


JD’s only answer was a huff of breath when Cox pressed an open mouth against his throat, then a low moan when it became a bite. He’d expected JD to be babbling his head off, because when wasn’t he babbling? He braced his knees to sit up a little and slid his hands along JD’s hips, lightly tapping at one of JD’s thighs to get him to relax enough to let Cox get his boxers off. He took the opportunity to get his own shirt off, pitching it to one side.


JD was watching him, still looking shocked, but there was a hell of a lot of other stuff going on in his eyes. Naked and aroused and slender and tousled, waiting for him.


Cox grabbed him by the hips and tugged him down the bed a little, letting the show of force register in JD’s eyes before he wrapped his hands around the kid’s head and kissed him again, wet and wide open. JD splayed out beneath him, willing and pliant, startling with another moan when Cox ran his hands over him, thumbs purposely brushing nipples, fingernails dragging over the pale skin of his hips, one hand straying far enough to wrap around his erection.


JD stiffened, but not to stop him; he dug his heels into the mattress and bucked his hips, hands finding Cox’s shoulders and holding on. There was a keening moan to go with it when Cox began to stroke him roughly, thumb brushing over the tip on every other stroke, lowering his mouth to close over one nipple.


“Oh, God, yes,” JD whispered, and he tangled his fingers into the curls at the back of Cox’s head. Cox planted a series of soft bites along JD’s ribs, trailing downward, feeling JD’s breathing pick up.


Cox knew it wasn’t so much the technique that was getting the response. It was more who and not how.


He watched JD brace himself up on his elbows in time to see Cox slide his tongue down, down –


JD grabbed the sheets in convulsive hands when he came, whimpering and shuddering into Cox’s suddenly slick and tightening grasp.


Way too fast, but things had been building between them for a long time.


Cox didn’t let go of him for a moment, stroking him through the contractions, watching him gasp for air with head thrown back. JD slumped into the bed again, dazed, lips bruised and parted, and Cox finally realized how much of a mistake the whole thing really was. He was accustomed to fucking up his own life, he was an expert at it, but his own words to Elliot bit him in the ass then and there, harder than he’d expected.


Post-game Newbie was beautiful in the weak mid-morning light, loose and relaxed, dark hair and blue eyes and full mouth. Fucking beautiful.


He wiped his hand on the sheets and flipped him over onto his stomach, parting his thighs, watching him brace his palms against the bed.


“Don’t move,” Cox said, listening to how hoarse his own voice was. No point trying to hide it; he wanted this badly by then but he’d be damned if he’d say so beyond accidentally giving himself away. He slapped JD on the ass, hard enough to startle him but not leave a mark, then leaned over his bare back and whispered against the back of his neck. “Now’s the time to run for it, if you’re going to, Newbie.”


No,” JD said, breathless, but his voice was emphatic enough to make Cox believe it. “You’re not afraid to fuck me, are you?”


Cox growled and slapped his ass again, then unzipped his jeans to give himself a little more room. “Where’s a good girl like you keep the condoms, Cassandra?”


“Where the hell does anybody keep them?” JD said, but instead of the sarcasm that words like that should have come with, there was honest curiosity. He was, after all, JD.


Cox snorted with laughter and reached over him to the nightstand, rifling around in the single drawer and finding gum, rubber bands, magnets, antacids, a candy bracelet, pencils, Lifesavers, buttons, post-its...condoms and lube.


“You are something else, Elsie,” Cox said, and there was a note of amused approval in it. He backed away, off the bed, and stripped the rest of the way, opening one foil packet with his teeth. “You want to see something amazing, you better look now,” he said.


JD twisted a little to look over his shoulder, eyes sweeping along Cox’s body with thinly veiled lust and something worse, something that made Cox wish he hadn’t been so flippant or let him look at all. That adoration was back, framed in a dreamy and half-lidded daze of sated amazement.


“If this is all I get, it’s worth it,” JD said.


Oh, that had to go by ignored.


