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Year One: August

              If someone had asked Perry where he would meet the love of his life, his first choice wouldn’t have exactly been the grocery store.  The same could be said for JD, but as it so happened, fate had other ideas.  They both wandered into the same grocery store, a few blocks away from Sacred Heart, about twenty minutes apart.  JD arrived first and made a beeline for the chip aisle.  Despite having good intentions, he just couldn’t seem to remember what Turk had wanted: Cheez-Its or Cheese Nips?  He knew he should have listened to Turk and made a list, but he couldn’t give him the satisfaction of saying he was right.  It was for that reason that he was staring so intently at multitude of options before him.  Turk had requested he go out and get provisions for the two-man party they had planned.  For JD, the party signaled their last weekend before they began their internships at Sacred Heart Hospital.  For Turk, the party was for some sports game that weekend that JD really didn’t care about. 

              Perry grabbed a shopping basket as he strolled into the grocery store, with a short list in mind of minor things he needed to pick up.  He threw a few items in the basket, held firmly in the crook of his arm, before meandering his way into the chip aisle.  Instantly, he spotted JD, who was still staring pensively at the boxes of crackers and looking quite perplexed.  Perry was intrigued and slightly amused by the young man standing several yards away from him.  He noted the dark hair and the rather excessive way he had it styled, spiked and sticking up in many directions, but intentionally so. 

              “Sure are a lot of different choices,” Perry quipped as he strode up beside JD, the corners of his mouth twitching as JD spun around to face him. 

              “Uh, yeah,” JD said lamely, breaking out of his thoughts.  He was immediately struck by how gorgeous Perry was.  He was tall and well-built, with a strong jaw and thick, curly hair that walked a thin line between brown and red.  By the time JD spotted Perry’s hands, it occurred to him that he should probably respond.  “Yeah, it’s just my best friend sent me out to get snacks for this game he’s all excited about… I don’t even know what game it is if I’m being honest.  I’m a little out of my depth when it comes to sports.”

              “First preseason game, maybe?” Perry offered, now chancing a small smile.  God, this kid was goofy.  “Football, you know?”

              “Right, football,” JD said with a nervous laugh.  He was being such an idiot!  Why couldn’t he just have a normal conversation with a stunningly handsome man?  “Uh, was I – was I in your way?  I can move.”

              “You’re fine right where you are,” Perry assured him, though he took a brief moment to look JD up and down, amused by how flustered JD seemed to be.  “You new in town?”

              JD blushed.  “Is it that obvious?”

              Perry shrugged.  “Not unless you look really hard,” he chuckled.  “Say, you free later?”

              “Free?” JD repeated, oblivious at first.  “Oh!  Yeah, I am actually.  Did – what did you have in mind?”

              Perry couldn’t ignore the way his heart seemed to skip a beat at the way JD’s very blue eyes lit up when he realized he was being asked on a date.  He hadn’t met someone like this in a while, so he figured taking a chance wouldn’t hurt.  “There’s this little café near here,” Perry replied.  “Good spot, kind of quiet.”

              “That sounds nice,” JD said, somehow blushing even redder.  “I’m JD by the way.”

              “JD,” Perry said, leaving JD trying to avoid outwardly swooning at hearing his own name in Perry’s voice.  “I’m Perry.  It’s nice to meet you.”

              “You, too,” JD said genuinely, all but jumping up and down.  “Here, give me your phone.  You can text me the address.”

              Perry willingly handed over his phone, watching JD put his number in his contacts.  He took the opportunity to look him over again, noticing how full his lips were and how kind he seemed.  “How does five sound?” he asked.

              “I’ll see you then,” JD promised, handing Perry’s phone back, finding his hands were shaking just a little.  As Perry walked off, nodding his head at JD as he went and giving him a smile, JD found it quite hard to focus on anything relating to groceries.  He knew there were several more things he needed to get, but naturally, he couldn’t remember them in the order in which they were laid out in the store, so over the next fifteen minutes, he hurried around the store, zig-zagging through aisles, all the while thinking of nothing but Perry.  Just as he reached his car, bags of groceries in hand, his phone went off and he very nearly jumped for joy upon finding it was Perry sending him the address of the café. 

              When JD returned home, back to the apartment he and Turk had yet to really settle into if the boxes littering the rooms were any indication, he waited about three seconds before announcing his news.  “Dude!” he called, not caring where Turk was, “you’ll never guess what happened at the store!”

              Turk popped up from behind a stack of boxes at the opposite end of the living room.  “You found Rowdy a brother?”

              “Even better!” JD said, beaming as he set down the bags of groceries.  “I have a date tonight!”

              “Holy shit, seriously?” Turk asked, impressed.  “How are you getting lucky before me?”

              “Hey, I didn’t say I was going to sleep with him, Turk,” JD said quickly.  “But for the record, he is gorgeous.  Like, I can’t believe he actually came up to me and initiated a conversation.”

              Turk chuckled and flopped down on the couch as JD joined him.  “Well, go on, tell me all about this date of yours.”

              “Okay, so he’s tall, taller than you even, and he’s got this curly hair that just makes me want to run my fingers through it, but I can’t tell if it’s brown or red.  His eyes are blue and he was wearing a t-shirt that was maybe a little too tight – but not in a bad way – and oh my god, Turk, his hands…  Shit!  What am I supposed to wear?”

              “Slow down,” Turk laughed, endlessly amused by JD’s ramblings.  “Where are you even going?”

              “He mentioned this café; he texted me the address.  I’m assuming it’s casual, but Turk, he’s so hot.  You have to help me here!”

              “JD, no offense, but you’ve always been way more into clothes than I have,” Turk said, holding up his hands in surrender.  “This one’s on you.  I mean, it’s a café, not a five-star restaurant.”

              JD sighed, running a hand through his hair, though it inevitably got stuck due to the mousse and hairspray.  “Right.  You’re right.  I know that.  But Turk, you should have seen him.  I have no idea how he even cared to look in my general direction.”

              “What are you talking about?” Turk asked in confusion. “JD, you’re not ugly.  You’re objectively attractive.”

              “Turk, you can say ‘I love you,’” he teased.

              Turk rolled his eyes in response.  “Must be talking crazy,” he muttered.  “Haven’t gotten laid in a while.”

              “You’ll get there,” JD said, easily falling back into his usual upbeat self.  “Maybe you’ll meet someone at the hospital.  You never know what might happen!  I mean, I was grocery shopping and I met someone!”

 


 

 

              Eventually, JD settled on a dark blue shirt with a long-sleeve light blue one beneath it and paired the ensemble with a pair of jeans and his usual sneakers.  Turk had been no help at all, just as he’d claimed, but JD felt relatively good about his choice.  He glanced at the clock every few seconds, trying to decide when he should leave.  Turk claimed he needed the car for something that evening, and JD had no problem catching the bus.

              He arrived at the café about ten minutes before five and took a deep breath to calm his nerves before walking inside.  If all went well, maybe they’d be able to meet here a lot, seeing as it was just a few blocks from Sacred Heart – JD would be able to walk there on his lunch.  Perry had been right about it being quiet.  There were a few people sitting at tables butted up against the far wall, all of them absorbed in their own little worlds.  JD was pleased to see that Perry was already there, having chosen one of the booths in the front corner, away from everyone else.  He looked up when JD walked through the door and immediately smiled.  He stood when JD walked over, looking far more gorgeous than he had any right to, at least in JD’s opinion.  He was wearing the same t-shirt, but now with a light jacket over it, thin enough that JD could still see the definition of his muscles beneath it.

              “You look great,” Perry said warmly.  “Really great.”

              “So do you,” JD replied, feeling himself blush again and wished that wasn’t his immediately reaction around guys.  He really had to work on that...  “I’m – I’m kind of nervous.”

              Perry’s smile softened as the two of them sat down across from each other.  “Is it bad if I say I could tell?  Either way, don’t be.  I won’t bite, I swear.”

              JD relaxed, laughing a little.  “All right, I’ll take your word for it.  So, I have to know – what made you want to ask me out?  This doesn’t happen very often.”

              “Jeez, kid, I don’t know,” Perry sighed, surprising JD when he looked a little embarrassed himself.  “You’re not from here, are you?”

              “Not originally, no,” JD admitted.  “I went to school down in San Diego, but I’m from Ohio.”

              “Guess I could just tell,” Perry said with a shrug.  “You looked just a little lost and, if I may be so bold, pretty damn cute.”

              JD turned bright red – of course – but couldn’t help smiling.  “You think I’m cute?” he laughed.  “This must be my lucky day.”

              “After this, maybe we should go get you a lottery ticket,” Perry joked, winking at JD.

              “I’m starting to think that might be a good idea,” JD said, grinning.  His head was still spinning that this was even happening at all, but he really had lucked out, hadn’t he?  “I haven’t been on a date in a while, so forgive me if I’m being a little awkward… though I’m usually pretty awkward anyway, so…”

              “Why don’t we start over, from the beginning?” Perry suggested.  “We can just do the basics, tell each other about ourselves.  That’s what people normally do on a date, right?”

              “Right,” JD agreed, pleasantly surprised that Perry really didn’t seem to want to make fun of him for being nervous.  Feeling a little more at ease, he continued.  “We can act like normal people.”

              Perry chuckled again.  “It’ll be good practice, anyway.  So, tell me, what do the ‘J’ and the ‘D’ stand for?”

              “John Dorian,” JD said, leaning back against the booth, feeling the tension leave his body.  “Middle name is Michael, though I’m not sure why I went with that…”

              Perry raised an eyebrow.  “You chose your own middle name?”  Briefly, he wondered if it was a religious thing, but he decided to give JD the benefit of the doubt.

              “Chose the whole thing, actually,” JD said simply.  He had never been this upfront before about being transgender, but he figured he might as well tell Perry now and spare himself the heartbreak if it turned out to be a deal-breaker.  “I came out as trans right after my senior year of high school.  I started transitioning that summer before I went away for college.”

              Perry nodded thoughtfully, his expression betraying no sense of the shock or disgust that JD had braced himself for.  “All right,” he said, taking the information in calmly.  “So what made you choose John?  Family member?”

              “No, actually,” JD said, smiling in relief that Perry didn’t seem bothered in the least.  “It just sort of seemed like the obvious choice, the male counterpart of my birth name.  I had already been going by JD for most of high school, and I liked that.  This way I didn’t have to change that.  In fact, the only people who call me John are my family.”

              “And your family, where are they?”

              “Still in Ohio,” JD explained, forgetting that neither of them had ordered a damn thing to eat or drink.  “I grew up in Trotwood and that’s where everyone still is.  My mom and dad got divorced when I was pretty young, six, and I lived with my mom and my older brother and whichever guy my mom was seeing at the time.  I love her, but she was always kind of a piece of work…  My dad is a traveling business supply salesman and he was never much good at that.  And Dan, my older brother, well, he and I have never been very close.”

              “Sounds like the typical family dynamic,” Perry chuckled.  “At least from what I’ve heard, anyway.  I’m originally from Pittsburgh, but have no intentions of ever going back.  My childhood was just about as miserable as they come and both my parents are dead now.  I have a younger sister, but she and I don’t talk much.”

              JD frowned, a little shocked at how blunt Perry was about the death of his parents, but he supposed that if he’d had as miserable a childhood as Perry seemed to, he would have felt the same.  “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said genuinely.

              “It’s for the best,” Perry said, waving a hand.  “You don’t need to be sorry.”

              JD nodded, starting to realize that this was the most comfortable he’d ever felt on a first date.  It was also the first time he’d divulged so much information so readily.  “I feel like I’ve been rambling on for ages.  Tell me more about you.”

              “Fair enough,” Perry allowed.  “This is the first date I’ve been on since my divorce was finalized a year ago.”

              “You were married,” JD said, taking the information in stride.  “For how long?”

              “Married for eight years,” Perry told him.  “We were together for about twelve.”

              JD couldn’t keep his eyes from going wide.  “Wow… that’s a long time to be with someone.  What happened?”  He paused then, frowning.  “I’m sorry, that’s personal.  Forget I asked.”

              “JD, I think we’ve more than delved into the personal side of things,” Perry said, sounding amused.  “It’s all right.  No, she and I had a very… odd relationship.  We fought a lot and I think both of us stopped enjoying it and started meaning the things we were saying.  It wasn’t much fun after that.”

              JD wasn’t sure how to respond to the information.  “I’m sorry,” he said again.

              It suddenly became apparent to Perry just how compassionate a person JD was, that he really, truly cared about people.  “Thanks,” Perry replied.  “Though it’s not all bad.  I’m here in this café with you, aren’t I?”

              JD smiled widely.  “Unless this has all been some elaborate dream, you are,” he laughed.  Knowing the fantasies he sometimes found himself in, he wouldn’t have been too surprised to find that that was the case.  “Hey, since we’re not eating or anything, maybe you could show me around the city, being new here and all.”

              Perry returned the smile.  “That’s not a bad idea,” he agreed.  “Come on, I know just the place.  Did you drive here?”

              “No, I took the bus.  My car’s a piece of crap and my roommate needed to borrow it.”

              Perry just grinned and stood, leading JD out into the parking lot and over to his Porsche.  JD, exercising all his self-restraint, somehow managed to refrain from asking where they were going and instead enjoyed the scenery, both outside the car and inside it.  The car itself was beautiful and it was clear that Perry took excellent care of it, but JD preferred Perry himself.  He’d already noticed the way that his smile accented his cheekbones and how blue his eyes were and now he didn’t want to look away.

              They ended up at a park, full of winding sidewalks and mulberry trees.  There were old-fashioned street lamps every several feet and off in the distance, he could hear children laughing as they climbed all over an elaborate jungle gym.  Perry joined JD alongside the car after grabbing a blanket from his trunk.

              “Shall we?” Perry asked, watching JD for a reaction.

              None of it was what JD had expected, especially not from a guy like Perry, but he loved it.  There was a slight breeze in the air and with the sun hovering just above the horizon line, the temperature had begun to cool.  He nodded, following Perry as he led the way.  For a time they just walked in silence, but Perry seemed to know where he was going.  Finally, he stopped beneath an especially large mulberry tree and laid the blanket down at the base of the trunk.  It was a perfect spot, the shade just right, with the glow of a street lamp just off to their left.  The two of them sat, leaning back against the trunk of the tree, their arms nearly touching.  JD shivered, feeling the electricity between them.  He realized then, that he had never felt this way with someone before, and especially not so early on.  The people he dated in college, both men and women, couldn’t even compare to the giddiness and excitement he felt in that moment.

              “So,” JD began, looking over at Perry once they were both settled, “what made you pick California?”

              “Couldn’t get much farther away from Pennsylvania than California,” Perry said honestly.  “That was my goal after I graduated high school, get as far away from there as possible.  So I did.”

              “Were you afraid?”

              Perry shook his head.  “Back then?  Nothing scared me.  I was a bit wild as a teenager, reckless.  The idea of getting in a car I bought the day of graduation with the money I earned from working at a fast food joint and traveling across the country should have terrified me, but instead I was exhilarated.  As soon as I got onto the freeway, I never looked back.  I’ve been here ever since.”

              “Sounds brave to me,” JD said honestly.  “I mean, sure, I left Ohio to come out here, but I had everything planned down to the last detail.  I memorized a map of my dorm building before I even got on the plane.”

              Perry smiled at that.  “But you did it, didn’t you?  And hell, you did it while transitioning.  That couldn’t have been an easy time.”

              “It was and it wasn’t,” JD mused.  “On one hand, I finally felt like I was getting to live my life how I wanted to, not how my family said I should or how the citizens of Trotwood thought I should.  It wasn’t a walk in the park, that’s for sure, but I was a lot happier with myself, and that counted for a lot.”

              “I’m sure it did,” Perry agreed.  “Once I realized that the way my father treated me and my sister wasn’t my fault, it went a long way toward not hating myself.”

              “Funny how much parents can affect the way you think about yourself,” JD quipped, sounding momentarily bitter.

              “Guess we all have our baggage, huh?” Perry said, trying to bring a little levity to the moment.

              “You can say that again,” JD said, his expression softening.  “So, do you take all your dates to this spot?”

              “Just you,” Perry said, smiling over at JD.  “There you go again, being lucky.”

              “Should have detoured for a lottery ticket, I’m telling you,” JD laughed, shifting a little closer to Perry so their arms were touching, and even through the fabric of their clothing, he felt the little zaps of electricity that had been hovering in the air before.

              The two of them stayed that way for nearly an hour, watching the sun set behind the horizon and painting the sky in oranges and pinks and yellows.  Just down the sidewalk, as they continued with their small talk, a small group of musicians, two of them with a guitar and one with a tambourine and a beautiful voice, began to play, drawing a small gathering of people who stood there, listening. 

              “I’m having a really good time with you,” JD said, turning to look at Perry, who smiled softly back at him. 

              “Yeah, me too,” he agreed.  “I’ve never been so grateful for the chip aisle at the grocery store before.”

              JD grinned.  “Must have been fate,” he said quietly.  “Is it bad that I don’t want tonight to end?  It’s a little bit perfect.”

              “No,” Perry murmured.  “Not at all.  I’m in the same boat, I’m afraid.”

              JD hesitated for a moment before he leaned in, closing the distance between Perry and himself, and pressed his lips to Perry’s in a slow, tender kiss.  For just a second, he wondered if maybe he moved too quickly, but just then, Perry brought a hand up to cup his cheek and deepened the kiss, banishing any insecurities JD might have had.

              The kiss lingered on, neither of them really wanting to pull away, but finally JD let their lips part and he rested his forehead against Perry’s.  “Take me home?” he asked in a whisper, hoping he would be able to see Perry again soon.

              “Yeah,” Perry responded, brushing his thumb over JD’s cheek, though the last thing he wanted was to leave.

             


 

 

              “When can I see you again?” Perry asked when he was parked in front of the doors to JD’s apartment building.

              “Soon,” JD assured him, turning back to press a quick kiss to Perry’s lips before he slipped out of the car.  “Very soon.  I start work on Monday, but call me, okay?  We’ll figure something out.”

              “I’ll hold you to it,” Perry said, giving JD a smirk.  “Goodnight, JD.”

              “Goodnight, Perry,” JD replied, certain he looked like a complete idiot, heart-eyes and all.  “Thanks for tonight.”

              Perry gave him a nod and waited until JD was inside the building before driving off, unable to wipe the smile off his face.

              JD waited until Perry drove away before quite literally sprinting up the stairs in the most athletic display of his life and bursting through the door to the apartment.  He leaned back against the door, effectively shutting it, with a lovesick grin on his face.  Turk looked at him over his shoulder and rolled his eyes.

              “Date went well then, huh?”

              “Turk, it was amazing.  We talked the whole time and he was funny and sweet and he looked so good.  I told him pretty much everything and he did the same and then he took me to this park and we watched the sunset and there were musicians and everything about it was perfect.”

              “Did you even take a breath in there at all?”

              “Maybe.”

              “So, are you gonna see him again?” Turk asked, shaking his head fondly as JD flopped down on the couch beside him.

              “Definitely,” JD said as if it should have been obvious.  “I’m not sure when yet, but he promised to call me.  I just hope starting at the hospital won’t make it too hard to go out with him again.  I don’t know what my schedule will be like at first.”

              “I’m sure you two crazy kids will figure something out.  Sounds like you had a great time.”

              “I really did,” JD said, sighing happily.  “I… I actually told him I’m trans.  Like, it ended up being one of the first things we talked about.”

              Turk raised his eyebrows in shock.  “Wow,” he said slowly.  “What did he say?”

              “He hardly batted an eye.  It was the first time that I told someone where they didn’t either act super shocked or start asking weirdly invasive questions.  He was actually really great about it.  Not that being a decent human being deserves a gold star, but it was refreshing.”

              “That’s great, man,” Turk said, still a little surprised that JD was so forward.  “It’s about time you found someone who actually treats you right.  You know I couldn’t stand just about everyone you dated in med school.”

              JD laughed.  “Yeah, I know.  You made that pretty clear.  I can’t wait for you to meet Perry, though.  I think you’ll really like him.  Plus, he’s into sports, too.”

              “I like him already,” Turk joked, elbowing JD’s side.  “Look, I’m gonna head to bed so we can get an early start on unpacking tomorrow.  I’m getting kind of sick of walking around all these boxes.  Who knew we had so much stuff?”

              “Not me,” JD chuckled.  “Sounds like a plan, though.  And that game is on tomorrow, right?  Maybe if Perry’s free, I could invite him over…?”

              “Oh, come on, don’t give me that look,” Turk groaned, though he had been looking forward to spending one last night with JD before they started at the hospital.  “You can invite your boyfriend over.  Might be more fun that way, since it was just gonna be you and me watching the game and you still don’t know that a free throw has nothing to do with football.”

              “Double dribbling?”

              “No.”

              “Foul ball?”

              “No.”

              “The pros and cons of blitzing a weak-side quarter when you’re in third-and-long situations?”

              Turk paused, narrowing his eyes at JD.  “…Yes.”

              “Thank you, Football for Dummies,” JD said proudly.

              “I knew it was too good to be true,” Turk sighed, shaking his head.  “You had me going, though.”

              JD grinned, flashing Turk a one-thousand-watt smile.  “You love me,” he teased.

              “Yeah, I do,” he muttered, getting up off the couch and heading toward his room.  “Now shut up and go to bed so we can get some work done tomorrow.”

              “Sir, yes, sir!” JD said, pushing himself up off the couch and very nearly skipping into his bedroom.  He had a good feeling about what was to come, from starting a new job in his chosen career to his chance meeting with Perry.  He finally felt like things were going right for him and he wasn’t going to let anything ruin that.

Chapter Text

Year One: August

              When Perry arrived at work the next morning for his early shift, he knew full well he was in a much better mood than usual.  He tried to be the jackass that everyone at work knew him to be, but found that it wasn’t as easy when his personal life was going so well.  He was used to being miserable at home, but it appeared that JD was going to change that – well, at least he had a good feeling about it, anyway.  Now that he didn’t feel so miserable at home, it was harder to be miserable at work.  It made sense, but it was a situation that Perry hadn’t been in in quite some time. 

              Perry had been leaning against the nurses’ station for a while, notating some of his charts, when Carla walked up from behind the desk.  “You’ve been distinctly less grumpy than usual today,” she said nonchalantly as she sat down in her chair.

              “I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Perry said without looking up at her, though he knew she was right.  “Maybe everyone’s just become suddenly competent and I have no one to yell at for the first time.”

              “Yeah, sure, we’ll go with that,” Carla snorted.  “Except I’ve heard at least four people talking about how nice you’ve been to patients, even that big guy who came in with heart trouble again, and the other doctors.”

              “You don’t know everything, you know,” Perry retorted, slamming his chart closed.

              “Are you saying I’m wrong?” Carla countered, arching an eyebrow at him.

              Perry sighed.  “Since you must know, I went on a date last night.”  He held up a finger when Carla’s eyes lit up.  “And you will say nothing.”

              “My lips are sealed,” she promised.  “But this is like crack to me.  So, tell me, what’s she like?  Please tell me you didn’t pick another Jordan.”

              Perry hesitated for a moment before replying.  “He is nothing like that dragon,” he said simply, only glancing at Carla, not sure he’d want to see her reaction.

              Carla seemed to consider the information.  “Well, I’m very happy for you, Perry,” she said genuinely.  “And judging by your attitude today, he’s good for you.  Don’t screw it up.”

              Perry barked out a laugh.  “Thanks for the pep talk,” he muttered.  Before he could continue bantering on with Carla, his phone began to ring in his pocket.

              “It’s him, isn’t it?” Carla asked excitedly, bouncing up and down in her chair.

              “Shut up,” he growled back at her just before answering the phone.  “Hey, you.”

              “Hi,” JD gushed on the other end, though he was trying his best to keep his cool.  “I just wanted to say that I had an amazing time last night.”

              “Yeah, kid, me too,” Perry said, not quite smiling, but Carla could easily tell he was the happiest he’d been in a long time.

              “I also wanted to see if maybe you were free tonight.  My roommate, the one I was getting the chips for, said I could invite you over for the game.  If you’re busy, that’s totally fine, too, but you said you like sports, so I thought –”

              “Hey,” Perry said fondly, “slow down.  I’ll be there.  My shift is over at six, so how about I head over after that?”

              “That’d be great,” JD said, pleased.  “I’m looking forward to it.”

              Perry glared at Carla because she appeared to be about two seconds away from throwing a damn parade.  “I’ll talk to you later,” he told JD, who uttered a quick goodbye before they hung up.  “Oh, get it all out, would you?”

              “It’s about time you found someone who makes you act like that,” she said, crossing her arms.  “Seriously, Perry, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this.”

              “I’ve been on one date with him, Carla,” Perry reminded her.  “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

              “I’m just saying,” Carla said with a shrug.  “When do I get to meet him?”

              “One date, Carla!” Perry said hopelessly, throwing his arms up.”

              Carla grinned and turned back to her computer.  “Whatever,” she sighed.  “But you better rein in all those smiles if you want to scare the interns when they start tomorrow.”

              “Trust me, that won’t be a problem,” Perry said gruffly, working hard to adopt his usual demeanor.  “If last year’s class was any indication, this one’s sure to be a nightmare.”

 


 

 

              After much consideration, Perry arrived at Turk’s and JD’s apartment with a six-pack of beer and a small bouquet of flowers.  He wasn’t sure how the flowers would be received, but after all their talking, he’d gotten the distinct impression that JD was very romantic.  He took a deep breath before knocking on the door, hoping his more casual attire was appropriate for their evening.  He’d settled on a Giants jersey, though they weren’t playing, and a pair of jeans.  He didn’t figure JD and his roommate, Turk, were very fancy, especially when it came to football games.

              Turk answered the door a few moments later and cocked his head at Perry.  “I hope the flowers aren’t for me,” he said with a straight face.

              “Uh, no, they’re for JD,” Perry said, suddenly wondering if he’d made a mistake in bringing the bouquet.  “You must be Turk, his roommate?”

              “Sure am.  And you must be Perry.  He’s gonna eat that up,” Turk said, shaking his head as he gestured toward the flowers.  “Good call, man.”

              Perry breathed a sigh of relief as Turk invited him in.  “I did bring beer, though,” he offered, holding up the six-pack.  “Though I got the impression JD doesn’t care much for it.”

              “What don’t I care for?” JD asked, emerging from his bedroom, dressed in jeans and a dark green t-shirt.  He beamed when he saw Perry and then spots the flowers.  “Are those for me?”

              “Well, Turk here doesn’t seem to want them, so I suppose they are,” Perry teased, offering the bouquet to JD.

              JD blushed, but took the flowers from Perry, inspecting them and sniffing them.  He kissed Perry quickly on his way into the kitchen to find something that even slightly resembled a vase, eventually settling on a large beer mug.  He filled it with water and trimmed the stems of the flowers at an angle before placing them in the mug.  When he turned around, he froze, realizing Perry and Turk were watching him quite intently.

              “What?” he asked, his brows furrowing.

              “Nothing,” Perry said warmly.  “Nothing at all.”

              “You two are gonna make me barf tonight, aren’t you?” Turk asked, already sounding resigned.

              “Probably,” JD said happily, flopping down on the couch and patting the spot next to him for Perry to join him.  “So, when do they do the jump ball part?”

              Perry started to laugh, never for a second thinking JD was doing anything but joking around, but then Turk started to shake his head and JD looked up at Perry in confusion.  “Oh my god, you’re serious,” he said, his eyes widening.

              “How else would they decide who goes first?” JD asked, looking perplexed.

              Perry put his arm around JD, realizing this was going to be a long game.  “That’s how they decide in basketball.  The referee throws the ball up in the center of the court and both point guards try to get it to their teammates.  In football, they do a coin toss and whichever team wins the toss can choose to try to score first, or they can defer to the other team.”

              JD nodded thoughtfully, but asked no further questions, instead settling, at first cautiously, into Perry’s side.  When Perry eagerly embraced him, he relaxed and waited for the game to start.  “Thanks for coming over,” JD said softly, quiet enough that Turk couldn’t hear from his seat over on the chair.  Besides, he was too focused on kickoff to even care about the couple next to him.

              Perry looked down at JD, his heart swelling.  “Nowhere else I’d rather be,” he whispered back and gave JD a wink.

              Eventually, Perry started to get more into the game, though he answered every single one of JD’s questions.  Most of them were rather ridiculous, but some were actual, valid questions.  Regardless, he answered each of them, not wanting JD to feel silly for asking.  Turk didn’t interact with them much apart from asking if they needed refills during halftime.  Throughout the game, he kept shooting glances in their direction, torn between amusement and annoyance.  All he’d wanted was to watch the damn game, but Perry seemed to know even more about football than he did, and he was treating JD really well.

              By the end of the fourth quarter, JD’s legs were across Perry’s lap and his head was on Perry’s shoulder.  Turk announced that he was going to bed, that it was nice to meet Perry, but that he was starting his new job early the next morning.

              “You want me to get going?” Perry asked, running his fingers through JD’s hair.

              “Not yet,” JD admitted.  “Not if you don’t have to.”

              Perry shook his head.  “I can stay for a while yet,” he assured JD.  “This was a good second date.”

              “Does it count as a date if we don’t leave the apartment?”

              “I left my apartment,” Perry pointed out.  “I think that makes it count.”

              JD smiled, hugging Perry a little closer.  “Agreed,” he chuckled.  “I was kind of hoping Turk might have put a little more effort in, but he’s pretty picky about the people I date.”

              “I’ll make sure we get along just fine,” Perry said confidently.  “I’ll do whatever it takes.  He’s your best friend, after all.”

              “Thank you,” JD said sincerely.  “Hey, what should we do for our third date?”

              “I suppose it’s my turn to think of something, hmm?” Perry asked.  “I picked the café and the park and then you picked football in the apartment…  Maybe I could take you out to dinner.”

              “I can handle that,” JD said, beaming even though his eyes showed his tiredness.  “So, where are you taking me out to dinner?”

              “Somewhere nice.  Haven’t gotten to see you dressed up yet,” Perry teased, smiling down at JD.  “What do you like to eat?”

              “Pretty much anything.  I’m not picky,” JD said, blushing a little.  “Bet you clean up good, too.”

              “I’ve been known to own a few suits,” Perry confirmed.  “Well, I’ll figure something out, make reservations, and I’ll pick you up, how does that sound?”

              “Perfect,” JD said approvingly, lifting his head so he could kiss Perry, long and slow.  He was content to stay that way for a while – Perry was an exceptional kisser – but a yawn broke it off.  “Oh god, I swear you’re not boring me, I’m just tired.  Turk and I got up early this morning and unpacked everything and I –”

              Perry silenced JD with another kiss and pulled away trying not to laugh.  “Walk me to the door,” he suggested, knowing that if both JD and Turk were starting their new jobs tomorrow, they should get some sleep.  In fact, Perry had an early shift the next morning because the interns would be starting.

              JD untangled himself from Perry and did just that, taking the taller man’s face in his hands and kissing him soundly before letting him leave.

              “Good luck tomorrow, kiddo,” Perry said, a little breathless.  “You’ll do great.”

              “Thanks.  I’ll make sure to text you to let you know I survived.”

              As Perry left, it didn’t occur to either of them that they didn’t know what the other did for a living.

 


 

 

Year One: September

              JD arrived at Sacred Heart a prompt fifteen minutes before his shift began.  He figured that would give him enough time to find a bathroom to throw up in and a supply closet to hide in.  When he stepped inside, he felt rather out of place in his blue scrubs, despite having worn them throughout med school.  It rather felt like trying to convince everyone there that he really was a doctor, that he was qualified to diagnose and treat patients.  Really, it just felt like a lie.

              The knowledge that JD wouldn’t be able to see much of Turk given that Turk was surgical and he was medical wasn’t making things any easier.  He’d come to rely on his best friend for a lot of things over the years, but now he was completely on his own.

              “Good,” a nurse said upon spotting him.  “Could you go drop an NG tube on the patient in 234 and call the attending if the lavage is positive?”

              JD’s eyes darted around nervously, hoping that she was talking to someone else.  “Uh, I’m supposed to be up in intensive care.”

              “Good,” she said again.  “We just turfed him there.”

              JD swallowed as she walked away without any further instructions.  Securing his bag over his shoulder, he set off to find the locker room (and definitely a bathroom to throw up in).  Luckily, that proved less difficult than he’d thought and he began his shift in the ICU right on time.  He ran into a short, Latina nurse with freckles on her nose. 

              “First day, Bambi?” she asked, pulling a patient’s bed along behind her.  “Don’t worry, Carla will take care of you.  Don’t look at me when we’re moving someone.”

              “Why?” JD asked just as he walked into a piece of equipment and collapsed to the ground.

              Carla rolled her eyes and continued on, moving the patient into his room, then doubled back for JD, who was sitting against the wall and looking dazed.  “Come on, you’re with me,” she said, gesturing for JD to follow her.  She led him into another patient’s room where an elderly, balding man laid nearly comatose in the bed.

              “We’re waiting for this guy’s doctor,” she informed JD as she checked his monitors.

              JD stood stock still next to her and waited patiently.  Before he could even think of a conversation starter to fill the silence, Perry strode purposefully into the room in a white lab coat.  JD’s eyes went wide and he sucked in a sharp breath, suddenly feeling as though he’d done something wrong.  Had neither of them really asked what the other did for a living?  How did he not know Perry was a doctor – an attending at the hospital at which he was now an intern?!  Perry froze as well, stopping on the opposite side of the patient’s bed.

              “All right, what am I missing?” Carla asked, staring between the two doctors.

              Perry was the first to recover and somehow managed to tear his eyes off JD in those blue scrubs.  “This is JD,” he said to her.  “The one I was telling you about.”

              Carla’s eyes widened comically as she gaped at JD.  ‘This – this is him?  And I take it neither of you bothered to ask what the other did for a living?”

              JD finally managed a laugh at the sheer absurdity of the situation.  “Still think I’ll do great?” he asked, looking up at Perry, quite pleased to see that his expression had softened.

              “Yeah, I do,” he said warmly.  “Wish I would have known you’d be one of my interns, though.”

              “Guess we didn’t get that far, huh?” JD asked, starting to calm.  “Sort of just skipped right over college and med school…”

              “Okay, you two,” Carla finally interrupted, shaking her head at the both of them.  “This is sweet and all, but we are at work and there’s a patient between you that needs treatment.”

              Perry nodded and looked down at the old man.  “Well, Newbie, how’s about you go ahead and place an I.V. for me?”

              JD blushed, but decided not to comment on the nickname.  He’d been called worse, after all.  Despite feeling better about where he stood with Perry, he was still insanely nervous about touching patients.  He hesitated, the I.V. needle held tightly in his shaking hand.

              “Carla, can you give us a minute?” Perry asked, not taking his eyes off JD.

              Carla arched an eyebrow at Perry, but acquiesced, leaving the room without another word.

              “Hey, you all right?” Perry asked once she had gone.  “I didn’t mean to rattle you, kid.”

              “No, I’m fine,” JD assured him as he continued to stare intently at the man’s arm.  “I’m just a little nervous, you know?  I haven’t actually touched a patient yet…”

              “You can do this,” Perry said firmly, gesturing for JD to continue.  “Once you bite the bullet, it’ll start getting easier.  I promise.”

              JD glanced up at Perry, grateful for his patience, and took a deep breath to steady himself.  He forced himself to push the needle into the patient’s arm and placed the I.V. perfectly on the first try.  “I did it!” he laughed, sounding shocked as he straightened up.

              Perry chuckled.  “Yeah, you did.  Now go on, I’m sure Carla’s got about a hundred and fifty other things for you to do.  I’ll catch up with you later, all right?”

              “All right,” JD agreed easily, but paused on his way out the door.  “See you, Dr. Cox.”

              Perry shot him a wink before turning back to the patient’s chart and making a note.

 


 

 

              More than half of JD’s shift had passed and he was feeling more at ease, especially with Perry a semi-constant presence.  Sure, he had other things to do than watch over his boyfriend-slash-intern, but as if driven by some sort of magnetism, they found their way back to each other fairly often, sharing stories from the day or giving updates on how terrified they were – ‘they’ being JD.  Perry didn’t seem afraid of anything and was truly a brilliant doctor as JD quickly found out.  He ran codes flawlessly and commanded the attention of everyone in the room.  JD couldn’t have been more proud.  And the same was true for Perry; he was exceedingly proud of JD.  For it being his first day as an intern at a brand new hospital, Perry thought he was handling his patients and all the grunt work that came with being an intern beautifully.

              “Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” Carla asked as she approached Perry.

              “I beg your pardon?” Perry replied, glancing up at her from the chart in his hands.

              “You know damn well that you’d be treating JD a lot differently if you weren’t sleeping with him.  You know, the other interns are already talking about preferential treatment?  Kelso would love a chance to can your ass, so I strongly suggest you either dial it back on the heart eyes or disclose your relationship to H.R.”

              “I’m not giving him preferential treatment,” Perry said flatly, feeling a bit frustrated.  “I’m also not sleeping with him, not that you need to know that.  What do you want me to do, yell at him for being nervous?  He already seems competent enough, which is more than can be said for the other interns.  Especially that one with the polo shirt.”

              “Oh, you mean the one you’ve dubbed ‘Nervous Guy’?” Carla countered, crossing her arms.  “But fine, you have it your way.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

              Over the next couple hours, Perry stewed on Carla’s backhanded advice.  At the same time, he tried to have a little more patience with the other interns and be more objective about their performance.  But when it came down to it, JD was one of the clear leaders of the pack, next to a neurotic, competitive blonde whose name he hadn’t bothered to learn.  When his shift was over, Perry went off to find JD, who should have been getting done at about the same time.  He found him changing into his street clothes in the locker room, unable to keep from melting at the smile JD greeted him with.

              “I’ve got a question for you,” Perry said, sitting down on the bench while JD pulled on his shoes.

              “Yeah?”

              “I was wondering how you’d feel about disclosing our relationship to Kelso,” Perry said slowly, feeling a little foolish.

              JD blinked in surprise.  He wasn’t sure if Perry was ready for everyone to know about them, but he had told Carla before JD had even met her, so that had to mean something…  The last thing JD wanted to do was jeopardize his internship, but he didn’t want to get on Kelso’s bad side either, especially after seeing his true colors that evening by being told he was nothing but a large pair of scrubs to Kelso.

              “I – yeah,” JD finally said after it occurred to him he should respond.  “That’s probably the best move, right?”

              Perry gave JD a smile and led the way to Kelso’s office, finding the door open.  He knocked lightly anyway.  “Bob, you got a second?”

              Kelso looked up from his desk.  “For you, Perry?  Not at all.”

              Perry bit his tongue, holding back the sarcastic response he would normally give.  “It’s important.”

              Kelso spotted JD lingering just behind Perry, looking out of place and nervous.  “Fine,” he muttered.  “Make it quick.”

              Perry gestured for JD to sit in the chair beside him before he began.  “JD and I met about a week ago and I just felt it was in our best interest to let you know that we are… in a relationship.  I feel that I can treat him fairly and objectively, but I wanted to make you aware so we don’t cause any problems.”

              Kelso looked politely surprised, but quickly re-adopted his usual demeanor.  “Damn doctors, always fooling around,” he grumbled.  “Well, you two can rest assured no problems will arise from your little arrangement as long as you can both do your jobs.  Now get the hell out of my office.”

              As he and Perry walked outside, JD slipped his hand into Perry’s, releasing a breath he felt like he’d been holding all day.  “So… small world, huh?” he asked softly.

              “You can say that again,” Perry said in amusement.  “What’d you think of your first day?”

              “It was pretty crazy,” JD admitted.  “I didn’t think I’d be this tired, but then again, I’m pretty sure I was an actual zombie throughout med school.  Pretty glad I get to work with you, though.”

              “Just when you thought we wouldn’t see much of each other with both of us working,” Perry joked.  They had reached JD’s car, but JD didn’t want to part just yet.

              “Thanks for being patient with me today,” JD said, finally looking up at Perry.  “I just wanted to do everything right, but it’s still kind of freaky working with real patients.  I don’t want you to think I’m a bad doctor or something…”

              “JD,” Perry said seriously, taking both of JD’s hands in his, “you did great today.  Don’t worry so much about what other people think of you, okay?  At the end of the day, you don’t have to answer to me or to Kelso or even to your patients.  You only have to answer to one guy, and that’s you.  So do things that will make you proud, that will let you sleep at night.  You’re already on the right track.”

              JD managed a small smile, glancing down at their hands.  “Thanks,” he mumbled.

              “Don’t mention it.  Now go on home and get some rest.  You’re gonna need it.”

              “Do you work tomorrow?”

              “Sure do.  I’ll see you then.”

              JD nodded and reached up to kiss Perry.  It was quick and a little shy, but he had a feeling they’d be just fine.  “See you.”

 


 

 

              JD couldn’t wait to share his news with Turk, whom he hadn’t seen all day.  When he got home, he was no sooner in the door than he was bursting to tell him.  “Dude, guess what.”

              “Perry’s your attending,” Turk said, his back to JD as he sat on the couch.

              “How do you know?” JD asked in surprise.

              “I saw you with him, but you were too busy drooling over him to even notice.”

              “Are you pissed or something?”