Cox made JD watch him roll the condom on, and JD’s eyes widened in the beginnings of hesitation. He didn’t move, though. Cox straddled his thighs again, realizing he had to get things moving if he was going to take advantage of the kid’s post-orgasmic high.


“This’s probably gonna hurt,” Cox said. “And then it won’t.”


“Fucking romantic,” JD said, and there were the beginnings of a tremble in his voice. Cox slapped his ass again, a little harder that time, and JD hissed. He popped the cap off the lube, making sure JD heard it, then placed one knee between JD’s already open thighs and pushed them wider. JD had propped himself up on his elbows again, breath held, head hanging between his tense shoulders.


“Relax, JD,” Cox said, voice serious, leaning over his back to let his breath ghost along the younger man’s spine, warming the lube between his fingers before pressing a knuckle against JD’s opening. “I’m a doctor.”


There was an explosion of laughter from JD, and Cox pressed a finger in, searching. JD tensed out of instinct, giving Cox a chance to realize that the kid was so tight that getting in there was going to be unreal. He brought his open mouth down on the smooth skin of JD’s back, eliciting a surprised intake of breath and diverting his attention long enough to slip a second finger in deep. When JD startled that time it was because Cox had found that sweet spot on the second try.


“Oh, damn,” JD whispered, pushing back against that hand. “That’s...oh, damn.”


“Just breathe and let it happen,” Cox said. “Won’t hurt any worse than anything else I’ve ever done to you.”


Oh, where the fuck did that come from? he thought. That was not, not not not normal.  


Luckily, JD snorted, probably thinking it was more sarcasm. It choked off into a moan, though, when Cox reached under and pressed his other hand flat and low against JD’s abdomen in a caress. Cox twisted his fingers carefully before adding a third. JD gasped but didn’t tense, forearms braced against the mattress, hair just brushing against the sheets, hands palms-up and fingers loosely curled. Trust. Way too much of it.


Cox would never get rid of him, no matter what he did, and he’d shown him some of his worst. This was loyalty he couldn’t shake.


It drove him crazy.


He removed his fingers, ignoring JD’s gasp as he gripped his hips and pulled him up and back, lining himself up, pressing in just enough –


To his credit, JD didn’t tense up, but the white knuckles and the held breath said everything.


“Give it a moment,” Cox said through clenched teeth, and it was more a warning to himself than to JD. There were going to be finger-shaped bruises on the kid’s hips later on, and he didn’t feel any guilt over it. The alternative was to give in to the urge to slam right into him, something he wasn’t willing to do.


He’d never been stupid enough to say I’m not going to hurt you.


Once he’d caught his breath, he pushed in further, turning it into one long, smooth slide as he leaned over to press his chest to JD’s back. JD was shaking by then but still not breathing, so Cox reached around and spread one hand flat against JD’s abdomen again. He kissed along one shoulder, hand moving back far enough to find JD already half-hard again. He drew fingertips along the underside of the kid’s dick and was rewarded with a harsh intake of breath that he took advantage of, shifting until he was all the way in.


His turn to hold his breath. So, so good.


JD clenched around him suddenly, testing.


Cox arched, pressing harder, grinding his hips in a tight circle. He pulled back just a little and adjusted the angle, waiting for JD to let him know –


Oh holy god!


Yeah, something like that. He began to thrust, fast and deep, and a stream of obscenity came out of JD that Cox never would have thought him capable of. Most of it didn’t make any sense, which was probably best. It was easy to find a quick rhythm that way; JD seemed to fit just so against him, falling into the same pattern. It was going to be over too quick, but that was on purpose; there was this one bit of time that was never going to be repeated. He was going to get it out of his system and move on.


Cox felt his balls drawing up tight and he wrapped JD’s cock in one fist and squeezed.


JD came even harder than he had the first time, and louder, pushing back and shouting. Cox gripped his hips hard again and let it all go, pounding in with rough, uneven motions before grunting in relief. He continued to thrust as JD spasmed around him, slowing and collapsing mostly on top of the younger man.