              “Look, all I’m saying is you promised to watch the game with me and since you met this guy, you’ve hardly been around.”

              “I – I’m sorry,” JD said, taken aback.  “You could have said no when I asked if he could watch the game with us.”

              “That’s not the point, JD,” Turk said, sounding frustrated.  “I’m supposed to be your best friend.”

              “You are my best friend!” JD said, now more shocked than ever.  “It’s just… I think I’ve finally found someone who likes me for me and treats me well.  I’ve never had something like that and you know it.  But I swear, I’m not forgetting about you.”

              “Look, dude, I get it,” Turk sighed.  “I just don’t want to be that friend that gets pushed aside while you run off with your boyfriend.  And I really don’t want to be the one who has to pick up the pieces when he breaks your heart.”

              “He’s not going to break my heart, Turk,” JD said flatly, quickly growing annoyed.  “I know we just met, but we clicked right away and he has done nothing to make me second guess.  I just want to see where we can go.”

              “And I just want you to be careful,” Turk said with a shrug, seeming done with the conversation.  “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

              “I know you don’t, and I appreciate that,” JD said seriously.  “But I’m old enough to make my own decisions about who I date.  I’m going to bed.”

              “JD, come on,” Turk sighed, but JD quickly cut him off.

              “You know, Turk, of all people, I would have thought you would be happy for me,” he said tiredly before walking into his room and closing the door.  Turk was the last person JD would have ever expected to resist the idea of his relationship with Perry.  It hurt a lot more than he expected, too.

Chapter Text

Year One: September

              Wanting to avoid any further altercations, JD left the apartment before Turk even woke the next morning.  He met Perry for breakfast in the cafeteria as his shift didn’t start for another half hour, watching out the windows beside them as the sun slowly rose. 

              “Penny for your thoughts,” Perry said, offering JD the rest of his bagel.  He’d picked up on JD’s subdued demeanor from the moment he saw him, his shoulders ever-so-slightly slouched and his usual smile absent from his face.

              JD shook his head, refusing the food.  “Turk and I had a fight after I got home last night,” he said, instead ripping his napkin into tiny pieces.

              “A fight?  About what?”

              “You,” JD sighed, sprinkling the napkin’s ashes over his tray.  “For some reason, he thinks you’ll break my heart.  I think he feels left out.”

              Perry wasn’t quite sure what to say first.  He hadn’t even known JD a week yet, and even though it was pretty clear to both of them that they already shared some strong feelings, he wasn’t sure of the best way to comfort the young doctor.  “Well, what exactly did he say?  I’ll do my best to show him that I care about you.”

              “I had a feeling you’d say something like that,” JD said, finally looking up and giving Perry a small smile.  “But the thing is, you shouldn’t have to do that.  Turk should trust my judgement.  He’s been my best friend for eight years.  I don’t get why suddenly that’s not enough.  And besides, it’s not like you’ve given him any reason to think you might hurt me.”

              “Just give him some time, Newbie,” Perry suggested.  “Hopefully he’ll come around.”

              JD’s smile returned after a moment or two.  “I’m not getting rid of that nickname, am I?”

              “Not a chance.  Come on, we’ve both got rounds to do.”

 


 

 

              Throughout much of the next week, Turk and JD didn’t see much of each other.  Both their schedules were demanding and they kept missing each other at home, though JD was left to wonder if that was a good or bad thing.  On the rare occasions they saw each other in the hallways of the hospital, they hardly acknowledged the other’s presence, which was very strange for JD.  Sure, they had fought before, but never for this long and about something so serious. 

              JD’s and Perry’s relationship, however, had begun to flourish and the two of them couldn’t spend enough time together.  JD treasured each moment they were able to spend together, whether that was on the date Perry insisted on taking JD on Wednesday evening or the quick kisses they shared when they ran into each other in the lounge or the cafeteria.

On Friday night, JD invited Perry over to his place, believing that Turk had a late shift.  He had looked at their schedules wrong, though, and Turk came home from a long shift in a foul mood, only to find Perry on top of JD, the two of them fully-clothed, but sprawled out on the couch, looking like they were trying to devour each other’s faces.  Upon hearing the door slam, Perry peered over the back of the couch and sat up suddenly. 

              When Turk spotted Perry – quickly followed by JD sitting up so he became visible – he narrowly avoided rolling his eyes.  He dropped his bag on the floor and toed off his shoes before heading toward his bedroom.

              “Turk, wait,” JD said quickly, still breathless with puffy lips.  “Come on, can’t you hang out with us?”

              “What, and watch you try and suck each other’s faces off?” Turk retorted.

              “It’s not like we can’t control ourselves,” JD said in frustration, wondering if Turk was being difficult just for the sake of being difficult.

              “Just hold on a minute here,” Perry interjected, standing to face Turk.  “Turk, I am genuinely sorry if I did something that offended you, but the fact is that I care about JD.  What do you say we just start over, clean slate and all that?”

              Turk looked down at the hand Perry had extended.  “You didn’t do anything,” he muttered.  “Put that away.”

              JD stood as well, taking his place next to Perry.  “Then what is the problem?” he asked in exasperation.  “I don’t get it, Turk!  Can’t you see how happy I am?”

              “He’s not good enough for you, JD!” Turk finally said, raising his voice.  “Haven’t you heard what everyone at work says about him?  He’s a jackass who only cares about himself!  Everyone at the hospital hates him and you’re just too blind to see it!”

              JD took a step back in shock.  “I don’t care what other people think,” he said, holding his ground, but obviously upset.  “Perry hasn’t given me a single reason to enjoy every single minute I spend with him.  He accepts me for who I am and he’s – he’s thoughtful and funny and a brilliant doctor.  I think you’re the one who’s too blind to see that.”

              “Hey,” Perry said, stepping between the two friends.  “Look, I’m well-aware of my reputation and I’ll be perfectly honest: the last couple years were rough.  My marriage was failing and then it ended in an ugly divorce and I took that out on everyone I came into contact with.  I’m not going to stand here and pretend that I’m the nicest guy in the world and you can be damn sure that I’ll be as difficult as I have to be when it comes to Kelso because it’s my job to make sure my patients get the care they need.  If that paints me as a jackass, then so be it.  But know that I have nothing but good intentions when it comes to JD.”

              Turk’s anger seemed to fade as Perry spoke.  “I didn’t mean anything by it,” he said, looking abashed.  “I’m just trying to look out for my best friend.  He’s been in some bad situations before…”  He quickly trailed off at the furious look on JD’s face, which Perry had time enough to notice.

              Perry glanced between them.  “No harm done,” he finally said to Turk, wanting to repair the damage that had been done between him and JD.  “And if the time ever comes that I do hurt him, you’ve got my permission to kick my ass.”

              Turk managed a small laugh and nodded.  “I’ll hold you to that.”

              “Please do,” Perry replied.

              “Sorry again, man,” Turk said to JD, who was still looking quite angry.

              “It’s fine,” he said flatly, crossing his arms, intending it to be a clear dismissal.

              Turk took the hint and left for his bedroom, leaving Perry and JD standing in the middle of the living room, with JD still fuming.  Perry wasn’t quite sure whether or not he should ask about JD’s reaction and then JD began walking toward his room.  “Come here,” he said quietly, looking over his shoulder at Perry.

              Perry joined JD on the bed and sat up with his back against the headboard.  JD took his place between Perry’s legs, his back to Perry’s chest.  “You’re probably wondering what Turk was talking about,” JD began, tracing random patterns on Perry’s leg.

              “More wondering about your reaction, tell you the truth,” Perry corrected.  “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, though.”

              “It’s okay,” JD said, though his demeanor was much more subdued than normal.  “Turk has always been really protective of me, maybe more than he needs to be.  He was there for me through everything.  I’d only been on T for two and a half months before I met him at college.  We were roommates and we hit it off right from the start.  I don’t think I made it two weeks without him finding out about my transition.  He walked into our room when I was giving myself an injection and there wasn’t really any possibility of explaining that away.

              “I ended up telling him everything.  He was kind of confused at first, didn’t really get it.  It was a little awkward for a few weeks after that, but one day, I found all these books he’d checked out from the library about gender and sexual orientation.  There were even a couple geared toward trans people.  I – I realized he was trying to understand, trying to educate himself so he didn’t say something that would hurt me.  I asked him about the books that night and he admitted to everything and he’s been nothing but supportive ever since.

              “The summer between our first and second year of college was when I had top surgery.  He brought me to the hospital and was there when I woke up and he even let me hit on him when I was coming out of the anesthesia.  He recorded it, too, of course.  Never gonna live that one down.

              “Anyway, not much happened until our senior year of college.  We were both going insane, studying for finals and applying to med school, so to unwind we went out for drinks.  There was a group of frat guys that were in a few of our classes at the bar, so we were hanging out with them and everyone was way too drunk.  I ended up in the bathroom with one of the guys and we were in the corner making out, you know, as you do, and without any warning, he… he put his hand in my pants and didn’t like what he found…  He was so drunk and he started shouting at me, saying these awful things.  He had his hands wrapped around my arms and was shaking me, throwing me back against the wall.  I don’t know what I would have done if Turk hadn’t come in then.  He was probably the most sober out of all of us and he could hear me begging the guy to stop and he just threw him off me.  He made sure I was okay before getting me out of there.  I was pretty shaken up, but I wasn’t hurt.

              “The day of our last final, we were out in the commons and the same group of guys came up to us – well, to me – and one of them hit me, knocked me out cold.  According to Turk, it was pretty insane after that.  They were saying the same awful things, spitting on me, and one of them kicked me a few times, broke a couple ribs.  And Turk was there for it all.  A bunch of guys Turk played basketball with ran over to help and eventually the frat guys backed down.  I think it was even worse than Turk let on.  He was pretty sore for a while and had a split lip and a bruise on his cheek.  It took me longer to heal, of course, but I was just happy that it was the last day of senior year, meaning that after graduation, I never had to show up there again.  Turk tried to get me to press charges, but I just wanted it to be over with, so he let it go.

              “But it’s that kind of stuff that gets him so fired up, why he’s so protective of me.  I just hate that he brings it up as a reason why I shouldn’t date or why I should be more careful.  I know that there are people out there who hate me because of who I am, but that’s not a good enough reason for me to stop living my life.  It’s not like I have a bad sense of judgement or anything – all of that was because I was drunk.  I still think the guy was in denial or something because he seemed into me, but he was drunk, too, so who knows?  Anyway, all this to say that I understand why Turk’s acting the way he is, but I’m not going to stop seeing people – seeing you – just because of a couple bad experiences.”

              After JD finished his story, it was one of those rare times that Perry was truly speechless.  He was able to understand where Turk was coming from, though he would never do anything to put JD in that kind of situation.  Floundering as he tried to find the right words, he held JD a little tighter.  “Well, luckily for everyone involved, you never have to worry about that again,” he murmured.

              JD relaxed back into Perry, having become quite tense as he spoke.  “I know,” he breathed, resting his head on Perry’s shoulder and looking up at him.  “So just go easy on Turk.  I can tell he knows you won’t hurt me, but I’m his best friend, you know?”

              Perry nodded, pressing a soft kiss to JD’s forehead.  “I won’t let anything happen to you, JD.  You’re safe with me.”

              “Thanks,” JD said, a small smile forming on his lips.  “But I’m a big boy.  I can take care of myself.”

              Perry smiled back.  “You’re a pretty damn amazing person,” he said, a little awed by JD.

              “I know,” JD said again, now grinning.  “It’s a gift.”

              Perry chuckled before pulling JD into a long, deep kiss.  They stayed that way for a while, eventually sinking down on the bed until they were both laying on their sides, face to face.  “For the record,” Perry said some time later, JD practically purring as Perry brushed his fingers through his hair, “Turk wasn’t wrong about me being a jackass.”

              “I’ll believe it when I see it,” JD said sleepily, not even bothering to open his eyes.  As far as he was concerned, these empty threats about Perry being a jerk were pointless.

              Perry smiled, but continued on.  “When things got really bad with Jordan and I,” he said slowly, “I wasn’t a fun person to be around.  It got taken out on everyone around me and it’s only been recently that things have gotten a little better.  But I’m still that guy at the hospital, JD, the one who makes everything harder than it needs to be.  So, I guess what I’m saying is don’t be surprised if people aren’t your biggest fan because you’re with me.”

              JD had opened his eyes, watching Perry the whole time.  “Are you done now?” he asked politely, the corners of his mouth twitching.  “I don’t buy the bad guy act for a minute.  And I’ve already had plenty of people ask me what the hell I’m doing with you during this last week.  It doesn’t change the way I feel about you.  We all have our stuff, our baggage.  Yours is an ugly divorce and mine is a family who likes to pretend they support me when they really don’t.  But we’re both still here with each other and that is all that matters to me.”

              Perry looked back at JD for a long moment, stunned by how compassionate and forgiving he truly was.  It was in that moment that he realized he was really beginning to fall for JD.  “Me, too,” he finally replied, letting JD curl in against his chest.  He reached down and pulled the covers over them, though initially he hadn’t planned on staying over.  Now he wondered why he wouldn’t have wanted to in the first place.  He continued stroking JD’s hair until he was certain the younger man had fallen asleep, noting it was the first time either of them had spent the night.  Smiling to himself, he drifted off, not wanting to be anywhere else in the world.

 


 

 

              The next morning, JD managed to untangle himself from Perry, though he did so regretfully.  When he made it out into the living room, he found Turk in the kitchen with some sort of ridiculously excessive breakfast production well underway.

              “Uh, how long have you been up?” JD asked, rubbing his eyes.

              “About an hour,” Turk answered as he glanced over his shoulder.  “Perry stay over?”

              “Yeah.  We didn’t do anything, though.”

              Turk shrugged.  “Doesn’t make a difference to me.  Do you want some waffles?”

              JD arched an eyebrow, but sat down on one of the barstools at the half-wall.  “Sure,” he said, wondering if Turk was trying to bribe him with breakfast.

              Turk plated a few waffles and several strips of bacon and turned to hand it to JD, along with a bottle of syrup.  “Hey, we… we’re cool, right?” he asked hesitantly.

              JD glanced up at Turk as he poured far too much syrup onto his plate.  “That depends,” he said after some contemplation.  “Are you done pretending like Perry’s the one causing a problem?”

              “Yeah, man, of course,” Turk said quickly, and it was clear that he was being sincere.  “I’m really sorry.  If I had been paying any attention at all, I would have seen how good he treats you and how obvious it is that you care about him.  So, my bad.”

              “Then yeah, we’re cool,” JD said seriously.  “Now shut up and eat your waffles.”

              Turk grinned and loaded his plate up with waffles.  They easily fell back into their old banter and were still going at it when Perry emerged from the bedroom, his clothes rumpled and hair oddly flat on the side of his head he’d slept on.  JD couldn’t help but giggle at the state of his boyfriend.  He slid off his barstool and wrapped his arms around Perry’s waist, relishing the sleepy smile he got in return.

              “Good morning,” JD said brightly.  “You must’ve been tired.”

              Perry pressed a kiss to JD’s forehead in greeting.  “Got any coffee?” he mumbled, shuffling his feet toward the source of the smells that had roused him from sleep.

              JD laughed again and hurried to start a pot of coffee, but it appeared Turk had already beaten him to the punch.  Turk offered Perry a mug, which he took gratefully.  “Need any creamer?” he asked, clearly trying to get on Perry’s good side.

              Perry shook his head.  “Just sugar, thanks.”

              JD felt as though he could burst from happiness at seeing his best friend and his boyfriend being so civil.  He had a feeling the two could easily become good friends if they let themselves.  After a few sips of coffee, Perry swiped a strip of bacon off JD’s plate, earning a playful swat from the other man. 

              “You know, there’s more on the stove,” Turk pointed out, offering Perry the plate of freshly-cooked bacon. 

              “I’d rather steal it off Newbie’s plate if that’s all right with you,” Perry teased, successfully stealing another piece when JD sat there looking affronted. 

              “God, you two are obnoxious,” Turk groaned, but this time JD could tell there was fondness in his tone.  “I have to go get ready for work, but try not to fuck in the kitchen.  It’s not sanitary.”

              JD blushed bright red at Turk’s comment and watched him leave the room before chancing a look over at Perry.  He didn’t quite look expectant, but as though he wouldn’t mind doing just that.  JD placed a hand on his cheek, looking regretful.  “It’s not that I don’t want to,” he said slowly, searching for the right words.

              Perry shook his head and took JD’s hand in his.  “If you’re not ready, that’s perfectly fine,” he said firmly.  “Don’t worry about me.”

              “I just don’t want to mess this up, if that makes sense,” JD said sheepishly.  “There’ve been plenty of times that I just went to bed with someone right away and none of those relationships ever ended well.  I – I want to take this slow.”

              “Then slow is how we’ll take it,” Perry promised without a second thought, leaning in to press a soft kiss to JD’s lips.  “You just say the word.”

              JD appreciated Perry’s willingness to wait.  What he’d said was true: a common denominator in nearly all of his past relationships, however fleeting they had been, was that he’d slept with them within the first couple dates.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do exactly that right then – did he ever – but maybe exercising a little self-control would make a difference in the long run.  As the two of them finished their breakfast and made small talk, he found it easy to forget his insecurities about waiting, knowing that they both just genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

Chapter Text

Year One: October

              The next few weeks seemed to fly by.  JD learned new procedures and treatments and strategies for diagnosing, all by Perry’s side.  He felt as though he were really coming into his own as a doctor, though it had scarcely been a month since he started at Sacred Heart.  That month had also been spent at both their apartments, at restaurants and bars, and kisses had been stolen everywhere from supply closets to the roof of the hospital.  JD had never expected to fall so quickly for anyone, but there he was, falling hard and fast for Perry after only a month. 

              Over the last month, he had gotten glimpses of the Perry that most of the people in the hospital disliked.  JD saw him get angry at patients for not doing as they were told, he saw him fight with Kelso over and over again, and he saw him take his frustrations out on the other interns.  JD did his best to understand where Perry was coming from, and most of the time, he could, even if he himself wouldn’t have reacted the same way.  He hadn’t yet had the frustration or the indifference directed at him, but all that changed when his latest patient was admitted.

              Mrs. Tanner was a seventy-four year-old woman admitted with renal failure and it was clear that without dialysis, she wouldn’t stand a chance.  Much to JD’s surprise, she seemed to have already given up, which was something he just couldn’t handle.  That evening, he sought out Perry for advice.  He explained the situation and in return expected Perry to have a game plan already in place.

              “JD, I’m sorry, but I am simply not interested in trying to help people that don’t want to be helped,” Perry said simply, going back to the magazine he was reading as he put his legs up on the coffee table in the doctors’ lounge.

              JD was shocked by this answer.  “Everyone deserves to be helped, regardless of whether or not they want it,” he said as though this was obvious.  How could Perry not see it?

              “Tell me,” Perry said, sighing and setting down the magazine, “why should I waste my time and energy trying to save some poor old woman who has told you she’s ready to die when I could work my ass off trying to save someone who actually wants to be saved?”

              “Because you’re a doctor!” JD gaped.  “It’s your job!”     

              Perry shook his head.  “It is not my job to try to convince that dying woman to hang on, to give it another go, that miracles happen.  If she’s given up, that’s her decision, and quite frankly, Newbie, the fact that you’re hanging on so tightly ot the hope that she might pull through tells me that this isn’t even about her – it’s about you.  You can care, you can have compassion, you can be sad when you lose a patient – hell, those are things that make you a good doctor – but you can’t get attached like this or you’ll never make it through.”

              “I’m not getting attached –”

              “That’s a lie.  Don’t lie to me,” Perry said, sounding as stern as he did when he spoke to the other interns.  “Mrs. Tanner has explicitly stated that she is ready to die.  You need to respect her wishes, not search for a magical cure-all.  I’m not saying this to be insensitive, JD, far from it.  I know you can’t see it now, but this is one of those things you just have to learn.  You’re afraid of death and you can’t be.  And you can bet your ass that I’ll be right beside you to help you through this, but you have to let me.”

              “You’re wrong,” JD said stubbornly.  “I can help her.  I will – with or without your help.”  He shoved himself up off the couch and headed toward Mrs. Tanner’s room, bound and determined to convince her to fight.

              When he arrived at her room, her family was just shuffling out, looking as though they were in good spirits – not like their matriarch had just told them she was dying.  “You didn’t tell them, did you?” JD asked, sitting down in the chair beside her bed.

              “It didn’t come up,” Mrs. Tanner said innocently.  “Look, they don’t need that burden.  Besides, they’d just give me a list of reasons to change my mind.”

              “Speaking of which,” JD said as he pulled a small notebook out of his pocket, “I took the liberty of jotting down a few things I think everybody should do at least once in their life.  Number one: eat a sausage-and-pepper hoagie from Enrico’s.”

              “Well, of course I’ve done that,” Mrs. Tanner replied, waving her hand dismissively.

              “Number two,” JD continued, “go to Asia.”

              “I lived in Kyoto for five years.”

              JD sighed and over the next twenty minutes, he read from his list, determined to find something that Mrs. Tanner hadn’t done.

              “Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.”

              “Done.”

              “Fine.  Go to the top of the Meiffel Tower.”

              “Oh, now you’re making stuff up.  Listen, Dr. Dorian, there’s not one thing I regret as I lay here right now.  I’m ready.  I really am.”

              “You have had an amazing life,” JD sighed, looking down at his list and feeling defeated.

              “Good, then we agree.  Now, aren’t there other patients you need to be seeing?”

              “Me?  No, no, I’ve – I’ve been off for two hours.”

              “So, with your precious free time, you’ve been sitting in a hospital room talking to an old lady.  What about your list?  How many of those things have you done?  For that matter, how many times have you sat in the grass and done nothing, hmm?”

              JD remained silent, unable to answer her questions.

              “You need to start taking some time for yourself, young man.  Promise me you’ll do that.”

 


 

 

              Mrs. Tanner hardly lasted another hour.  JD had spoken to her family, told them that sometimes people just knew when they were ready.  It all felt like a lie and he hated her for a moment for putting him in that position.  After giving the family plenty of time to say their goodbyes, Mrs. Tanner was brought to the morgue, but JD lingered in her doorway, staring into the empty room.  He heard Perry walk up behind him, though he said nothing.

              “She’s gone,” JD said softly, not yet ready to face Perry.

              “I’m sorry,” Perry said sincerely.

              “You were right.  Want to rub it in my face?”

              “Not at all.  Come on, let’s get you something to eat.”

              Perry led him up to the cafeteria, which was nearly empty given the late hour.  The sun was nearly set and most of the staff had gone home for the day.  The only people left there were family members who had nowhere else to go.  Perry got JD some food out of one of the vending machines, nudging it toward him on the tabletop.  It was all JD could do to pretend to eat.

              “Sorry I didn’t listen to you before,” JD said, not looking up.

              “Hey, I can only tell you so much,” Perry said gently.  “The rest you just have to learn for yourself and some lessons are harder than others.  Death is an inevitable part of working here, sweetheart.  I’m not saying that you should completely desensitize yourself to it, but you have to learn to separate yourself from your patients.  It’s up to you to find the right balance.”

              “You’re right,” JD sighed.  “Of course, you’re right.  You always are.”

              “Just because I’ve been a doctor for a long time.  I do actually know what I’m talking about some of the time.”

              JD wasn’t sure what to say in response, so he just sat there, staring at his uneaten food.  Finally, he pushed it away.  “My shift ended three hours ago.”

              “I know,” Perry said.  “Mine, too.”

              “Why didn’t you go home?” JD asked, looking up at Perry for the first time.

              “And leave you here on your own?  Not a chance.”

              “Could I stay at your place tonight?” JD asked in a small voice.

              “I told you, door’s always open,” Perry said, giving JD a sad smile.  “You want to head out?”

              “Yeah, I’ll go grab my bag and I’ll meet you by the car.”  JD stood up to leave, Perry following close behind him. 

              “JD?”

              “Yeah?”

              Perry placed a hand on the back of JD’s neck and kissed him soft and slow.  “You’ll be fine.”

              Once both JD and Perry were in Perry’s car, JD spoke up. 

              “Could we do something first before we go ho- to your place?”

              Perry caught JD’s slip, but didn’t point it out.  “Of course.  Where to?”

              “The park.  I just… There’s something I have to do.”

 


 

 

              Perry did not question JD’s chosen destination, figuring it had something to do with the loss of Mrs. Tanner.  Whatever he needed, Perry was willing to do.  When they reached the park, the same one they had gone to on their first date, Perry lingered behind, following slowly behind JD as he quickly and confidently led the way.  He almost wanted to laugh when JD found an appropriate spot in the grass and simply laid down on his back, staring up at the sky, but it was clear this meant something to him.  Perry made his way over and joined him, lacing their fingers together.

              “Stargazing, huh?” Perry asked, glancing over at the younger doctor.

              JD kept his eyes on the sky, but nodded.  “I made a promise.”

              “For what it’s worth,” Perry murmured, “I’m really proud of you.”

              “Did you ever have doubts when you first started?”

              “I did,” Perry confirmed.  “Everyone does.  But, babe, I’ve seen countless interns funnel in and out of that place and I can objectively say that you’re one of the good ones.  You’re gonna make it, no doubt in my mind there.”

              JD squeezed Perry’s hand.  “Think I’m pretty lucky to have you by my side.  Your support… Perry, it means the world to me.”

              “Don’t mention it,” Perry said warmly, squeezing back.  The smile that JD gave in return made him certain that JD would be just fine – and that he had learned a valuable lesson.

 


 

 

              The next week was blissful as far as JD was concerned.  He had a new-found vigor that helped him redouble his efforts at work, but that didn’t stop him from finding plenty of time for his boyfriend.  In one particularly memorable instance, JD caught Perry smiling at him from across the ICU, not bothering to hide it.  It resulted, as any simple smile would, in the two of them ducking into a supply closet.  The moment Perry closed the door, his hands were on JD’s ass and his lips on his neck.  Immediately, JD pulled Perry back up to kiss him soundly, threading his fingers into the taller man’s hair and pulling perhaps a bit harder than usual.  Perry grunted and shoved JD against the wall, nearly lifting him off the floor as they kissed.  Throughout the rest of the week, JD’s collar bone, conveniently beneath his scrubs tops, became subject to all manner of bite marks and hickeys.  He hadn’t left any visible marks on Perry, but he did his best to give as good as he got.

              At the end of the week when the hospital was quieter than usual, JD pulled Perry into an empty on-call room and locked the door behind them.  A moment later, he pushed Perry down onto the nearest bed and straddled his hips, leaning down to kiss him thoroughly. 

              “Feeling feisty tonight, are we?” Perry asked against JD’s lips, breathless.

              “Stop talking,” JD breathed back, slowly rocking his hips against Perry’s. 

              Perry obliged, instead groaning at the feeling JD’s movements caused.  He gripped JD’s hips and pulled him even closer in search of more friction.

              JD couldn’t deny that the low groans that came from Perry’s chest were nothing short of gorgeous, and he could feel Perry rubbing against him, knowing the pleasure it was bringing both of them, and as much as he wanted to continue on, make Perry feel good, he didn’t want their first time doing anything to be in an on-call room.  Regretfully, he broke the kiss and slid off Perry, moving to lay next to him instead, both of them panting.

              “Damn, Newbie,” Perry huffed, struggling to regain his composure.

              “Sorry,” JD said quickly, “I just – fuck, I don’t want our first time to be here, on a bunk bed, you know?”

              Perry turned his head to look at JD, his breathing finally starting to even out.  “Is that what you think I meant?” he asked with a small laugh.  “No, that was more of an appreciative ‘damn’ sort of thing.  No pressure, kiddo.”

              JD smiled and kissed Perry again, more gently this time.  “Oh, okay.  Great.  You good to get back out there or do you need a minute?”

              “I’m good,” Perry said, grinning.  “I can always catch a cold shower when I get home.  Go on, get out there before someone comes looking for us.”  He took a few more moments to himself to calm his body before he joined JD back out on the floor.

 


 

 

              The next week, Kelso handed JD the chart of a patient he had no interest in treating, but also had no choice in the matter.  Ms. Sullivan was the daughter of a wealthy hospital board member and she had taken his place when he died.  She was an abrasive, albeit gorgeous, woman and JD wanted to spend as little time with her as possible.  Thankfully, all her tests had come back negative so he was discharging her.  He went to her room to give her the good news, but found her already fully dressed.

              “Wait, wait, why are you dressed?” he asked, perplexed.

              “I’m going to a party,” Jordan said as she zipped up her suitcase.  “I assume my tests are normal, but gosh, Huckleberry, I sure hope we can go down to the river sometime and race frogs!”

              Something in JD snapped then and he decided he wouldn’t be walked all over by her or by anyone anymore.  “Listen, you spoiled, bossy, chore of a woman!” he said – and immediately regretted it.

              “I’m sorry, what did you just say?” Jordan asked, advancing on him.

              “I’m the doctor here,” JD said firmly, deciding if he was going to do this, he was going to do it right.  “So put your gown back on, get back in bed, and shut the hell up.”  He wasn’t exactly sure why he wanted her to do that, seeing as he had been coming to discharge her, but what could he say?  He’d gone mad with power.

              “No one talks to me that way,” Jordan said, her expression unreadable.

              “Well, get used to it… missy,” JD said weakly.

              Jordan, staring a hole right through him, began unbuttoning her blouse.

              “Um,” JD said uncomfortably, “I didn’t mean to be such a hardass just then.  You can wait until I’m gone to put your gown back on.”

              With her blouse now wide open, Jordan stepped closer to JD.  “Take your pants off.”

              “Excuse me, what?” JD asked, his eyes going wide.  “I’m – I’m with someone and… and I’m your doctor.”

              Jordan narrowed her eyes but did not argue further, instead buttoning her shirt back up.  “Get lost, punk,” she muttered.

              Eager for a chance to escape, JD slipped out of her room, wondering if he’d somehow stepped into the Twilight Zone just then.  He was glad to see Perry just a few feet away and walked over to him.  “That was bizarre,” he mumbled just as Jordan emerged from her room, looking perfectly put-together with her suitcase in tow.

              Perry glanced up at her and then did a double-take.  “Jordan,” he said flatly.

              “Perry,” Jordan said in the same cold tone of voice. 

              “You two know each other?” JD asked, eyes darting between the two of them.

              “Sweetie,” Perry said through gritted teeth, “this is my ex-wife.  Careful, don’t look her in the eyes or she’ll steal your soul.  So, how are things going in the underworld?”

              “Good,” Jordan said, unaffected.  “And you, still have a rollicking social life?”

              “Since I cut you loose, it’s been one big party.  If you haven’t noticed, I’m actually happy now.”

              Jordan looked JD over, watching the way he was tucked under Perry’s arm.  “We’ll see how long that lasts,” she said cryptically before stalking off.

              JD felt oddly unsettled by the altercation, though he couldn’t exactly pinpoint why.  Jordan’s words nagged at him for the rest of his shift, and though he went home with Perry afterward, he couldn’t quite pull himself out of his funk.  They’d been so hostile with each other and seeing Perry like that was shocking.  He didn’t think that would ever happen to them, but it scared him to know that his relationship with Jordan had been that bad that they now seemed to despise each other.

              When they were curled up on Perry’s couch that evening, JD picked up one of Perry’s hands and played with it while Perry watched ESPN.  “We’re not going to end up like that, right?  Like you and Jordan?” he asked timidly.

              Perry looked down at JD in surprise, not having realized the encounter had shaken him so much.  “No,” he said firmly.  “No, JD, that’ll never happen to us.  Jordan and I had a very dysfunctional relationship and it wasn’t healthy.  You and I – we communicate.  Jordan and I never did that.  So, no.  I won’t let that happen to us.”  He pulled his hand away from JD in favor of using it to lift his chin.  “I love you,” he murmured.

              JD gazed back into Perry’s eyes, realizing that even though he’d been thinking that for a while, it was the first time either of them had said it out loud.  He hadn’t really expected Perry to say it any time soon, though he knew Perry cared deeply for him.  “I love you, too,” he said easily, unable to tear his eyes away.  He pulled Perry in for a long, deep kiss, realizing that this was exactly what he wanted – forever.  He tried to communicate that into the kiss, hoping Perry understood.

              When Perry pulled away for breath, he looked back at JD, who was already breathless.  “You want to?”  he asked softly, hoping he hadn’t misread the signals JD was giving.

              “I want to,” JD confirmed, letting out a soft moan when Perry leaned in to kiss at his neck.  “God, I want to.”

              Perry would have been happy kissing JD’s neck all night if it meant he got to hear more of those noises.  The times they’d spent kissing, grinding, groping, were enough for him because the last thing he’d ever wanted to do was disrespect JD’s boundaries, but the prospect of JD really being ready had his head spinning.  “Bedroom?” he asked as he pushed aside JD’s shirt to kiss at his shoulder.

              JD whimpered, threading his fingers into Perry’s hair.  “Yeah,” he gasped, letting his head fall back.  “Oh, Perry.”

              Perry finally pulled back and slid off the couch, taking JD’s hand and pulling him along.  He didn’t look back as he led him toward the bedroom, instead hoping he would be able to live up to JD’s expectations.  Once in the bedroom, JD moved to straddle Perry on the bed, able to feel him through their clothes, already growing hard.  Perry groaned into JD’s kiss, rocking his hips up against him.

              “We – fuck, JD – we should talk first – about what you’re comfortable with,” Perry finally managed to get out, not wanting them to get too carried away before he knew JD’s boundaries, what he liked and didn’t like.

              JD paused, resting his hands on either side of Perry’s head as he pulled back, both touched and mildly annoyed that Perry stopped kissing him.  “As a general rule, I like things fast and hard,” he said in a rush.  “I don’t need anything fancy, and I tend to get pretty sensitive once I come, so don’t go overboard, okay?”

              “Okay,” Perry said, nodding as he ran his hands over JD’s sides.  “Anything else you want me to know?”

              “I think you’ll be able to figure out what I like and what I don’t,” JD said, smiling even as he blushed.  “I’m not exactly quiet, you know?”

              Perry chuckled.  “I figured that was going to be the case,” he said, sitting up with JD still in his lap.  “Let me just grab a condom.  Do you need lube?”

              “Aren’t you just a sweetheart?” JD asked, rolling off Perry and onto his back.  Truthfully, his sexual experiences hadn’t been all that great in the past, some better than others, but he was genuinely happy that Perry was being so accommodating and patient.  “But no, believe me, I’m all good on that front.”

              Perry smirked at JD as he rooted through the top drawer of his bedside table, emerging with a condom.  When he looked back up, JD already had everything off but his boxers.  Briefly, he considered making a joke about JD being eager, but he stopped himself, realizing that JD was someone who had made him genuinely happy over the past month and a half, and that wasn’t something he could really say about anyone else.

              And then he spotted the band-aids.  Covering JD’s nipples were two neon-colored band-aids and the mere sight of them made Perry lose it.  JD’s expression quickly shifted and he looked affronted, making Perry pull himself together enough to speak.

              “What’s with – the band-aids?” he choked out, gesturing toward JD’s chest.

              JD immediately turned bright red and started to laugh right along with Perry.  “I was helping out in pediatrics today,” he sputtered.  “The kids thought it was funny!”  He hastily tore off the band-aids, wincing slightly, and threw them on the other nightstand. 

              “God love you, Newbie,” Perry laughed, climbing over top of JD and kissing him thoroughly.

              JD sensed the sudden shift in mood, both of them no longer laughing as they kissed.  He ran his hands over Perry’s shoulders, down his arms, over his back, trying to memorize every dip and curve of his muscled body.  The energy between them was electric, reminiscent of their first date at the park when they were barely touching.

              “You look amazing,” Perry murmured, peppering soft kisses along JD’s jaw.

              JD smiled as he brought both his hands up to the button on Perry’s jeans, letting one slip inside to wrap around him.  “Not so bad yourself,” he replied, catching his lower lip between his teeth at the low groan Perry that came from Perry’s chest.  Slowly, JD stroked the other man, kissing him deeply and effectively swallowing up the soft moans he continued to let out.

              Eventually, Perry pulled away to shed the rest of his clothing and tear open the condom.  As he rolled it on, JD kicked off his boxers, leaving him bare to Perry.  Perry could tell he was feeling vulnerable, but not uncomfortable, for which he was grateful.  He moved between JD’s legs and kissed him again.  “Is this okay?” he asked softly, wanting JD to be as comfortable and in-control as possible.

              “Perfect,” JD assured him, wrapping his arms around Perry.  “Go on.  I’m ready.”

              Perry ducked his head to kiss at JD’s neck for a moment, unable to resist the pale, smooth skin, and JD whimpered in response.  Perry lingered only for a moment or two before he lifted his head again, wanting to watch JD’s face.  He took himself in hand and slowly pushed into JD, letting him adjust with each inch.  JD’s eyelids fluttered and he sucked in a soft gasp when Perry entered him, but it wasn’t until Perry was completely sheathed inside him that he let his head fall back, breathing harshly.

              “You okay?” Perry asked, reaching up to brush a stray piece of hair from JD’s forehead.  He could feel JD adjusting around him, tightening some and then relaxing, and that alone felt like heaven.

              “God, yeah,” JD said with a weak grin.  “It’s just – oh, it’s been a while and you feel amazing.”

              Perry smiled back at JD, still watching his face with rapt attention, and rolled his hips experimentally.  He was rewarded with a low moan from JD, the other man’s hips arching up to meet his own.  “I seem to recall you saying you liked it fast,” Perry purred, lowering his head once again to mark up JD’s neck, starting just below his ear and trailing down all the way to his collar bone.

              JD shivered beneath Perry and slowly brought his legs up to wrap around his waist.  “That would be correct,” he gasped.  It had been so long since he’d been made to feel this way, so filled and so appreciated.  He figured it was a testament to Perry’s self-control that he was just held in JD, barely moving.

              “Now, would that go something like this?” Perry asked as he pulled out of JD at an agonizingly slow pace and then pressed back in the same way.

              JD whimpered, feeling shivers spread all over his body at the exquisite feeling.  “N-not quite,” he managed, wondering if Perry could feel him shaking.

              Perry grinned against JD’s neck and nipped softly at his skin just as he thrust suddenly forward.  He was careful not to cause JD any pain, instead just giving him exactly what he wanted.  JD let out a shout of pleasure, his back arching up off the bed at the peak of Perry’s thrust.  Perry shuddered himself when he felt JD throb around him, his mouth dropping open as he panted.

              “Again,” JD demanded, his fingers digging into Perry’s back.  Perry, more than happy to oblige, repeated the motion, pulling back and snapping his hips forward, making JD curse and moan.  JD reached up and pulled Perry into a searing kiss, biting down on his lower lip and pulling before growling, “Fuck me now.”

              Perry didn’t have it in him to tease anymore, not to mention that hearing JD’s moans did even more for him than he thought they would.  He set a fast pace, just like JD had told him to, and drank in the soft, desperate noises JD made.

              A short time later, JD slipped a hand between them to touch himself, both of them panting and rocking together.  Perry felt JD begin to tense up and knowing what was coming, he moved a little faster, his thrusts even harder, determined to make it the best JD’d ever had.

              The closer he got, the louder and more often JD moaned.  “Don’t stop,” he choked out, grabbing at Perry’s back with his free hand.  “Fuck, Perry, just like that…”

              Perry let his lips ghost along JD’s ear, feeling JD’s entire body starting to tense.  “You gonna come for me?” he whispered, his pace never faltering.  He’d learned long ago that ‘just like that’ really meant just like that, not ‘speed up’ or ‘change what you’re doing.’ 

              JD cried out, far too gone to reply, as he came, his legs shaking around Perry and his hips bucking up in rhythm with the waves of pleasure he experienced.  Perry couldn’t hope to last much longer at the feeling of JD throbbing around him.  He moaned low in his chest, burying himself deep and biting down on JD’s shoulder as he spasmed inside him.

              As they both came down, JD relaxed, letting his legs slowly fall from around Perry’s waist.  He reached up with shaking hands to pull Perry’s face to his, kissing him long and slow.  He hadn’t even opened his eyes yet, his heartrate slowly going back to normal.

              Reluctantly, Perry broke the kiss and moved off JD to toss the condom in the garbage can next to his bed before lowering himself back down next to JD.  Both of them laid there on their backs for a long moment until JD turned on his side and buried his face in Perry’s neck.  Perry smiled to himself and carded his fingers through JD’s hair.  It had been a while since he’d felt so peaceful, especially with another person.

              “How you doing, kiddo?” Perry asked quietly, melting at the look JD gave him upon lifting his head.

              “Never better,” he whispered, his eyes soft and his expression warm.  He draped an arm over Perry’s body, hugging him close.  “That was the best sex I’ve ever had.”

              “Glad I could be of service,” Perry said with a smirk as JD settled in beside him.  “It was some damn good ‘I love you’ sex.”

              JD smiled against Perry’s shoulder.  “Yeah, it really was,” he said sleepily.  “I love you so much, babe.  Thanks for asking me out in a grocery store.”

              Perry turned and pressed a kiss to JD’s head.  “Any time, angel.  Any time.”

 


 

 

              When JD woke from his short but blessedly restful nap, he was surprised to find Perry still awake.  “Didn’t you sleep?” he asked as he stretched out beside Perry.