All they did for a long minute was breathe. Cox was caressing JD’s ribs with the backs of his fingers without even realizing he was doing it, listening to the other man hum in contentment. Cox was careful when he rolled, gently disengaging and disposing of the condom.


Neither of them had had any control, and that really tried to tell him something, except he was ignoring it.


He laid there next to him, also ignoring the fact that the kid was an inch away because he was trying to get out of the rapidly drying evidence that he’d come twice.


He was afraid to look at JD, and he ignored that, too. If he turned his head, he’d see it again, how gorgeous the kid was like this, and there was no point. JD was going to fall asleep and Cox would just leave, and they’d never deal with each other ag –


The clumsiest person he knew was suddenly straddling him in one quick, easy motion, reversing their roles from earlier. He was sleepy eyes and quirky smile and hair damp with sweat, half-lit by the window. Cox could only stare.


“Carla threatened to tie us together in a small room if I didn’t start talking to you again,” JD said.


Cox laughed. He had to.


Then JD was leaning in and pressing his lips to the center of Cox’s chest in what looked and felt too much like supplication; then he was rubbing the side of his face along one pec like a cat, hands trailing along ribs, thumbs making gentle circles. Shoulders, biceps, elbows, each spot caressed and inspected as if JD was cataloguing him. There was reverence in the way fingertips trailed over ribs and palms traced musculature, mapping, memorizing. Thumbs along hipbones, lips following. Cox had folded his hands behind his head and watched, doing fine with his default detachment until then, unable to suppress a shiver. JD grinned against one thigh, and it was all Cox could do not to flick his ear in response. This was not how things were supposed to go. JD was supposed to have had some sort of fit by then, about Jordan finding out, or about whether this meant he was gay, or about where it would all lead, what should he do next, did Cox think he was a good kisser. There was nothing neurotic about what was going on, and that could only mean one thing:


Newbie had already had this daydream, in full technicolor, complete with little hearts doodled around the edges.


He had not drifted away into one of his patented and nearly narcoleptic fantasy trips once during the whole thing. He had stayed right in the moment the whole time. That had to be a first. Not that he was going to ask Barbie.


JD’s face was serious but so full of amazement that Cox just laid there and took it without saying anything for once. A scar on one knee he’d picked up in college, the dusting of reddish hair on his shins, the shape of his ankles: JD wasn’t missing anything. There wasn’t anything even remotely clinical about it. He was not being investigated by the hands of a doctor, just then.


It was gratifying, to say the least.


JD sat on his knees at the bottom of the bed and stared at him, and for once there was no expectation in his face. It was likely because of that that Cox made a small motion with one hand, c’mon, and flipped JD’s comforter over the both of them when JD settled in alongside with his head resting on Cox’s shoulder.


“I –“


“I’ll kill you if you say a single word right now,” Cox said softly. But he also tangled a hand into JD’s hair.


* * *


When he awoke to a brief moment of disorientation an hour or so later, it was dispelled by soft hair trailing along his skin as JD lifted his head.


Without questioning himself, and before JD could even look at him, he had the kid on his back beneath him.


They started all over again.


* * *


Day one and counting


He didn’t look at him. He didn’t talk to him. Dr. Cox was going to behave like everything was normal, and so was he. Because really, everything was normal. Except for the part about having sex.


That didn’t mean anything. No way that meant anything. He should not automatically assume that it meant anything.


He is ticklish just above the knee. I should not know that. I like knowing that.


There should have been a lot of tension, but it was as if someone had finally given the lines a little slack for once. The tension that was there was...well, calling it sexual tension didn’t fit, since, if he thought about it, that was part of the problem before only he hadn’t known it. This was something else. They weren’t really friends and not really lovers and not really anything else he could think of. And it was okay. Not putting him in an exact mental compartment was okay. They were different.


Dr. Cox whistled at him and berated him and ordered him around. Carla was glad to see them ‘talking’, but she kept staring at JD with that same suspicious, narrow-eyed look, as if she was just about to realize something, so he avoided her for a bit. Elliot found something else to feel guilty about. Turk was busy and didn’t have time for more than trading a couple of sad attempts at quoting rap lyrics (JD didn’t mention that Elliot had taught him most of it).