              Perry shook his head.  “No, but you sure did,” he said in amusement.

              “Sex makes me sleepy,” JD said defensively, though he couldn’t help but smile.  “I can’t help it.  I have an orgasm and it’s like –”  He mimed passing out, complete with over-the-top snoring.

              Perry laughed, a sound of which JD would never tire.  “Well, at risk of you falling asleep again, maybe we should talk.”

              “About what?”

              “Anything” Perry said with a shrug.

              JD thought for a moment, running through lists of topics they hadn’t talked about yet.  “How do you feel about kids?” he asked, turning on his side to face Perry.  “I mean, do you think you’ll want them someday?”

              Perry took a breath, not having been prepared for such a serious topic.  “I – maybe,” he said, wanting to be honest.  “It’s not something I’ve thought a lot about, tell you the truth.”

              “I mean, I haven’t thought about it a ton either,” JD said quickly.  “But I like kids.  I always have.  I think it’d be cool to be a dad someday.”

              “The idea always kind of freaked me out,” Perry said after a moment.  “I didn’t have a good childhood myself, so the idea of being a father when he was the only father figure I had…”

              JD brought a hand up to rest on Perry’s chest.  “It’s okay,” he said gently.  “This is only in theory.  If kids are something we decide we want, well, that won’t be for a long time.  But for the record, you’d be an amazing father.  Any kid would be lucky to have you.”

              “Thanks, Newbie,” Perry said, relaxing at his touch.  “Doesn’t seem as scary when it’s with you.”

              JD snuggled closer to Perry under the blankets.  “Can’t believe we’re settling down already after only a month and a half,” he joked.  “Having babies.”

              “Quiet down, would ya?” Perry teased, rubbing JD’s back.  “All this talk about kids is putting me to sleep.”

              JD giggled and reached up to kiss Perry’s nose.  “I promise I won’t go adopt a child while you’re sleeping.  Think my legs are still jelly, actually.”

              Perry grinned.  “Then I did a good job, didn’t I?”

              “The best,” JD assured him.  “You know now I have high expectations, though.  Maybe you should have sucked the first time so you could blow me away next time.”

              “Okay, you really need to go to sleep,” Perry said, rolling his eyes.  “You are, by the far, the strangest man I have ever met.”

              “And you love me for it,” JD said proudly.

              “Damn right, I do,” Perry confirmed.  “Damn.  Right.”  He punctuated each word with a kiss before both of them settled into the bed, pressed up against each other from head to toe.

Chapter Text

Year One: November

              To JD, it had seemed like ages since he and Perry had a night off together, but finally, one had come around and they were both looking forward to spending it together.  As soon as JD finished up at the hospital, he drove straight to Perry’s, hoping he’d be interested in cuddling on the couch instead of more strenuous activities.  He’d been feeling off all day and kept getting a stitch in his side, but thought little of it.  As soon as he got to Perry’s apartment, he hurried into the building and knocked on his door, eager to see Perry; he’d had the day off so JD hadn’t seen him since the day before.  Because they worked together, going more than a day without seeing each other felt strange and seeing as they both enjoyed each other’s company, they couldn’t find a reason not to spend as much time together as possible.

              Perry opened the door after practically vaulting off the couch in his eagerness to see JD.  As was customary, he opened his arms and JD walked right into his embrace, wrapping his arms around Perry’s middle and inhaling deeply.  “Missed you,” Perry said in greeting, pressing a kiss to the top of JD’s head – he was used to the mouthful of moussed hair by now. 

              “I missed you, too,” JD said when they pulled apart.  He headed straight for the couch, wanting to sit down as the stitch in his side had returned once again.  “How was your day off?”

              “Oh, you know,” Perry said airily, “got some things done around the apartment, ran to the store.  Better now that you’re here, though.”

              JD could sense where Perry was heading, and as much as he wanted to go along with what Perry had planned, he just wasn’t feeling up to anything more than just relaxing.  “That’s good,” he said, sounding a little distracted.  “I’m exhausted, though.  I was kind of hoping we could just put in a movie…”

              “Of course,” Perry said quickly.  “Are you feeling okay?”

              JD shrugged, knowing that lying wouldn’t do him any good.  “I just kind of felt off all day today.  It was really weird, so hopefully I’m not getting sick.”

              “I hope not,” Perry agreed, leaning back and opening his arm to JD.  “Come here.  Get comfy, we’ll find something to watch.  Do you want me to get you anything to eat?”

              JD shook his head as he sat next to Perry and leaned into his side.  “’M not hungry, but thanks,” he said, closing his eyes momentarily while Perry scrolled through the TV guide in search of something they could both enjoy.  As he sat there, waiting, he began to feel nauseous.  “I’ll be right back,” he told Perry, heading down the hall to the bathroom.  Once inside, he closed the door and braced himself against the counter, taking deep breaths in through his nose and out through his mouth.  He splashed some cold water on his face, desperately hoping he hadn’t caught something.  Thankfully, the nausea began to subside, so he left the bathroom and went into Perry’s room, where he kept a few spare sets of clothes.  He changed into a t-shirt and a pair of flannel pajama pants, but as he walked back out to the living room, he began to shiver. 

              “Everything okay?” Perry asked, looking over his shoulder at JD as he came back into the room.

              JD nodded, trying not to let his teeth chatter, and instead pulled a blanket over himself and curled back into Perry, grateful for the heat his body gave off.

              “Are you cold?” Perry asked, his brow furrowing as he looked down at JD.  He’d put on Hallmark Christmas movie, figuring JD would like it, though he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why they were already showing holiday movies when Thanksgiving hadn’t yet passed.

              “F-freezing,” JD admitted, now openly shivering. 

              Perry pulled JD into his arms in an attempt to warm him up.  “Hate to break it to you, kiddo, but I think you’re coming down with something,” he said regretfully.

              “Don’t s-say that,” JD grumbled.  “I’ll be fine.  Let’s just watch the movie.” 

              Perry sighed, but didn’t fight.  They hadn’t watched more than twenty minutes of the god-awful show when JD began inching away from Perry.  Perry let him go, and didn’t question it, though he was rather worried.  Seconds later, JD threw the blanket off and sprawled out against the back of the couch, looking rather miserable.  Perry raised an eyebrow and put his wrist to JD’s forehead. 

              “Jesus, Newbie, you’re on fire,” he said worriedly.

              “I know,” JD groaned, closing his eyes.  He felt horrible, and that stitch in his side was back again.  “I just wanted to have a nice night with you.”

              “Well, I’m certainly not going to kick you out,” Perry snorted.  “Just stay put, I’m going to get you some water and a cool washcloth.”

              “I’ll be here,” JD said weakly, feeling as though he might just start on fire. 

              By the time Perry returned, JD had begun feeling nauseous again, though he hoped that if he didn’t say it out loud, it would just go away.  “Take a couple sips for me,” Perry said, handing him a glass of water.  JD felt inexplicably weak all of a sudden, but he managed to take the glass and do as he was told.  Gingerly, Perry placed the cool, damp washcloth on JD’s forehead and sat back down beside him.  “Anything else I can get for you?”

              JD wasn’t confident in his ability to speak and not vomit so he just shook his head.  Perry stroked his hair and sighed, hating to see JD feeling so awful.  JD only made it a few more minutes on the couch before he knew his nausea was no false alarm.  So suddenly that it made Perry jump, he jumped up off the couch and darted to the bathroom, where he was violently sick.  In his concern, Perry followed behind, though he paused outside the door, unsure if JD would want him in the bathroom with him.  When he heard the toilet flush, Perry carefully opened the door, finding JD kneeling on the floor with his forehead resting on the now-closed toilet lid.

              “Oh, Newbie,” Perry said with a frown as he walked over to him.  “Guess you caught the bug that’s been going around.”

              JD whimpered rather pathetically.  “Cold again,” he said in response, trying not to cry.  He hated being sick, but he hated vomiting even more.  He could handle it when other people did it – as a doctor, he had to – but when he was sick himself, he just wanted it to stop.

              “Come on,” Perry said gently, helping JD to his feet.  “How about we get you into bed?  Try and sleep it off.”

              JD heaved himself to his feet, grateful for Perry’s support.  He was able to make it to the bed on his own, though, and Perry went and gathered up the water and washcloth.  He made sure JD was tucked in under the covers to try and stop his shivering.  “Can you take another drink for me?” Perry asked, stroking JD’s hair back off his forehead. 

              JD whined, but knew that he should keep drinking so he didn’t get dehydrated.  “Sorry I’m being such a baby,” he mumbled after setting the glass back on the nightstand. 

              Perry chuckled softly.  “You’re just fine, Newbie,” he assured him.  “Try and get some rest.  I’ll come check on you in a little while, okay?”

              JD nodded, closing his eyes and placing the still-damp washcloth back on his forehead.  He crossed his fingers that this was just a twenty-four-hour bug and he’d be back to normal soon.  Perry lingered in the bedroom for a little longer, but eventually made his way back out into the living room.  He continued watching the cheesy Hallmark movie, but didn’t pay much attention to it.  After about twenty minutes, he heard JD go into the bathroom again, followed by the toilet flushing once more. 

Worried, Perry got up and knocked on the bathroom door.  “JD?” he called.  “You all right?”

              From inside the bathroom, JD groaned.  He hugged the toilet bowl, certain it wasn’t over yet.  He wasn’t wrong, and for the next several minutes, he was once again violently sick, though it was made worse by the fact his stomach had already been emptied.  Finally, the feeling had passed and he was able to pull himself up using the counter.  He opened the door, finding Perry leaning against the wall, looking concerned.  “Sweetheart, maybe we should bring you in,” he suggested, eyeing JD critically.

              JD shook his head with as much force as he could.  “No, I’ll be fine,” he insisted, though he winced and clutched his right side when the pain flared. 

              “What’s going on there?” Perry asked right away, not missing JD’s sudden movement. 

              “N-nothing,” JD said unconvincingly.  “I’ve just had this ache in my side for most of the day.”

              Perry sighed.  “Bed.  Now.”  His tone left no room for argument, not that JD wanted to anyway.  However, he didn’t make it very far.  The pain in his side became suddenly intense and it took his breath away.  Perry’s arms shot out and he held JD up.  “JD?” he asked, sounding more worried than ever.  When it became clear that JD was either too weak or in too much pain to speak, Perry got him up onto his bed, laying him down on his back.  He ran his hands over JD’s side, applying pressure every so often.  Sure enough, JD winced when Perry got to the lower right side of his abdomen.

              “All right, we’re going to the hospital,” he told JD, adopting a more clinical voice.  “I’m betting it’s appendicitis.  You stay put, I’m going to go pull the car up.”  He made sure to turn JD on his side in case he vomited again.  He left the car running right in front of the doors to the building and hurried back up to his apartment to retrieve JD.  He noted the sweat beading on his forehead even as he lay on the bed shivering.  “You’re gonna be just fine,” Perry murmured.  “Do you think you can walk?”

              JD looked up at him and nodded, though his jaw was clenched from the pain.  Perry helped him sit up and bore most of his weight once he was on his feet.  It took quite a while, but they finally made it out to the car and Perry made sure JD was situated in the passenger seat as comfortable as possible.  “How are you feeling?” he asked worriedly once he was behind the wheel.

              JD’s eyes were shut tightly and he brought his feet up onto the seat, effectively curling into a ball.  “Just drive,” he muttered, wanting relief from the pain and the nausea.  As Perry obeyed, JD focused on his breathing, though he was grateful when Perry reached out for his hand.  “So much for a nice night in,” he mumbled, leaning his forehead against the much cooler window.

              Perry pulled into the hospital parking lot and took his usual spot.  “You’ll feel better soon,” he promised.  “I’m going to go get you a wheelchair.  You’ll be okay for a minute?”

              “I’ll be fine,” JD assured him through gritted teeth.  He knew Perry was right, that as soon as they got him on an I.V. and an anti-emetic he’d feel better, and if Perry was correct about it being appendicitis, they’d have to schedule him for surgery…  He didn’t even want to think about that yet, though coherent thoughts of any kind weren’t very easy given his pain level, which he easily rated as an eight.  Thankfully, Perry returned swiftly with a wheelchair and practically jogged across the parking lot with it. 

              Carla was there to meet them at the door and she frowned when she saw JD.  “Poor Bambi,” she said.  “Come on, we already have a room ready for you.”

              “You called ahead?” JD asked, looking up at Perry.

              “Course I did,” Perry said, pushing JD toward the elevator.  “When I was moving the car.  You’re already admitted.”

              “Are you my doctor?”

              Perry shook his head.  “I don’t think so, sweetheart.  I’m sure it’ll be whoever’s on tonight.  How’s the pain?”

              “Bad enough that I’d like to talk about anything else so I don’t have to think about it,” JD said flatly. 

              “All right,” Perry said quickly.  “Jesus, is this elevator always so damn slow?”

              JD reached behind him for Perry’s hand on the handle of the wheelchair.  “Thanks for taking care of me,” he said quietly.

              Perry bent down and kissed the top of JD’s head, lingering for a moment.  “What are you talking about?” he asked, sighing in relief when the elevator doors finally opened.  “This was exactly what I had in mind for our first night off together in a while.  Didn’t you?”

              JD actually managed to smile at that.  “Oh, so this was planned?” he inquired.  “Did you poison me or something?”

              “Just when I thought you wouldn’t figure it out,” Perry said, heaving a dramatic sigh as they reached JD’s blessedly private room.  There was already a hospital gown laid out on the bed for him and an I.V. stand next to the bed.  Perry closed the door behind them and helped JD onto the bed.  “Want me to step out?” he offered, unsure if JD would need his help – or want it, for that matter.

              JD shook his head.  “No, it’s okay,” he said, moving to pull off his shirt.  While JD changed, Perry folded up the wheelchair and moved it out of the way and wondered just exactly who was going to be JD’s doctor.  It didn’t matter much to him, of course, since he would most certainly be overseeing JD’s care.  He wanted JD to be taken care of as efficiently as possible, and if that meant Perry took a few vacation days to help him during his recovery… well, he wouldn’t mind.

              JD looked oddly young, sitting there on the bed in his hospital gown, and Perry found it tugged at his heartstrings.  “You look like you’re freezing again,” Perry commented, eyeing JD critically.

              “I might be a little,” JD admitted.  He had the sheet and blanket pulled up to his chin, but Perry had never realized just how thin the hospital blankets were until just then. 

              Perry frowned.  “I’ll go find you another blanket,” he said, turning toward the door and walking directly into Elliot. 

              “Oh, Dr. Cox, hi!” she spluttered, carrying with her JD’s chart.  “I’m just here to examine JD, so…”  She looked pointedly at the door, which made Perry’s jaw tighten.  He glanced at JD over Elliot’s shoulder.  JD gave him a small smile and nodded.

              “I’ll be back with a blanket soon,” Perry announced, making it clear that Elliot had better not take too long.

              After Perry left, JD looked expectantly at Elliot.  Over the last two months, they’d become… well, JD wasn’t sure if he’d say friends, but it turned out that Elliot wasn’t as bad as he’d thought at first.  Sure, she was competitive and a bit neurotic, but he could tell that she meant well.  “So, you’re my doctor?” he asked.

              “That’s what the chart says,” Elliot quipped, her tone businesslike.  “Any shortness of breath, dizziness, or problems urinating?”

              “No, no, is it a problem if it whistles?” JD asked, managing a grin.  “Hey, don’t you think maybe you should get me started on fluids and maybe an antiemetic?  I’m not really into the whole vomiting thing.”

              Elliot gave him a stern look.  “You’re not going to barf right now, are you?”

              “Well, no…”

              “Good.  Are you sexually active?”

              “Yes, he is,” Perry said, reappearing in the doorway with an armful of blankets.  “Haven’t you started an I.V. yet, Barbie?”  JD blushed, but was grateful for the blankets.  Perry set them on the chair and shook one out before settling it over JD.

              “I was going to examine him first –” Elliot began.

              “Truly fascinating,” Perry said without looking at her, “but unless you want him getting sick again and in turn making himself even more dehydrated, I’d suggest you start with that.”

              Elliot narrowed her eyes at Perry, but said nothing.  Eventually, she let out an angry huff and left the room, presumably to do exactly that.

              “You know, you don’t have to be mean to her,” JD said halfheartedly, wriggling under the blankets.  “Can I have another one?”

              “I know,” Perry said casually, draping the other blanket over JD.  “I’m sorry.  Just worried about you is all.”

              “Well, if you’re right, which I’m sure you are, it’s just appendicitis and I’ll be good as new by the end of the week,” JD said, peering over at Perry from under his cocoon.  “But thank you for being so concerned.”

              Perry sighed and ran his fingers through JD’s hair.  “Hate seeing you like this, kiddo,” he murmured. 

              “Hate feeling like this,” JD said, closing his eyes at Perry’s touch.  “But I’m glad you’re here.”

              Perry bent down and kissed JD’s forehead, sitting on the edge of the bed next to him.

              “Should I come back later?” Carla teased, appearing in the doorway with a bag of saline and a small cup with two tablets in it.

              “Shut up,” Perry muttered, moving off the bed and out of her way.  “Blondie too scared to face me again?”

              Carla rolled her eyes as she started JD’s I.V. effortlessly.  “You don’t have to be so mean to her, you know.”

              “That’s what I told him,” JD piped up, though he sunk back down under his blankets at the look Perry gave him.

              “I’m just trying to make sure JD gets the best medical treatment, that’s all,” Perry said simply.

              “Mhmm,” Carla hummed, handing JD the paper cup.  “Here’s some water, Bambi.”

              JD took the pills gratefully and closed his eyes as he leaned back against the bed.  “Thanks, Carla.  Tell Elliot she can examine me now.  Take the bear with you.”

              Perry growled menacingly, but it only made JD smile.  “I’ll be by the nurses’ station listening for your screams,” he threatened.

              “She’s not that bad, babe,” JD sighed.

              “Who’s not that bad?” Elliot asked, stepping into the room with a renewed sense of determination.  She didn’t even flinch under Perry’s gaze.

              “Britney Spears,” JD said without missing a beat.  “Perry can’t stand her, but I think I’m wearing him down.”

              Perry groaned as Carla dragged him out of the room, leaving JD at Elliot’s mercy.

              “Okay, so we’ve established that you’re sexually active, yeah?” Elliot said, reviewing the notes she’d made so far.

              “Sure am, but you don’t actually have to see my unmentionables, right?”

              “JD, calm down, I’ve seen underwear before,” Elliot said, rolling her eyes.

              “Actually, I use the word unmentionables for my genitals as well,” JD informed her, sitting up at her insistence.

              “Right,” Elliot said slowly, taking her stethoscope from around her neck.  She opened the back of JD’s gown and placed the stethoscope on his skin, along with one of her hands, and JD felt as though he’d turned to ice.  If he thought he’d been cold before, well, he was frozen now.

              “Cold – hands,” he managed, visibly shivering.

              “Suck it up!” Elliot muttered, continuing on with her exam.

              JD found the whole experience to be frighteningly reminiscent of when Dan used to rough him up throughout childhood.  It was not a pleasant memory, and he debated between saying something to Elliot and remaining silent and taking the abuse.  He went with the latter, feeling like a possum.  If he just laid there and played dead, maybe she’d stop.  Thankfully, it was over fairly quickly, and Elliot had had the same response Perry did when palpating his abdomen.  He hissed when Elliot came to the same spot, the pain intense.

              “Abdominal cramps, vomiting, and fever,” Elliot said aloud as she made notes on his chart.  He was back under his blankets, though he was still shivering, and away from Elliot’s icy touch.  “Textbook case of appendicitis.  I’ll call down to surgery, have them get you in tomorrow morning.”  She glanced at her watch.  “Well, I guess it’s technically today, now.”

              JD looked at the clock on the wall – she was right.  It was just past midnight, but the prospect of having to wait another eight, nine, ten hours was daunting.  “Great,” he said anyway.  “Thanks, Elliot.  Uh, Happy Thanksgiving, I guess.”

              Elliot looked surprised.  “Oh, Happy Thanksgiving,” she said brightly.  “I’ll check on you in a few hours.”  With that, she left, leaving JD by himself.  If he could just get some sleep…

              Perry walked in a few minutes later, effectively waking JD from his very short, restless slumber.  “Appendicitis it is, huh?” he asked, sitting down in the chair next to JD’s bed with a cup of coffee.

              “Apparently,” JD mumbled.  “Why are you drinking coffee?  It’s after midnight.”

              “Well, you don’t expect me to go back home just to come back in a few hours when you go in for surgery, do you?” Perry asked, raising his eyebrows as he took a drink.

              “You should get some rest,” JD maintained, frowning.  “You don’t have to pull an all-nighter for my sake.”

              “Take your own advice,” Perry said firmly, reaching out to take JD’s hand in his.  “Get some sleep, Newbie.  You look miserable.”

              JD sighed, but knew it would do him no good to argue.  He flattened his bed out as much as he could without his right side protesting.  “Night, Per,” he mumbled as he closed his eyes.

              “Goodnight, sweetheart,” Perry murmured, finishing off the rest of his coffee.

 


 

 

              At four that morning, Carla popped her head into JD’s room to check on them and found Perry fighting sleep.  “If you’re not going to sleep,” she whispered, “why don’t you go get another cup of coffee and something to eat?  He’ll be fine for a little while.”

              Perry hesitated, but JD seemed to be sleeping soundly.  He watched him for a few more moments before heading down to the cafeteria as Carla had suggested. 

              JD’s sleep was restless and he woke in a cold sweat.  He threw the blankets off himself, and suddenly Turk appeared by his bedside.  “We know you’re bummed about missing Thanksgiving,” he said, “so we decided to bring it to you.”

              Just then, the Janitor stepped forward with an electric knife.  “Who wants the unmentionables?” he asked menacingly, laughing maniacally as he advanced on JD.

              “Bambi,” Carla said, shaking JD out of his stupor.  “Your fever’s spiking.  They’re worried your appendix might burst, so we’re going into surgery now.”

              JD blinked, breathing hard and realizing what he’d seen had been a fever dream.  “Perry,” he managed as Carla and another nurse began moving his bed out of his room and down the hall.  “Where’s Perry?”

              “He went to go get something to eat,” Carla explained, looking straight ahead as they neared the elevator.  “I’m sorry, sweetie, I told him to.”

              JD let his head fall back against the bed, struggling to stay conscious.  “Perry,” he groaned.

              “He’ll be there when you wake up,” Carla assured him. 

              Perry had just come up the stairs and saw a nurse pushing a bed into the elevator, but thought nothing of it until he got to JD’s room and found it empty.  “What the hell…?” he said under his breath, stepping back out into the hallway.  No one had told him about running any other tests, and certainly not at half past four in the morning. 

              “There you are,” Carla said, hurrying up to him as she got off the elevator.  “His fever spiked.  He’s in surgery right now.”

              “Why the hell didn’t anyone page me?” Perry asked angrily.

              “I was busy moving him, Perry.  I didn’t have time to page you.  It’s just appendicitis.  He’ll be fine.”

 


 

 

              The next hour was frustrating for Perry.  He paced around JD’s room with his coffee in-hand, though he didn’t drink it.  There was no way he’d be able to sleep anyway.  Carla checked on him every so often, but she didn’t have any information for Perry as to how the surgery was going.  Just when he was starting to get angry that no one had come by to update him, a couple orderlies wheeled JD’s bed back into his room.

              “The surgery went great,” Turk said, walking in behind them.  “He’s still pretty groggy, but he wouldn’t stop asking for you as soon as he woke up.”

              Perry nodded, oddly touched by the information.  “He’ll be fine?”

              “Just fine,” Turk assured him, clapping him on the shoulder before he left the room.

              “Hey there,” Perry said gently, walking around to JD’s left side.  “Hi, sweetheart.”

              JD looked blearily up at him, but closed his eyes when Perry brushed his hair back.  “Perry,” he mumbled.

              “I’m right here,” Perry said, carefully sitting beside JD.  “How do you feel?”

              “Like shit,” JD muttered, his words slurring.

              Perry couldn’t quite suppress a chuckle at that.  “Yeah, I bet.  I hear the anesthesia’s a real trip.”

              JD forced his eyes open to look up at Perry.  “Glad you’re here.”

              “I’m not going anywhere,” Perry assured him, continuing to stroke his hair. 

              “Love you,” JD whispered, struggling to keep his eyes open.

              Perry smiled softly.  “I love you, too.  Go ahead and get some rest.”

 


 

 

              When JD next woke, sunlight was filtering in through the window, and he was grateful he was no longer covered in an excessive amount of blankets, because now he was quite warm.  Part of that was explained by Perry, who was lying right beside him in the hospital bed, a protective arm draped over him, though it appeared he’d been careful not to touch his incision.  He stretched as much as his side would allow him, and though he still felt exhausted, he felt much better than he had the day prior.  He lifted his hand to stroke Perry’s hair, and though he hadn’t meant to awaken him, he felt the older man begin to stir.

              “Hey,” Perry said in a rough voice as he sat up.

              “Hi,” JD replied, smiling up at him.

              “How are you feeling?” Perry asked, becoming concerned all over again.

              “I’m fine,” JD said quickly.  “So much for Thanksgiving, though.”

              Perry rolled his eyes.  “I’ll go out and buy you a turkey once you’re back to normal,” he laughed.  “Thanksgiving was the least of my concerns, Newbie.  I’m just glad you’re feeling better.”

              “Me, too,” JD agreed, settling back into the bed.  He looked back up at Perry and grinned.  “You’re looking pretty scruffy,” he teased.

              “Haven’t had a chance to shave in a couple days,” Perry reminded JD, stroking his chin and feeling the stubble there.

              “Hey, I didn’t say I minded,” JD said, reaching up to kiss Perry softly.  “I kinda like it.”

              Perry sighed, though he couldn’t quite hide his smile.  “You’re gonna make me keep it, aren’t you?” he asked, already resigned to the idea.

              “Not so much make you as ask you to,” JD said, resting his head on Perry’s shoulder.  “It’s hot.”

              “Well, then I have to keep it, don’t I?” Perry chuckled.  “Don’t want to risk you not being attracted to me, of course.”

              It was JD’s turn to roll his eyes.  “As if that could ever happen,” he said dismissively.  “You should ask Turk some time how long I rambled on about your hands after our first date.”

              “My hands?” Perry snorted, holding them out in front of himself.  “What about them?”

              “They’re hot, too,” JD said simply.  “Just like the rest of you.”

              “Whatever you say, kid,” Perry said, shaking his head.  “I think you’re still loopy from the anesthesia.”

              Turk chose that moment to walk into JD’s room, pleased to find him awake.  “Hey, I’m here to check your incision –”

              “How long did I go on about Perry’s hands the night of our first date?” JD asked, cutting Turk off.

              “Oh god,” Turk groaned.  “At least ten minutes.  Probably closer to twenty.”

              “See?” JD said proudly, looking up at Perry as Turk shook his head and went on with checking JD’s incision.  “Told ya.”

Chapter Text

Year One: December

              “Hey,” Perry said as he rushed down the hall toward a coding patient’s room.  “On-call room, ten minutes.”

              JD nodded, giggling as Perry jogged past him.  Since his surgery two and a half weeks ago, Perry had been as sweet as ever, and perhaps even more so.  He had grown out his beard at JD’s request, who thought it made Perry look distinguished.  Perry had also taken excellent care of JD in the days following his surgery and even though they were now halfway through December, he was still trying to get him glasses of water or, in several separate instances, carrying him to bed, though JD thought that was more romantic than anything.

              He ordered a few tests for some of his patients and then headed to the on-call room to meet Perry, trusting he had everything under control with his patient’s code.  Sure enough, Perry joined him there not a minute too late and locked the door behind him.

              “Looked like one hell of a code,” JD said from his spot on a nearby bunkbed, patting the mattress so Perry would join him.

              “Sure was,” Perry agreed, sitting down beside JD and pulling him into a long, heated kiss.  “It’s all under control now.”

              JD was surprised by the kiss, but quickly reciprocated, bringing a hand up to Perry’s cheek.  “You’re in a very good mood,” he observed with a soft, breathless laugh.

              “What makes you say that?” Perry asked, grinning back at JD before pulling him into another kiss.  He pushed JD onto his back, kissing him so thoroughly that JD thought he might just float up out of his body and go straight to heaven.  When Perry sat back up, JD laid limply on the mattress, a goofy smile on his face.

              “What’s gotten into you?” he asked, craning his neck to look at Perry.  He narrowed his eyes, straining to see what Perry was holding out to him in the dimly-lit room.  “What’s this?”

              “A key to my apartment,” Perry said simply, pressing the key into JD’s waiting hand.  “Move in with me.”

              JD sat straight up, narrowly avoiding smacking his head on the bedframe.  “Perry, are you serious?” he gasped, staring at the key.  “You – you want me to move in with you?”

              Perry chuckled at JD’s shocked reaction.  “I do,” he confirmed, patting JD’s thigh.  “I want you there all the time, angel.  You’re already at my place enough as it is, you might as well live there.”

              JD supposed he shouldn’t have been so shocked that Perry would want to take another step in their relationship.  After all, he’d been the one to ask JD out, the first one to say ‘I love you,’ and it wasn’t like Perry would move into the apartment he shared with Turk (and occasionally Carla).  “I – yeah, Per, of course I will,” JD finally replied, his head still reeling.  “But is it okay if I talk to Turk about it first?  It’s just we’ve lived together for over eight years and I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”

              “Of course,” Perry said easily, once again ducking his head to kiss JD.  “Just let me know, all right?  I’ve… I’ve been thinking about it and I can’t wait to come home to you.”

              JD suddenly became choked up at Perry’s words, his tender tone.  He nodded and kissed Perry deeply, holding him close, the key still in his hand.  “I love you,” he said when he pulled away, smiling warmly. 

              Perry’s pager went off and he sprang up off the bed.  He gave JD a wink as he headed toward the door.  “Love you, too,” he echoed before slipping back out into the hall, leaving JD on the bed, his heart swelling with love and affection for the older man.  How he’d gotten so lucky, he still wasn’t sure, but even now, when he looked at Perry, he could see a very long and happy future with him.

              JD made himself leave the on-call room, though he could have spent ages laying there daydreaming about his boyfriend, and instead searched for Turk.  He found him, naturally, in surgery, just scrubbing out after a long procedure.  “Hey, are you and Carla doing anything tonight?” he asked, leaning against the doorway.

              “No, she has to work the night shift,” Turk explained as he dried off his hands.  “Why, you wanna hang out?”

              “Yeah, that’d be great,” JD said happily, grinning at his best friend.  “My shift’s over at five.”

              “Me, too,” Turk told JD, walking out into the hallway with him.  “Perry picked you up today, right?  We can just go home together.”

              “Sounds like a plan,” JD said, excited to share his news with Turk.  The end of his shift couldn’t come soon enough, but luckily, the rest of his day seemed to go quickly.  Even better was that every single one of his patients was doing well, a few of them even well enough to be discharged.  He made sure to visit with them before they left the hospital and go over any home-care instructions they might have needed.  Before he knew it, it was five o’clock and Perry was waiting near the locker room to say goodbye.

              “Call me later?” Perry requested, giving JD a long, languid kiss. 

              “Absolutely,” JD gushed, taking Perry’s face in both his hands and kissing him back.

              “Oh my god, you two,” Turk groaned, dragging JD down the hall by his backpack.  “I’d tell you to get a room, but I’m sure you already have.”

              JD giggled, waving goodbye to Perry before he turned and willingly followed Turk.  “If it makes you feel better, we haven’t had sex-sex at the hospital.”

              “What do you mean, sex-sex?” Turk asked suspiciously.  “Sex is sex.”

              “I mean we may have gone down on each other and done some hand stuff in the on-call rooms, but we haven’t done anything that requires a condom,” JD said simply.

              “Oh, yeah, that makes me feel so much better,” Turk snorted as they walked outside.  “Do you two ever keep your hands off each other?”

              “More than you’d think, actually,” JD mused, slipping into the passenger seat of Turk’s car.  “A lot of times we’re just… together, you know?”

              “Doing what?” Turk asked, his brow furrowing as he looked over at JD.

              JD shrugged.  “Not much,” he admitted.  “Watching a movie or a show or something, cooking dinner together, just cuddling on the couch…  We don’t go out a ton, but I kind of prefer it that way.  I just love being with him.”

              “Dude, you’re in deep, aren’t you?” Turk asked, his confusion giving way to a grin when he glanced at JD.

              “Yeah, man, I think I am,” JD said softly, secure in the knowledge that Perry felt exactly the same way.  The rest of the ride to the apartment was quiet and JD was looking forward to hanging out with his best friend, even if it was under the premise of telling him he was moving out.  He was sure Turk would understand, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t be strange not living together.  It was the end of an era.

              Over the next couple hours, Turk and JD sat on the couch alternating between episodes of The Brady Bunch and Sanford and Son.  Turk had knocked back a couple beers, but JD skipped the alcohol in favor of soda.  They both recited nearly all the words to every episode they watched and laughed as hard as ever.  Everything between them felt the way it always did, but as the evening went on, JD couldn’t help but feel a little sad that it was coming to an end.

              “Hey, Turk,” JD said during a break between episodes, “I have to tell you something.”

              “What’s up, V-Bear?” Turk asked, looking over at him. 

              “Perry asked me to move in with him today.  He gave me a key and everything.  I said yes, of course, but I really wanted to talk to you about it, too, and see how you feel.”

              “JD, you know I like Perry and that I think you guys are great together,” Turk said, sounding almost confused.  “You don’t need my permission to move out.  Besides, Carla stays here more often than not.”

              “I know that,” JD said sheepishly.  “I just… it’s gonna be weird not living with you anymore, you know?”

              “Yeah, you’re right,” Turk agreed, taking another swig of beer.  “It probably will be a little weird at first, but I think this is a great idea.  You and Perry are obviously ready for this, and Carla and me are getting pretty serious, too.  It’s not a bad idea to have our own spaces.”

              JD knew Turk was right and agreed with him wholeheartedly, but he couldn’t help feeling as though Turk didn’t really care that he was leaving.  It was true that Turk hadn’t always been as upfront with his emotions as JD was, but he’d expected a bit more reaction from him.  He already knew it was a good idea that he was moving in with Perry – he hadn’t had a single doubt about doing so, apart from the fact that he wasn’t supposed to lift heavy things for a few more weeks yet – but he was still going to miss Turk tremendously.  And yes, of course, they’d still hang out and see each other at work, but that was different than living together, as they’d done for close to a decade.

              He stayed for one more episode of the Bunch, but after that, he announced he was going to head over to Perry’s.  He was feeling a little bummed now that he really thought about it and when he was upset, Perry always made him feel better.  Turk had said nothing else about him moving out, nor did he seem all that affected.  JD put together a duffel bag of some of this things, though he was certain Perry would help him move the rest of it in the coming days. 

              When he got to Perry’s, he had to smile a little when he used his key for the first time; he’d already put it on his key ring, of course.  He let himself in, knowing that Perry would have only gotten home about twenty minutes ago.  Perry walked out of the kitchen, looking at first surprised to see JD and then nothing short of thrilled.  He crossed the room and kissed him in greeting, pulling JD into his arms.

              “You were right,” JD murmured against Perry’s neck.  “It’s nice coming home to you.”

              Perry grinned, taking the duffel bag from JD.  He was still in his scrubs, but seemed to be in good spirits, even if he was tired.  “Told you,” he chuckled.  “So, how did Gandhi take it?”

              “He’s happy for me,” JD said, toeing off his shoes and plopping down on the couch.  “Come here.”

              Perry obeyed, sitting down beside JD.  “So, what’s on the agenda for tonight?  Another Christmas movie?”

              “’Tis the season,” JD reminded him with a small smile.

              “All right,” Perry said fondly.  “You find something.  I’m going to go get out of these clothes.  Help yourself to anything you want.”

              JD smiled at Perry as he left, but once he was gone, the smile faded.  Turk’s reaction had really bummed him out.  He hadn’t expected the surgeon to cry or get angry, but he had expected him to at least say that he’d miss JD.  Sighing to himself, he turned on Perry’s TV and searched the channels for a Christmas movie they hadn’t watched yet.  He settled on the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, though he could just about quote the damn thing.  Shortly after, Perry rejoined him on the couch and they cuddled up to each other like usual.

              It wasn’t until about halfway through the movie that Perry decided to comment on how subdued JD had been since he’d arrived.  At first, he’d chalked it up to being tired, but there was something off about his demeanor.  He picked up the remote and paused the movie before turning to look at JD, rubbing his side.  “You want to talk about whatever’s bothering you?” he asked gently.

              “How did you know?” JD asked, surprised.  “I didn’t even say anything.”

              “Because I know you, sweetheart,” Perry said simply.  “You might as well tell me since there’s no pretending you’re not upset.”

              JD sighed.  “When I told Turk I was moving out, he didn’t even seem surprised or bummed or anything.  It just wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, I guess.  Not that I thought he’d bawl his eyes out, but a little ‘I’m really gonna miss you, JD’ would have been nice.”

              “Now, I don’t know Turk as well as you do – no one does – but from what you’ve told me and from what I’ve seen, he’s not the type to really share his feelings.  You know he’ll miss you, just like you’ll miss him.  You’re just more likely to say it out loud.”

              “I know,” JD mumbled.  “You’re right.  Why are you always right?”

              “Pretty annoying, isn’t it?” Perry said with a laugh.

              “Not annoying enough for me not to move in with you,” JD said begrudgingly even as he rested his head on Perry’s shoulder.

              “Well, thank god for that.  Now that I’ve got you, you’re not going anywhere.”

              JD smiled and kissed Perry’s neck.  “I don’t know what I’d do without you, Per.  You’ve gotten me through so much already.”

              “You’re not going to have to find out,” he murmured.  “I’m not going anywhere either.”

 


 

 

              It only took a day of Perry working his ass off and of JD doing the best he could to get all his things moved to Perry’s apartment.  He didn’t have much and there was no point in taking his bed, seeing as Perry’s was larger and much more comfortable.  Turk had offered plenty of help, but Perry could see that JD was still a little hurt by Turk’s lack of reaction to his leaving.  When JD offered to go get lunch for the three of them, seeing as he couldn’t do much lifting as of yet, and left Turk and Perry alone together, Perry decided to breach the subject, if only for JD’s sake.

              “Must be strange for you two not living together anymore after so long,” he said casually.  He seated himself in one of the living room chairs while Turk got them both water. 

              Turk shrugged in response.  “You’re good for him,” he said simply.  “There’s no reason you guys shouldn’t live together.  I don’t know if he was expecting me to put up some sort of fight or something, but all that drama… I’m not about that.  I know I acted like a dick when you first started dating, but… well, I haven’t even told him this.”  Perry waited expectantly, a little surprised that Turk felt comfortable enough to confide in him.  They’d watched a few games together, but as far as Perry was concerned, apart from a mutual interest in JD’s happiness, their friendship was mostly at the surface level.  “I just wasn’t used to JD having more luck than I did when it came to dating.  So, I think I was a little jealous at first.  He was spending all his free time with you and you were helping him adjust to the new job and I was on my own for the first time.  I guess I haven’t told him because I don’t want him to feel bad.”

              “Probably for the best,” Perry agreed.  “He’d go feeling guilty and come up with some elaborate plan to make it right.”

              “Exactly,” Turk chuckled.  “He’s got such a good heart, but sometimes I think he might care a little too much, you know?”

              Perry nodded wisely.  “I know.  I worry about him getting attached to his patients or spreading himself too thinly.  He’s done well so far, so I think he deserves a little more credit than you and I are giving him, but with someone like him, there’s always that risk.”

              “I don’t want to say he’s naïve because he’s not,” Turk sighed, shaking his head.  “JD’s always been the type of person who’d give anyone the shirt off his back.  He’s always had that compassion, from the day I met him.  And he’s been through so much that he deserves someone like you in his life.  You… Perry, I’ve never seen someone look at anyone the way you look at JD.  Don’t do anything to jeopardize that, all right?  And you know me pretty well by now to know that I don’t normally talk like this, but I can see how serious you are about each other.  JD’s my best friend and I want him to be happy.  You make him happy.  It makes sense that I’d want him to be with you.  I’m sure he’s probably upset that I didn’t cry or something when he told me he was moving out, but the truth is I saw it coming a mile away.  Maybe he didn’t, but I’ve been expecting it for a long time now.  I’m gonna miss the hell out of him, but I’ll still see him at work, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll let me steal him every once in a while.  So, yeah, things’ll be different, but different doesn’t have to mean bad.”

              Perry smiled, secure in the knowledge that Turk really was rooting for them and that, most importantly, he had his blessing as far as JD was concerned.  “Thank you,” he said sincerely.  “The reason I brought it up is because when he came back to my place last night, he was bummed out about your reaction.  I had a feeling it was something like you said, and I tried to explain that to him, but it might help if you cleared things up.”

              Turk nodded.  “For sure,” he agreed.  “I was planning on it, but words don’t come easy to me like they do to JD.  He can sit and talk about his feelings for days, and a little of that’s rubbed off on me, but nowhere near that extent.  I guess I just didn’t want it to feel like a goodbye, because it’s not.”

              “Damn right it’s not,” Perry confirmed.  “Although I feel like we might have to draw up some sort of custody arrangement.”