At one point, just before lunch, JD passed behind doctor Cox on his way to another patient. Cox was making notes on a chart and grumbling to himself, leaning on a supply cart.


Oh shit. Jordan.


If he kept walking, she would maybe leave him out of whatever snark she had stored up since the last time she’d seen him. He wasn’t sure he was in any condition to deal with her, and/or her and Cox in the same space just yet –


I am not a homewrecker, dammit!


Jordan started to pass him, then paused. Her gaze traveled from him to Cox and back. The smallest of smiles quirked one corner of her mouth. “Oh, good for you,” she said, then began to applaud. “Finally. I was afraid I was going to have to tie you two together in a closet or something.”


Cox growled in her direction but didn’t look at her. “Move along, Medusa.”


JD’s eyes were wide. He was trying to figure out why everybody was coming up with the idea of tying them together.


“Your fanclub’s fun, isn’t he?” Jordan said, looking directly at Cox. “Much too easy to wind up, and quick on the trigger, but oh, wow, fun. C’mon, now that we’ve both done him, we should compare notes.”


Cox waved her away without looking at her, but his nostrils were flaring and the muscles in his jaw were visible.


“Boys are so entertaining,” Jordan sighed to the ceiling. She looked at JD, and he’d never seen a more smug expression in his life. “I’ll bet you got the shock of your little life. Perry can teach you how to hang in there a lot longer if you can just keep from coming every time he so much as looks at you.”

 

Cox brought his hands down on the cart hard enough to make JD jump. There was a grimace masquerading as a grin to go with the I’m going to kill you laugh as he turned. “Aw, Jordan. I can’t get enough of this, I really can’t, but I’m sure you’re going to miss the deadline to get that next issue of the little newsletter you run from Hell out on the stands. Your minions must just be chomping at the bit.”


“Oh, sweetie, I’m just happy for you both,” she said. “Bring him home. We’ll drop Jack at my mom’s, and make a DJ sandwich.”


JD’s eyes rolled up in his head and his head hit the wall behind him audibly. He’d backed up until the wall stopped him, chart held down over his groin. He knew, he just knew, if he blushed any harder he was going to burst into flames, like those people who combusted for no reason and left a pile of ash behind. And no one was going to put him out. The mental picture that had assaulted him while Jordan was speaking was one he really couldn’t put away.


Jordan had far too much laughter in her voice when she said, “Newbie, come.”


Cox whistled at him. When JD’s eyes fluttered open, the older doctor was scarlet with anger and Jordan was still smirking in his peripheral vision. Cox jerked a thumb down the hall, and JD went. Quickly.


He didn’t hear the rest of what went on, and he didn’t want to. He was glad there hadn’t been an aud –


Wait.


He stopped in the middle of the hallway. There hadn’t been an audience. Jordan didn’t do anything without one. So she really was happy about it. Or at least satisfied. Like she’d planned it, or something.


You own him.


Man, she was one strange, complicated woman.


Don’t think about sandwiches.


He took off, needing to be anywhere but there.


* * *


Day two and counting


Don’t look at him. Don’t look at him. Don’t say anything. ohmigod this is worse than last week when we hated each other. Sort of.


Okay, but when he’d done that one thing, the third time, with his hips, and....


Don’t look at him, don’t think about it.


* * *


Day three and counting


“Man, what is going on with you?”


“Nothing,” JD said without looking at Turk. They were in the cafeteria, and he was feeling around on the floor for his change. “Everything is cool.” 


“You been droppin’ stuff all day,” Turk said.


Cox was one table away, out of Turk’s sight, smirking as he stared pointedly at JD’s mouth.


Jordan sat at a table just behind Cox, deliberately eating a sandwich.


* * *


Day four and counting


He had no idea what the hell was really going on, and he wasn’t going to ask, so he ended up on the roof again.


He sucked at hiding anything from his friends, he couldn’t look Cox in the eye, and the sun was out. So. Roof.


He had his elbows on the cement retaining wall that had never kept Ted from trying to jump, looking out over the trees and blanking his mind for awhile.


Someone kicked the door open and let it slam shut, and he didn’t glance back to see who it was. Feet crunched across the gravel of the rolled roof, then paused within arm’s length. He closed his eyes when that someone braced their elbows along the wall as well. He didn’t need to look. He knew how Perry smelled


(before, during and after, and don’t forget he’s ticklish just above the knees)


...so he didn’t need to look. It was okay to hold his breath, though, since he didn’t know what was coming, he rarely did with this guy, and that was part of what was good about all of it.


“I see you haven’t managed to breathe a word of anything to your clique, Lulu,” Cox said. “That has to be a first, what with your penchant for blabbing every tiny detail of your entire real and imaginary lives, even if the former barely exists. I figured there would have been a puppet show by now. Couldn’t find a sock big enough to represent me?”


JD smiled a little but still didn’t look at him.


“I’ve given you several days to have one of your patented freakouts, Newbie. Unless of course this is your version of catatonia.”


“So what exactly did you come over for, that morning?” JD said.


“Make sure we were on the same page,” Cox said.


JD couldn’t keep from blushing. “Uh...yeah.”


Cox’s voice was suddenly low and serious. “This isn’t gonna end well, JD. You get that, right? This is already a mess – look how we got here.”


“I love you,” JD said. He sounded like the declaration was a shock to him. He did turn his head and look, then.


Cox opened his mouth, and the look on his face told JD what the content of the tirade was likely to be before a single word came out. JD pointed a finger at him and said, “Shut up. It doesn’t require your approval or your participation, okay?”


Cox snapped his mouth shut again, and there was a look of mild interest on his face to replace the annoyance.


JD settled down again, both elbows back on the retaining wall.


After a long minute, Cox said, “Okay.”


JD wasn’t about to ask him which part of the preceding he was specifically referencing. It didn’t matter all that much.


“I’m not freaking out about this,” JD said. “It’s not about you being a guy, it’s about you being you. I can’t even completely figure out why I can’t leave you alone. I mean, yeah, I wanna be the caliber of doctor that you are. I want to be that smart, and collected, and able to tell the world to go to hell. I want to be as brave as you are and still care as much as you do. I don’t want to be you, though. Even if you’re fascinating.”


Cox looked at him. “‘Fascinating’,” he said.


JD smirked and looked away.


“You really are an idiot, sometimes,” Cox said.


“I know,” JD said. “Look...it’s not just one thing. It’s everything. You’re just...who you are. It’s the whole mixed up jackass sundae.” He paused. “We can pretend it never happened. I don’t mind.” He paused to tilt his head. “Well, I kind of do, it was...you’re...when you....”


His eyes dimmed, and he drifted away.


Cox whistled and startled him back.


“I miss you so much,” JD blurted.


He turned and walked away. It had been a dumb thing to say, and there weren’t many responses he could expect after that outside of gosh, Lucy, does this mean we’re going steady? 


It was a replay of that first real fight in the hallway outside the lounge, with JD being slammed up against the wall. This time, though, those hands were on his head instead of shoving him, and he was getting the kiss of his life. Right on the damn roof. He opened right up to it, breath and taste and oh, so good and none of it ever quite close enough. He was panting by the time it broke, trying to lock his knees to keep them from buckling. When he opened his eyes, Cox was right there, arms braced on either side of his head. Smirking.


“Gosh, Lucy, does this mean we’re going steady?”


JD blinked at him in surprise for a moment. Then he grinned. “Do I get to wear your jacket?”


Cox flicked him on the ear and walked away. “No, Newbie. Now be a good girl and get back to work.”


* * *


Day forty six and counting


It goes on a hell of a lot longer than either of them thought it could; it’s almost too easy.


When no one’s looking, Cox slaps JD’s ass.


The look on the kid’s face is always worth it, right along with the blush that comes immediately after.



* * * * * * * * * *