              “Tuesdays and Thursdays are mine,” Turk laughed.  “Hey, what about Rowdy?”

              “What about him?” Perry asked warily. 

              “Well, JD’s gonna want to take him, you gotta know that,” Turk warned.  “Now there’s a custody battle.”

              JD chose that moment to walk back into the apartment with a Subway bag in his hand.  “Who’s fighting for custody?” he asked in confusion, having only heard the tail-end of the conversation.

              “Turk here was just warning me about that stuffed golden retriever of yours,” Perry sighed.

              “Perry, come on, he’s harmless!  Plus he can do tricks!”

              “JD, you are not taking Rowdy!” Turk cried, flying off the couch and pulling Rowdy into his arms.  “You can come over and visit him.”

              “That thing is not stepping foot in my apartment,” Perry said firmly.

              “Um, Per, I think you mean paw,” JD corrected, mockingly haughty. 

              Perry dragged a hand down his face.  “Foot, paw, hoof, I don’t care,” he continued.  “Rowdy stays here.”

              “Well, Turk, I guess you’ll still have to see me,” JD said, shaking his head in disappointment.

              “Good,” Turk said, glancing at Perry.  “’Cause I’m really gonna miss you, Vanilla Bear.  Won’t be the same without you.”

              All traces of joking fled from JD’s face as he realized Turk was being serious.  “I’m gonna miss you, too, C-Bear,” he said genuinely, hugging Turk tightly when he walked over.  Just the acknowledgement that things were going to change made JD feel much better.  It didn’t even occur to him that Perry might have said something to Turk.  It was enough to know that his best friend would miss him after all.

 


 

 

              It was the day after the move that JD really, truly got to appreciate coming home to Perry.  He was officially moved in and he came home after pulling a double shift.  Before announcing his presence, he took a moment to look around the largely unchanged apartment and he smiled. 

              Perry poked his head out of the kitchen, a dish towel in his hands.  He smiled warmly when he saw JD, not unlike earlier that week.  “Hey, honey, I’m home,” JD said, smiling widely back at Perry.  “You want some help?”

              “Some help, a kiss, take your pick,” Perry joked, pleased when JD walked over to him and kissed him in greeting. 

              “I’ll dry, you wash,” JD offered, taking the dish towel from Perry and swatting him with it. 

              “Feisty this evening,” Perry teased, following JD into the kitchen. 

              “More like so overtired that I’m a little punchy,” JD corrected, picking up a plate that Perry’d already washed.

              “So how was your day?” Perry asked, enjoying how easily the two of them fell into more domestic roles.

              “It was good,” JD told him.  “You know, I had this patient that really surprised me.”

              “How’s that?” Perry asked curiously. 

              “I had to tell her that she had M.S. and that there was obviously no cure and that most of the treatments really just treated the symptoms, not the disease itself, and she just… she was so brave and so determined.  She said half the battle was finally getting a diagnosis and took the rest in stride.”

              “It’s always great getting a patient like that, isn’t it?” Perry said, scrubbing at a particularly stubborn stain.  “Makes you proud to be a doctor.”

              “That’s exactly what I was going to say,” JD said, grinning at Perry.  “Patients like that make it easy to say that I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.  I just never knew it would be this rewarding.”

              “It’s tough a lot of the time,” Perry said, “but rewarding is certainly the word for it.  And I’m glad you understand that.”

              “I’m really glad you get it,” JD said seriously.  “I’m not sure someone who’s not a doctor would be able to know exactly what I’m talking about, but I don’t have to worry with you.  You know even better than I do how rewarding being a doctor is but also how hard it is.”

              “Not to mention we don’t have to make excuses when one of us is home late from work,” Perry chuckled, passing JD the last clean dish.

              “And we get to do that now,” JD said, smiling brilliantly, “because we live together.”

              “Damn right,” Perry confirmed, pulling JD in by his hips and kissing him deeply.  “I’ve been meaning to ask you, but what are the plans for Christmas?  Seeing as it’s your favorite holiday, I’m sure you have everything planned down to the minute.”

              “I do not,” JD muttered against Perry’s lips.  “But Carla and Turk are coming over at eleven and I was thinking about inviting Elliot.  She said something today that made me feel kinda bad for her.  She’s not going home for Christmas, but I don’t think she really has any friends here yet.”

              “You want to invite Barbie?” Perry groaned, wincing at the mere thought of having that blonde trainwreck in his apartment.

              “Perry, she’s trying so hard.  I think if somebody was actually nice to her, it might make a difference.  Promise me you’ll at least think about it.”

              “All right,” Perry allowed, though he wasn’t altogether thrilled about the idea.  As always, though, if it was something that made JD truly happy, he knew he’d wind up giving in in the end. 

              “And don’t forget, she was my doctor when I had appendicitis, and she did do a good job,” JD mused aloud. 

              “You told me her exam was like when your brother used to beat you up,” Perry said flatly, leveling JD with a look.

              “Okay, okay,” JD said, raising his hands in surrender.  “Still think about it.”

 


 

 

              Over the next ten days, JD really got into the Christmas spirit.  Perry knew better than to try to keep him from decorating their now-shared apartment, and quite honestly, he enjoyed how cheerful JD was, how happy the holiday season seemed to make him.  Besides, how could he complain when there was mistletoe in every doorway?  Every opportunity he had, he pulled JD into a kiss, even if it could only last a few seconds when one of them was on their way out.  Perry saw many more Christmas movies in the week leading up to the holiday than he ever even knew existed, and some of them weren’t half-bad.  He could physically feel his hatred for the holiday ebbing away with each kiss under the mistletoe.

              On Christmas Eve, they were both lucky enough to not have to work, so they spent the evening cleaning up the apartment in preparation for the next day.  As JD had planned, Turk and Carla, along with Elliot and her new boyfriend Sean, would be coming over and the last thing Perry wanted was Barbie commenting on every little thing – just the fact that she’d probably be ecstatic to even be allowed inside would drive him insane. 

              But JD managed to push all negative thoughts out of Perry’s mind when he wandered out into the living room, where Perry’d finally collapsed onto the couch not ten minutes before.  JD sat down next to him and handed him a small, square-shaped box wrapped in the most obnoxious wrapping paper Perry’d ever seen. 

              “What’s this?” Perry asked, perplexed.  “Aren’t presents supposed to wait until tomorrow?”

              JD blushed just slightly, turning a much lighter shade of red than the wrapping paper.  “I could never wait until Christmas morning, so my mom always let me open one present on Christmas Eve,” he explained.  “It’s sort of tradition now.  Go on, open it.”

              Perry shook his head fondly, but did as he was told, not bothering to be delicate with the paper.  Once it was all torn away, it revealed a very expensive-looking leather box.  Perry wasn’t sure what to think about what might be inside – truthfully, he wasn’t even sure what JD would have even thought to get him.  He didn’t want for much, and what he did want, he already had.  When he opened the box, however, his jaw very nearly dropped.  “Jesus, JD,” he breathed, marveling at the exceedingly beautiful and most assuredly expensive watch.  “How much did you spend on this thing?”

              “Don’t worry about that,” JD said, positively beaming at Perry’s reaction.  “It’s waterproof, too, so you can wear it to work if you want.  You said your other watch was dying, so I just thought…”

              Perry cut JD off with a kiss.  “Thank you,” he breathed against his lips before pulling away to look into his eyes.  “This… JD, it’s incredible.”

              “You like it?” JD asked, smiling brilliantly. 

              “I love it,” Perry assured him, and as if to demonstrate how true it was, he took off his old watch and replaced it with the new one.  He admired it for a moment before leaning in to kiss JD again.  “Stay put,” he said firmly.

              JD grinned, but did as he was told, bouncing excitedly on the couch.  He’d been very curious as to what Perry had decided to get him and had tried to get Perry to tell him sooner, but to no avail.  Luckily, he didn’t have to wait much longer as Perry re-entered the living room with a small gift bag with snowmen on it.

              “Here you go,” Perry said gruffly – he was never much good at giving or receiving presents, and he was convinced there was no way his gifts would be able to top JD’s.

              Eagerly, JD tore into the bag, though he planned on keeping it with his leftover wrapping paper for next year.  He nearly started jumping up and down when he realized what his gift was.  “Oh my god, Per,” he gushed, looking up at him in excitement and gratitude.  It was a brand new, and by the looks of it, very expensive showerhead that had a detachable Bluetooth speaker built in.

              “Figured since you always sing in the shower anyway…,” Perry mumbled, trailing off.

              “It’s perfect,” JD said firmly, throwing his arms around Perry and holding him close.  “Thank you so much.”

              Perry settled back against the couch, keeping JD in his arms.  He was glad JD genuinely seemed to like his gift, though he had a feeling that he could have gotten him just about anything and he would have been thrilled.  JD was an easy person to please, but Perry wanted to get it just right every time because that was what he deserved.

              “Merry Christmas, baby,” JD murmured, resting his head against Perry’s. 

              “It’s not technically –”

              “Perry,” JD said sternly.

              Perry cracked a smile and kissed JD’s forehead.  “Merry Christmas, JD.”

 


 

 

              When Perry woke up the next morning, JD was already out of bed and getting ready in the bathroom.  Part of Perry was dreading the day – having to cook far too much food and entertain four other people in his apartment wasn’t exactly his idea of fun – but the other part of him was looking forward to celebrating a holiday and not having it end in him drunkenly yelling at Jordan’s mother.  It was sure to be a very different experience than he was used to.  After a few more minutes, he got out of bed and joined JD in the bathroom, only to find the younger man in a pair of jeans and one of the most hideous Christmas sweaters he’d ever seen. 

              “Quite the get-up,” he commented, arching an eyebrow.

              “Good morning to you, too,” JD said, artfully disheveling his hair as usual.  He glanced over at Perry.  “You better start getting ready.  Everyone will be here in an hour.  I just put the ham in the oven and everyone’s bringing a dish to pass.”

              “Didn’t realize Christmas had a schedule,” Perry said under his breath, quiet enough that JD couldn’t hear him.  He started stripping off his pajamas and turned the shower on.  “You’re not actually stressing out about this, are you?” he asked.

              “No way,” JD said quickly.  “I just want everything to go well.  This is the first Christmas I’m not spending back at home.”

              “Everything will be just fine, Newbie,” Perry assured him as he stepped into the shower.  “I promised I’d even be nice to Barbie and her boyfriend.”

              “You know, part of being nice means not calling her ‘Barbie,’” JD called, continuing to play with his hair until he got it just right. 

              “I call you Newbie and that’s not your name,” Perry retorted from inside the shower stall.

              “Yeah, but you also call me ‘sweetheart’ and ‘angel,’” JD reminded him, unable to keep from smiling. 

              “What else am I supposed to call you?” Perry asked.  “Because ‘muffin’ is not happening.”

              JD giggled at the thought.  “Believe me, I didn’t expect it to.”  Satisfied with his hair, he sat on the closed toilet lid and waited for Perry.  “I know we all agreed not to get each other anything, but I still feel like we should have.”

              “For not being stressed out about today, you sure sound stressed out,” Perry pointed out.  “Just take a breath, kiddo.  Everyone is going to get along just fine.”

              “If you say so,” JD sighed.  “I just want Elliot to feel included, you know?  Turk and Carla aren’t really crazy about her yet and I know you don’t like her either.  She deserves a chance.”

              Perry shut off the water, finished with his shower, and stepped out of the stall, taking the towel JD offered him.  “I promise you I will keep an open mind,” he said seriously, drying off his hair and then wrapping the towel around his waist.  “Would it make you feel better if I told you I still have another present to give you?”

              JD immediately lit up.  “What is it?” he asked curiously.  “And I have another one for you, too.”

              “You have to wait, just like everyone else,” Perry said, shaking his head.  “Patience, Newbie.”

              JD pouted for a moment, but knew it was only fair.  He left Perry to get dressed and went out into the kitchen to check on the ham.  Perry joined him twenty minutes later, having taken the time to trim the beard that JD had asked him to grow out.  He rather liked it himself, though there was far more grey in it than he’d expected.

 


 

 

              Over the next couple hours, JD relaxed quite a substantial amount.  He had grown quite tense when Elliot and Sean showed up, about ten minutes after Turk and Carla, but Perry was nothing short of polite and inviting and, because he knew how important it was to JD, he made a concerted effort.  Truthfully, he didn’t even find it all that difficult to make conversation with everyone over their Christmas lunch.

              By the time everyone made their way out into the living room, stomachs stuffed, Perry was in excellent spirits.  He sat down in his usual spot, JD joining him, while the others filled in the rest of the large sectional sofa. 

              “Can I have my other present now?” JD asked eagerly, even though all of them were feeling rather lethargic.

              “Um, don’t you think that should wait until we leave?” Carla said, smirking.

              JD rolled his eyes.  “It’s not that kind of present,” he said and then turned back to Perry.  “Is it?”

              “It is not,” Perry confirmed, playfully mussing JD’s hair, which made him squirm and bat away Perry’s hands.  “But if you wanted me to go get it, I suppose I could…”

              “Please,” JD begged.

              Perry pushed himself up off the couch and headed into the spare room, where he was keeping JD’s present.  In the meantime, Elliot cuddled up next to Sean.  “JD, you guys are really great together,” she said a little shyly.  “I mean, not that I couldn’t see it at work, but it’s different seeing you guys here, y’know?”

              JD smiled at her and nodded.  “We do have to at least try to be professional at work,” he laughed.  “But yeah, he’s amazing.  It’s been a great four months.”

              “Sure has,” Perry agreed as he walked back into the living room, causing JD to blush.  “This is yours and I’ll assume that this one is mine seeing as it says ‘Perry’ on it with about three dozen hearts.”

              “Good detective work,” JD chuckled, taking his present from Perry.  The other two couples around them both gave their significant others their presents as well, so JD didn’t feel so bad about making Perry open his in front of everyone else – the focus wouldn’t be on them.  “Guess I’m going first?” he asked, since Perry was sitting there, waiting patiently.

              Perry nodded, gesturing for JD to unwrap the gift.  He did so and nearly died of laughter.  “Perry!” he giggled, holding up the sweater for everyone else to see.  Turk joined him in his laughter, offering a “Dude!  Nice!”  It was a dark green sweater with white lettering made to look like it had been cross-stitched on, reading ‘Merry Christmas! Shitter’s full!’  Elliot looked confused, so JD explained.  “It’s a quote from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” he told her, still laughing.  “It’s pretty much my favorite Christmas movie.”

              “Oh, I think I saw that once or twice growing up,” Elliot chuckled.

              “Where did you even find this?” JD asked, turning back to Perry and resisting the urge to tear off the sweater he was already wearing in favor of putting his new one on. 

              “I have my ways,” Perry said cryptically.  “May I?”

              “Please do,” JD said excitedly, wanting to see what Perry thought of his other gift.  He watched as Perry unwrapped the present and then practically melted when Perry actually appeared to get misty-eyed.

              “Oh, Newbie,” he said very softly, holding the framed picture of the two of them in his hands.  It was a picture JD had taken with his phone, one of the rare ones that Perry had actually cooperated with.  At the last second, JD’d turned his head and kissed Perry’s cheek and the resulting smile on Perry’s face couldn’t have been more natural.  It was by and large his favorite picture of the two of them.  He set the picture down on the coffee table and very gently pulled JD’s face to his and kissed him.  “Thank you, angel.”

              “You’re welcome,” JD murmured back.  “I love you.”

              “I love you, too,” Perry replied, putting an arm around JD and waiting for the other couples to finish opening their gifts.  “More than anything.”

              JD draped his arm over Perry’s waist and let his head rest on his shoulder.  He felt so warm and loved and happy, surrounded by everyone he loved, and had the sudden realization that this was his family now.  His heart swelled with affection for each of them, even Sean, who he hardly knew.  He looked around the room at them, at the Christmas tree Perry had helped him decorate, and thought about how just a year ago, he wouldn’t have anticipated being this happy. 

 


 

 

              While Perry had genuinely enjoyed the company throughout the day, he was a little relieved when everyone left a couple hours later.  They’d spent the rest of the time talking and visiting and getting to know each other.  Truth be told, he hadn’t actually minded Elliot being there and found her rather endearing for as often as she got flustered.  JD had been right – Elliot always meant well, but had a tendency of putting her foot in her mouth, but only because she tried so hard.  Regardless, Perry was glad to have the apartment to themselves again and once they put their leftovers away, he flopped down on the couch.

              “Why don’t you pop in National Lampoon’s?” Perry suggested when JD rejoined him, having changed into his new sweater.

              “You don’t mind?” JD asked, though he was already moving toward his part of their DVD collection.

              “Nope,” Perry said with a shrug as he laid flat on his back.  “Never actually saw the damn thing.”

              “You’re joking!” JD said, scandalized.

              “Never got around to it,” Perry said defensively.  “But we’re watching it now, aren’t we?  Come here.”

              “You better pay attention,” JD threatened even as he settled himself half alongside Perry, half on top of him.  He rested his head on Perry’s chest and ran a hand over his side.

              Perry reached down to comb his fingers through JD’s hair, though yet again, his plans were foiled by the sheer amount of product JD used.  Instead, he stroked his hair with the flat of his hand, chuckling when JD practically started to purr.  “I will commit it to memory,” he promised.

              All in all, he found the movie quite funny, and they both had a good laugh at the scene that the quote on JD’s sweater came from.  Once the movie was over, JD scooted up to press his lips to Perry’s, kissing him thoroughly.  They remained that way for quite some time until JD broke away for breath.

              “I’m really happy I have you,” he whispered.

              Perry hummed his agreement as he rubbed JD’s back.  “Been a good Christmas, hasn’t it?”

              “The best one yet,” JD confirmed, reaching up for one more kiss.

              “If you’ll let me up, I have one more present for you,” Perry said, knowing it was sure to make JD even happier.

              “Another one?” JD asked, sounding shocked.  “But I don’t have another one for you.”

              Perry chuckled as he sat up.  “This is one for both of us.  I’ll be right back.”  He went into their bedroom and pulled an envelope from the top drawer of his nightstand as he anticipated JD’s reaction.  When he went back out into the living room, JD was waiting for him, looking incredibly excited.

              “What’s this?” JD asked, taking the envelope from Perry and opening it.  His jaw dropped when he looked at the airline tickets for December 30th.  “Aspen?” he asked, his eyes wide as he looked up at Perry.

              “You, me, and five whole days at a ski resort up in the mountains,” Perry told him with a grin.  “Skiing optional, of course.”

              “We’re spending New Year’s Eve in our own private cabin?” JD asked, the thought making him giddy. 

              “Damn right,” Perry confirmed.  “What better way to ring in the New Year together than on vacation?  I hear there’s a big stone fireplace…”

              “You are spoiling me,” JD giggled, pulling Perry down on top of him.  “I – love – you.”  He punctuated each word with a kiss, tossing the tickets onto the coffee table, fully intending on getting lost in Perry.

Chapter Text

Year One: January

              “Okay, so we’ve established that you shouldn’t even attempt anything that requires any sort of athleticism or coordination,” Perry said in disbelief, still reeling from JD’s disastrous attempt at skiing.  He’d gotten no more than twenty feet before nearly doing the splits and then proceeded to face-plant in the snow.  Perry’d sped over to him and helped him up, rather concerned about JD hurting himself.  It had been over a month since his appendectomy, but Perry swiftly came to the realization that it wasn’t altogether a great idea to ask JD to try something so athletic. 

              JD trudged into their private cabin and began peeling off his heavy winter clothes, his hair wet and matted down from the snow that’d gotten in it and his nose and cheeks bright red.  “At least I tried, right?” he asked weakly as he sat down to pull off his boots. 

              Perry chuckled, hanging up their winter coats on the hooks conveniently near the door.  “It was certainly interesting,” he admitted.  “Maybe we should just spend the rest of our vacation away from the ski slopes.”

              “You know, I don’t think that’s a bad idea,” JD laughed, pushing his hair back off his forehead.  “It takes way too much effort to stay upright, let alone move.  But you wanted to ski, so you can go if you want to.  I’ll hold down the fort.”

              “And leave you all by yourself?” Perry asked, mockingly scandalized.  “I wouldn’t dream of it.  Get over here.” 

              JD grinned as Perry leaned over him on the couch and pulled him into a long, heated kiss.  “So you’re not mad that I can’t ski?” he asked with a soft laugh, his lips brushing against Perry’s with every word.

              “On the contrary,” Perry informed him, “I’d rather you were right here with me.”

              “Mm,” JD hummed, wrapping his arms around Perry’s neck.  “Can I shower first?  Sucking at skiing kind of made me gross.”

              Perry couldn’t help but chuckle as he pulled back.  “Go on,” he sighed, releasing JD.  “But you are all mine for the rest of the night, you hear me?”

              “Absolutely,” JD said happily, scurrying off toward the bathroom, looking forward to whatever Perry had planned.

              They hadn’t gotten in until late on the night of the 30th, so that day had been a wash.  When they woke, Perry had been eager to get out on the slopes, so they had breakfast and then headed out.  Despite his nearly disastrous attempt, JD didn’t mind being out there with Perry, watching him expertly maneuver both the hills and the ski lift itself, something that had always intimidated JD.  He expressed that fear to Perry, voicing his worry that he’d just end up stuck on the lift and Perry hadn’t exactly argued.  It was now getting a bit later on New Year’s Eve and if Christmas had been any indication, JD felt certain Perry had something romantic planned.

              JD took his time in the shower, enjoying the anticipation he felt.  He couldn’t hear any noises from out in the large living area of the cabin, but that didn’t mean Perry wasn’t planning something elaborate.  Finally, he finished and stepped out of the luxurious shower stall and toweled off, taking care to dry his hair as much as possible.  He hated the way it clung to his forehead when it was wet but saw no point in attempting to style it again.  After pulling on a clean shirt and boxers, he walked out into the living room and felt his heart swell.  Perry had started a fire in the large, stone fireplace at the far end of the room and in front of it was a heap of blankets and pillows and two glasses of champagne.  He was so getting lucky tonight.

              Perry walked out of the kitchen, having heard JD get out of the shower, a sheepish smile on his face.  JD turned, his smile as brilliant as Perry’s way sheepish.  “Champagne?” he asked, his eyes soft as he looked at Perry.

              “New Year’s Eve,” Perry said in explanation, shrugging his shoulders.  “I thought maybe we could spend some time by the fire…”

              JD walked over to the pile of blankets and gestured for Perry to join him, offering him the other glass of champagne when he sat down.  “I think it’s perfect,” he said simply.  “You know, you’re really very romantic.”

              “Hard not to be when you look at me like that,” Perry said seriously, making JD pause in sipping his champagne.

              “What do you mean?” he asked curiously.  “How do I look at you?”

              Perry opened his mouth to speak, but then seemed to think better of it.  “Never mind,” he said, his cheeks turning the lightest shade of red.  “Forget I said anything.”

              “Aw, c’mon, Perry,” JD persisted, unwilling to let the subject go just yet.  “What do I look like?”

              Perry sighed, putting down his glass.  “You just look so damn happy,” he said, finding it difficult to articulate exactly how JD looked at him.  “Like you’re falling in love with me even more.”

              JD was a little surprised that Perry was so easily able to pinpoint exactly how he felt.  He leaned forward, placing one hand on Perry’s cheek, his other still holding his champagne, and kissed Perry softly.  “That’s because I am,” he murmured.  Sometimes JD wondered how he’d found someone so sweet and so caring and how he’d come to be so happy.  Chalking it up to fate seemed to be his only answer, but even then he often found it difficult to really wrap his head around it.  So he settled for nights like this when the two of them were bare to each other, both knowing exactly where they stood.

              Perry kissed him back easily, his lips sliding against JD’s.  He threaded a hand into his still-damp hair to keep him close.  “I’m really glad I’m here with you, kiddo,” he said softly when they pulled apart.  “It’s a nice break, just the two of us.”

              JD finished off the rest of his champagne and set the glass aside.  “I’m always happy when I’m with you,” he replied.  “Kind of feels like I’ve been waiting my whole life to be with you.  And believe me, I know that sounds cheesy and I know you don’t believe in fate, but Perry, I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t met you.”

              “Fate or no, I think there’s something to be said for the way we met, the way I was drawn to you,” Perry agreed.  “Sure am glad I took that chance.  Who knows what would have happened if we’d just met at the hospital.”

              “We still would have ended up together,” JD said firmly.  “I really believe that.  One way or another, we belong together.  We would have gotten there at some point.”

              Perry smiled, raising his glass to JD as he finished it off.  “You’re probably right, Newbie,” he chuckled.  “You do tend to know what you’re talking about with this stuff.”

              JD moved closer to Perry, placing a hand on his chest.  “Some like to say I’m a genius,” he said casually, slowly pushing Perry onto his back.

              “Some, huh?” Perry asked, raising an eyebrow even as JD ran a hand up under his shirt and kissed at his neck.  “I’m going to need a list.”

              JD rolled his eyes, letting his hand roam over Perry’s chest.  “I’ll get right on that,” he muttered before reaching up to kiss Perry’s lips. 

              List forgotten, Perry wrapped his arms around JD and pulled him onto his chest.  He never tired of the feeling of their bodies pressed up against each other, of being able to feel JD’s breath hitch and his heart beat.  Perry had never hoped for a second chance, had never expected one, but as far as second chances went, JD was far more than Perry thought he deserved.  Somehow, he’d gotten lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and had had the courage to take a chance on a stranger.  And now that stranger was here with him, breathing the same air as he was, and exuding a love and appreciation like no other.

              When JD next lifted his head, Perry took a moment to simply look into his eyes, holding JD’s face in his hands.  JD looked back at him, understanding perfectly what Perry was conveying without words.  It wasn’t that he never expected to find love; he was worthy of that much, he knew, but after four years of college and four years of medical school that yielded nothing but dead-end relationships, love had begun to seem unattainable.  And the way he and Perry had met, well, you just couldn’t make that up.  JD’s only answer for it was fate, even though he wasn’t sure he believed in it himself, not really anyway.  But it was the only explanation that fit and the only one that satisfied him.  Now, looking at the man before him and seeing the love he felt so plainly in his eyes, and after only four months, he could say with all the conviction in his body that they would have a future together.  Where that future took them, JD couldn’t pretend to know, but the mystery was part of the fun, part of the journey.

              JD slid down Perry’s body and began pushing up the other man’s shirt, trailing kisses along his skin as he went.  Perry pulled his shirt the rest of the way off, tossing it off to the side, and carded his fingers through JD’s hair, craning his neck to watch him as he kissed across his chest.  After a few moments, he let his head fall back against a pillow, settling in among the blankets, seeing nothing wrong with taking their sweet time.  Between Christmas and the hospital, life had been hectic lately and Perry was perfectly happy to slow down for a while.  JD was too, it seemed, his hand running over and along Perry’s side and hip as he kissed back up to Perry’s collar bone.  He took the opportunity to suck a little harder at the skin there, marking it up.  Perry let out a soft sigh that bordered on a moan, his eyes closing at the sensation. 

              JD lived for every little sound Perry made, for all the small reactions his body had to what he did.  That was half the fun for him, feeling the shivers that rolled through Perry’s body when he kissed a trail over to one of his nipples, running his tongue over the sensitive skin while he began loosening the drawstring on the sweatpants Perry was wearing.  Perry huffed out a breath and arched up into JD’s touch when he got Perry’s pants down enough to wrap a hand around him.  JD stroked him slowly, kissing across his chest to his other nipple.  Perry rolled his hips up in rhythm with JD’s motions, not bothered by the slow pace.  It only served to heighten the pleasure he felt and he didn’t bother staying quiet, instead letting loose soft gasps and moans, especially when JD would squeeze just a little tighter or slightly increase his pace.  In fact, Perry was feeling pretty goddamn pampered.  He hadn’t wanted to be presumptuous in setting up the blankets and pillows, but he had a feeling that all the romance in the air would put JD in the mood. 

              It wasn’t long before Perry’s breathing began to speed up and his heart started beating faster, at points feeling as though it would burst through his chest.  JD’d buried his face in Perry’s neck, alternating between whispering soft words of encouragement and sucking lightly at the skin there.  It was only then that Perry realized that JD intended to finish him this way – for a while he’d been trying to hold on, wondering when JD would break away to grab a condom and undress.  He had no qualms about finishing like that, since anything JD did, whether it was a handjob or something more, always felt spectacular.  Perry didn’t hold back the low moans that built up deep in his chest and JD, knowing the signs, began to stroke Perry much faster and bit down on his neck and sucked hard at the skin.  Perry groaned, falling over the edge and spasming in JD’s hand as he finished, one hand closing tightly around the nearest pillow, the other digging into the skin of JD’s hip as he held him close.

              JD released him not long after and though his limbs felt rather like jello, Perry pushed JD onto his back and kissed him thoroughly, pushing his shirt up at the same time.  JD whimpered into the kiss, his hips rocking up against nothing.  Perry made quick work of undressing JD but then slowed down, wanting to give him the same treatment JD’d given him.  He spent a long time kissing from JD’s neck down to his hips with a hand between his legs all the while.  JD was a very responsive lover, both in his moans and his directions.  Right from the start, he hadn’t been timid about letting Perry know what he liked, and Perry encouraged it, wanting JD to experience as much pleasure as possible.  It often meant that JD wanted things sped up a little, or to be stimulated in a different way, and he wasn’t shy about letting Perry know.  JD’d been with other people that had taken that as an offense, but Perry saw it as a way to improve and a way to please JD more easily.  Once he reached JD’s hips with his kisses, he let his mouth take over.  JD had already been shaking by then, his back arching up off the floor and one arm thrown over his eyes as his mouth dropped open in a desperate moan.  Perry looked up at him, knowing he was close, but wanting to watch JD as he fell apart.  He had never seen something so beautiful in his life as JD letting go and giving over to pleasure. 

              Perry slid back up JD’s body, wiping his mouth off on the back of his hand as he sat up.  He’d had long enough to recover and was already quite turned on once again.  “I love you,” JD whispered, resting his forehead against Perry’s as he caught his breath.

              “I love you,” Perry echoed, brushing his thumb over JD’s cheek.  He reached over to his sweatpants, digging for the condom he’d left in his pocket.  “I came prepared.”

              JD giggled and kissed Perry softly, pushing him onto his back once more.  “You always do,” he breathed, taking the condom and rolling it on Perry himself.  He wasted no more time, instead straddling Perry and sinking down onto him with a soft moan.  He lowered himself down so they were once again pressed up against each other and Perry pulled a blanket over both of them as they got lost in each other.  Perry kissed JD again, barely letting their lips part at all, drinking in the soft noises JD made.  Neither of them lasted very long, but they stayed that way, pressed together from head to toe when the clock struck midnight. 

              “Happy New Year, sweetheart,” Perry whispered against JD’s hair, closing his eyes as he pressed a kiss there.

              JD just hugged Perry tighter, listening to the sound of his breath and the crackling of the fire as it died out.  “Happy New Year,” JD said softly, closing his eyes, perfectly content to stay that way for all of eternity if he could.

 


 

 

              “Did you make any resolutions?” JD asked over his mug of hot chocolate the next day.  “I always tried, but I could never follow through.”

              “Resolutions are for people who want to change something in their life,” Perry said, sitting down on the couch beside JD.  “I’m pretty happy with the way things are.”

              JD smiled softly and patted Perry’s leg.  “Yeah, me too,” he agreed.  “I think it’s going to be a good year.”

              “I think so, too, Newbie,” Perry said warmly, draping his arm around JD’s shoulders.  “Hell, we’ve made it four months without killing each other.  I think we’ve got a pretty good shot here.”

              JD laughed.  “Here’s to another year of not killing each other, then,” he announced, snickering into his mug.  “We’ve hardly even fought at all, Perry.  I don’t think we have to worry about murder.”

              “Not yet anyway,” Perry said cryptically, though the effect was ruined by the grin on his face.

              “Oh, I get it,” JD said, nodding.  “You lured me out into the mountains where we’re effectively snowed in just to kill me.  Quite the elaborate plan.”

              “It would have worked if you weren’t so damn observant,” Perry said with a mock sigh. 

              “You’re kind of an idiot,” JD giggled, rolling his eyes.

              “What can I say?  You rub off on me.”

              “Yeah, I do,” JD said with a truly debauched grin.

              Perry groaned and dragged a hand down his face.  “I should have known that was going to happen,” he said resignedly. 

              “Hey, you liked it last night,” JD said with a shrug, sipping his hot chocolate.  “But if it’s so upsetting for you, feel free to go outside into the bitter cold and strap those ridiculous death sticks to your feet once again.”

Perry snorted.  “I meant what I said yesterday,” he said firmly.  “I would much rather be in here with you, even if you are acting like a two-year-old.”

              “Please, Perry,” JD said airily, waving his hand, “I was acting at least three years old.”

              Perry rolled his eyes, but pulled JD into a kiss.  “I changed my mind,” he announced.  “I do have one resolution.”

              JD pulled back, looking a little dazed.  “And what’s that?”

              “I want to make sure you know just exactly how much I love you,” Perry said, his voice taking on the tender quality JD loved so much.

              “Oh, Perry,” JD said softly, setting aside his drink.  “I already know.  Between you telling me and how you look at me, I – I know.  And it is exactly just as much as I love you.”

              Perry wrapped his arms around JD once more, kissing him thoroughly.  In his nearly forty years, he’d met plenty of people and even loved a few, but none of them would ever come close to the intensity of his feelings for JD.  Most people he got sick of.  Jordan stuck around the longest out of all of them, but at some point, that love had died.  Perry could say with the utmost of conviction that he and JD would never experience that.  He couldn’t even say for certain how he knew, only that he did with every fiber of his being.  Someday he would marry JD.  It didn’t have to be the next day or even the next year.  He was secure in the knowledge that they would spend the rest of their lives together, and knowing that after only four months together was a powerful thing.

 


 

 

Year One: February

              The rest of JD’s and Perry’s Aspen trip was spent mostly in the warmth of their cabin, the two of them only venturing out a few times for food and to sightsee.  JD refused to attempt skiing again and Perry didn’t see much point in going alone.  He was perfectly content spending the whole vacation wrapped around JD – something they did plenty of.  Unfortunately, their get-away could only last so long, and after five days, it was time to return to normal life.  Once back home, they both fell into their usual routines, both in their apartment and at the hospital.  Though the pace of the hospital was a brisk one, they made sure to find time for each other and for the most part, Perry made good on his New Year’s resolution of making certain that JD knew how much he loved him.  It wasn’t as though JD had ever questioned how deeply Perry cared for him, but it was certainly nice to hear.

              That was part of the reason why JD was so excited to do something for Perry.  The idea had come to him one day at work when he was supposed to be doing paperwork and was daydreaming instead.  Valentine’s Day was rapidly approaching and he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than surprising Perry with a nice dinner out.  By the time the holiday rolled around, JD could barely contain his excitement.  He knew Perry was working early that day and should be home by seven, so he’d made reservations at The Palm, an upscale restaurant nearby, for eight.  He got ready far too early in his excitement and was bouncing his leg as he sat on the couch, waiting impatiently for Perry to walk through the door.

              As luck would have it, moments later, JD’s phone went off, signaling a text message.  It was from Perry, and at first he assumed it was just Perry saying he was leaving now, that he was on his way, but as he read the message, his heart sank.  ‘Had a code, staying late to catch up on paperwork. Don’t wait up. xx.’  The first emotion JD felt was hurt, suddenly feeling quite foolish sitting there in his suit.  Why Perry had chosen to work late instead of spending time with him on Valentine’s Day, the most romantic of holidays, hurt him more than he cared to admit.  Of course, Perry didn’t know that JD’d planned a dinner, but he should have known he’d have something in mind, even if it was simply making out on the couch. 

              When Perry finally did arrive home that evening just after ten o’clock, he stumbled into bed, exhausted.  JD was already fast asleep – or so he thought.  JD was a heavy sleeper by nature, so even though he was only pretending to be asleep, it wasn’t unconvincing that he didn’t stir when Perry climbed into bed beside him.  He’d had far too much of an opportunity, left alone in the apartment, to stew in his thoughts, to come up with explanations for Perry’s behavior, but none of them made him feel any better. 

              JD rolled out of bed the next morning and pulled on a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt.  He was no less hurt by the previous evening, but he had to work early, so there was no time for wallowing.  He was pouring himself a cup of coffee when Perry padded into the kitchen, his eyes sleepy and hair a mess.  He was still wearing his scrubs from the night before, having been too tired to bother with changing out of them.  He smiled tiredly when he spotted JD and walked over, wrapping his arms around the younger man’s waist.  Angrily, JD shrugged him off, taking his mug and wordlessly heading for the living room. 

              “What the hell was that for?” Perry asked in confusion as he followed.  It wasn’t like JD to resist his advances, especially the most innocent of them. 

              JD scoffed, shaking his head and refusing to look at Perry.  “Don’t act like you don’t know,” he said flatly, blowing on his coffee to cool it.

              Perry’s brows furrowed.  “JD, I would appreciate it if you’d tell me what I did instead of acting like a child,” he retorted.

              JD whipped his head around, furious.  “I’m going to work,” he announced, knowing he had clean scrubs in his locker.  The last thing he wanted to do was spend another moment alone with Perry amidst his anger and hurt.  “Let me know how far insulting me gets you.”

              Perry started forward, not wanting JD to leave in such a state.  “JD, come on,” he insisted.  “What’s going on with you?”

              JD turned back toward Perry, pausing in pulling his hooded sweatshirt on.  “You bailed on me last night,” he said, his hurt plain on his face.  “I got us reservations at The Palm and you decided that you’d rather work late.  You didn’t even call!  You just sent a damn text!”

              “How in the hell was I supposed to know you’d gone and done that?” Perry asked, utterly perplexed.

              “It was Valentine’s Day, you ass!” JD half-shouted, feeling hot tears prickling behind his eyes.  The last thing he wanted was Perry to see him cry like this, so he made for the door, leaving Perry standing in the middle of the living room, dumbfounded.

              Of all holidays to forget, Perry couldn’t have picked a worse one.  His only defense was that he had truly forgotten.  He and Jordan had never celebrated it and, well, JD hadn’t even hinted at anything.  Of course, that had clearly been because he wanted it to be a surprise and Perry had gone and fucked that up royally. 

              Perry knew he had to do something to make it up to JD, something big, but he wasn’t even sure JD would believe him if he said he didn’t realize it was Valentine’s Day.  He needed help with this one and there was only one person who was motivated – and crazy – enough to help him.  Sighing, he lowered himself down onto the couch and pulled out his phone.

              “Hello?  Who is this?”

              Perry groaned internally.  “It’s Perry.  Cox.”

              “Y-you know who you called right?  Did you dial the wrong number?”

              “No, Barbie,” Perry muttered, dragging a hand down his face.  “Lookit, I messed up with JD and I need your help fixing it.”

              “What did you do?” Elliot asked slowly.  Perry knew he really shouldn’t involve her, but he didn’t think he could do this alone.

              “I – I forgot yesterday was Valentine’s Day,” Perry admitted.  “JD made dinner plans as a surprise and I decided to work late without even having to.  I didn’t know and now he’s furious with me and – aw, hell, Barbie, you’re the first person who came to mind.”

              Perry could practically hear Elliot combusting on the other line.  “Of course I’ll help,” she said readily.  “But only for JD’s sake.  Seriously, how do you forget Valentine’s Day?  It’s only the most romantic holiday there is!”

              “Barbie, I swear to god, if you make me regret this –”

              “Fine, fine,” Elliot said quickly.  “Just tell me what you need me to do.”

 


 

 

              By the time JD’s shift ended that evening, he was much less angry at Perry, but just as hurt.  Much of his feelings stemmed from the fact that Perry was always doing sweet things for him out of nowhere and he wanted his chance to do the same.  Perry deserved all that and more for how happy JD was with him, but this felt like a slap to the face.  Why Perry had chosen to stay late at work instead of spending the night in with JD on Valentine’s Day of all days was nothing short of confusing.  And more than that, he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t even worth a phone call.  Unfortunately, his shift had been long and the hospital was slow, so he’d had ample time to stew in his thoughts.

              JD was just about to head home, having changed back into his streets, when Elliot stopped him just outside the locker room.  “Hey, JD,” she said in a rush, blowing her hair out of her face.  “I know your shift is over, but I need you to come with me.”

              “Look, Elliot, I’ve had a really long day and I’m not in the mood,” JD said, running a hand through his hair.  All he wanted was to get home even though he knew that meant that he and Perry would probably have it out. 

              “I know,” Elliot said quickly, taking JD’s arm and pulling him toward the stairwell.  “But this is really important.  Just trust me, okay?”

              JD sighed, resigning himself to the fact that whatever it was Elliot wanted probably wouldn’t be over any time soon.  He let her lead him up to the roof, though he’d initially assumed she’d wanted advice on a patient.  “What are we doing up here?” he asked tiredly.  “I thought you needed help with a diagnosis or something.”

              Elliot rolled her eyes and gestured to the rooftop door.  “Just go out there.  I’ll see you later, JD.”

              JD’s brows furrowed in confusion as he watched Elliot hurry back down the stairs, taking them two at a time.  It was a wonder she didn’t fall flat on her face.  He had half a mind to follow her back down and go home, but he decided to humor her and see what all the fuss was about.  Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and stepped outside.  He was instantly greeted by hundreds of string lights.  Perry was standing on the far side of the roof, several blankets and pillows on the ground beside him, along with a cooler.  Perry turned when he heard the door, spotting a bewildered-looking JD.

              “What… what is all this?” JD asked, slowly walking toward Perry.

              “I know I messed up yesterday,” Perry began, having planned a speech.  “I hurt you by staying late and that’s something I’ve never wanted to do.  You deserve the world, JD, and while I might not be able to give you that, I’m still a man standing here in front of you asking for you to understand.  I’m not always the best when it comes to my feelings or – or communication, for that matter.  You’ve helped me realize how important it is to talk to each other, to admit when we’re wrong or when we’ve hurt each other.  It’s because of you that I want to be better.  And I know not even hundreds of Christmas lights or a rooftop dinner can make everything okay, but I wanted to make this up to you.  I’m sorry, JD.  From now on, you come first, always.”

              JD nodded, his hands stuffed in his pockets.  “I’m sorry I called you an ass,” he said softly as he looked back at Perry.  “I didn’t even mean to yell at you.  I just… you’re always doing things like this for me.  You’re so sweet and romantic and I wanted a chance to do the same thing for you.  You’re not an easy person to surprise.  I put on a suit, I made reservations, and as soon as you got home, I was going to tell you.  I love you, Perry.  I just wanted to make you feel like you make me feel.”

              “Newbie, if I’d had any idea…,” Perry started, reaching forward and taking JD’s hands in his.  “I forgot that it was Valentine’s Day.  I never had much cause to celebrate it before and you hadn’t said anything about it beforehand, so I didn’t even think.  And sweetheart, you don’t have to do anything for me.  Just the fact that you’re here now and not hating my guts is everything I need.”

              JD looked up at Perry with watery eyes.  “I love you,” he said again, pulling Perry into a hug.  “I should have just told you right away, I know that.  But I was hurt and apparently I act like an idiot when that happens.  And I know that I don’t have to do any of that.  Neither do you.  Doesn’t change the fact that I still want to.”

              Perry nodded, rubbing JD’s back.  “I know,” he said gently.  “And I love you, too.  You had every right to be hurt.  How about from now on we clearly mark any and all holidays worth celebrating on the calendar?”

              JD chuckled, blinking back the tears he didn’t want to let fall.  “That sounds like a plan.  Hey, how’d you get Elliot to bring me up here?”

              Perry pulled back, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.  “About that…  I may have called her and told her what happened and practically begged her to help me.  She was on board right away, of course, but I think she’s much less afraid of me now.  The lights were her idea.”

              JD smiled.  “Good.  She shouldn’t be afraid of you.  And she’s totally growing on you, isn’t she?  You could have called Carla or Turk, but you called her instead…”

              “Danger, Newbie,” Perry warned, though he wrapped an arm around JD’s waist.  “I think that’s enough on that subject.”

              “Whatever you say, Per,” JD agreed easily, resting his head on Perry’s shoulder and looking out over the city.  “Happy belated Valentine’s Day.”

Chapter Text

Year Two: August

              “You are so sneaky!” JD accused, laughing even as Perry pulled him into a long, hard kiss.  He draped his arms over Perry’s shoulders and kissed him back enthusiastically.

              “How is it sneaky if it’s our anniversary?” Perry asked when they broke apart.  “Our first anniversary.  Remember it like it was yesterday.”

              JD grinned, letting Perry press him up against the living room wall.  He could see a nice dinner already set out on the dining room table, but he could be persuaded to wait.  “Yeah,” he said breathlessly, letting loose a groan when Perry licked a long stripe along his neck.  “I couldn’t figure out which chips to get.”

              “Mm,” Perry hummed, sliding a thigh between JD’s legs.  “Fuck, I love you so much.”

              JD whimpered, threading his fingers into Perry’s hair and pulling a little harder than usual.  “I love you,” he whispered harshly, grinding against Perry.  “Keep talking.”

              Perry groaned, burying his face against the crook of JD’s neck as his hands flew to JD’s hips, pulling him even closer in search of friction.  “Can’t wait to kiss every – single – inch of you,” he grunted, his own hips rolling up against JD’s leg. 

              “Better get a head start then,” JD replied, pulling Perry back in for a long, languid kiss.  Before either of them had a chance to do anything more, JD’s phone began to ring.  He had half a mind to ignore it, but he groaned and pulled it from his pocket and checked the caller I.D.  He paused, placing a hand on Perry’s chest.  “It’s my brother.”

              “Dan?” Perry asked, straightening up and growing serious.  “Why would he be calling?”

              JD shrugged, bewildered, but answered the call.  “Hello?”  Perry waited patiently, watching JD’s face for signs as to what the call was about.  “Dan, what’s going on?”  JD paused, listening, and then his face fell.  “Oh my god.”  He pulled the phone away from his mouth and turned toward Perry.  “My mom had a stroke,” he said in a whisper, putting the phone back to his ear and taking a few steps away from the wall.

              Perry watched on helplessly, sitting down on the couch while JD paced for the next half hour, listening to his brother on the phone.  He’d begun chewing on his fingers during the quieter points when he wasn’t required to formulate a response.  “Yeah, no,” he said as he nodded.  “Of course I’ll come out.  I’ll be on a flight first thing tomorrow, okay?  Yeah.  Yeah, I’ll text you.  See ya, Dan.”  He flopped down on the couch next to Perry and stared straight ahead. 

              Perry put an arm around JD’s shoulders, watching him warily.

              “I guess I’m going home,” JD finally said, sucking in a long breath and releasing it slowly.  “I – I guess she had a stroke and she fell, may have broken a hip.  Dan has no idea what he’s doing, what to even do with her…  I have to go and find a rehab facility – maybe some sort of assisted living…”

              “I’m so sorry, Newbie,” Perry said gently.  “What do you need from me?  I can see if I can come with you.”

              JD shook his head.  “No,” he said, perhaps a little too quickly.  “I’m sorry…  I – god, my head is just spinning right now.”

              “Take a deep breath,” Perry told him, brushing his fingers through JD’s hair.  “I know it’s difficult when it’s your mom, but you know exactly what to do with these sort of patients.  Once you’re out there, everything will be fine.”

              JD sighed and leaned into Perry.  “I hope you’re right,” he mumbled.

 


 

 

              It turned out that ‘fine’ was a relative word.  Sure, by all accounts, JD’s mother was fine and Dan was fine and even his dad, who was still living in the same town and probably would never leave, was fine.  But JD was not fine.  Everywhere he turned, there were relatives pouring out of the woodwork, coming to check on his mother – well, Dan’s mother.  He hadn’t been home since the summer after his high school graduation.  Dan and his parents had come out to visit – all at separate times – over the last several years, but he hadn’t gone back until now.  He was the recipient of confused and judgemental looks left and right, all from family friends and relatives who seemed confused about his appearance – that was if they even recognized him. 

              JD curled up in his bed in his childhood bedroom and pulled out his phone, dialing Perry’s number, as per their nightly ritual.  He closed his eyes, waiting to hear the sound of Perry’s voice – the only thing that was keeping him sane.  It had been a week since he’d gone back to Ohio and they’d spoken every single night since then, but JD had yet to tell Perry just how bad things were. 

              “Hi, sweetheart,” Perry said softly when he picked up.  “How was your day?”

              JD swallowed hard against the sudden lump in his throat.  “You know,” he said weakly, squeezing his eyes shut tightly.  “The usual.”

              “JD,” Perry said slowly, knowing better than anyone the tone of his voice.  “Come on, talk to me, kiddo.  You haven’t told me anything about what you’re feeling since you got out there.”

              “Because I can’t,” JD whispered, his voice breaking.  “Because if I start, I won’t be able to stop and – and Dan needs me and Mom needs me and everyone’s fucking relying on me!”

              Perry wasn’t immediately sure what he was supposed to say.  It wasn’t easy to comfort someone who was halfway across the country.  “Tell me about it anyway,” he finally replied, his heart aching for JD.  He knew that the best way for JD to feel better was for him to talk out his feelings. 

              JD didn’t bother holding back the tears after that.  “I don’t think she told anyone about me,” he whimpered, his tears running sideways down his face as he pulled the blanket up to his chin.  “My aunt Margaret came by today and she gave Dan a hug and – and she looked at me and she didn’t know who I was.  She – fuck, she went, ‘Daniel, who’s your friend here?’  I told her I was JD and she got this look on her face… she was disgusted, Perry.  After I moved away, she never told anyone I transitioned.”

              “Oh, JD,” Perry said quietly, unable to even imagine the effect something like that would have on JD.  “Babe, I’ll come out there right now if you want me to.”

              “No, it’s okay,” JD said thickly, wiping at his eyes.  “I mean, it’s not okay but there’s nothing I can do about it now.  Shockingly, Dan’s made it very clear with everyone that I’m his brother.  Never really expected him to be the one to support me most.  I just can’t believe she’s been talking to everyone about her daughter, the doctor.”

              Perry felt sick to his stomach.  “I’m sorry,” he uttered, unsure of what else he could possibly say to lighten JD’s load.  “I’m so sorry.”

              “I always thought she was supportive,” JD continued through his tears, as if Perry had never spoken.  “She never said anything to me and she made it seem like she and my dad were behind me.  I guess she was just lying to me the whole time.  Did a pretty convincing job of it when she visited me in college and med school.”

              “So where does this leave you and her?” Perry asked, unsure if JD had even thought that far.

              JD sniffled.  “I have no idea,” he cried.  “Perry, I want to come home.”

              “Then come home,” Perry said readily.  “You know I’d be there to pick you up in a heartbeat.”

              “I can’t,” JD said sadly.  “I can’t leave Dan here to deal with this on his own.  He’s trying, but he has no idea what he’s doing and – and she’s still my mom.”

              Perry paused for a moment.  “Hang up the phone,” he said suddenly.

              “What?” JD asked in confusion.

              “Just hang up, Newbie.”

              JD sighed and did as he was told and stared at his phone, unsure of what to expect.  Moments later, his phone rang with a FaceTime call from Perry.  A sob hitched in his throat and fresh tears began to fall when he accepted it and Perry’s face appeared on the screen.  “Don’t look at me,” JD mumbled, covering his face halfheartedly.  “My eyes are all puffy.”

              “You look amazing,” Perry said genuinely, watching JD worriedly.  “Pretty dark in that bedroom of yours.”

              “I prefer it that way,” JD muttered.  The only light in the room was his bedside lamp, casting a warm glow on his face.  “Too many memories in here.”

              “There’ve got to be some good ones,” Perry suggested.  “It couldn’t have been all bad.”

              JD shrugged, wiping at his eyes with his free hand.  “Maybe not,” he sighed.  “I don’t know, I can’t remember.  Perry, I miss you so much.”

              Perry’s expression softened.  “I miss you too, angel.  I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all this.”

              “Everyone’s just so hateful out here,” JD sighed.  “They don’t understand anyone who’s different, and they don’t want to.  It’s not fair – and I know that sounds juvenile, but… it isn’t.”

              “You’re right,” Perry agreed, frowning.  “None of this is fair, JD.  I know you feel obligated to be there, but I promise you, if you want me there, I will be there.”

              JD shook his head, wiping at his already raw cheeks.  “That means the world to me, Per, but I don’t think it’d be a good idea.  Might give Mom another stroke if she found out I was dating a man.”  He managed to crack a smile.

              Perry paused, his brows furrowing.  “You… haven’t told your family about us?” he asked slowly, surprised by the information.  He felt strangely hurt, and though he knew it wasn’t true, for a second, the thought crossed his mind that JD might be ashamed of him.

              “I – well, no,” JD said awkwardly.  “It’s not like I talk to them a lot, you know that…”

              “We’ve been together for a year, JD,” Perry said, trying and failing to hide the hurt on his face.  Part of him wished JD couldn’t see him right now. 

              “I’m sorry,” JD said quietly, guilt panging through him.  “It’s not like I was trying to hide you or anything, but I just didn’t think Mom would really care.  We didn’t talk about the important stuff.”

              Perry nodded, trying to put a more neutral expression on his face.  “It’s okay,” he said, forcing a smile.  “Don’t give it another thought.  But you look tired so I’ll let you go.  Goodnight, JD.”

              “Night, Perry,” JD mumbled, mere moments before Perry hung up.  He felt even worse than before, if that were possible.  Knowing he’d let Perry down was one of the worst feelings in the world.  JD knew Perry would drop anything for him if it’d make him happy and he’d made a mistake not sharing that with his family, even if their reactions wouldn’t be what he was hoping for.  Sniffling, he placed his phone beside his bed and pulled the covers tighter around his chin, feeling more alone than before. 

              For several minutes, all was silent in his childhood home; he and Dan were the only ones in the house as his mother was still in the hospital.  Just as JD had begun to drift off, there was a knock on his door.  Blinking in momentary confusion, he sat up in his bed. 

              “Come in,” he called, watching the door expectantly. 

              Dan poked his head in.  “You got a second, little brother?” he asked, looking as though he hadn’t slept in a week but was too wired to even try.

              JD turned the lamp back on beside his bed.  “Yeah, what’s on your mind?”

              “Oh, plenty,” Dan said, sitting down on the foot of JD’s bed.  “But I – well, I just wanted to say thanks for coming all the way out here, Johnny.  You didn’t have to, but I’m… I’m glad you’re here.”

              That was the last thing JD had expected to hear from his emotionally-stunted brother.  He sat up, his back against the headboard and blinked at Dan.  “Really?” he asked, wondering if this was some sort of set-up.  “You’re thanking me?”

              Dan gave a weak laugh.  “I guess I am.  Don’t worry, I didn’t expect it either.”

              JD managed to smile, though he knew his eyes were still puffy, his cheeks still red.  “Well, you’re welcome, then,” he replied.  “Was that all?  It’s been a long day…”

              “JD, I’m really sorry about all the relatives,” Dan said in a sudden rush.  He looked and sounded sincere, something JD wasn’t used to from his brother.

              “Did you know she never told anyone about me?” JD asked casually, looking down at the blankets.  “That she was still calling me her daughter?”

              Dan paused for a moment, seeming to debate something, before answering.  “Yeah, I knew,” he said, more subdued than JD’d ever heard him.  “I didn’t really know ‘til that first time we came out to visit you at college.  I mean, from the moment you told all of us, I knew you were serious, but I don’t think Mom did, or at least she just thought it was a phase or something.  She got weird after we came home, and that’s when I started hearing her on the phone, talking to Aunt Margaret and whoever else, calling you… well, calling you ‘her.’

              “I swear to god, JD, I talked to her about it, confronted her at least a dozen times, but she’d pretend she didn’t know what I was talking about, deny the whole thing.  I learned pretty quick that it didn’t matter what I said – she was just gonna keep it up.  So anytime relatives came over, I made it a point to talk about you, JD, my brother, and she’d just ignore me, but it confused the shit out of everybody.  Pretty sure she was telling them I was fucked in the head or something.  She loves you, JD.  I know she does.  But she doesn’t get it and she’s never tried to get it.  I’m not saying I do either, but I do know that you’re way happier this way than you ever were growing up and that counts for a hell of a lot.”

              “I don’t know why I was stupid enough to think she actually supported me,” JD muttered, shaking his head.

              “You’re not stupid, JD,” Dan said firmly.  “You’re the smartest person I’ve ever met.  And hell, you got out of here.  If there’s anyone stupid, it’s me, for still living here with her.”

              JD ran a hand through his hair.  “You could get out of here, too, Dan,” he said seriously.  “You’re not stupid either.  It’s not like only one of us gets to succeed.”

              Dan shrugged, not quite meeting JD’s eyes.  “Maybe,” he said halfheartedly.  “Doesn’t seem to be much call for a bartender in his mid-thirties.”

              JD nudged Dan with his foot.  “Come on, you know you’re capable of doing more than bartending.  You can be anything you want to be, Dan.  It’s not as scary as you think it is.”

              “Easy for you to say,” Dan said, looking up at JD.  “You’re a doctor.  You’re the best of the best.”

              “Not by a long shot,” JD disagreed.  “There’s plenty of doctors who are smarter than me.  But I’m only a resident.  It’s not very glamorous.  Kind of a glorified intern.”

              Dan rolled his eyes.  “Come on man, don’t lie.  You’re on top of the world.”

              JD chuckled.  “Okay, kinda,” he admitted.  “But only a little.”

              “You still hanging around with Christopher?”

              “Yeah, definitely.  I mean, we still work together and we hang out all the time, but we, uh, we actually don’t live together anymore.”

              “No?” Dan asked, surprised.  “You got your own place?”

              “Sort of,” JD said slowly.  “I’ve been seeing someone for a year, actually.  We live together.”

              “Is that who you talk to every night?” Dan asked curiously.  “Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”

              “The focus was kind of on Mom for the last week,” JD explained.

              “Well, come on, tell me about her!” Dan said excitedly, then paused.  “Or him.  Whichever.”

              “Him,” JD chuckled.  “His name is Perry.  I met him the weekend before I started at the hospital and then he turned out to be my attending.  He’s… Dan, he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

              Dan smiled.  “That’s great, little brother.  Really great.  What’s he like?”

              “He can be kind of a hardass at work, but he’s really just a big sweetheart.  I don’t even know where to start, honestly.  He takes really good care of me.  I’ve – I’ve never loved someone like I love him.”

              “You must have some pictures of you two, right?” Dan said, gesturing to JD’s phone on the nightstand.  “I want to see the guy my brother’s head over heels for.”

              JD reached for his phone showed Dan several pictures of Perry and himself over the past year.  “This one’s my favorite,” he told Dan, finding one they’d taken at the park where they’d had their first date. 

              “He seems like a great guy,” Dan said genuinely.  “So how long has it been exactly?”

              “A year,” JD told him.  “Actually, when you called me to tell me about Mom, we were about to have dinner for our first anniversary.”

              “Shit, JD, I’m sorry,” Dan apologized.

              “Don’t worry about it.  Perry understands.  I think I might have hurt his feelings tonight, though,” JD said after a brief pause.  “I made a joke and he played it off, but I could see it in his face.”

              “What happened?”

              “He offered to come out here ‘cause he knew I was having a hard time with the relatives and everything,” JD explained, “and I said that it might give Mom another stroke if she found out I was dating a man.  It was supposed to be funny, but he couldn’t believe I hadn’t told you guys about him.  And I should have, it’s been a year, but we never really talked like this before, you know?  You and me, we don’t talk about the important stuff and Mom – well, I know how she really feels now.  I never saw much point.  And I haven’t heard from Dad in ages.”

              “D’you think he’s pissed off about it?” Dan asked, sounding concerned.  “I mean, at least you can tell him I know about him now.”

              “No, he didn’t seem mad,” JD sighed.  “Just hurt.  Feels pretty shitty, honestly.  He would do anything for me and I couldn’t even tell my family about him.”

              “Well, from what you’ve told me, he seems like a pretty patient and understanding guy.  I’m sure he gets it.  Hell, I do.”

              “Thanks, Dan,” JD said softly, smiling at his older brother.  “You really should come out and visit us, you know, after we get Mom settled in assisted living.  California’s a nice place.”

              “I think I’ll take you up on that,” Dan said, returning JD’s smile.  “So when are you gonna marry him?”

              JD’s eyes widened. “We’re not even engaged,” he laughed.

              “I know that,” Dan said seriously.  “But it’s obvious you’re crazy about him and it’s been a year.  Just a matter of time, am I right?”

              JD thought for a moment.  “Yeah, you probably are,” he agreed.  “I already knew I was gonna spend the rest of my life with him.  Marriage seems like the obvious next step, doesn’t it?”

              “I’d sure think so,” Dan said.  “But I’m gonna let you get back to sleep.  I’ll see you in the morning, Johnny.”

              “Hey, Dan?” JD said as Dan got up to leave.

              Dan paused in the doorway.  “Yeah?”

              “Thanks for having my back,” JD said sincerely.  “Means a lot.”

              Dan smiled and nodded.  “Goodnight, JD.”

              “Night, Dan.”

 


 

 

              When JD woke the next morning, he felt more well-rested than he had since arriving home.  The first thing he did was check his phone and he was surprised to see he had a voicemail from Perry, left sometime the night before while he and Dan had been talking.  Apprehensively, he put his phone to his ear and listened to the comforting sound of Perry’s voice.

              “Hey, sweetheart.  I’m sure you’re sleeping now, but I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry.  You’re having a hard time out there and I made it about me.  It’s not like I’ve been on the phone with Paige telling her all about you this past year….  I love you, JD, and I miss you like crazy.  It’s important that you’re with your family right now, so don’t worry about me.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow, angel.”

              JD’s heart swelled with affection for Perry and as he got ready for the day, the thought of Perry waiting for him back home kept him going.  It was an important day – his mother was being released from the hospital and would be going straight into a rehab facility now that she was well enough.  She was recovering from her hips surgery and her stroke quite well, and from rehab she would go straight into assisted living.  Dan wasn’t equipped enough to take care of her, and the house wasn’t handicap-friendly. 

              JD’s mother was no less difficult than before she’d had her stroke.  She was fighting him and Dan at every turn, fighting rehab, fighting assisted living, fighting everything.  It was frustrating, but as compassionate as he was, JD could understand why she was so angry.  She’d lost control of everything in her life overnight.  As it was, they were doing exactly what was in her best interest.  Throughout the day, when JD needed a bit of sanity, he listened to Perry’s voicemail.  And finally, when the day was over, after he and Dan had grabbed a burger from a spot they’d frequented in high school, JD flopped down into his bed and dialed Perry’s number.

              “Hey, kiddo,” Perry answered on the second ring.  “How was your day?”

              “Hey, babe,” JD replied.  “Today was… well, it was okay.  I listened to your voicemail about eight times.”

              JD could hear Perry’s smile in his reply.  “Got that, did you?” he chuckled.  “Listen, I really am –”

              “Per, you don’t have to apologize any more than I do,” JD said, cutting Perry off.  “I do have some good news, though.”

              “What’s that?”

              “I told Dan about you.  He and I had a really good talk last night, actually.  I told him he should come visit us after all this.  He already likes you.  I sold you really well.”

              Perry barked out a laugh.  “That’s great, Newbie,” he said fondly.  “I’d love to meet him.”

              “I missed that laugh,” JD said warmly, aching to feel Perry’s arms around him.  “I miss you.”

              “I can’t wait until you’re back home with me,” Perry agreed.  “The apartment’s too empty without you.  And don’t even get me started on all the moping around Gandhi’s been doing.”

              JD grinned.  “He still hasn’t kicked your ass for calling him that, huh?” he teased.  “I’ve talked to him a couple times since I got out here.  Carla’s keeping him occupied.”

              “I figured as much,” Perry chuckled.  “So you and Dan are on good terms now?”

              “Definitely.  He filled me in on what Mom’s been like since I left.  Never called me by my name, kept using female pronouns…”

              “Holy hell,” Perry said, astounded.  “Jesus, JD, I’m so sorry.”

              “Nothing I can do about it now,” JD sighed.  “She’s still my mom, but now I know that I can’t trust her for shit.  I probably should have figured that out sooner, but one good thing came out of it.  I know Dan has my back.  Always has.  Just wish I hadn’t wasted so many years hating his guts for acting like an older brother.”

              “It’ll be a fresh start, then,” Perry said optimistically.  “That’ll be good for you two.”

              “Exactly.  But really, I just want to be back home with you.  It’s only been a week but it feels like years.  I can’t stand it.”

              “I know it’s tough, sweetheart, but just think, when you do get home, how great it’ll feel once you’re in my arms.”

              JD smiled and closed his eyes, imagining it.  “God, I can’t wait,” he sighed.  “I love you so much.”

              “And I you.  More than anything.”

              “Keep talking ‘til I fall asleep?”

              “You got it.”  Perry started telling JD about his day, just minor details from daily life at the hospital and didn’t stop until JD was no longer interjecting with questions or comments.  Perry waited a little longer than that even, just listening to JD’s breathing even out as he fell asleep.  He couldn’t wait until JD was lying right next to him again.

Chapter Text

Year Two: September

              Over the next two weeks, JD and Dan got their mother settled in her apartment at a reputable assisted living facility and moved her belongings in with her.  She was recovering well after her stroke, but was less than thrilled about all the physical therapy she had to do with her new hip.  She was just as stubborn as ever, but JD had a feeling she knew assisted living was the best place for her because she’d stopped fighting them so fiercely when it came to that.  For his part, Dan had worked his ass off applying to job after job and the day before JD left, he finally got a call for an interview.  JD truly believed it was promising and assured Dan that he was capable of succeeding.

              As proud as JD was of his brother, he couldn’t wait to get back home.  The flight back to California felt like it took forever, but the promise that Perry would be at the airport waiting for him kept him going.  Finally, his plane landed and he began following the steady flow of people toward the exit, craning his neck to search for Perry.  After a few minutes, once the crowd thinned, he spotted Perry lingering near an information booth, his eyes searching the crowd as well.  JD abandoned all pretense and with his carry-on bag slung over his shoulder, he ran toward Perry.  Luckily, Perry spotted him before he could knock the older man over, and opened his arms, lifting JD up off the floor as he hugged him close.

              “I love you,” JD whispered, burying his face in Perry’s neck, suddenly overcome with the immense love he felt radiating between them.  “I love you so much.”

              “I love you, too, sweetheart,” Perry murmured, not caring that quite a few people were watching their reunion.  Regretfully, he lowered JD back onto the floor and found his eyes shining with tears.  “I missed you.”

              JD nodded, trying to blink his tears away.  “Me too,” he breathed, his arms still wrapped around Perry’s neck.  “Take me home?”

              “Course,” Perry said, draping an arm over JD’s shoulders as they headed toward the baggage claim.  He could see how tired JD looked, but he seemed happy enough to be home.  He wasn’t counting out a breakdown of some sort, even if he’d seemed to be doing well when they spoke every night.  He was just happy to have JD back home with him; he’d missed him even more than he thought he would, especially knowing how much JD was struggling out there.

              Thankfully, JD’s bags arrived at their scheduled time and they left the airport as quickly as they could, eager to be back in the apartment.  JD’s hand didn’t leave Perry’s the whole way, though he’d begun to drift off on the car ride home.  Perry had missed everything about JD, from his eyes and his smile to the way his head slowly fell forward when he fell asleep sitting up.  Every little thing made him fall even more in love with JD.  Perry hummed along with the radio at a soft enough volume so he was sure not to wake JD and continually rubbed his thumb over JD’s hand, securely held in his the entire car ride home.  When he pulled into his preferred parking spot at their apartment building, he turned off the car and squeezed JD’s hand while leaning over to kiss him as softly as he could.

              JD made a rather pathetic, confused noise before opening his eyes and finding Perry before him.  Perry simply smiled back at him.  “Come on, kiddo, we’re home,” he said in a gentle voice, content to take in the drowsy man before him for the first time in three weeks.  He felt as though he might burst from happiness at having JD beside him once again.  He would see to it that they were never apart for so long again, regardless of what he had to do to ensure it. 

              JD managed to get himself up to the apartment, his carry-on bag over his shoulder while Perry took care of his suitcase.  When they stepped through the door, JD couldn’t help but smile.  He was so happy to be home – his real home – where there were reminders of the last year of his life scattered throughout.  Pictures in frames were one thing, but nothing compared to the warmth he felt when Perry walked up beside him and pulled him into a long, very tight hug.  JD buried his face in the crook of Perry’s neck and breathed him in, reveled in the feeling of him.

              “I’m so glad I’m home,” JD sighed as Perry stroked the back of his head.  “That was too long to be away from you.”

              Perry pressed a kiss to JD’s forehead.  “You can say that again,” he agreed.  “I’m not letting you out of my sight for a long time.”

              JD smiled and began pulling Perry to the bedroom.  When they were both laying on their sides in the bed, facing each other, JD brought a hand up to Perry’s cheek, stroking it softly with his thumb.  “I missed just lying here with you,” he murmured.  “I missed everything.”

              “You and me both,” Perry replied, draping his arm over JD’s waist.  “I may have taken the weekend off and conveniently left out that you were coming back today.  Told Kelso we’ll both be back on Monday.”

              JD giggled.  “Good thinking.  Think I could take a nap.  Feels good to be back in our bed.”

              “Then you go ahead and sleep.  Tomorrow night I’m taking you out for a belated anniversary dinner.”

              “Sounds really nice,” JD said approvingly, tucking himself into Perry’s chest, ensuring they were pressed together from head to toe.  “I love you.”

              “I love you, too, JD,” Perry whispered, closing his own eyes and drifting off right along with him.

             


 

 

              When Perry woke later in the evening, JD was still sleeping soundly beside him.  Smiling to himself, Perry slipped out of bed and walked over to his dresser.  He pulled open the top drawer and took the small black box out from under his socks and slipped it into the pocket of his sweatpants.  While JD was gone, Perry had had a lot of extra time on his hands.  Some of it was spent watching a couple games with Turk, but the most important thing he’d done while JD was gone was ask Turk’s advice on picking out JD’s engagement ring.  Turk had even agreed to come with him to the jewelry store and give his opinion on what JD would like and wouldn’t like.  Perry knew he’d picked a good ring when all Turk did was smile.

              He had planned to take JD out for a nice dinner, get all dressed up, but when he thought about it, the two of them were most comfortable and spent most of their time in the apartment.  While JD slept on, Perry wandered out into the kitchen and began cooking them each a steak, the ring box weighing heavily in his pocket.  Just as he plated the steaks to let them rest and started to figure out what they would have as a side dish, JD shuffled into the kitchen with tired eyes.

              “What’s going on in here?” he asked, offering Perry a sleepy smile. 

              “I know I said we were going out tomorrow night, but I figured it might be nicer if we just stayed in and I made dinner for you instead,” Perry said with a shrug, returning JD’s smile.  He waved him over and JD eagerly moved toward him and kissed him long and slow. 

              “Dinner in our pajamas, huh?” JD asked, looking as though he’d never heard a better idea.  “Do I smell steak?”

              “You sure do,” Perry confirmed.  “What else do you want?  I was thinking baked potatoes or maybe –”

              JD cut Perry off with another kiss.  He’d said he missed Perry so many times already, so he figured he’d say it with a kiss instead.  When he pulled back he took Perry’s face in his hands, just holding him there for a moment.  “I love you,” JD whispered, finding he missed every single thing about Perry, from his eyes to the slight scratch of his beard.

              As he looked back into JD’s eyes, it occurred to Perry that now was the perfect time.  He swallowed and nodded his acknowledgement of JD’s words, feeling nervous despite being quite certain what JD’s answer would be.  “Come here,” he said, taking JD’s hands and moving into the center of the kitchen. 

              Confused, JD obeyed, but his expression quickly shifted to shock when Perry sank down onto one knee, pulling the ring box from his pocket and opening it.  “JD, I – aw hell, I don’t have a speech planned, but all I know is I want to spend the rest of my life with you and I want to do it as your husband.  JD, will you marry me?”

              JD nodded, tears welling up in his eyes as he dropped down to Perry’s level.  “Of course I will,” he breathed, his voice shaking.  “Oh my god…”  He held out his hand and Perry slid the ring on his finger. 

              “Perfect fit,” Perry said weakly, almost surprised that JD said yes.  “Mine matches, but they didn’t have my size in the store.”

              With shaking hands, JD pulled Perry’s face to his and kissed him deeply.  “What made you do it now?” he asked softly.

              “Seemed like as good a time as any,” Perry said simply, grinning at JD.

              JD let out a noise somewhere between a sob and a laugh and threw his arms around Perry.  “Perry, I love you so much,” he whispered.

              “I love you too, angel,” Perry replied, nuzzling against JD’s hair.  “More than anything in the world.”

              “Kiss me again?” JD asked, the food on the counter all but forgotten behind them. 

              Perry did exactly that, pressing his lips to JD’s in a long, heated kiss. 

              “You said you missed me while I was gone,” JD breathed, kissing along Perry’s jawline.  “Just exactly how much did you miss me?”

              “Is that your not-so-subtle way of asking how many times I jerked off thinking of you?” Perry asked, shuddering when JD reached his neck.  “Because I may have lost count.”

              JD laughed softly, nipping at Perry’s neck.  “Must have been nice,” he continued on casually.  “I was stuck in my childhood bedroom, the only other person in the house being my brother, so I’ve haven’t had an orgasm in three weeks.”

              “Don’t you think we should change that?” Perry asked, gripping JD’s hips and pushing him onto his back. 

              “I really, really do,” JD agreed watching as Perry moved down his body, preferring not to waste any time.  “Fuck, I missed your hands on me.”

              Perry smirked up at JD as he pulled down his pants, bringing a hand up to touch him.  “You know what I missed?” he purred, pressing kisses to JD’s hips.

              “Wh-what?” JD asked, whimpering and letting his head fall back onto the floor.  “What did you miss?”

              Perry slid two fingers into JD and moved them slowly, earning a low moan from him.  “That,” he murmured.  “Exactly that.  Hearing you moan for me, feeling you like this, so ready for me.  Fucking gorgeous, JD.”

              JD gasped, his back arching slightly as Perry suddenly increased his pace.  He slid into a long, low moan, grabbing at the floor.  “Fuck, Perry,” he choked out, hooking his legs around Perry’s waist and pulling him closer.

              “Yes?” Perry teased in a low voice, glancing up at JD’s writhing form.  His mouth was dropped open, his eyes were shut tightly, and his breath was quickening.

              “F-faster,” JD begged, his body starting to shake. 

              Perry obeyed just as he lowered his mouth to JD, doing what he did best if JD’s moans were any indication.  After going without for so long, he knew JD wouldn’t last long, but that didn’t change that he wanted it to be as mind-blowing as possible.  Not to mention it was also engagement sex, which wasn’t something they got more than one shot at.

              JD cried out as he finished, the feeling crashing over him like a wave.  The build-up had been quick, but the intensity of it was unrivaled.  He gasped for breath as he slowly came down, a weak smile spreading over his face when he felt Perry kissing up his body, pushing his shirt up as he went.  “That was… fuck, that was amazing,” he mumbled, running a hand through his hair.

              Perry grinned, resting his forehead against JD’s chest for a moment, at the same time wrapping his arms around JD.  “Yeah, it was,” he agreed.  “Glad you’re home.”

              JD closed his eyes, soaking in the afterglow.  “God, me too,” he sighed softly.  “I missed you so much, Per.  It was like missing part of myself.”

              Perry looked up at JD, touched by the sentiment, both because it was sweet and because he’d felt the same way while JD was gone.  He nodded in reply and sat up, offering JD his hands.  Perry pulled him to his feet and wordlessly led him into the living room where they collapsed into a tangle of limbs on the couch.  They assisted each other in removing the rest of their clothes, easily getting lost in each other and trading kisses as their hands roamed everywhere they could reach.  JD couldn’t have been happier to be wrapped around Perry just then as they rocked together, barely letting their lips part long enough to gasp for breath and swallowing down each other’s moans.  There was an unspoken need between them that transcended just sex; they’d both been craving intimacy, the thing that connected them so completely.  It was the one thing JD had missed most while he was gone.  They were bare to each other, no secrets between them, no pressure or expectations.  He could say many things about his relationship with Perry, but the fact that Perry loved him for exactly who he was and that he could say the same was the most beautiful part of it.  Being Perry’s husband was all he could have ever hoped for and the reality that it was going to happen hit JD like a freight train.

              When they’d both finished and simply laid on the couch, still tangled with each other, JD couldn’t stop smiling.  Part of it could have been the exhaustion from traveling, but he was so giddy to finally be back home and be engaged that he couldn’t help himself.  Perry noticed JD’s mirth and smiled to himself as JD sprawled out on his chest. 

              “Pretty smiley there, Newbie,” Perry remarked while JD traced random patterns on his chest.

              “I’m marrying you,” JD replied.  “Why wouldn’t I be happy?”

              “Suppose that’s a good point,” Perry chuckled.  “Told you, I can’t think of a better way to spend the rest of my life.  You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, JD.  I’d be crazy not to make sure you know that.”

              JD pressed the softest of kisses to Perry’s chest.  “I’m glad I can say the exact same thing,” he reciprocated.  “I can’t wait to call you my husband.  I can’t wait to tell people you proposed!”

              Perry remained suspiciously silent for so long that JD lifted his head, narrowing his eyes at Perry.  “Perry,” he said slowly, his tone accusatory.  Perry bit his tongue, trying not to laugh at JD’s reaction.  “Percival!” JD said, sounding scandalized.

              “Percival?” Perry laughed, jostling JD when he did so. 

              “Who did you tell?” JD asked, playfully shoving Perry’s shoulder.

              Perry sighed and sat up a little.  “I told you Turk and I spent some time together while you were gone.  I may have left out that I asked for his advice on your ring and that he came with me to the jewelry store to help me pick it out.”

                JD’s eyes widened.  He’d expected Perry to have told Carla and maybe – maybe – Turk, but to have asked for Turk’s advice?  “Perry, that’s really sweet,” he said, a soft smile forming on his face, touched as he was.  “I mean, I’m sure you could have picked it out all on your own, but that’s…  I’m glad you asked Turk.”

              Perry wrapped his arms around JD, holding him to his chest.  “I figured you’d appreciate that,” he told JD.  “And even though I know I could’ve done it on my own, I wanted to be sure it was something you’d like.  Turk’s known you a lot longer than I have and you two are so oddly close that I just assumed he’d have a good idea as to your jewelry preferences.”

              JD giggled and hugged Perry back before lifting his left hand, admiring the ring on his finger.  “We’re not oddly close,” he said half-heartedly, though he knew it was true.  “Either way, you both did a great job.  It’s too bad they didn’t have your size.”

              “I’ll have my ring soon enough,” Perry assured him, settling into the couch.  “And then we’ll match.”

              JD sighed contentedly, closing his eyes once again as he relaxed on Perry’s chest.  They were silent for a short time when JD suddenly tensed.  “Didn’t you make us steaks?” he asked, horrified that Perry’s cooking had gone to waste.

              Perry snorted.  “Well, shit,” he said simply.

              “Delivery then?”

              “You sure know the way to my heart, kid.”

 


 

 

              On Monday when JD and Perry walked into the ICU, the last thing they expected was to be greeted by applause.  JD had naturally called Turk later that weekend and shared with him the good news, and though he’d already known, Turk was appropriately excited and supportive.  JD had also talked briefly with Carla, but he’d been too busy reveling in being back home with Perry to share the news with anyone else.  It was clear that Turk and Carla had told the other nurses and doctors and orchestrated this surprise for them.

              JD beamed at the small crowd in front of him, but was soon very nearly tackled by Elliot.  She hugged him tightly and congratulated him, nearly shrieking when she spotted his ring, before moving over to Perry and hugging him as well.  Perry hid his surprise at the gesture well; he and Elliot had become closer over the last year, but at work she had still seemed a little timid around him. 

              “Where did you propose?” Elliot asked Perry while Carla and Laverne pulled JD aside to admire his ring.  “How romantic was it?”

              Perry chuckled, knowing that Elliot would want every little detail.  “I asked him in the middle of our kitchen,” he explained.  “You can tell me if that’s romantic or not.”

              Elliot considered it for a moment.  “Well, neither of you like going out all that much, so how much more romantic can you get than in your own home where you spend most of your time?” she said excitedly.  “Hey, where’s your ring?”

              “Had to order my size,” Perry said, amused by Elliot’s interrogation.

              “Well, you know, I have plenty of thoughts about your wedding and the reception…  Have you guys set a date yet?”

              “A date?” Perry asked, raising his eyebrows.  “Barbie, we got engaged two days ago.”

              Elliot looked affronted.  “Perry!” she scolded.  “It is never too early to start planning!  You have to book your reception hall well in advance, not to mention caterers and the DJ, the cake decorator, flower arrangement, centerpieces for the tables…”

              Perry put his hands on Elliot’s shoulders.  “First, take a breath before you pass out,” he ordered, waiting for her to do so.  “Second, I am absolutely certain that JD and I will ask for your help in planning the festivities once we get to that point.  But for now, we’re just celebrating.”

              Elliot looked as though she might break her face in half if her smile was any indication.  “Really?” she asked, eyes widening.  “You’ll actually want my help?”

              “I think you’ve proven yourself useful when it comes to planning surprises and grand gestures,” Perry reminded her.  “You’ll have a place in all this, Barbie, don’t you worry.”

              Elliot made a noise halfway between a shout and a squeak before throwing her arms around Perry once again.  Perry sighed and patted her back awkwardly, waiting for the embrace to end.  He caught JD’s eye from across the room, the younger man laughing at his predicament.  Despite the fact that Elliot was now prattling on quite animatedly about reception themes and ideas, Perry had eyes only for JD.  Even though his fiancé was once again talking to a random smattering of hospital employees, he could see how his eyes were lit up, how excited he was to be engaged to Perry, and for a moment, Perry was able to envision him in a crisp, black suit, standing before all the people that mattered most to them while he said ‘I do.’  Whenever that day came, Perry knew that it would make him the happiest man in the world for JD to become his husband.

Chapter Text

Year 2: March

              JD walked into the lobby, having heard Perry’s laughter – something of a rarity at the hospital – from down the hall.  There, he spotted Perry hugging a tall man he’d never seen before and couldn’t help but be amused.  Not only was Perry not a hugger with anyone but himself, but especially with other men.  He’d seen Perry pull Carla and even Elliot into a couple hugs, but only on one occasion had he accepted an awkward sideways hug from Turk.  Interested, JD continued toward the two of them, who were only just now pulling apart.

              “Neat hug,” JD teased, sidling up to Perry.  “Who’s your friend?”

              Before Perry could even speak, the other man pulled JD into a crushing hug, making him squeak in surprise.  “You must be JD,” he said as he pulled back, releasing JD.

              JD looked over at Perry in surprise, and before he knew it, the man was snapping a candid picture of them with an old-fashioned camera, flash-bulb and all.  “Holy crap,” JD groaned, blinking comedically as white spots filled his vision.

              “JD,” Perry laughed, “this is Ben.”

              “Ben,” JD repeated.  “As in Jordan’s brother Ben?”

              “The one and only,” Ben confirmed, hopping up on the counter behind him.

              “I don’t think so,” Carla scolded, swatting Ben with a patient’s file.  “Down.”

              “Is this the mean nurse you were telling me about?” Ben asked, turning to Perry. 

              “I did not call her mean,” Perry was quick to correct, not wanting to incur Carla’s wrath.  “I distinctly recall saying she was ‘no-nonsense.’”

              “Give it a rest Perry,” Carla said, her smile betraying her.  “I won’t kill you.  Yet.”

              “Not mean,” Ben decided aloud.  “Scary, but not mean.  Not gonna take her picture…”

              “Anywho,” Perry said, shaking his head as to rid himself of their conversation and putting his arm around JD’s waist, “Ben and I were going to head out for lunch.  Care to join us?”

              “I wish I could, sweetie, but I’m slammed right now.  You’ll come over later, though?” JD asked, turning to Ben.  “I’d love to get to know Perry’s best friend.”

              “I don’t know, sweetie,” Ben said with a grin as he nudged Perry with his elbow.  “What do you think?”

              Perry rolled his eyes before leaning in and pecking JD’s cheek.  “I’ll see you later, kiddo,” he promised, proceeding to quite literally drag Ben out the door. 

              Carla walked out from around the counter and stood beside JD.  “You know, it’s good to see Perry like this,” she told him.  “You’ve been so good for him, Bambi.”

              Once Ben and Perry were out of sight, JD glanced over at Carla.  “All I did was love him, Carla,” he explained with a lovesick smile.  “It’s not like I was trying to change him or ask him to be a different person.  I fell in love with the man I met in the grocery store, and that’s who I’m still in love with now.”

              Carla looped her arm through JD’s.  “I’m glad you two found each other.  I like seeing you happy.  We all do.”

              “I like it a lot myself,” JD chuckled.  “Hey, when are you free to come shopping with me?  We still have to find dresses for you and Elliot for the wedding.  Can we still call you bridesmaids even though there are no brides?”

              Carla laughed.  “I think we can, Bambi.  What’s the alternative?  Groomsmaids?”

              “Bridesmaids just sounds better,” JD agreed.  “But let me know a time that works for both of you.  Perry doesn’t really care what I pick out – he said he doesn’t even care about the wedding colors.”

              “Well, what are you thinking?” Carla asked curiously.

              “I definitely want both of us in black suits, but I haven’t settled on an accent color yet.  I guess that’s pretty important, though…”

              “Okay, so what are the top three?” Carla pressed.

              “I was thinking purple, maybe?  Nothing too dark, but not quite lavender either.  I also really like the idea of black, white, and red, but that also feels a little too… elegant for the type of ceremony we want.  What do you think?”

              “I do like the purple idea,” Carla mused, “but what about a shade of blue?  It would bring out both your eyes and you know how much Perry loves those.”

              JD couldn’t help the blush that spread over his cheeks.  “He does, doesn’t he?  That’s definitely an idea.  Can’t be navy, though, or it wouldn’t go with the black suits.”

              “Good point,” Carla agreed.  “You know, it won’t hurt to go into the stores just to get some ideas.  You’ll never know for sure until you see what you want.”

              JD grinned.  “What would I do without you?”

              “You’d be lost,” Carla said simply.  “Now go on, Mr. I’m-Too-Swamped-To-Go-Out-To-Lunch-With-My-Fiance-And-His-Best-Friend.”

              JD narrowed his eyes playfully, but heeded Carla’s orders and hurried off back to work, hoping Perry and Ben were having a good time.

 

 

              Perry had decided on a nearby burger joint, knowing that wherever they ended up wouldn’t matter so much as long as they were able to catch up.  It had been quite a while since Perry’d seen Ben – in fact, it had been shortly after his divorce with Jordan, and that had been over three years ago.  He was looking forward to finding out what Ben had been up to; it was always something interesting with the potential for danger.

              “So, Perry, you’re engaged to someone who’s not my sister.  How does it feel?” Ben deadpanned over his burger and fries.

              “Well, for starters, he is not, nor was he ever a wire-haired man goblin,” Perry joked, earning a laugh from Ben.  He quickly grew serious, though his smile never faded.  “For the first time in a long time, I feel happy.  I don’t think I truly realized how miserable I was until JD came along.  He changed everything and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to repay him for that.”

              Ben grinned.  “That’s great to hear, man.  You deserve to be happy.  I thought at one time that you and Jordan were perfect for each other, but I guess it wasn’t such a good thing that two people so alike were together.”

              “I’ll drink to that,” Perry said, raising his glass of Coke to Ben’s.  “You know, I was sort of hoping you’d want to be in the wedding, be my best man.”

              Ben’s expression went mockingly soft.  “Aw, Perry, it took you so long to ask I’m starting to think you might be hiding some feelings deep down in there,” he teased.

              “Oh, shut up,” Perry muttered.  “Will you do it or not?”

              “Of course I will,” Ben snorted.  “And when is the blessed occasion?”

              “On our second anniversary.  August twenty-nine.”

              “I’ll have to check my calendar,” Ben said haughtily, “but I’ll try and pencil you in.”

              Perry coughed into his drink.  “Pencil me in?”

              “Something I’m trying out,” Ben said with a shrug.  “Is it working?”

              “Not at all.”

              “Good to know.  Really, though, I can’t wait to get to hang out with JD, see just exactly who you’re getting hitched to.”

              “You’ll love him,” Perry said warmly.  “Heart of gold, that one.  Sometimes I still have to wonder how I got so damn lucky.”

              “Hey, you’re not a bad guy by any means, Perry,” Ben chuckled.  “Not that I spend much time with doctors, but I’ve sure never seen someone who cares as much as you do about your patients.”

              “JD’s just like that,” Perry said, his heart swelling.  “Maybe even more so.  He’s got compassion coming out his ears, I swear.  He feels all the time.  He’s done a good job of bringing that out in me, too.”

              “You guys gonna have kids?” Ben asked.

              “Not sure yet,” Perry said honestly.  “I think JD wants at least one, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I’d mind having one either.  I never was all that interested in being a father, but I guess when you’re with the right person, you see things in a different light…  We’ve talked about it in theory every so often, but I think we’re happy just to be engaged at this point.  We’re not in any rush.  Hell, the wedding’s not for another five months.  We have years to think about kids.”

              “That’s fair,” Ben agreed.  “Sounds like you guys have it pretty well figured out.”

              “I don’t know about that,” Perry chuckled.  “We’re just taking it one day at a time.  It seems to work for us, you know?”

              “That’s all you can do, really,” Ben said, his smile dropping for just a moment.

Perry noticed the change in his expression, as fleeting as it was.  He narrowed his eyes at Ben, searching his face.  “Something going on there, Ben?” he asked suspiciously.

              “Oh, me?” Ben asked dismissively.

              “Who else would I be talking to?”

              Ben sighed and pushed away his plate, which, Perry realized, he’d barely touched.  “I’m in town to see some specialist Jordan got me an appointment with,” he mumbled.

              “A specialist?  What the hell for?”

              “I have a touch of leukemia.  Been kind of a drag, to be perfectly honest.”

              Perry floundered.  “Leukemia?  Since when?  And why am I just finding out about this now?”

              “For this exact reason.  Now you’ve got your panties all in a bunch when you’re supposed to be planning your wedding and being madly in love.”

              “I can still do those things and be worried about you.  How long have you known?”

              “Just a couple weeks.  Not even that long…”  Ben sighed.  “Jordan flipped out when I told her, got me in to see this Zeltzer guy.  He any good?”

              “He’s the best we’ve got,” Perry said seriously.  “Jesus, Ben… How’re you holding up?”

              “I’m fine, Perry, really.  It’s the chemo I’m dreading.  I just hope I get to stick around long enough to see you tie the knot.”

              Perry knew Ben had meant that as a joke, but the crushing reality of a cancer diagnosis weighed over him heavily.  “Christ,” he breathed, cringing at Ben’s cavalier talk of death.  “When’s your appointment?”

              “Tomorrow at two.”

              “If you want me there, I’ll be there,” Perry offered.

              “Go Team Cancer,” Ben said enthusiastically, dunking a fry into his ketchup and leaving Perry reeling.

 

 

              “So Ben was fun,” JD said as he sat down on the couch beside Perry.  Ben had just left their apartment after the three of them had spent the evening in.  “But you’ve been pretty quiet all evening.  Something up?”  He rubbed Perry’s thigh as he looked up at him with gentle concern.

              “I – it’s just something Ben told me today,” Perry sighed, moving his arm around JD’s shoulders and pulling him close.  “He’s – uh – he’s got an appointment with Zeltzer tomorrow.  I told him I’d go with him.  I’m assuming Jordan’ll be there, too, seeing as she set up the appointment in the first place.”

              “But Zeltzer’s an oncologist,” JD said, brows furrowing.  “What’s Ben need to see him for?”

              “Leukemia,” Perry said, the word tasting sour on his tongue.  “Got diagnosed not two weeks ago.”

              “Oh my god,” JD breathed, his eyes going wide.  “But he seems so… well, not normal because he’s Ben, but you know…”

              “Yeah,” Perry huffed.  “I know.  It’s been on my mind all day.  Scaring the shit out of me, if I’m being honest.”

              JD moved to hug Perry and held him tightly.  “He’ll be okay, sweetie.  Zeltzer, odd as he is, is by far the best oncologist we have.  He’ll know exactly what to do.”

              “I sure hope so,” Perry said with a heavy sigh, returning JD’s embrace.  “I… aw, hell, I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to him.”

              JD rested his head against Perry’s, knowing full well that there would be nothing he could say that would completely rid Perry of his anxieties.  It was cancer, after all, and there were no certainties when it came to that.  “I love you,” he settled for saying, hoping he could at least help Perry in that way.

              Perry closed his eyes for a moment and simply focused on JD’s arms around him.  “I love you too, sweetheart,” he murmured, glad for the reassurance JD offered him.

 

 

              The next day, Perry found himself in the cafeteria after Ben’s appointment, struggling to keep himself together.  It was his day off and yet he was still spending it at Sacred Heart in support of his best friend.

              “Hey, babe,” JD chirped, coming up behind Perry and sitting down beside him at their usual table.  He placed a hand on Perry’s shoulder and kissed his cheek.  “How did Ben’s appointment go?”

              “It’s not good, Newbie,” Perry said softly, shaking his head.  He hadn’t bothered with food, knowing he wouldn’t have been able to stomach it anyway.

              JD frowned and continued to rub Perry’s shoulder, his own food forgotten on the tray in front of him.  “I don’t suppose there’s anything I can do to help,” he said in concern.

              Perry continued on as if JD had never spoken.  “Tell me, Newbie, what chance to you give a guy with Ben’s blast percentage?  Twenty percent – thirty, maybe?  I just can’t handle that, JD, I cannot.  Ben is my best friend and the thought that he might not be around to see us get married, to be an uncle to our kids…”

              JD couldn’t stop his eyes from welling up, both from the clear pain in Perry’s voice and the thought of Ben dying.  “We’ve both seen cancer patients with worse odds than Ben turn around and go into remission, Perry,” he said gently.  “Thinking of the worst possible outcome won’t help anyone.  It’s just going to torture you.  And besides, Ben needs your support right now.”

              “I told him I’d be there for his first treatment,” Perry said after a long pause.  “But I don’t know if I can do it.  Just the thought of seeing him like that… God, what the hell is wrong with me?”

              “You’re scared,” JD said, putting his arm around Perry.  “Just think how scary this must be for Ben and how much it’ll mean to him when you’re sitting with him.  I’ll be there, too, Per, if you want me to be.  Anything I can do to help.”

              “That’ll be good,” Perry replied as he leaned into JD.  “Thank you, sweetheart.”

              “You don’t have to thank me,” JD said, giving Perry a soft smile.  “Being brave isn’t easy, but sometimes life makes it so we have to be.  If there’s anyone who can do that, it’s you.”

              Perry was suddenly struck by the trust and faith JD had in him.  After two and a half years together, he had, of course, known it was there, but JD still had the ability to surprise him now and again.  He knew his fiancé was right, that he’d be there for Ben regardless of how hard it was for him personally.  It helped a great deal, though, to know that JD would be right there beside him.

 


 

 

Year 2: May

              Weeks passed and they quickly turned into months.  Despite everyone’s ongoing worry for Ben’s condition, life went on and JD and Perry – though realistically, it was more of JD, Carla, and Elliot – focused on planning their wedding.  Once JD had seen a rich, navy blue color, he and Perry opted to go with grey suits to accommodate JD’s insistence that that be their accent color.  Bridesmaids dresses had been chosen, centerpieces as well, caterers and a DJ had been hired, and all that was left was to hammer out the last details of the ceremony itself.  With only two and a half months remaining, JD had begun to feel rather nervous about the whole ordeal, though he still couldn’t have been more excited to be marrying Perry. 

              The news about Ben’s leukemia couldn’t have come at a better time.  After what had seemed liked constant chemotherapy (at least to Ben himself), things were looking great for his prognosis.  Zeltzer hadn’t wanted to use the word ‘remission’ just yet, but even he seemed optimistic.  To celebrate, JD had organized a small, quiet gathering in Ben’s hospital room after his last treatment.  Many members of the hospital staff turned up, having grown accustomed, and even fond, of Ben’s quirks.

              JD and Perry had been inseparable during the party, often with their arms around one another while they greeted familiar faces.  They made their way to Ben after most of the crowd had left, leaving only a few stragglers behind.

              Ben gave them his usual goofy smile and though his skin was pale and there were bags under his eyes, he looked genuinely happy.  “Hell of a party, JD,” he commented.  “Thanks, man.”

              “Of course,” JD said, waving a hand in dismissal.  “I’m glad you felt up to it.”

              “Hey, it’s not every day you have your last round of chemo,” Ben said with a shrug.  “Might as well celebrate.”

              “This means you’ll be able to be in the wedding,” JD gushed, squeezing Perry’s arm. 

              “That is, if you’re feeling up to it,” Perry amended, not wanting to pressure Ben.  He knew his best friend had been through a lot in the last two months and that things could always change in the remaining two and a half months before the wedding. 

              “Feeling up to it?” Ben repeated with a snort.  “Perry, the only reason I won’t be up there is if I’m dead and I don’t plan on that just yet.”

              Perry smiled, though Ben’s casual talk of death always made him uncomfortable.  It was odd, how desensitized Perry was to the deaths around him that were part of working in a hospital, but when it came to the people close to him, he grew extraordinarily uneasy about the subject, a fact that JD seemed to notice.

              “Well, good thing we don’t have to worry about that,” JD said quickly, hoping to change the subject.  “You know, now that you’re getting out of the hospital, you’re going to have to keep Perry occupied.  I think I’m starting to drive him nuts with all the wedding planning.”

              Perry smirked.  “You have been a little high-strung, Newbie,” Perry teased.  “And we’ve still got a ways to go.”

              “Say no more,” Ben proclaimed.  “I’ll make sure neither of you lose your marbles until after you’re hitched.”

              “I knew we could count on you,” JD laughed.  “I really am glad you’re feeling better.”

              “We both are,” Perry added, patting Ben on the shoulder.

              Ben simply smiled back up at them from his bed.  He’d kept his sense of humor throughout the whole ordeal, but it was clear to everyone that a giant weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

 


 

 

Year 2: June

              “I have a question for you,” JD said as he and Perry finished washing the dishes from their dinner that evening.  Only a couple weeks had passed since Ben’s cancer party – a title made, of course, by Ben himself – but now that they were only two months out from the wedding and there was little planning left to do, JD had much more free time to do nothing but think.  “We’ve talked about kids in theory before, but never had an actual, serious conversation about having them in reality.”

              “Well, that’s not a question,” Perry remarked, glancing at JD with a smile.  “I take it you’ve been thinking about it.”

              “Haven’t you?” JD asked, suddenly apprehensive about bringing up the subject at all.

              “I have,” Perry said honestly, noting the relieved breath JD let out.  “But I’d really like to know what your question was.”

              JD took a deep breath and leaned back against the counter.  “How would you feel about not using condoms anymore?”

              Perry nearly dropped the dish he was washing.  “Hold on just a second now,” he said slowly.  “I was under the impression we’d use a surrogate – or hell, adopt.  You want to carry the baby?”

              JD nodded, entirely serious.  “I do,” he said firmly.  “Believe me, Perry, it’s something I’ve thought about a lot – and not just since you and I have been together.  But if we’re going to have a child, a biological one, anyway, I want to be the one who carries them.”

              Perry blinked as he dried off his hands, the rest of the dishes forgotten in the sink.  “Why am I just now hearing about this?”

              “I wanted to be absolutely sure that this is what I wanted before I even came to you about it.  And honestly, I was afraid you’d say no right away,” JD admitted somewhat sheepishly.

              “Well, sweetheart, it’s your body,” Perry said, speaking at a measured pace, “I can’t tell you what you can and can’t do with it.  I can, however, worry about how this will affect you emotionally, mentally.  But I suppose you’ve already gone over that a thousand times.”

              “Maybe a few more than that,” JD said with a nervous laugh.  “Perry, I – I have never been in such a good place with myself, with my body, than I have been since I met you.  Bottom surgery was never something I was all that interested in.  I’m secure now with the body I have and the fact that I have the ability to carry a child… our child… that’s an experience I really want to have.”

              Perry nodded thoughtfully.  “Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to hear that, but what about everyone else?  Just the way the media treats pregnant men is enough to make me worried for you.  The last thing I’d want is for that to happen to you.  And please, don’t mistake that for me actually giving a shit about what anyone else thinks because at the end of the day, this is your choice, JD.  But the fact remains that these are things we have to take into consideration.”

              “I’ve thought about that already,” JD said readily.  “A lot, actually.  And I realize that working as a doctor will make it easier for people to find out, but that doesn’t change anything for me.  I plan on working as long as I can, physically and mentally, and if the media wants to have a field day with it, then so be it.  If I can bring more awareness to being a trans man and being pregnant, I’m okay with that, but I also don’t want to be a spokesperson for it.  I just want to be me, you know?”

              “I know,” Perry assured JD, reaching out for his hands.  “JD, if this is truly what you want, then I’m on board.  Keeping you safe will always be my number one concern.”

              “I know it is,” JD said softly, squeezing Perry’s hands.  “And that means the world to me, you know that.  That’s why I said for now we just stop using condoms.  We don’t have to actively try or anything.  I’ve been reading articles and studies, but there really haven’t been that many studies on the effects of testosterone on fertility, but I’ve been on it for about ten years now, so it might not be that easy.  And I’m prepared for that.  I might have to look into fertility treatments or even in vitro, but I’m willing to do that if it means I can carry a baby.  If it turns out that none of those are options, then we can move onto surrogacy or adoption.  I just really want to do this, Per.  I’ve already talked with my primary about stopping my hormones, too, and what to expect with doing so.  It’s all a risk I’m willing to take in order to do this.”

              “Then like I said, I’m on board,” Perry promised.  “I trust your judgement, always have.  I just have one condition.”

              “What’s that?”

              “If anyone – absolutely anyone – is giving you a hard time or if you’re just having a hard time with anything, you tell me immediately.  No waiting it out, hoping it’ll stop.  Your mental health is just as important to me as your physical health and the sooner we can talk about it or get you into see someone, the better.”

              JD nodded.  “I promise, you will be the first person I talk to about everything.  Just like always.”

              “Then I suppose it’s settled,” Perry said, a smile forming on his face.  “See, I’m not that impossible, am I?”

              JD grinned and moved his arms around Perry’s neck.  “I love you so much, babe,” he said softly as he hugged him.

              Perry hugged him back tightly.  “I love you too, angel.  I’m sorry it didn’t occur to me that you’d want that experience.  But I know you’re strong enough for it.”

              JD smiled back at Perry and pressed a soft kiss to his lips.  “I know,” he said smugly before returning to drying the dishes.

              Perry rolled his eyes, but went back to washing the dishes all the same.  For a few minutes, the apartment was quiet until Perry could take it no longer.  “Fuck it,” he muttered, tossing the sponge down and grabbing JD and hoisting him up onto the kitchen counter.

              JD hummed into the crushing kiss Perry had pulled him into.  “More like fuck me,” he breathed, eagerly wrapping his legs around Perry’s waist.

              “It’s what I do best,” Perry mumbled, pulling JD back into his arms and carrying him, with minor difficulty, to the bedroom.

              “Want you to fuck me into the mattress,” JD gasped, the air rushing out of him when Perry tossed him none too gently onto the bed.

              Perry laughed as he kissed along JD’s neck, already working on unbuttoning his own pants.  “God, you’re gonna make a great dad,” he snorted, making JD laugh right along with him.

              “Shut up,” JD giggled, kicking off his pants and tossing them to the floor.  “I love that you can make me laugh even when we’re having sex.”  He tried to pull off his shirt, but Perry didn’t seem to want to stop kissing him long enough.

              “I do what I can,” Perry said with a grin, finally moving out of the way long enough for both of them to finish undressing.

              JD ran his hands up and down Perry’s chest once it was bare to him, still kissing him soundly.  He moaned softly when Perry slid a hand between his legs, his back arching up at the feeling. 

              “You’re sure?” Perry asked after a while, wanting to be absolutely certain that this was what JD wanted.

              JD forced his eyes open and looked up at Perry, his blue eyes both piercing and soft.  “Only if you are,” he murmured, taking Perry’s face in both his hands.  “I want to do this together.”

              “Me too,” Perry agreed, leaning down to kiss JD deeply.  “I want this.”

              “Then I’m sure,” JD replied, letting out a whimper when he felt Perry slowly push inside him.

              “Fuck,” Perry groaned.  Wearing a condom had never once made things unpleasurable for him, but it was an entirely differently feeling with one than without. 

              JD’s eyes fluttered closed once again and he wrapped his arms and legs around Perry, wanting him even closer.  “God, yes,” he said breathlessly, his head falling back against the pillows.

              Perry buried his face in JD’s neck, focusing on the feeling of moving in and out of him.  Gradually, he began to increase his pace, knowing that was often JD’s preference.  Sure enough, JD began rocking against him and didn’t bother swallowing down his moans, instead letting them fall freely from his lips. 

              “Harder,” JD choked out, desperate for more.  It was the strength, the force, behind Perry’s thrusts that always got JD going and he hadn’t been joking about wanting to be fucked into the mattress.  Luckily for him, Perry always delivered.

              “Feel so fucking good,” Perry grunted, doing exactly as he was told.  He gripped JD’s hip tighter for better leverage, his hips snapping forward with each thrust. 

              JD’s breath started coming faster and he unwound a hand from around Perry to touch himself.  “Right there,” he whimpered, his mouth dropping open at the intensity of the feelings washing over him.  “Fuck, Perry, don’t stop.”

              Perry could feel JD winding tighter and tighter, could feel his body start to shake and there was nothing more attractive to him than when JD let go so completely.  He wanted JD to finish first, and luckily, he didn’t have to hang on much longer for that to happen.  As soon as he cried out and felt JD start to spasm, Perry let go and, crushing his lips against JD’s, rode out his own orgasm, buried deep in his lover.

              Gradually, their kiss turned much softer and slower and Perry moved a hand to cup JD’s cheek.

              “I love you,” Perry whispered, gazing down at JD, his eyes full of the love he felt.

              JD nodded, still catching his breath.  “I love you, too, sweetheart,” he murmured.  “And there is no one else in the world I’d rather do this with.”

              “I’d sure hope not,” Perry said with a crooked smile.  “You are marrying me after all.”

              JD chuckled and kissed Perry again, who reluctantly slid off him, moving to lie beside him instead.  “Can’t wait for that either,” JD mused, immediately curling into Perry’s chest.  “Can’t wait to stand next to you in front of everyone.”

              Perry rubbed JD’s back and rested their foreheads together.  “You really are going to make a great dad, you know?”

              “You will too, Per.  The absolute best.”

Chapter Text

Year 3: August

              “Don’t forget I have to pick Dan up from the airport when we’re done,” JD called from his and Perry’s bathroom.  He was finishing up with his hair, which was thankfully cooperating with him that day.  He’d been quite high strung as the wedding drew ever closer and he wasn’t sure he could handle anything else going wrong. It wasn’t really as though anything had gone wrong – yet – but JD was so anxious that he couldn’t help but worry that every little thing was going to collapse around them before they could actually get married.  

              Perry poked his head in and smiled.  “Yes, dear,” he said patiently.  “I haven’t forgotten since the last time you reminded me.”  He glanced down at his watch. “Which appears to be approximately  twelve minutes ago on the dot.”

              JD grumbled and turned toward Perry.  “I’m sorry I’ve been so high strung,” he apologized.  “It’s just the wedding’s in a week and I want everything to be perfect.”

              “I know you do,” Perry chuckled, pressing a quick kiss to JD’s lips.  “And it will be.  And even if it’s not, even if every single thing goes wrong, as long as we end up married, I’ll be happy.”

              JD relaxed slightly at Perry’s words, but even his soon-to-be-husband’s reassurance wasn’t enough to completely banish the nagging thoughts that had been plaguing JD for weeks.  “Me too.  But can every single thing please not go wrong?”

              Perry’s smile widened and he began pulling JD toward the front door.  “I’ll see to it that everything goes perfectly,” he assured JD.  “Now let’s go get that marriage license.”

 


 

 

              JD and Perry waited patiently – or at least the latter half was patient – for their turn at the counter..  JD was more anxious than anything, as he had been growing more and more so over the last few weeks.  There had been times where he’d worked himself up so much that he’d felt sick.  While they waited in line, JD couldn’t help the dread that settled over him, worrying that something would go wrong before he and Perry could actually get married.  So when it became their turn to step up to the window and apply for their marriage license, he let Perry do all the talking; he didn’t trust himself not to hurl over the poor woman behind the counter.  In fact, he was so focused on not getting sick that he didn’t really pay attention to anything being said until the woman delivered them some bad news.

              “I’m afraid I can’t grant you this license,” she told them, sounding as though she wasn’t all that upset about it.

              “And why the hell not?” Perry asked, his jaw tightening.  His first assumption was that the woman was trying to make some point out of them, that even if gay marriage had been legalized, she wasn’t going to cooperate.

              The woman sighed.  “Sir, you’re still married to a Ms. Jordan Sullivan,” she said flatly.

              Horror swept over JD’s face and Perry grew even more infuriated.  “How in the hell are we still married?  We got divorced three years ago!”

              Perry was too busy berating the innocent, albeit rude, clerk to notice JD barely holding back tears.  All the wedding stress seemed to be converging and he wasn’t sure how much more he could handle.  It was supposed to be the best day of his life, but between the anxiety making him sick and ready to cry at the drop of a hat, he just wanted it to be over.  “I’ll be outside,” JD muttered as he hurried out of the courthouse.

              Perry barely glanced at JD as he left and instead focused on the woman behind the desk.  “There’s got to be some mistake,” he said adamantly.  “Check again.”

              “Sir, if you want this marriage license, you should try getting divorced first,” she said, holding her ground.  “Now, if you’d move aside so I can help the next person in line, we can all get on with our days.”

              Perry thought about continuing to argue, but knew it would do him no good.  In frustration, he stormed outside, pulling his phone out and calling Ted, who’d been in charge of his divorce paperwork.  JD had found a spot on a nearby bench and heard Perry before he saw him.  “Ted!” he shouted.  “What the hell?  What do you mean the paperwork got switched?  I’m getting married in a week!”

              JD sniffled, trying to hold back his tears.  He was sitting hunched over on the bench with a hand covering his mouth, doing his best not to get sick.  Mere minutes later, Perry hung up with Ted and spotted JD.

              “I feel sick,” JD mumbled as Perry sat down beside him.

              “Hey, hey, it’s going to be fine, I promise,” Perry said quickly.  “Ted was getting divorced at the same time as Jordan and I were and apparently he had us all sign the wrong forms.  I just have to get ahold of Jordan so we can sign the right ones.”

              “I just can’t believe this is happening,” JD said shakily, failing to hold back his tears any long.  “God, why am I crying?”

              “I think the stress is really getting to you, sweetheart,” Perry said gently as he rubbed JD’s back.  “But trust me, everything will work out.  We’re still getting married in a week.  In fact, I’ll call Jordan right now.”

              JD shrugged and wiped at his eyes.  As far as he was concerned, this wrench in their plans had only confirmed his fear that everything that could go wrong was going to.  “I knew something awful was going to happen,” he said under his breath.

              Perry frowned and watched JD for a moment before sighing and pulling out his phone once again.  “Jordan, listen, I need you to stop at the hospital.  Ted screwed up our paperwork and we’re still married…”  He glanced at JD again, his jaw tightening at Jordan’s response.  Knowing the conversation wasn’t doing JD any favors, he got up off the bench and walked a few yards away before hissing into his phone.  “Dammit, Jordan, I don’t care if you’re at your mother’s or if you’re in Greece.  JD’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown because we can’t get a goddamn marriage license.  I need you to do this for me!  I mean, Christ almighty, what more do you want from me?”  Perry paused, listening to Jordan’s response.  “What do you mean, do I actually want to get married?  Jordan, I love him.  More than anything.  I shouldn’t have to prove that to you…  If you won’t do it for me, do it for him.  He’s heartbroken…  Yes.  Thank you.  Tomorrow at noon.”

              Perry walked back over to the bench after hanging up.  “She’ll meet me at work tomorrow at noon to sign the papers,” he told JD, replacing his arm around him.  “Everything will be fine.”

              JD leaned into Perry.  “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.  “I didn’t mean to overreact.  I’ve just been so stressed out and I don’t feel well and I just…  I’m just so scared everything will go wrong.”

              “I know you are,” Perry said, kissing the top of JD’s head.  “But just think, in a week, there’ll be no getting rid of me.”

              “I never want to get rid of you,” JD said, finally managing a smile.  They stayed there for several minutes, JD glad for the momentary break from any responsibilities or pressures.  Of course, it was short-lived.  “Shit, I forgot about Dan!”

 


 

 

              “It’s not that I forgot about you,” JD explained on the car ride home from the airport where he and Perry had just picked up his brother.  “It’s just been a really long day.”

              “JD, it’s not even noon,” Dan said in concern.  “And calm down, I’m not mad.”

              “I’m perfectly calm!” JD half-shouted, making Dan’s eyes widen and Perry jump slightly.

              The silence that settled over the car was an uncomfortable one – that was until Dan broke it several minutes later. 

              “So, Perry,” Dan began quite loudly and Perry groaned, jumping once again.  JD’s nerves were making his nerves shot and he wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take.  “It’s great to finally meet you.”

              Perry glanced at Dan in his rearview mirror and gave him a nod.  “Likewise,” he replied, looking over at JD, who appeared to have fallen asleep.  “But maybe we could save the greetings for when we get back to the apartment, let JD rest.”

              Dan mimed zipping his lips, and did actually remain silent the rest of the way home.  Once they reached the apartment, Perry helped Dan with his bags after rousing JD as gently as possible.  Much to his dismay, JD seemed no less grumpy than he had before his nap and trudged into the building, leaving Dan and Perry behind.

              Perry sighed, hoisting one of Dan’s bags over his shoulder.  “I’ve never seen him like this,” he confided in Dan.

              “I mean, I’ve seen him pissed off, but how stressed out is he?” Dan said, pulling his suitcase from the trunk of Perry’s car. 

              “Pretty stressed,” Perry said hopelessly.  “And it doesn’t really seem to matter how much I tell him it’ll all work out.  If even the slightest thing goes wrong, he gets so overwhelmed.  Although, not being able to get our marriage license today might have been the icing on the cake.”

              “You couldn’t get a marriage license?” Dan asked, his brows arching.  He followed Perry into the apartment building.

              “My ex-wife and I, due to some unforeseen paperwork errors, were never officially divorced, it seems,” Perry muttered, shaking his head.  “But we’ll be correcting that tomorrow.  JD’s devastated, though.”

              Dan nodded sagely.  “Did you ever think it might be less about the fact that you two can’t get married yet and more about you still being married?”

              Perry scoffed.  “Not a chance,” he said immediately.  “JD knows there’s nothing between Jordan and me anymore.”

              “Well, of course he knows that,” Dan continued.  “But he’s not exactly the most rational right now if the last forty-five minutes have been any indication.”

              Perry thought for a moment on what Dan was really saying and realized there might be some truth to it.  “Shit,” he said under his breath as they reached the apartment door.  He knew he’d have to figure out some way to reassure JD that he was the only person he cared about.   Perry let Dan into the apartment and showed him the guest room.  “Hey, I think JD’s in the bedroom,” he said, feeling a little awkward.  “I know you just got here, but do you mind if I go in there and try to talk to him?”

              Dan smiled.  “Of course, Coxy,” he said, knowing that Perry would likely let him get away with the forbidden nickname.

              Perry somehow managed to resist rolling his eyes.  “If you’re hungry, help yourself to anything in the kitchen, all right?”

              Dan clapped Perry on the shoulder.  “You’re a good man, Coxsmith.  My brother’s lucky to have you.”

              “Thanks, Dan,” Perry said.  “But let’s not push it with the nicknames.”  With that, he headed into the master bedroom, a little apprehensive about the state he might find JD in.

              JD had burrowed himself under the covers in their bed, finding it difficult to differentiate between all the emotions he was feeling.  He felt so off, so different from the norm, and he didn’t like it.  He also felt like he was letting Perry down in some way, which was quite possibly one of the worst feelings in the world.  He heard the bedroom door open and he knew that he should rouse himself and play host to his brother, but he just couldn’t.

              Perry slowly approached the bed and sat down beside the lump in the blankets that was his fiancé.  “JD,” he said gently, “how’s it going under there?”

              “It’s been better,” JD mumbled, forcing himself to sit up next to Perry.  Almost immediately, his eyes welled up with tears.  “Damn it,” he said thickly, wiping at his eyes.

              “Oh, Newbie,” Perry said worriedly, pulling JD to his chest, “don’t cry.”

              “I’m sorry,” JD managed, though he didn’t bother trying to stop the tears from flowing and instead buried his face against Perry’s neck.  “I’m just so stressed and I feel like I’m gonna barf all the time and I don’t want to let you down –”

              “Hold on there,” Perry said quickly, lifting JD’s chin so he could see his face.  “Let me down?  What are you talking about?”

              “I don’t know,” JD said weakly.  “I just want to be everything you deserve and right now I don’t feel like I’m being that person for you.”

              Perry took JD’s face in his hands, brushing away his stray tears with his thumbs.  “Listen to me,” he said softly.  “I know that you’re nervous about the wedding and that things seem to be going wrong, but you will never disappoint me.  I cannot wait to be married to you, to spend the rest of my life with you.  I just need you to promise me one thing.”

              “Anything,” JD said readily, though Perry’s words served only to make his tears fall faster.

              “I want you to relax.  I know it’ll be more easily said than done, but sweetheart, you can’t keep doing this to yourself.  If things go wrong, they’ll go wrong.  But we’ll always find a solution.  Stop worrying so much about disappointing me.  You’re making yourself sick and you’re not sleeping well.  You can’t keep going like this.”

              JD nodded, knowing everything Perry said was true.  “I promise,” he said, leaning back into Perry.  “And thank you for being so patient with me.”

              Perry wrapped his arms around JD and held him close, letting him cry himself out.  He knew that if JD didn’t turn himself around, he’d have to figure out another way to help him.  Despite Dan most likely ransacking his kitchen, Perry’s sole thought was of JD and making him feel better.  He still held out hope that finalizing his divorce from Jordan tomorrow would be a tremendous help and that the only thing remaining would be JD’s anxiety about their wedding ceremony itself.

              “Say, can I ask you something?” Perry asked once it seemed JD’s tears had stopped flowing.

              “Course,” JD said, lifting his head to look up at Perry, feeling only slightly ashamed of his puffy eyes and blotchy cheeks.

              “This… would part of the reason you’re so upset have anything to do with the fact that Jordan and I are still married?” Perry wasn’t certain, but what Dan had said planted a seed in his mind and if there was anything he could do to ease JD’s worries, he was determined to do it.

              JD blinked in surprise. “What, like I’m jealous or something?” he asked, confused.

              “Not – no, not jealous,” Perry said slowly. “More like I might have hurt you - inadvertently, of course. I just want to make sure that’s not part of what’s got you so worked up.”

              “Oh, Perry,” JD said, actually smiling. “No. Not at all. That’s one thing I’m not worried about because I know exactly where I stand with you. You’ve always made sure of that. I know that you love me and that you want to marry me. And even if I hadn’t been sure before, I definitely am now, given everything you’ve been putting up with lately.”

              Perry chuckled, feeling rather foolish, thanks in large part to his ridiculous almost-brother-in-law. “Well, good,” he said lamely. “Just wanted to check. And I do love you. And I do want to marry you. I have for a long time, sweetheart, and that’ll never change.”

              “I’d hope not,” JD joked, feeling a great deal better now that his nausea had subsided and he’d finally been able to get some of his emotions out. “You know, Dan probably thinks we’re in here having sex or something.”

              “Want to give him a reason to?” Perry said, mostly joking, though he wouldn’t have been disappointed if JD went along with it.

              JD’s response came in the form of tackling Perry with an enthusiastic kiss and swinging a leg over his hip. He smirked when Perry huffed out a surprised breath, figuring Dan could wait just a little longer. 

             


 

 

              “Didn’t I tell you everything would work out just fine?” Perry murmured, his arms wrapped around JD’s waist. He couldn’t have felt more at ease in that moment, surrounded by all their closest friends, the lights dim and casting a warm glow all around them. It wasn’t the start of their life together; that had been their first date. This was merely another chapter, albeit an important one, in a story that would span decades.

              “Of course you did,” JD said softly.  His head was resting on Perry’s shoulder as they swayed in the middle of the dance floor, other couples brushing past them on occasion.  “You’re always right.”

              “Glad you’ve finally realized that,” Perry teased. “It only took two full years.”

              “Can I tell you a secret?” JD breathed, feeling better than he had in weeks.  Halfway through their wedding ceremony, right about when Perry began reciting his vows, all fears and anxieties JD’d been dealing with faded away. He knew it was cheesy, but it had been the best day of his life and it was only going to get better.

              “I thought we didn’t have secrets,” Perry whispered back.

              JD smiled and nuzzled against Perry’s neck for a moment.  “It’s only a secret because I wanted it to be a surprise.  Is that all right?”

              “I suppose it’s acceptable,” Perry said fondly.  “You do tend to surprise me pretty often.”

              JD finally lifted his head and moved his hands to Perry’s shoulders, wanting to be able to look him in the eyes when he shared his news.  “I’m pregnant,” he said with a soft laugh.  “I was chalking all the nausea and exhaustion up to pre-wedding stress, but then I thought I’d take a test just to be sure and then I ended up taking three more and, well, they were all positive...  Please say something.”

              Perry had been standing there silently as JD spoke, a dumbfounded expression on his face.  “You’re pregnant?” he asked, voice full of wonder.

              JD nodded, suddenly feeling rather choked up.  “I went and saw Dr. Matthews because I wanted to be completely certain before I told you.  He said everything looks good so far and that I’m about seven weeks along.  I’m due April eleventh.”

              “Didn’t take us very long, did it?” Perry laughed, feeling as though he was on top of the world – as if he hadn’t already been.  He slid his hands down to JD’s waist and looked down at his unchanged stomach.  “God, I can’t believe this.”

              JD beamed up at him, but before he could say anything further, Turk walked up.  “Hey, your ride to the airport is here.  We got your luggage all packed up.”  He paused for a moment, really taking in JD’s face.  “Dude, why do you look like you’re about to cry?”

              “No reason,” JD mumbled, shaking his head and wiping away a stray tear before pulling Turk into a hug.  He didn’t want to share their news yet, partially because he thought he and Perry should get a real chance to celebrate first and because he knew he was still early on and didn’t want to jinx anything.  “Thank you for everything, Turk.”

              “You got it, man,” Turk said, patting JD’s back.  “I’m really happy for you, you know?”

              Carla, Ben, Elliot, and Dan all approached to say their goodbyes and to see JD and Perry off.  “Have fun!” Elliot called as they all watched the newlyweds head for the door, hand-in-hand. 

              “Afterparty at their apartment!” Dan announced and seeing as he had the keys to JD and Perry’s apartment, having been entrusted to house-sit for them, no one could stop him.

              “Baby,” Turk said, looking at Carla seriously, “stuff all the beer you can in your purse.  We’re celebrating tonight!”

              Carla closed her eyes and sighed, knowing there was no talking Turk out of it, especially when Dan was there to be a bad influence.  “As long as you promise to make sure their apartment is clean for when they get back.”

              “Whatever you say, baby!” Turk said over his shoulder, hurrying away with Ben and Dan.

              “What do you say, kid?” Perry asked with a brilliant smile, having no idea what was being planned in his apartment and even if he had known, he wouldn’t have cared.  “Ready for another adventure?”

              “Sure am,” JD gushed.  “Isn’t this supposed to be the start of a lifelong adventure?”

              Perry nodded and before they got into the limo, he pulled JD in for a long, slow kiss.  “I love you,” he said, his voice going soft.

              “I love you,” JD echoed.  “And congratulations.”

              “Right back at ya,” Perry said warmly.  “You’ll be a great father, JD.  And I will always be right there beside you.”

              “Please don’t make me cry again,” JD laughed.  “Your vows already did enough of that.”

              “All right, all right,” Perry allowed, letting JD get into the car first.  “Let’s get the hell out of here then and do some celebrating of our own.”

              JD grinned and pulled Perry in for another kiss as soon as he was seated next to him.  “Sounds like a plan.”

Chapter Text

Year 3: September

              The next two weeks were nothing but blissful for Perry.  He was getting to spend plenty of uninterrupted time with his new husband in the tropical paradise that was Hawaii.  He’d rented them a private shack near a secluded beach and had made sure it was stocked with plenty of food to last them through the honeymoon.  It contained all the modern amenities they could have hoped for, all while being just far enough away from the rest of the world that they wouldn’t be bothered.

              For JD, blissful was not the exact word he would have used.  It wasn’t as though he didn’t enjoy himself during the honeymoon, but it turned out that morning sickness (or “all the fucking time sickness” as he called it) was no joke.  It didn’t seem to matter what he ate or didn’t eat or when he ate it.  There were hours and even several days where he got unexpected reprieves from the seemingly constant nausea, and at that point, he was back to his old self.  But when the nausea and exhaustion hit, it was all he could do to keep it together.  He hated getting sick, as had been evident back when he’d had appendicitis, but this seemed so much worse – not to mention that he knew that it would likely last for weeks on end and potentially even longer. 

              Perry did his best to take care of JD, waiting on him hand and foot and being as doting as JD would let him.  There were times when JD simply wanted to be left alone so he could rest.  That was when Perry would gracefully bow out and do some cleaning up around the house or spend some time out by the water.  Through it all, though, JD was a trooper and didn’t do much complaining.  Perry did keep a careful eye on him, making certain that it wasn’t taking too big of a toll on his mental well-being.  After all, that was what he was most concerned about with JD deciding to carry their child.  It wasn’t that he thought JD couldn’t do it – on the contrary, he was absolutely certain he could – but rather that it would cause unwelcome feelings about his body and that he might not be able to cope with it.  So far, he hadn’t had any cause for worry, as JD seemed to be perfectly fine apart from the nausea that plagued him.

              Perry had just come back in from the beach, having woken up earlier than usual and not wanting to disturb JD.  He’d decided to go out and swim for a while, kill time before JD woke.  As he toweled off on the small porch just outside their front door, JD padded into the kitchen, his hair mussed and eyes tired. 

              “Morning, kiddo,” Perry said as he stepped inside, crossing the room to kiss him good morning.

              “Good morning,” JD mumbled, wrapping his arms around Perry’s waist and hugging him close.  “How was the water?”

              Perry rubbed JD’s back as he returned the embrace.  “Perfect.  Waves weren’t too bad either,” he explained, pulling back to look down at JD.  “Want me to make you some breakfast?  Or lunch?” he added, glancing at the clock that was quickly approaching noon.  “You slept for quite a while.”

              “I think I needed it,” JD replied, stretching luxuriously.  “I feel a lot better though, knock on wood, so yeah, if you want to whip something up, I’ll give it a shot.”

              JD had expressed a craving for fresh fruit, so Perry’d had some delivered the day before.  He set about dicing some of it up, putting it on a large platter for the both of them to share.  “Hopefully this’ll hit the spot,” he said, carrying the plate over to the small dining table where JD was sitting.

              “Looks and smells good,” JD said, encouraged when his stomach didn’t automatically churn at the thought of food.  “It’s definitely worth a shot.”

              Perry joined JD in eating the fruit, having grown hungry himself as he swam, but from the corner of his eye, he watched JD, almost waiting for his face to pale and for him to dart toward the bathroom.  Luckily, they finished the platter, JD having eaten more than Perry, with no signs of nausea. 

              “That was great,” JD said happily, leaning back in his chair.  “And I don’t feel like dying yet, so that’s a plus.”

              “I’ll say,” Perry snorted, grabbing the platter and carrying it to the sink.  “So, think you’re up for anything today?  We could take a walk, go down by the water, even go into town if you wanted.”

              JD shrugged.  “I had something else in mind,” he said casually.

              Perry looked back at JD over his shoulder.  “Is that so?” he asked.  “And what was that?”

              “You’ve never expressed any interest in me fucking you,” JD said as though it didn’t nearly stop Perry’s heart.

              Perry’s eyebrows shot up and he dropped the platter into the sink.  “Well, neither have you if we’re being fair about it,” he said slowly.  He wasn’t sure it was possible that JD would ever stop surprising him.

              “That’s true,” JD allowed.  “So, is that something you’d be interested in?”

              Perry considered the question quietly for a few moments.  “I’m not sure,” he finally said, wanting to be honest about it.  “I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty strict top.”

              “Please don’t feel like you have to say yes just for my sake,” JD was quick to interject.

              “If you’ll let me finish,” Perry said, smiling as he sat back down at the table, “I was going to say that you’ve opened my mind to a lot of things.  I think it’s something I’d be willing to try, especially if it’s something you want.”

              JD smiled back.  “It’s not like I even brought my strap-on with me, but either way, that’s something we should work up to.  It’s not something you want to rush.”

              “I take it you have experience in these matters,” Perry said, mildly amused.

              “Both giving and receiving,” JD explained.  “I tried lots of different things in college.  To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t big on bottoming, but topping… well, that’s another story.”

              “Is it now?” Perry asked, suddenly intrigued.  If there was one thing he’d learned in the two years he’d been with JD, it was that JD was a bottom, through and through.  This was an interesting development to say the least.  “Now I must know what you have in mind.”

              “Why don’t you go hop in the shower?” JD suggested, leaning in to kiss Perry.  “I’ll finish cleaning up out here and get things ready.”

              Perry did as he was told, far too interested in what JD had planned to even think about turning back.  He took care to be extra thorough in the shower, his imagination threatening to run away with itself.

              JD cleaned up after their lunch and then made his way to the bedroom and laid down a couple towels on the bed.  He dug around in his bag for the bottle of lube he’d thought to bring and tossed it onto the bed as well.  He sat down at the foot and waited impatiently for Perry to finish in the shower, glad that he was feeling like he was back to his old self. 

              Soon after, Perry emerged from the bathroom in nothing but the towel he had wrapped around his waist, water droplets shining on his chest.  JD beckoned him over to the edge of the bed and dropped the towel from Perry’s hips, reaching out to run his hands down Perry’s sides to his thighs.  He could see Perry hardening before him and leaned forward to take him into his mouth.

              Perry sighed softly and threaded his fingers into JD’s hair, realizing that JD fully intended to pamper him.  He made the decision to let JD do whatever the hell he wanted as long as it wasn’t painful and he trusted the younger man not to hurt him.  It only felt a little strange when JD’s fingers roamed to Perry’s backside, slipping between his cheeks, but it wasn’t as bad as Perry’d expected when he felt one of JD’s fingers pressing against his entrance.  He could tell how much it meant to JD that he enjoyed this, so he focused on the pleasure he was receiving from JD’s ministrations.

              JD waited until Perry was sufficiently aroused before he pulled off him and moved aside.  “Lay down,” he murmured.  “On your back.”

              Perry did as he was told, taking deep breaths to keep himself under control.  Under normal circumstances, he would have thrown JD down onto the bed and absolutely ravished him, but he wanted JD to be in control this time.  He watched as JD moved onto the bed and in between his legs and reached for the lube, squeezing some into his hand.  “You can tell me if you don’t like something, okay?” he said softly, looking down at Perry with a tenderness in his eyes that made the whole thing all the more intimate.

              Perry nodded, resisting the urge to sit up and kiss JD breathless.  “Got it,” he assured him.  “Go ahead, sweetheart.”

              JD brought his hand up to more insistently massage Perry’s opening, glancing up at his face quite often for any signs of discomfort.  Perry released a shaky breath at the sensation and closed his eyes, focusing on the feeling.  JD couldn’t have been more thrilled that Perry was being so compliant, not to mention how turned on the whole situation was making him.  He rubbed his thighs together as he shifted on the bed and let out a long breath.

              Carefully and more slowly than was strictly necessary, JD slid a single finger into Perry, one knuckle at a time.  Perry relaxed against the intrusion, still hard as a rock.  JD noticed and took Perry in his free hand, which he’d slicked up with lube as well, and stroked him slowly. 

              Perry moaned softly as JD began pressing a second finger into him.  He was grateful for the slow pace which allowed him to feel little discomfort, but none of it had blown his mind just yet.  He was more focused on the soft little gasps JD was taking, evidence of how aroused he was.  When JD’s second finger was all the way in, he began to stretch Perry delicately, scissoring his fingers, his other hand still stroking him at a measured pace.

              Out of nowhere, Perry sucked in a sharp gasp and he twitched in JD’s hand.  The medical side of him knew exactly what had just happened, that JD had found his prostate, but he still had a hard time believing something like that could have felt so incredible. 

              “I think you liked that,” JD purred, smirking up at Perry.

              “Christ almighty,” Perry huffed, his mouth dropping open as he looked back at JD.  “You just go ahead and keep doing that.”

              JD was more than happy to oblige, rubbing his fingers over and over against the same spot.  He could only imagine what it would be like to really fuck Perry, to have his legs wrapped around his waist, to be able to kiss him and swallow all his moans.  Given his reactions, he didn’t think that would be too far of a reach once they returned home.

              Before long, Perry began to rock his hips up in time with JD’s movements, low groans leaving his mouth quite frequently.  JD sped up, entranced by Perry’s reaction.  Curses spilled from Perry’s lips, along with JD’s name, as his body started to shake.  JD bit his lower lip, more turned on than he’d even thought possible, and he was still clothed.  Still, he could see that Perry was nearing the end and he did his best to send him over the edge.

              Perry’s fingers curled around the sheets and he thrusted up into JD’s hand several times before he finished, the immense feeling hitting him like a freight train.  He moaned more loudly than usual as he pulsed in JD’s hand, his orgasm seeming to last longer than normal.  Finally, once he came down, he went limp on the bed, knowing that this was likely to become a more regular activity and wondering absently if it had been similar to how JD felt when they had sex. 

              Tenderly, JD cleaned them both off with one of the extra towels on the bed as Perry slowly came back to himself.  He wasn’t sure he’d ever been more turned on in his life, but he didn’t want to rush Perry or ruin his afterglow after such a mind-blowing experience.  Instead, he moved up to lie beside him and rubbed his side, a soft smile on his face.

              “Hit the jackpot with you,” Perry muttered, turning his head to nuzzle against JD.  “Damn good idea, Newbie.”

              JD kissed him deeply.  “I love you, Perry Cox,” he whispered, resting his forehead against Perry’s.

              Perry brought a hand up to cup JD’s cheek and kissed him again, long and slow.  “I love you, too, JD,” he breathed.  “Though I forget what those initials stand for…”

              JD giggled and shoved Perry away.  “Knock it off.”

              Perry chuckled and moved his hand down, pulling at the drawstring on JD’s sweatpants.  “If you let me, I’ll make up for it.”

              “God yes,” JD whimpered, closing his eyes.  “It won’t take much, babe.”

              “I love you, John Dorian,” Perry murmured, catching JD’s lips in another kiss as he slid his hand into the front of JD’s pants.  “My JD.”

              JD moaned breathlessly, shivering at Perry’s words.  “Yours,” he confirmed, forcing his eyes open to look back into Perry’s.

              Perry wondered if he underestimated just how turned on JD was as he felt him starting to shake so quickly.  “That’s it, angel,” he encouraged, moving his hand even faster.  “I want you to come for me.  Think about how good you just made me feel, how you made me moan, how hard you made me come.”

              JD’s hand flew up to grip Perry’s arm, his hips bucking forward as he got closer.  “Keep – talking,” he gasped, his head thrown back.

              “Just think how good it’ll feel when you fuck me,” Perry continued, realizing how interested JD was in his own arousal.  “Gonna make me moan your name over and over.  Bet you could even make me come without even touching me.   That’s it, sweetheart, let go.  Come now.”

              JD could hardly moan, instead gasping out Perry’s name as he reached his peak, clinging to him as he rode it out.  “Fuck,” he groaned as he opened his eyes to meet Perry’s, his heart still pounding in his chest and his cheeks flushed.  “Love you.”

              “And I you,” Perry assured him, wrapping JD up in his arms and pulling the blankets over them.  He figured JD would be spent after that, and he turned out to be right as the other man was already starting to drift off.  Any apprehension he’d felt about JD’s nausea coming back was gone and he had a good feeling about the remaining few days of their honeymoon.

 


 

 

              Upon returning home from their honeymoon, JD and Perry were sucked right back into a whirlwind of reality.  After their first day back to work, a Monday, no less, which proved to be quite an adjustment when Perry’s stethoscope rubbed against the sunburn he’d tried so hard to avoid and when JD’s morning sickness interfered with patient care, they were both exhausted.  They’d appreciated the congratulations they’d received on their recent nuptials, but the well-wishers dwindled off as their first week back dragged on and soon things were back to normal.  It wasn’t uncommon to see JD darting down a hallway, deftly avoiding wheelchairs and orderlies and other roadblocks in a desperate search for a bathroom.  Perry was there for him when time allowed, but there were plenty of times where he could only spare JD a passing glance of worry before going back to the task at hand. 

              On the second Monday after they returned home, JD’s first ultrasound appointment was scheduled for one o’clock.  JD had been a basket case all day, frequently snapping at interns and touching his stomach without noticing as if he were trying to protect the fetus inside it.  No one else knew about the pregnancy yet, and Perry did his best to respect JD’s wishes when people made mention of JD’s frequent sickness.  It was more difficult keeping the secret from their friends, with whom they spent more of their time, and who were far more perceptive than JD gave them credit for.  Perry had a funny feeling that Carla had put the pieces together already, but thankfully, she seemed not to have shared her suspicions with anyone else, not even Turk.

              Finally, one o’clock came around and Perry went with JD down to the OB/GYN wing, determined to be there for every little thing – every check-up, every sonogram, everything.  It was both out of wanting to support JD and that in JD’s stomach was his son or daughter, and while the idea was mostly abstract at this point, he was still equal parts nervous and excited. 

              “Are you nervous?” Perry asked, though he was quite certain he already knew the answer.  He stood right beside JD and held his hand as he laid back on the exam table while they waited for the ultrasound tech to come in.

              “Yeah,” JD admitted, looking up at Perry with the doe eyes he loved so much.  “I just hope everything’s okay, you know?”

              “It will be,” Perry said confidently.  If what JD needed was assurance, then he would do the best damn job at reassuring him. 

              JD nodded as the tech knocked on the door and opened it.  She explained the procedure in a calm voice to Perry and JD, making eye contact with both of them, which Perry appreciated.  He didn’t want to feel left out, though he hadn’t voiced that to JD, and was glad that that didn’t appear to be an issue.  The tech continued on as she applied the dreaded gel to JD’s lower abdomen, urging JD to tell her if anything she said or did made him uncomfortable.  Perry was glad to see that JD visibly relaxed after that, though both of them were anxious for the results of the sonogram.

              “You’re about ten weeks along, is that correct?” the tech asked when she placed the wand to JD’s skin.

              “That’s right,” JD confirmed, squeezing Perry’s hand.

              “Then that means we should be able to detect a heartbeat…” she said, concentrating on the screen in front of her.

              The following moments felt like an eternity to Perry and JD, both of them holding their breaths in anticipation.  JD was so nervous that he closed his eyes, his hand still held firmly in Perry’s.  When the sound of their baby’s heartbeat filled the room, though, his eyes popped open and he looked up at Perry.

              “Wow,” Perry breathed, staring at the screen, transfixed, before looking back at his husband.  “You hear that, kiddo?  That’s our baby.”

              JD nodded brushing away a few tears with his free hand as he sighed in relief.  “Yeah, it is,” he laughed.  “I think I want to tell people now.”

 


 

             

              That night, JD invited Turk, Carla, and a newly-single Elliot over to their apartment for dinner, which after JD voiced his craving for Hawaiian pizza, became delivery pizza.  He was positively bursting with wanting to share their news, so motivated that he darted around the apartment when he and Perry returned home, hell-bent on cleaning the place top to bottom.

              The five of them sat down on the sectional sofa, the various pizza boxes spread out on the coffee table in front of them, after having greeted one another.  JD couldn’t hide his suddenly ravenous urge to devour an entire pizza and Turk watched him in horror.

              “Dude,” Turk said, appalled when he realized JD’s choice of toppings, “you hate pineapple on pizza!”

              “I know,” JD mumbled, his mouth full, “it’s disgusting.”

              Perry was barely able to hold back a laugh, quite disgusted himself at that particular craving, but finding it endearing all the same.

              “Then why are you eating it?” Elliot asked in confusion, her brows furrowing as she watched JD stuff his face.

              JD swallowed the remainder of the slice and took a long drink of water before he answered, glancing at Perry for permission.  For his part, Perry could only snort and nod, endlessly amused by JD’s antics.  “Uh, well, cravings, you know?” JD said lamely, looking over at his three friends.

              Carla’s eyes lit up immediately, but it was clear that neither Turk nor Elliot understood just yet.  “Why would you crave something you hate?” Turk asked, mystified.

              “Turk,” Carla hissed, elbowing Turk’s side.

              “Ow!” Turk cried.  “What the hell, woman?”

              JD smiled sheepishly.  “I’m pregnant,” he finally said.  “Ten weeks yesterday.”

              Turk’s eyes went wide and Elliot’s mouth dropped open.  “Are you for real?” Elliot squealed, his voice rising full octaves.

              “I’m eating pineapple on pizza.  What do you think?” JD asked, giggling.

              “Holy shit!” Turk shouted, jumping up off the couch.  “I’m gonna be an uncle!”

              JD laughed and got up, eagerly embracing Turk.  “Hell yeah, you are!”

              “I’m so happy for you guys,” Elliot gushed, pulling JD into her arms before turning to Perry and enveloping him in a mutual hug.

              “Congratulations, Bambi,” Carla said warmly as she stepped forward to hug him.  “You didn’t quite fool me, though.  I had it all figured out.”

              JD beamed.  “No one can fool you,” he told her.  “Thanks for not saying anything, though.”

              Carla moved to hug Perry and kiss his cheek.  “It was your news to tell, not mine.  Besides, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure.  Only about ninety-nine point nine.”

              Perry chuckled as the five of them sat back down on the couch.  “He’s been a real trooper,” he said proudly, moving his arm around JD’s shoulders.

              “Yeah, how have you been feeling?” Elliot asked excitedly.

              “You know, the usual stuff, really,” JD said with a shrug.  “I’ve been pretty tired and I’m nauseous almost all the time, so it’s not exactly fun, but I’m really excited.  And Perry’s been so amazing.  He’s taking great care of me.”

              Perry couldn’t have wiped the smile off his face if he’d tried.  He was so damn proud of JD and knew that everyone else would be, too.  Not to mention that the excitement of sharing their news filled him with a warmth that rivaled the reaction when they’d told everyone about their engagement.

              “How are you doing, Perry?” Carla asked, tilting her head at him.

              Perry grinned at her.  “I’m great,” he said honestly.  “Really great.”

              “So, are you going to find out the sex?  Or is that not important?  Is that insensitive?” Elliot said in a rush, clearly so excited she couldn’t control what came out of her mouth.

              “I think I’d like to,” JD said, looking up at Perry.  “I feel like it’d make me feel more prepared, which is really important to me.  Of course, we’re not going to enforce any sort of gender roles as they grow up, and they can choose to express themselves however they choose.”

              “Well said,” Perry agreed.  “I’d like to know, too, if only to start thinking about names.”

              “Christopher,” Turk coughed, grinning at the couple.  “It’s just a thought.”

              “Sweetie, we’re not even going to name our baby after you when we have one,” Carla interjected, making the whole group laugh and Turk looked dejected. 

              “It’s a good name,” he whined.

              “No one even calls you that,” Elliot pointed out.

              JD snorted into his glass of water.  “Except Dan, of course,” he said through his laughter.

              “Why’s everybody trying to hurt me?” Turk lamented, dramatically flinging himself back against the couch. 

              “Maybe I don’t even need to have a baby,” Carla sighed, “seeing as I have one right here.”

              “I raised him for eight years,” JD said solemnly.  “It’s your turn now.”

              Carla nudged Turk, who sat back up and kissed her softly.  “The things we do for love,” she said, sounding playfully resigned.

              “Amen to that,” Perry said, raising his glass, the rest of them following suit.  Not for the first time, he felt a rush of warmth and gratitude for both his husband and his friends and the strong, close-knit group they formed.  Every so often, Perry thought back to before he’d met JD, when he’d been a miserable grump of a man bent on pushing everyone around him away by any means necessary.  Sometimes it was hard to believe that he’d gotten so lucky, but he had JD to thank for helping him change and making him see what was important in life.  Life as they knew it would change very soon, but Perry was eager to start the next phase in their lifelong adventure.

Chapter Text

Year 3: October

              JD’s day had come straight from hell.  Sure, there was something to be said for his nausea slowly fading away, only plaguing him once or twice a week, but he’d pulled a double shift, all with a lower backache that had gotten so bad that he could hardly stand and a headache that made his entire skull throb when he bent over.  Nine o’clock couldn’t have come sooner and he thanked whatever lucky stars he had remaining that nothing had kept him at the hospital later than usual.  On the way home, he fought back tears that only threatened to fall from sheer exhaustion.  He knew all his symptoms were to be expected, but logic wasn’t on his side.  He was grateful to have the next day off so he could pull himself into bed and stay there for as long as he wanted.

              When he turned the knob and shuffled into the apartment, Perry was on the couch watching ESPN with a glass of scotch in his hand.  “Hey, kiddo.  How was the rest of your day?”

              Perry’s shift had ended just an hour or two after JD’s had begun, so he hadn’t been there to witness the rapid decline of both his stamina and emotional wellbeing.  JD simply shook his head, knowing that if he opened his mouth, he’d likely cry. 

              Perry rose up off the couch, seeming to understand as he read JD’s expression.  He crossed the living room and kissed JD tenderly.  “Go sit down,” he said in a gentle voice.  “I’ll run you a bath.  Just relax, Newbie, all right?”

              JD nodded and did as he was told, kicking off his shoes next to the door and then making his way to the couch, one hand on his lower back and one hand on his forehead.  He was touched by Perry’s sweetness, but he also didn’t have it in him to gush over it, to thank Perry as profusely as he deserved to be.  Thankfully, he was certain Perry understood that just as well.

              Once Perry had the tub filling and surrounded with some of JD’s favorite candles, he headed back out into the living room, frowning when he spotted JD on the couch, a hand still covering his eyes.  He walked up behind the couch and rubbed JD’s shoulders for a moment.  “Go on,” he murmured.  “I’ll get you something for your head.”

              Sighing as he forced himself to his feet, JD made his way to the bathroom.  Try as he might, he couldn’t resent the baby for making him feel so awful.  Regardless of how many times he’d been sick over the last few months, of how badly his back ached, he still loved their child more than he could even put into words.  It was the thought of soon being able to hold them in his arms that kept him going, even with how difficult it felt at times.

              By the time Perry made it back to the master bath, JD’d gotten his shirt off and was just starting on the drawstring of his scrubs.  Perry paused in the doorway, stopping in his tracks as he took in JD, ever-so-slightly silhouetted in the candlelight.  For the first time, Perry could make out a small baby bump.  He blinked a few times, wanting to be sure he wasn’t just making it up.  But no, given the small amount of weight JD’d lost from his morning sickness, he should have looked even thinner, which made the bump that Perry saw more believable.

              JD looked up when he realized Perry had returned and was momentarily annoyed with him for just standing there, but then he caught sight of his expression.  “What?” he asked quietly, knowing he sounded tired, but did his best to make sure he wasn’t snapping at Perry.

              “You’re starting to show,” Perry said simply, glass of water and pills in his hands.

              JD looked down at his stomach, felt it with his hands.  “I guess I am,” he agreed, too exhausted to really marvel at his changing body.  “Are those for me?”

              Perry blinked, snapping out of his daze.  “Oh, uh, yeah,” he said, stepping forward and offering the glass and pills to JD.

              JD popped them in his mouth and took a long drink of the water.  “Thanks, babe,” he said, kissing the corner of Perry’s mouth before continuing to undress.  Perry busied himself with finding one of JD’s favorite towels – the extra-large, extra-fluffy kind that Perry wasn’t allowed to use – and set it beside the tub.  He offered JD his hand to help him into the large, jacuzzi tub and sat down on the surround as JD sank down into the warm water.

              “Can I get you anything else?” Perry offered as JD sighed in relief.

              JD didn’t bother opening his eyes, but shook his head gently.  “I’m fine,” he said, sliding down further into the water.

              Perry took that as a clear dismissal and, after pressing one final kiss to JD’s forehead, he stood.  “Let me know if there’s anything else I can get you,” he told JD before leaving him to his much-needed relaxation.

             


 

 

              Later that night, Perry joined JD in their bed, finding the younger man sitting up against the headboard with a book.  JD’s headache had eased over the last few hours and while he felt better, he was still exhausted from such a long day.  He was endlessly grateful for how sweet Perry’d been all night, but was aware he wasn’t being as nice as he normally was.  When Perry slid into bed next to him and grabbed his own book, JD glanced at him, wanting to apologize for his behavior.  He couldn’t quite bring himself to because he knew Perry would just tell him it was okay.

              For his part, Perry’d taken JD’s mood swings in stride, only wanting him to feel better.  He was more than willing to deal with that aspect of the pregnancy seeing as JD was doing all the work.  However, the only thing Perry could think about was the small bump he’d seen in JD’s stomach.  He was awed by it, knowing that his son or daughter was in there.  Hesitantly, he reached a hand out, slow as could be, but then pulled back, not wanting to irritate JD with an unwelcome touch.

              JD laid his book down on his chest, still open to his current page.  “What are you doing?” he asked, politely amused.  He hadn’t missed Perry’s movements and was curious as to what the other doctor was trying to do.

              Perry blushed, realizing he’d been caught.  “I’m sorry, I just… can I?” he asked, reaching out again and glancing at JD’s stomach.

              “Perry, of course,” JD chuckled, quickly setting his book aside and lifting his shirt to reveal the small bump.  It wasn’t as easy to see given that he was sitting, but he’d humor Perry.  “I guess I’ve been pretty cranky tonight, huh?”

              “You have every right to be,” Perry assured him, placing his hand on JD’s stomach, JD’s skin warm against his cooler hand.  He was surprised to find how hard the area below JD’s navel felt when he pressed in a little, evidence of the newly-visible pregnancy.  “Hard damn work growing another human being.”

              JD smiled, looking down for a moment before he lifted his hand and placed it on Perry’s cheek, thumb brushing against his beard.  “I know I don’t say this enough,” he murmured, “but thank you for taking such good care of me.  I know I’m not exactly fun to be around when I’m like that, but you’ve been so amazing, Perry, and it means the world to me.”

              Perry leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to JD’s lips.  “I would do anything for you, you know that,” he replied.  “Both of you.”

              “I really like the sound of that, ‘both of us,’” JD said, his smile widening.  “Every once in a while, it hits me, how real this is.”

              “Me too, Newbie,” Perry agreed.  “When I saw you standing there like that… I mean, you looked incredible.  But it also made this seem all the more real.”

              “Incredible, huh?” JD asked, looking down momentarily.  When he looked back up, Perry fixed him with a firm gaze.

              “I always think that, sweetheart.  Always.  No matter what.”

              JD scooted closer to Perry and wrapped him in a tight hug.  “I love you, Per,” he mumbled, resting his head on Perry’s shoulder.

              “I love you,” Perry echoed, pressing a kiss to the top of JD’s head.  He was glad to see that JD’s attitude had returned to normal and that JD seemed to believe what he’d said.

 


 

 

Year 3: November

              A Thursday morning in late November, a week after Thanksgiving, saw JD and Perry once again in an exam room in the OB/GYN wing of the hospital for JD’s twenty-week ultrasound and amniocentesis.  He had been giddy all week at the prospect of finding out the sex of the baby and was practically squirming on the exam table as they waited for the ultrasound tech.

              Perry, on the other hand, had started to panic a couple weeks prior to the appointment.  He’d kept it hidden quite well, not wanting to worry JD, but the thought of knowing whether he was going to be a father to a boy or girl had him envisioning horrible scenarios in which he proved himself to be a terrible father.  He stood beside JD, only speaking when spoken to, his thoughts racing with anxiety and fear.  He nodded stoically when the tech arrived and began the procedure, but the closer they got to finding out the sex, the more sick he felt.

              “Would you both like to know what you’re having or are we keeping it a surprise?” the tech asked, smiling over at the both of them.

              JD grinned, but before he could speak, Perry’s pager went off.  “I’m sorry,” Perry said quickly, glancing down at the device.  “I’ll come find you later, all right?”

              “Of course,” JD said readily, knowing that Perry had promised he’d try to stay as long as possible but that he was working.  As much as JD wanted Perry to be there with him, he understood that the hospital had to come first.  He directed his attention back to the tech as Perry darted out the door.  “I want to know,” he told her, trying to peer at the screen and figure it out for himself.

              The tech smiled.  “Looks like you’ll be having a little girl,” she told JD, turning the monitor so he could see the images on the screen.

              Tears immediately sprang into JD’s eyes and he let out a shaky breath.  “Wow,” he whispered, beaming back at the tech.  He hastily wiped at his eyes, though more tears seemed to fill his eyes as quickly as he wiped them away.  “Thank you so much.”

“You’re very welcome,” she said.  “That’s my favorite part of the job, actually, getting to tell people and then see their reaction.  It’s a beautiful thing.”

              JD nodded and settled back down against the table.  “That’d be my favorite part, too,” he agreed.  “So now we do the amnio, right?”

              “That’s correct,” she confirmed.  “I’ll go find Dr. Matthews and let him know we’re all set.”

              “Thank you,” JD said, smiling back at her.

              “Of course, Dr. Dorian,” she said brightly.  “Congratulations to you and Dr. Cox.”

 


 

 

              Once the procedure was over, JD immediately set out to find Perry, eager to share the news.  He thought about paging him, but figured he was around the ICU somewhere.  After wandering around for several minutes, he finally heard Perry’s voice coming from the doctors’ lounge.  He peeked his head in and spotted Perry sitting on the couch next to Carla, his head in his hands.

              “What could you have possibly done that’s so bad?” Carla was asking, looking perplexed.

              “JD’s amnio was today,” Perry muttered, just loud enough that JD could hear him.  His brows furrowing, he listened even harder.  “I… I panicked.  It all seemed too real, so I faked a page before the tech could tell us the sex and ran out of there like a damn coward.”

              Carla gasped.  “You left him there?”

              JD could hardly believe what he was hearing.  “You faked that page?” he asked, stepping further into the lounge even as hot tears welled up in his eyes.

              Perry whirled around, opening his mouth to start apologizing, but JD felt so hurt, so betrayed, and so shocked that Perry would do something like that, regardless of his reasoning, that didn’t even want to be in the same room as the other man.  “I can’t believe you,” he spat, turning on his heel and hurrying out into the hall.

              Perry dropped his head back into his hands and groaned.  One of the worst feelings in the world was letting JD down and he’d just done that on a massive scale.

              “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Carla asked, furious on JD’s behalf.  “Honestly, Perry, I get that you’re scared, but how do you think he’s feeling?  He’s the one who’s pregnant, he’s the one who has to go through the labor and delivery, and he’s the one who’s counting on you to be there by his side!  Get off your sorry ass and go make this right!”

              Perry knew Carla was right, even if every word stung, so he followed after JD, figuring he would go straight home.  Sure enough, he pulled into the parking lot only five minutes after JD did.  “JD,” he called, walking down the hall toward their bedroom and finding the door shut and locked.  “JD, please let me in so we can talk about this.”

              JD had made it to the edge of the bed and sat down, barely catching his breath before the sobs crept up on him, shaking his whole body.  “I don’t want to talk to you,” he cried, feeling more alone than he ever had.  He had been counting on Perry to support him and the thought that Perry would ever do anything but that had never even crossed his mind.

              “JD, please,” Perry sighed, growing increasingly desperate.  “I’ll take off the doorknob if I have to.”

              “I can’t believe you would leave me,” JD sobbed, wrapping his arms around himself.  He wondered if Perry would have ever even told him that he faked the page, a thought that made him feel sick to his stomach.  “How could you do that?”

              Perry hesitated, torn between wanting to break down the door and running away again, but he knew the truth was the only thing that would get them through this.  He closed his eyes, resting his forehead against the door.  “I’m scared, Newbie,” he said weakly, hoping JD could hear him over the soft cries he could still hear coming from the bedroom.  “All I can think about is ruining that kid’s life.  I don’t want to be that guy, JD.  I don’t want to be like my father.”

              Perry swallowed hard, feeling more vulnerable than he had in a long time, and waited for any sort of response.  “JD?” he finally said, a little more loudly, wondering if the younger man had even heard him.

              “Go away, Perry,” JD replied thickly, curling into a ball on his side of the bed and hugging a pillow to his chest.

              Perry sighed and sank down to the floor, his back against the bedroom door.  “Not going anywhere,” he said under his breath, figuring he’d just have to wait JD out.

              JD closed his eyes, tears slipping out from under his lids.  He was confused; Perry had seemed so excited about being a father, about taking this next step in their relationship.  JD had been so happy to know that something he’d wanted for so long – to be married to the love of his life and to be starting a family – was finally coming true.  And now it seemed that those dreams were coming crashing down around him.  And to think that a mere hour ago, he’d been crying tears of joy.

              Not quite ten minutes later, JD pushed himself out of bed, cursing the ever-constant pressure on his bladder.  Nervously, he made his way toward the bedroom door, wondering where Perry’d be, and jumped in surprise when he found Perry sitting at his feet upon opening the door.  Perry sprang up, but JD brushed past him, heading toward the bathroom.

              “JD, please, I really want to talk about this,” Perry said quickly, reaching out for JD’s hand.

              “I’m not in the mood,” JD said flatly, taking a few more steps before his knees buckled, a sharp pain shooting through his abdomen.  One of his hands flew to his stomach, the other bracing himself against the doorframe.  “Something’s wrong,” he hissed.

              Perry was immediately by his side, a hand gripping JD’s arm to keep him upright.  “Come on,” he said calmly, “let’s get you back to the hospital.”

 


 

 

              “The amnio triggered premature labor,” Dr. Matthews explained.  JD was in a hospital bed, looking miserable, his eyes still puffy from crying, while Perry sat in a chair beside him.  They hadn’t said much to each other since they’d gotten to the hospital and Perry had never felt so ashamed of his actions.  “I’m going to administer a shot of terbutaline and that should take care of things.  We’ll keep you here for a while, JD, and monitor everything.”

              “Thank you,” JD said, his voice subdued.  Once Matthews left, JD glanced over at Perry, his hands resting nervously on his stomach.  “Why didn’t you just tell me?” he asked, obviously heartbroken.

              Perry looked up at JD and shook his head.  “Is ‘I’m scared’ a good enough reason?”

              “You tell me everything else,” JD sniffled, looking down and not bothering to wipe away his tears.  “Why does this have to be any different?”

              “Because you don’t know what it was like,” Perry sighed.  “The way my father was…. Becoming like him is my worst fear, JD.”

              “I’m not pretending to know what it was like, Perry,” JD maintained.  “But you’re a good man.  A great man.  And I’ve always known that.  That’s why I fell in love with you, why I married you, and why I want to have this baby with you.  I mean, don’t you think I’m terrified?  This is even harder than I thought it’d be, but I always thought that if I had you supporting me, I could make it through anything.  I don’t want that to be the thing I’m wrong about.”

              “Sweetheart, I’m so sorry,” Perry said quietly.  “You have no idea how sorry.  It’s just… finding out what it is made it so much more real in my head and instead of seeing things like playing catch or the first day of school or teaching the kid how to drive, I saw my childhood.  I don’t want to be that kind of father, JD.  I don’t want my son or daughter to be afraid of me.”

              JD took a deep breath, his tears still rolling down his cheeks.  “You’re nothing like that, Perry, you know that.  That’s not the man you are.  She won’t be afraid of you.”

              Perry opened his mouth and then closed it, pausing for a moment.  “S-she?” he asked softly.

              JD nodded.  “That’s what they told me.  I really wish you’d been there.”

              All at once, images of JD holding their daughter, of him rocking her to sleep or carrying her around the apartment or showing her off at work, rushed into Perry’s head and he quickly became choked up.  Without thinking, he leaned forward and wrapped his arms around JD.

              JD resisted at first, but then hugged Perry close.  “Don’t ever do that to me again,” he said seriously.  “Next time, I won’t be so forgiving.”

              “I promise,” Perry vowed, pulling back to look into JD’s eyes.  “I’m so sorry, angel.  There won’t be a next time.”

              “Good” JD said, closing his eyes when Perry lifted a hand to brush away his tears.  “And Perry?  I meant it when I said you’d be a great father.  I want you to start believing that, too.”

              Perry nodded.  “I will,” he murmured.  “I’m just glad you’re okay.”

              “Me too,” JD agreed.  “Glad she’s okay.”

              Perry settled back into his chair, holding JD’s hand in both of his.  “Yeah,” he breathed.  “Jesus, we’re having a daughter.”

              JD let out the smallest of laughs, grateful that he’d finally stopped crying.  “This really is hitting you hard, isn’t it?”

              “How can you tell?” Perry said with a weak smile.  “Really, JD, I am excited.  It was just a moment of weakness and I’m sorry that it hurt you so much.  I never want that for you.  I’ll be better from now on.”

              “Perry, it’s okay,” he said seriously.  “You’re allowed to be scared.  I told you, I’m terrified.  But the difference is that I tell you about it.  I want you to do the same with me.  Tell me when you’re freaking out instead of running away.  That won’t do anyone any good, all right?”

              “You got it, kiddo,” Perry promised, pressing a kiss to JD’s hand.  “I love you.”

              JD gave Perry a soft smile.  “I love you, t­­oo, babe.”

Chapter Text

Year 3: December

              Over the next two weeks, Perry and JD worked on being more honest and upfront with each other, and at first things seemed to get better, the premature labor scare working to bring them back together.  But as Turk and Carla’s wedding approached, thoughts of standing up in front of everyone during the ceremony as Turk’s best man started to get to JD.  He’d coped by making jokes about it and Perry thought nothing of it until he came home from work two days before the wedding only to find JD still in bed with the lights off – exactly where Perry’d left him early that morning.

              Concerned, Perry made his way over to JD’s side of the bed and crouched down in front of him.  “What’s going on?” he asked cautiously.

              JD shook his head and tried to turn away, but Perry gently held him in place.  “JD, come on, talk to me,” he urged.

              “I can’t,” JD whispered, closing his eyes as a few tears pushed themselves out from under his eyelids.  “Please leave me alone.”

              Perry sighed and brushed away JD’s tears.  “Sweetheart, I can’t help you if you won’t tell me what’s wrong.”

              “I – I can’t do it,” he mumbled, opening his eyes, but refusing to look at Perry.  “I can’t stand up there in front of everyone.”

              Perry was momentarily confused, having thought JD was referring to the pregnancy in general.  He pushed down the wave of terror that had swept over him upon remember Turk and Carla’s wedding.  “No one is going to make you do something you don’t want to do,” he said, continuing to wipe away JD’s tears.  He’d known JD was an emotional person to start with, but he hadn’t been quite prepared for just how much crying JD would be doing throughout his pregnancy.

              “But he’s my best friend,” JD continued, trying as hard as he could to hold back his tears.  “I have to be there for him.”

              “What if we find you a different suit jacket?  Something a little bigger to help hide your stomach.  You’re not even that big, JD.”

              JD glanced up at Perry, looking oddly hurt.  “Yeah, well, it’s not your body, is it?” he muttered.

              “I didn’t mean it like that,” Perry was quick to correct.  “I know that I can’t always understand everything you’re going through, but I’m really trying here, sweetie.”

              JD closed his eyes.  “I know you are.  I know that.  But right now, I really just want to be left alone.”

              Perry hesitated, debating whether or not to grant JD’s request, but ultimately he knew that the longer JD was left alone, the more he would spiral downward.  “I’m afraid I can’t do that,” he finally said.  “But I’ll just lay here with you, okay?  We don’t have to talk.”

              “Fine,” JD mumbled, turning his face into his pillow while Perry walked over to the other side of the bed and laid down behind JD.  He carefully moved an arm around him, though he avoided touching his stomach.  It wasn’t until ten minutes later that JD spoke up again.  “Where am I even supposed to find a jacket that’ll fit but still hide everything?”

              “I’ll figure that out,” Perry promised.  “We just have to find something a little bigger in the middle.  Newbie, if I have to learn how to sew in a day so I can alter it myself, I’ll do it.  I know how badly you want to be there for Turk.”

              JD sniffled.  “I just don't want to answer everyone’s questions about why the best man looks like he’s pregnant,” he admitted.  “I don’t think many people at the hospital even know yet since I’ve been wearing bigger scrubs.  I – I can’t hide forever, but suits aren’t as forgiving.”

              “If it makes you feel any better, I think everyone will be focused on the bride,” Perry said in a weak attempt at humor.  “But really, I think we’ll be able to find something that works for you.  I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings with what I said, but you’re still early on enough that we can effectively hide it.”

              “It’s okay,” JD said, shaking his head.  “I’ve just been so sensitive lately and I hate it.  It’s like every little thing affects me, like if one person even looks at me wrong, I’m gonna lose it.”

              “So lose it,” Perry said with a shrug.  “JD, if you need to cry, then you cry.  Get pissed if you have to.  Whatever will help you feel better, I want you to do it.  And whatever it is, I’ll be right here with you throughout the whole thing.  I love you no matter what.”

              “I love you, too,” JD said as he took a deep breath, trying to compose himself.  He pulled Perry’s hand into his and closed his eyes.  “Maybe we can go to a couple stores tomorrow if I feel better.”

              Perry pressed a soft kiss to JD’s shoulder.  “It’s a date,” he said with a smile.  “Everything will work out just fine, Newbie, I promise.”

 


 

 

              As it turned out, and as it almost always did, Perry was right.  They’d found JD a better suit jacket that was almost identical to the one Carla had picked out for the groomsmen and the wedding ceremony had gone off without a hitch.  JD was feeling better, though not quite back to normal, but he’d been able to stand up in the ceremony beside his best friend, of whom he couldn’t have been more proud.  Once the reception was underway, JD slipped outside for some fresh air.

              “So, this is what being married feels like,” Turk said, having followed JD outside.  He stood beside him, his hands stuffed in his pockets.

              JD smiled and elbowed him.  “Pretty great feeling, isn’t it?”

              “Yeah, man,” Turk agreed.  “It is.”

              They stood in silence for a little while longer, JD looking down at his stomach, which really was well-hidden under the jacket, but he knew it was there.

              “Hey, uh… Perry told me about what happened and I just wanted to say thanks.  For standing up there with me.  But if you couldn’t have done it, that would have been okay, too.”

              JD glanced over at Turk, touched by his words, no matter how emotionally-stunted they were.  “You’re my best friend, Turk.  Of course I was gonna be up there with you.”

              Turk made a show of clearing his throat and he kicked the ground before he spoke again.  “I’m really proud of you, JD,” he said sincerely, turning to look at the other man.  “You’ve made an amazing life for yourself.  You’re married and you’re having a kid and you just… you’ve got it all figured out.”

              JD nodded and sniffled.  “Thanks, Chocolate Bear,” he murmured.  “I’m not saying it doesn’t take a lot of work, but Perry makes it pretty easy.”  He brought a hand up to his stomach without really thinking, feeling the soft flutters of his daughter moving.

              Turk arched an eyebrow in curiosity.  “What’s going on in there?”

              “She’s moving around a little,” JD explained.  “Want to feel?”

              “Can I?” Turk asked, reaching a hand out.

              JD chuckled and placed Turk’s hand where his had been a moment before.  Turk’s eyes widened comedically at the sensation and he jerked his hand away.  “Dude, there’s an alien in there.”

              “It’s a baby, Turk,” JD snorted.  “They do that.”

              “I’m telling you, you should probably have that checked out,” Turk laughed.  “That’s fucking terrifying, dude.”

              “It is, isn’t it?” JD laughed, smiling genuinely.  “But I kind of love it.”

              “How’s Perry doing since the ultrasound?” Turk asked, rocking back on his heels.  “Any more freak-outs?”

              JD shook his head.  “No, he’s been amazing,” he said honestly.  “He’s really stepped up.  He got scared and I understand why.  He just didn’t handle it that well.”

              “Well, as long as he doesn’t hurt you or the baby by freaking out again, we’re okay.  But if he pulls something like that again, he’ll have me to answer to.”

              “I appreciate that, Turk, but it won’t happen again.  We talked a lot about it and we’re good now.  Speaking of which, I should go back inside.  He really wanted to dance with me tonight…”

              “I should get back, too,” Turk agreed.  “Let’s go before our spouses kill us.”

              JD chuckled and followed Turk back into the reception hall.  He wandered back over to the table where he’d left Perry, watching as Turk scooped Carla up out of her seat and onto the dancefloor.

              “Hey,” Perry said, smiling softly at JD.  “Where’d you run off to?”

              “I was talking with Turk outside,” JD explained, reaching out for Perry’s hand.  “Come on, I think I owe you a few dances.”

              “You feeling up to it?” Perry asked, looking skeptical.

              “Come on,” JD insisted, pulling Perry up out of his seat.  He led Perry out onto the dancefloor where a slow song had just begun.  He placed once hand on Perry’s shoulder, keeping his other hand in Perry’s, and pulled him close. 

              Perry smiled down at JD, kissing his forehead before JD rested his head on Perry’s shoulder.   “You look stunning, you know that?” Perry whispered, closing his eyes.

              “You’ve mentioned it a time or twelve,” JD replied softly.

              “And I’ll keep on mentioning it,” Perry continued.  “I never want you to feel like you felt two days ago.”

              JD sighed and looked up at Perry.  “I’m sorry about that,” he said, feeling rather guilty about the whole situation.  “I know I scared you, but it was just a low point.  It won’t happen again.”

              Perry shook his head.  “Hey now, none of that.  You don’t have to be sorry, you hear me?  I just wanted to be sure that you’re feeling better.”

              “I am,” JD said honestly, reaching up to kiss Perry very, very softly.  “Thanks for staying with me then.”

              Perry took JD’s face in his hands, his thumbs gently stroking his cheeks.  “I would do anything for you, angel, you know that.”

              “I do know that,” JD murmured, leaning back in to rest his head on Perry’s shoulder once again.  “And I’d do the same for you.”

 

 


 

 

 

Year 3: March

              “Perry, why on earth are you reading that out loud?” JD asked, laughing as Perry read from the medical journal in his hand while he massaged one of JD’s feet with the other.  He was leaning back against the arm of the couch with several pillows stacked up behind him for support with his legs in Perry’s lap.

              “Because by the time this kid is born, she’ll be smarter than half this year’s interns,” Perry deadpanned, though he winked at JD.  “Oh, come on, I read it was a good idea to read to the baby before she’s born.”

              “Then by all means, continue,” JD giggled, rubbing his hands over his swollen stomach and listening to Perry’s calm voice.  He’d stopped working two weeks ago and wasn’t due for another two weeks, but with the way his stomach strained against one of Perry’s Red Wings jerseys, he felt like he could happen at any time.

              Perry continued to read, but only made it three more sentences before JD’s laughter made it too difficult.  “You are not making this easy,” Perry accused, though he grinned back at his husband.

              “I’m allowed to be difficult,” JD proclaimed.  “I feel – and look – like a whale and I’m giving birth in two weeks.  I can be as difficult as I want.”

              “You do not look like a whale,” Perry scolded, looking affronted that JD would even say such a thing.  “You look… well, hell, Newbie, you look pretty damn gorgeous.”

              JD blushed.  “You’re just saying that,” he mumbled, rolling his eyes at Perry.  “Besides, aren’t you supposed to read things like baby books, not medical journals?”

              “They never explicitly ruled out medical journals,” Perry replied.  “But don’t think I’m letting you off the hook for that ridiculous whale comment.  You look great, JD.”

              JD turned even redder.  “You really think so?” he asked softly.

              “I really do,” Perry confirmed as he set the journal down on the coffee table and rubbed JD’s foot with both hands.  “I know you don’t feel that way and that this hasn’t been very easy on you, but I wouldn’t lie about something like that.”

              JD sighed, relaxing at the sensation.  “You’re incredible,” he murmured.  “Come here.”

              Perry smiled and carefully moved JD’s legs off his lap and leaned over to kiss him nice and slow.

              Almost immediately, JD deepened the kiss, threading his fingers into Perry’s hair.  “It’s been a while,” he breathed.

              “Almost a month,” Perry purred, moving to kiss at JD’s neck.  “Not that I’m keeping track.”

              JD smiled and let his head fall back, giving Perry better access.  He ran his hands down Perry’s chest, nothing short of thrilled that they’d finally found a time that worked for both of them.  It wasn’t that JD hadn’t wanted to have sex – in fact, it was quite the opposite – but with his ever-changing moods and Perry’s work schedule, it had been next to impossible to find the right time.

              “Help me up?” JD asked, shivering when Perry nipped lightly where his neck met his shoulder.

              Perry smiled against JD’s skin before pushing himself up off the couch.  He held out both his hands after JD moved into a sitting position and helped him to his feet.  “Sure you still want some of this?” JD teased, gesturing to his large stomach.

              “Abso-freakin-lutely,” Perry said enthusiastically, keeping one of JD’s hands in his as they walked to the bedroom.  He began undressing JD, wanting him to feel as relaxed as possible.  He kissed at JD’s neck and shoulder from behind once his shirt was off, placing his hands on JD’s waist.  “You’re stunning,” he murmured.

              JD hummed in response, reveling in the feel of Perry’s touch.  He hadn’t realized just how much he’d missed it until now.  “You’re still dressed,” he pointed out, reaching behind him to rub at the bulge in Perry’s pants.  “You weren’t planning on making me wait, were you?”

              “Wouldn’t dream of it, dear,” Perry assured him, quickly stripping them of their remaining clothes.  As he did so, he ran through a mental list of positions that would work best for them given JD’s large belly.  He knew JD would prefer something that would allow them to be close, to be able to touch one another.  Perry helped him up onto the bed and laid him down on his side before laying down behind him, spooning him.  “This comfortable for you?”

              “Very,” JD confirmed, looking over his shoulder at Perry and kissing him softly.  “I’m ready.”

              Perry didn’t dare keep JD waiting any longer and slowly guided himself into him and promptly realized just how badly JD must have wanted this.  He let out a low moan at the feeling, even as he registered in the back of his mind how lucky he must be to have a husband who was still out-of-control horny when he was thirty-eight weeks pregnant.

              JD was already beyond coherent thinking, the feeling of Perry rapidly becoming overwhelming.  “Oh, Perry,” he gasped.  “Feels so good – yes, yes – oh, Perry.”  Between his soft whimpers and moans and the rocking of his hips, it was all he could do to just clutch the sheets in his hands and let Perry do what he did best.

              Perry gripped JD’s hip and set a slow pace, rolling his hips at just the right angle that made JD shiver against him.  It had been so long since they’d been intimate that Perry figured neither of them would make it all that long, but he was determined to make the most of it.  “So damn good,” he murmured, sliding a hand between JD’s legs to touch him.  “You’re getting close already, aren’t you angel?  I can tell.”

              JD moaned low in his chest and with very little warning, he tensed up and then let go, throbbing around Perry, pulling him even deeper.  His moans were intoxicating to Perry, evidence of his pure pleasure. 

              “Just like that, JD,” Perry whispered, his lips ghosting along JD’s ear as he gradually began to increase his pace, barely waiting until JD’d finished.  “Love how you feel around me, so warm and wet.”

              JD could only whimper in response as he came down, a sheen of sweat breaking out over his entire body.  “Love – when you – talk dirty,” JD gasped, grabbing at a nearby pillow as he gasped for breath.  “So fucking – hot.”

              Perry smirked against JD’s shoulder.  “You like when I tell you how good you feel?” he breathed, his hips bucking forward at the mere thought.  “How much I love being buried inside you ‘til you make me come?”

              “Yes, oh god, yes,” JD moaned, his hips rocking against Perry’s hand, which had resumed its movement.  “Shit, Perry, it’s not gonna take much.”

              “Let go, baby,” Perry said in a low voice that never failed to make JD shiver.  Sure enough, Perry could feel JD winding tighter and tighter as both their bodies began to shake with a pent-up need for release.  The moment Perry felt JD fall over the edge, he let go himself, coming in short, hard spasms, giving JD several more hard thrusts as they finished.

              JD moaned loudly as he came, not having realized just how badly he’d needed it until now.  Once they’d both gone limp against the mattress, he leaned back into Perry, his eyes closing.  “Mm,” Perry,” he sighed as Perry wrapped an arm around him and kissed his shoulder as he pulled out of him.

              “You need anything, sweetheart?” Perry asked softly, rubbing small circles on JD’s stomach.

              “Just you,” JD assured him.  “I love you so much.”

              “I love you, too,” Perry murmured, grateful when JD tilted his head back for a kiss.  “Both of you.”

              “You’re going to be such a good dad, Per,” JD breathed.  “Gonna be wrapped around her finger.”

              “I can’t wait,” Perry said as JD took his hand and moved it slightly.

              “She agrees,” JD said with a soft smile as they both felt their daughter kicking.

              Perry let out an amazed breath just as he did every time he felt the strange sensation.  They stayed that way until they both drifted off, settled happily against one another.

Chapter Text

Year 3: April

              When Perry woke up, he felt uncomfortable, though he couldn’t immediately place the reason why.  It wasn’t until he started shifting around, JD snoring softly beside him, that he understood.  Puzzled, he nudged JD and pulled back the covers, finding a wet spot on the sheets.

              “Hmm?” JD mumbled, hardly stirring.

              “JD, I think your water broke,” Perry said in a loud enough voice that it would permeate JD’s grogginess.

              “What’re you talking ‘bout?” JD asked, but made a face when he made to turn over toward Perry.  “Oh.  Oh.  I… wow.”

              Perry managed a small smile.  “Guess she doesn’t want to wait for the eleventh,” he remarked.  He didn’t feel panicked – at least not yet – after all, JD’s due date was only six days away.  “You feeling any pain, contractions?”

              JD paused, paying close attention to his body, which was something he’d gotten quite good at during his pregnancy.  “Nothing yet,” he told Perry.  Nothing felt out of the ordinary, other than the wet sheets beneath him, but he held his breath, wondering if a contraction would sneak up on him out of nowhere.

              “Why don’t you go grab a shower?” Perry suggested.  “I’ll give Dr. Matthews a call and see if he wants you to come in right away.”

              “Right,” JD said slowly, pushing himself up to sit on the edge of the bed as Perry slid off the other side.

              “All right, Newbie?” Perry asked, pausing in pulling a pair of sweats on.  He expected JD to be panicky, or nervous at the very least, but he’d been so subdued that he wasn’t sure if he should be concerned or not.

              JD looked over his shoulder at Perry and smiled.  “We’re having a baby,” he said softly.

              Perry’s expression warmed and he walked over to kiss JD.  “Been a long time coming,” he chuckled.  “Now go on.  I’ll join you in a second after I get these sheets in the wash.”

              JD did as he was told, padding down the hall to the master bath and turning the shower on, waiting until it was nice and warm before he got in.  He let the water wash over his body, acutely aware of everything he was feeling to double-check that he wasn’t having contractions yet.  He hadn’t felt anything since he’d woken up – in fact, he felt pretty normal apart from the sore lower back that had been a permanent fixture in his life for the last several months.  Ever since he’d really started to show – which seemed to happen overnight, going from not very visibly pregnant to practically popping out of his clothes – he’d been dealing with the sore back, but luckily Perry had been more than willing to give him massages nearly every night if he was home in time.

              Nearly ten minutes later, Perry poked his head in the bathroom.  “Newbie?”

              “Yeah, come in,” JD replied, feeling oddly cheerful.  Moments later, Perry joined him in the shower, stepping in behind him.  “What did Dr. Matthews have to say?”

              “He said as long as you’re feeling all right, there’s really no need for you to go in until you’re in active labor, which, as we knew, can take up to forty-eight hours.  As soon as contractions start, he wants you to come in so they can monitor the baby’s heartbeat and make sure you’re progressing normally.  With that said, until then, we can just relax here at home.  I took the liberty of calling Kelso and telling him I’m starting my paternity leave early.”

              JD grinned as he rinsed the shampoo out of his hair and moved aside so Perry could get under the water.  “He must have been thrilled to hear that.”

              “I believe he said something to the effect of ‘that damn kid’s already interfering with the hospital.’  Naturally, I told him to blow it out his ass.”

              “I would have expected nothing less from you,” JD chuckled.

              Perry washed quickly, more focused on JD than anything else.  “You’re in a very good mood,” he commented.

              “Well, all things considered, I actually got a decent night’s sleep and I feel ready for this.  Like, really ready.”

              Perry smiled back at JD and kissed his forehead before turning the water off.  “We’ve certainly had plenty of time to prepare for the whole show,” he agreed.

              “Sure have,” JD said, taking Perry’s hand and carefully stepping out of the shower.  He reached for the towel he’d laid out for himself.  “I’m not nearly as freaked out as I thought I’d be.  Not yet, anyway.”

              “You’re going to do just fine,” Perry reassured him.  “And as promised, I’m not leaving your side the whole time.”

              JD reached up for a kiss, patting Perry’s cheek affectionately.  “I wonder if it’ll feel weird after,” he said absently, pulling on fresh clothes, though all that seemed to fit him anymore were sweatpants and Perry’s hockey jerseys. 

              Perry shrugged.  “You’ve carried yourself well these past nine months,” he said honestly.  “Always did before that, too.  I’m sure you’ll get right back into the swing of things.  And if you don’t, well, that’s all right, too.”

              JD leaned back against the wall, watching Perry in the mirror as he dressed.  “I’m glad it’s finally happening,” he said, his voice going suddenly soft.  “I’m ready to meet her.”

              Perry finished dressing and turned, lifting JD’s chin with his fingers.  “She’ll be here before you know it.  You’ll be able to hold her in your arms and believe me, I am fully prepared for you to love her more than you love me.”  He cracked a smile as he gazed into his husband’s eyes, full of pride in the younger man.

              JD nodded and held out his arms, wrapping them around Perry, though the embrace was made slightly difficult by his large belly.  “I love you so much,” he sighed.  “I can’t thank you enough for being so patient with me through all of this.”

              “JD, there is nothing else I would rather be doing with my life than exactly this,” Perry said seriously.  “And no one else I’d rather be doing it with.”

              “Come on, no need to make the pregnant guy cry,” JD laughed, brushing away a tear.  “I need to sit down.”

              Perry chuckled along with him as they walked out into the living room.  He kept a hand on the small of JD’s back, and just as he had over the last couple months, never complained about JD’s slow pace.  “I’ll be right back,” he said as soon as JD was comfortably seated on the couch, his swollen feet propped up on a stool.  “You need to make sure you’re taking in plenty of water.”

              JD rolled his eyes but smiled to himself as Perry hurried into the kitchen, returning quickly with a large glass of water.  “Now we wait,” he announced after taking a sip.

              “Now we wait,” Perry echoed, draping an arm around JD’s shoulders.

 


 

 

              Seven hours, three Harry Potter movies, and several naps on JD’s part later and there had been no signs that JD was going into labor.  Both of them, but especially JD, were growing restless.  Now that the prospect of meeting his daughter had been planted, he was rather antsy to get the show on the road, even despite knowing what was ahead.

              “Can we go for a walk?” JD asked hopefully.  “Just a short one, around the block?”

              Perry looked at JD, hesitating, but figured that they’d be close to home and the hospital in case something happened.  “Yeah, all right,” he finally allowed, heaving himself off the couch.  He helped JD on with his shoes as that had become a nearly impossible activity, and Perry made sure his cell phone was in his pocket before they left.

              “It’s so nice out,” JD remarked, holding Perry’s hand and most definitely waddling as they followed the sidewalk past their building.  “Perfect birth-giving weather.”

              Perry snorted.  “Is there such a thing?”

              “There is now,” JD said with a shrug.

              “Feel anything yet?” Perry asked, glancing down at JD often and watching him for any signs of pain or discomfort.

              “Not a thing,” JD said with a disappointed sigh.  “I think our baby’s a tease.”

              Perry barked out a laugh.  “It’ll happen soon enough,” he said fondly as they approached a bench.  “You want to rest here for a while?”

              JD nodded and sank down onto the wooden bench, catching his breath.  “Getting winded this easily is so inconvenient,” he huffed, rubbing his stomach.

              “Well, I’m sure being stuck at a desk at work for the last several months didn’t help the cause,” Perry commented.  It had turned out that being on his feet all day had been too much for JD to handle, so with Kelso’s help, they’d arranged for JD to be on the clerical side of things.  He hadn’t wanted to leave work so early, but the fact had remained that he couldn’t handle the physical aspect of the job any longer.  He had been on paternity leave for almost a month, though, and while he got out several times a week to go to the store or for short walks, he spent most of his time in the apartment, taking it easy.  “For what it’s worth,” Perry continued, “you’ve been doing great, angel.  I know being stuck in the apartment isn’t exactly your style.”

              “I’m all right,” JD said genuinely.  “I actually kind of liked having a break from everything.  Plus I got a lot done in the nursery, too.”

              Perry nodded in agreement.  “You’ve done well,” he said, rubbing JD’s back.  “I’m so proud of you.”

              “So you tell me every day,” JD said with a smirk.  It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy hearing it, but Perry seemed to say it a little too often.

              “Damn right,” Perry chuckled.  “You want to head back?”

              They walked slowly back to the building and it became quite clear that JD had grown tired.  Once they made it back to the apartment, he kicked off his shoes.  “I think I want to lay down,” he told Perry.

              “Of course.  Better get some rest now while you still can,” Perry said, knowing that what laid ahead was the most physically demanding thing JD would likely ever go through.

              Perry got JD settled into bed and made sure he had water beside him before heading back out into the living room and flipping on the TV.  He watched ESPN with the volume on mute, not paying much attention, too preoccupied by the fact that he was about to become a father.  Unlike his terror at JD’s amniocentesis, Perry now felt ready.  The nursery had been finished for nearly a full month and both of them had voiced their desire to meet their daughter.  He chuckled to himself, knowing they hadn’t agreed on a name yet.  He was betting that once she was born, they’d come up with a name with no problem.

              Two hours after their walk, JD called out for Perry, who practically sprinted into the bedroom.  JD was grinning from ear to ear, sitting up on the bed with his back against the headboard. 

              “I felt a contraction!” he said excitedly.

              Perry couldn’t help but laugh.  “I don’t think that’s the typical response, but that’s fantastic, sweetheart.  How long ago?”

              “It ended just a couple seconds before you came in.  We should time how long ‘til the next one.  Hopefully it’s less than nine hours,” JD joked.

              Perry sat down beside JD, his watch at the ready.  It was nearly twenty minutes before JD tensed up and told Perry he’d had another contraction.  “Do you want to head in?” Perry asked.  “I don’t think we really need to just yet, but it’s up to you.”

              After some debate, JD shrugged.  “We might as well.  If you want to get the overnight bags ready, I’ll call Turk and let him know.  He’d probably murder me if I didn’t.”

              “I’ll come grab you when the car’s ready.  Keep timing those contractions, all right?”

 


 

 

              Once Perry and JD arrived at the hospital and JD had changed into the standard hospital gown, Matthews had come in to examine him and his nurses got JD hooked up to the appropriate machines.  His contractions were ranging from fifteen to eighteen minutes apart and weren’t all that intense yet, so JD had remained quite tranquil.  Once he got the okay from Perry, Turk joined them in the room.

              “So this is it!” Turk said happily, strutting into JD’s room.  “I’m about to be a bluncle!”

              JD giggled, beaming up at Turk from his place on the bed.  Perry sat beside him in a chair and couldn’t help but chuckle as well.  “Sure are, C-Bear,” JD confirmed.  “And you’re gonna kick ass at it!”

              Turk seated himself on the end of JD’s bed.  “Well, you look normal,” he observed, looking JD up and down.  “You’re not in too much pain or anything?  I mean, I kind of expected you to be less composed.”

              “Turk, things are just getting started,” JD told him.  “I’ll probably be in tears later, but right now I’m okay.  I’m kind of excited, actually.  I can’t wait to meet her.”

              “You guys still don’t have a name, huh?” Turk asked, directing it at Perry, who’d confided in Turk that JD had been quite picky when it came to the naming process.

              “Afraid not,” Perry chuckled, nudging JD’s leg with his foot, which he had propped up on the bed.  “But I won’t let him name her Hermione, so it’s back to the drawing board.”

              “We watched the first three movies today,” JD informed Turk.

              Turk laughed.  “That little girl is gonna have you wrapped around her finger,” he said to Perry, who looked excited about the idea.

              “Already does.”

              JD watched the two men banter back and forth – the two most important men in his life, in fact – with a brilliant smile, even as he breathed through another contraction.  In that moment, he realized he was about to have everything he’d ever wanted: a real family.  He couldn’t help the few tears that rolled down his cheeks, but Perry immediately noticed and sat forward, taking JD’s hand.

              “Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” he asked, abandoning his conversation with Turk.  “Are you in pain?”

              JD shook his head, knowing that he was freaking out the both of them.  “I’m just really happy,” he sniffed.  “And hormonal.  But mostly happy.”

              Perry sighed in relief and leaned back against his chair.  “Jesus, Newbie,” he said with a weak laugh.

              Turk slid off the bed and gave JD’s stomach and gentle fist bump.  “See you, little lady,” he said before looking back up at JD and Perry.  “I gotta get back to work, but I’ll check in with you when I can.  Good luck, Vanilla Bear.”

              “Thanks, Turk,” JD said warmly, resting his hands on his stomach.  “You ready for this?” he asked, turning to Perry.

              “Let’s do it,” Perry said, squeezing JD’s hand.

 


 

 

              JD groaned loudly, having abandoned all pretense of pretending he wasn’t in the worst pain he’d ever experienced.  He was standing, leaning over the bed on his forearms while Perry massaged his lower back.  “Ten fucking hours,” he whimpered, rocking back and forth to shift his weight.

              “You’re doing great, baby,” Perry said reassuringly.  “It shouldn’t be too much longer.”

              “Fuck,” JD whined again, slipping into another long and low groan as he fisted the sheets in his hands.  “Harder, Perry, please.”

              Perry kneaded his knuckles into JD’s back with even more force, desperate to help in any way possible.  “Just keep breathing,” he reminded him, finding himself tensing up every time JD did.

              Finally, JD’s contraction subsided and he was able to catch his breath, though the pain was still there with everything he did.  “That feels so good,” he sighed, dropping his forehead onto his arms.  “Thanks, babe.”

              Perry didn’t dare stop.  “It’s the least I can do,” he reminded JD.  “You’re doing all the work – and with no pain meds.”

              “Starting to regret that one a little,” JD admitted, wincing.  “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.”

              “Hey, hey, come on now,” Perry said gently, looking down at JD in concern.  “You can do this, JD.”

              JD didn’t reply, instead focusing on his breathing until the next contraction began, just barely five minutes after the previous one.  He swore between breaths while Perry continued massaging his back, wishing there was some way he could bear JD’s pain.

              “Wanna lay down,” JD mumbled once the contraction was over.  Perry helped him into bed and placed a hand on his forehead, brushing his hair out of the way.

              “You’re burning up,” Perry remarked with a frown.

              “Been sweating this whole time,” JD said breathlessly, desperate for some kind of relief.

              Perry grabbed cold compresses he’d thought to bring in a cooler bag with their overnight things.  He placed one on JD’s forehead and one on the back of his neck.  “This’ll all be worth it, angel,” he said softly, trying to encourage JD.  “She’ll be here soon.”

              JD whimpered in response, squeezing Perry’s hand and hunching over as he rode out the next wave of pain.  “That’s about the only thing,” he gasped, “that’s getting me through this.”

              JD’s contractions continued on that way, one approximately every five minutes, for nearly two more hours.  Turk had dropped by when his shift ended, but hadn’t stayed long, hating to see JD in so much pain.  JD wasn’t much for conversation either, so exhausted that he was constantly on the verge of tears.  Elliot and Carla had also stopped in, but both seemed spooked at the prospect of going through labor themselves someday.  Perry did his best to both entertain their guests and be supportive for JD, but he could see that his husband was fading fast.

              Matthews arrived a short time later to check on JD’s and the baby’s vitals.  Perry held JD’s hand, but watched as Matthews’s face went from neutral to concerned.

              “How are you feeling, JD?” Matthews asked.  Perry knew there was something amiss just by his tone, but JD was too exhausted to pick up on it.

              “What kind of question is that?” he snapped.  “I’ve been in labor for over twelve hours!”

              Matthews nodded.  “I’d like to call down to the O.R. and start getting you prepped for a Cesarean.”

              JD’s eyes immediately went wide and he looked to Perry.  “A c-section?” he asked in a panic.  “Why?”

              “What’s wrong?” Perry asked frankly, staring Matthews down.

              “The baby’s heart rate is elevated past what I’d like to see and over the last several hours, your labor has progressed very little.  I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to perform a c-section.”

              Perry turned to JD, finding his expression a mixture of terror and determination.  “If that’s what you think is best,” JD said in a shaking voice, nodding at Matthews.

              “I do,” he assured JD.  “My first priority is the health of you and your baby, JD.  I wouldn’t make this call if it wasn’t the right one.  I’ll have the anesthesiologist and a few nurses come in to get you set up and I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

              JD let out a long breath and leaned back against his pillow, his eyes falling shut.

              “Hey,” Perry murmured once Matthews had left, lifting his free hand to brush back JD’s hair once again.  “Everything’s going to be just fine, sweetheart.”  He was just as scared as JD was, but he knew JD needed him now to be strong and supportive.

              JD looked over at Perry with tears in his eyes.  “I know,” he said unconvincingly.  He winced as another contraction began and this time, he was unsuccessful in holding back his tears.  “I’m scared, Perry.”

              Perry pressed a kiss to JD’s forehead.  “Me too,” he admitted.  “I know this isn’t how either of us wanted things to go, but we’re going to get to meet our daughter even sooner now.  I want you to focus on that for me.  Think you can do that?”

              JD nodded, brushing away his tears just as the surgical prep team appeared in the doorway.  He took a deep breath and steeled himself, his sole focus on his and Perry’s daughter as they readied him for surgery.

 


 

 

              The operating room was cold and quiet apart from the beeping of machines and the hushed voices of the surgical team.  Perry sat right beside JD’s head and peered around the partition that kept JD from seeing the procedure.  “They’re starting now,” Perry murmured, watching as Matthews made the first incision.  “How do you feel?”

              “Cold,” JD replied, taking deep, measured breaths.  “I can feel pressure, but that’s it.”

              Determined to keep JD’s mind off the surgery, Perry continued talking.  “I am so damn proud of you, JD,” he said with a gentle smile.

              JD looked up at Perry and returned his smile, albeit a little tremulously.  “I love you,” he said in response.  “Crazy that it’s finally happening.”

              “I love you, too,” Perry said readily.  “We’re almost there, angel.  It won’t be much longer now.”

              Several minutes later, Matthews announced that their daughter had arrived.  JD held his breath for a long moment, waiting to hear her cries.  All at once, her screams filled the operating room and as though a switch had been flipped, JD’s tears began to flow.  “Oh my god,” he gasped, physically aching to hold her in his arms.  “Can you see her?” he asked Perry, craning his neck as much as he could and still unable to see anything but the divider between him and his baby.

              “They’re cleaning her off,” Perry said, his voice choked as he leaned over to watch the nurses work while Matthews finished the delivery.  “Weighing her…  Here she comes, sweetheart.”

              A nurse walked over and placed the wailing child on JD’s chest and he couldn’t help but sob right along with her.  “Hi, baby,” he cooed, overcome with emotion as he held his daughter.  “Look at her, Perry, oh my god.”

              Perry reached out to touch his daughter’s tiny hand as silent tears rolled down his cheeks.  “She’s perfect,” he whispered.  “You did it, JD.”

              JD never took his eyes off her.  “We both did,” he breathed.  “I wouldn’t have gotten here without you, babe.”

              Beaming, Perry kissed JD’s temple.  “You were amazing,” he murmured, looking back at his daughter.

              JD sniffled.  “You were right.  It was all worth it.  More than worth it.”

              Perry smiled.  “I think we should give her a name.”

              “Oh, Perry, I’ve thought of so many,” JD said, swallowing against the lump in his throat.  “Don’t you have any other ideas?”

              “There are a couple,” Perry mused.

              “Congratulations,” a nurse said as she approached them.  “She’s beautiful.  Seven pounds, two ounces, and nineteen inches long.”

              Perry gazed down at his daughter, marveling at just hearing her measurements.  The nurse let them be as the rest of the surgical team began to close.  “What do you think about Grace?” Perry asked, glancing nervously as JD.

              “Grace,” JD repeated, shifting his gaze to her face.  “What do you think about that?  Are you a Grace?”

              Having stopped crying, she did nothing but squint back at JD, her vivid blue eyes narrowed against the bright lights of the operating room.  “I think that might be a yes,” JD said fondly.

              “She’s perfect,” Perry murmured.  “She’s got your eyes exactly.”

              JD smiled and shifted slightly, beginning to feel some discomfort from the procedure.  “I hope she had your hair.  Beautiful and curly.”

              “Whatever you say,” Perry agreed.  “Could I hold her?”

              “Of course,” JD said quickly, realizing he’d been hogging her.  Very carefully, he passed Grace over to Perry, who had instantly fallen in love.

              Matthews walked up, having finished the procedure.  “Congratulations, you two,” he said from behind his mask.  “We’re going to get you back to your room now.  I’ll have one of my nurses bring your daughter to the nursery in a little while so we can finish checking her over and so you can get some rest.”

              “Thank you for everything,” JD said thickly, barely taking his eyes off Perry and Grace.  He couldn’t have envisioned something more beautiful than his husband holding their daughter and looking at her so lovingly.  He knew Perry would be devoted to her right from the start, but hadn’t been quite prepared for how much he loved seeing that.

              Once they were back in the hospital room, JD and Perry took turns holding Grace, who had gone from fussing to sleeping rather quickly.  “It feels like we were just talking about having a baby,” JD murmured after Grace’s eyes had drifted closed.

              “It does,” Perry agreed.  “But so much has happened in between then and now.”

              “I love you so much,” JD said, giving Perry a tired smile.

              Perry leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to JD’s lips.  “I love you,” he echoed.  “Though I guess I can’t say ‘more than anything’ anymore.”

              “I’m okay with that,” J assured him, settling back against the bed and closing his eyes.  “’M exhausted.”

              “You have every right to be,” Perry said, cradling Grace in his arms.

              JD nodded, knowing he should take full advantage of being able to rest in the hospital while he recovered from his c-section.  Not only would he be caring for an infant that wouldn’t want to sleep through the night for a long time, but he’d also be in a lot of pain later from the procedure and recovery couldn’t be rushed.  “Mind if I get some rest?  Visitors can wait ‘til later, right?”

              “You go right ahead, angel,” Perry murmured, looking down at JD in adoration.  “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

              JD dozed off within minutes, glad to know that Perry had stepped into the role of father so quickly and easily.

              After JD fell asleep, Perry couldn’t take his eyes off Grace.  “Hi, baby,” he whispered, not wanting to wake JD.  “I’ve been waiting so long to meet you.  Both your dad and I have.  And you’re just as perfect as I thought you’d be.  I can’t wait to see what you’re like when you grow up, not that we’re in any rush, of course.  I hope you’re just like your dad.  He’s so sweet and kind-hearted and compassionate.  If you’re even half as amazing as him…”  Perry trailed off for a moment, his eyes growing misty as he spoke to Grace.  “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love you and I love your dad more than life itself and I will always keep you both safe.”

              Perry settled back into his chair, holding Grace to his chest.  He let his eyes drift shut, but didn’t fall asleep, still on alert in case Grace cried or JD woke.  Half an hour later, one of Matthews’s nurses arrived to bring Grace to the nursery.  When Perry went to hand her off, somewhat reluctantly, Grace began to cry, jolting JD out of his sleep.

              “What’s going on?” he mumbled, still out of it.

              “Grace needs to go to the nursery now,” Perry said gently.  “Do you want to say goodbye?”

              JD nodded and the nurse handed Grace over.  He shushed her, rocking her back and forth.  “It’s okay,” he said, frowning as Grace wailed.  “Daddy and I will see you soon, baby.”  He finally handed Grace back over, even though it seemed to cause him pain to watch his daughter leave.  The nurse assured them that Grace would be well cared for and that they’d be able to see her again soon.

              Not long after, Turk, Carla, and Elliot poked their heads in.  “Hi guys,” Carla said with a smile, “feeling up for some visitors?”

              “Yeah, come in,” JD said, returning Carla’s smile a bit wearily.

              “We’ve got a surprise for you,” Elliot said brightly.

              “A surprise?” JD asked, but his eyes went wide as his brother walked into the room.  “Dan!” he cried.  “You made it!”

              “Course I did, little bro,” Dan chuckled, walking over and gently hugging JD.  “Wouldn’t miss my niece being born for the world.”

              “You called him?” JD asked, looking over at Perry and wiping tears from his eyes.

              “You bet,” Perry said, patting JD’s leg.  “I knew how much it’d mean to you to have him here, so I called him when I was getting the car ready.”

              “Oh, Perry,” JD said thickly, looking at his loved ones surrounding him.  “Quit making me cry, would you?”

              Carla chuckled, stepping forward.  “How are you feeling, Bambi?”

              “I’m okay right now,” he said honestly.  “Pretty tired, but Per let me get a nap in already.  And they’ve got me on some awesome painkillers.”

              “Yeah, I hear giving birth isn’t for the faint of heart,” Carla agreed, pulling up a chair next to the bed.

              “Kinda scared us though, buddy,” Turk said, standing behind Carla’s chair, his hands on her shoulders.  “When they told us you’d gone in for an emergency c-section, we didn’t know what to think.”

              “Yeah, what happened anyway?” Elliot interjected.

              “Labor wasn’t really progressing the way it should have been,” Perry explained, taking JD’s hand, repressing a shudder at the panic that had washed through him.  “Grace’s heartrate was elevated, too, so Matthews made the call.”

              “But she’s okay?” Carla asked.

              “Perfectly healthy,” Perry said proudly.

              “And how are you doing, Perry?” Elliot asked.

              Perry blinked, surprised that anyone would care to ask how he was doing.  “I – yeah.  I’m fantastic, actually.”

              “He was amazing,” JD gushed, looking up at his husband.  “The whole time.  He gave me massages and told me how good I was doing.  Didn’t complain even when I practically broke his hand.”

              “Newbie,” Perry mumbled, “it was the absolute least I could do, especially compared to what you were going through.”

              “But it helped,” JD maintained.  “Just hearing your voice.  You were perfect.”

              “I may actually vomit,” Dan teased, winking at JD. 

              Turk laughed and smacked Dan upside the head.  “We stopped by and saw Grace in the nursery.  Great name, guys.”

              “Perry picked it,” JD said proudly.  “Way better than all the names I’d been thinking of.”

              “She’s beautiful,” Elliot agreed.

              “Just perfect,” Carla chimed in.

              “Thanks, guys,” JD said warmly, squeezing Perry’s hand.  “I can’t wait until we can take her home.”

              The five of them talked for a while, but JD couldn’t pretend he wasn’t exhausted and eventually, he began to drift off.  He didn’t bother forcing his eyes open when they all said hushed goodbyes to Perry, but he was sure they’d be back later so they could meet Grace.  The whole time, Perry kept his hand in JD’s, wishing he could lay beside him, but didn’t want to risk hurting his incision.  Eventually, Perry drifted off himself, not caring that the hospital chair wasn’t all that comfortable.

 


 

 

              Two days later, JD and Perry were given the okay to bring their daughter home.  JD was a trooper despite being in a tremendous amount of pain after his c-section.  He was grateful for the pain medication, but it only lasted so long.  Perry had been just as supportive as ever, being as patient as JD needed when they took short walks down the halls near his room.  JD was glad to learn that Dan was staying in town for a little while – he hadn’t seen his brother since his and Perry’s wedding and had missed him more than he’d anticipated.  It was just one more thing for him to get emotional about.

              JD was exhausted by the time they’d gotten up to their apartment, and for once, he was glad they were alone with Grace.  He hadn’t minded all the visitors, but it was nice to have her to themselves.  Perry handed Grace off to JD and got him situated in the nursery before going back down to the car to bring everything else in as JD was unable to carry anything.  Once he’d gotten everything inside, he made his way back to the nursery, stopping in the doorway and leaning against it as he watched JD speaking softly to Grace as he sat in the rocking chair. 

              “And this is where you’ll sleep,” JD said in a hushed but excited voice, gesturing to the crib.  “But not for a while.  You’ll be in our room for now, so we can keep an eye on you.  I guess you’re sleeping already, but I think I’ll just hold you for now.  That’s why we got this rocking chair anyway.”

              Perry couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he watched his little family, remembering how it had all started in a grocery store.  He knew watching his daughter grow up would be the greatest thing he’d ever do with his life, but for now, he didn’t want this moment to end.