"Good Morning," said Ellen.
J.D. looked up from his video game to see the lady who'd been holding him when he'd woken up. Geez, he thought to himself, they said she was a friend of Chris's but she sure didn't seem that old. There was a quality in her eyes reminded him of his Momma.
"Good morning ma'am," responded J.D., "you must be Dr. Kendall."
"I am." She smiled and that reminded him of his Momma too. "How are you feeling this morning Mr. Dunne?"
"I'm feeling pretty good thank you ma'am." He gave her a big smile. "I'd prefer it if you called me J.D."
"Only if you call me Ellen or Doctor rather than ma'am. How's your shoulder, is it giving you much pain?
"No it doesn't seem to be. It twinges every now and again. But I'm not using it much."
"Can I take a closer look at it?"
"Sure," he set the controller aside and slide over to seat himself on the edge of the bed.
She untied the first two sets of laces at the back of the gown and gently slid the hospital gown off his injured shoulder then gently checked under the bandages.
"Everything looks good." She reported as she helped him replace the gown and retied the laces.
"J.D. I want to apologize for impersonating your mother the other day. I meant no disrespect to her memory or to you."
"It's okay Doctor, the guys explained everything to me, I understand... and to be honest it felt good to hug her again even if it was only pretend." He said with a mildly wistful smile.
God he breaks my heart, no wonder these guys are so devoted to him, they don't stand a chance, she thought to herself. "Where'd you get the video game?"
"Oh it's mine. I cut a deal with Buck yesterday. He said you'd left instructions that I was to take a bath. I told him I'd take the bath only if he brought me my PS2 from home."
"Does he usually let you get away with what ever you want?"
"No way," he smiled and his eyes took on a mischievous glint, "but he's feeling sorry for me right now, so why not get some mileage out of it?"
She chuckled, so much for heart breaking, she thought to herself.
"Don't think you're not gonna pay for that one kid," threatened Buck as he came through the door.
They turned to see the big man, a wide smile on his face belying the threat.
" 'morning Ellen," Buck said cheerfully.
"Buck, you're looking better than the last time I saw you."
"I feel better" replied Buck with enthusiasm. "I finally got a few good meals in me and my first good night's sleep in my own bed in nearly a week. Sleeping in these hospital chairs doesn't seem to have done much for my sore back though," he said, shifting his shoulders and neck gingerly.
"You look lovely as always Ellen," and then raising his eyebrows at her, "have you got any plans for lunch?"
"Buck, don't hustle my doctor!" commanded J.D. clearly dismayed by his roommate's forwardness.
"J.D., Ellen and I are old friends," explained Buck with exaggerated patience, "and if I want to hustle her that's my business not yours."
"Geez Buck" was all J.D. could think of in reply.
Ignoring J.D. Buck asked, "How's our number one patient this morning?"
"He's doing just fine Buck." She turned her attention back to J.D. "In fact J.D. I'd like to book your first physiotherapy session tomorrow morning."
"Hey Ellen," said Buck butting in, "you don't suppose some physiotherapy would help my back do you? I'm sure some of the hospitals' highly qualified, not to mention very pretty, therapists with their knowing hands could work some of these kinks out of my neck and the soreness out of my back. It would work out so well. I could make sure the kid makes his appointments and maybe get some help at the same time. Whaddya say?"
"The kinda help you need Buck, comes from a psychotherapist not a physiotherapist," quipped J.D.
"Be quiet kid," muttered Buck.
With an innocent expression Ellen replied, "Sounds like an excellent idea Buck. I'm sure Gavin could came up with a number of exercises to..."
"Gavin! Aren't physios named Olga or Greta or Marta..."
Ignoring Buck sputterings she smiled and winked at J.D. "I'll come by about 8:30 tomorrow morning and take you down to physio."
J.D. was soundly beating Buck at a game of NHL Face Off 2001, even with his left arm secured snugly across his chest in a sling. They looked up to see Chris, Josiah and AD Travis walk through the door. Behind them were Laurel Tennant, Travis's Secretary and Geoffrey Tancredi, chief legal counsel for the Denver ATF Office. Vin, Nathan, and Ezra rounded the entourage.
"What's going on here," asked Buck rising and moving to stand in front of J.D. in a defensive mode. At the best of times Travis never really looked very happy but right now he looked down right threatening.
"Wilmington, move out of the way," growled Travis ignoring Buck's question. "Agent Dunne, Special Agents Larabee and Sanchez have advised me of your "problem". You've really gotten yourself in a pile of it this time, haven't you son?"
"Yes sir" replied J.D. wide-eyed with trepidation.
"Geoffrey Tancredi is here is to take your deposition. I want your full co-operation. You have no other option, do you understand?"
"Now hold on a minute..." Buck started to object.
"Be quiet Buck," warned Chris.
"Shouldn't he have a lawyer or something?" asked Buck directing a worried look at Chris.
"Buck you have to have some faith here. The best thing you can do right now is don't get in the way," urged Josiah.
Travis continued to instruct J.D. "Mr. Dunne you have to tell us everything, do not hold anything back. Geoffrey will ask you questions and you WILL answer them fully, Laurel is here to record your deposition. Any questions?"
"No sir." J.D.'s voice no longer held the bewildered tone. He sensed the time of reckoning had come and if he was going down he would at least make his mother and the six men who were now his family proud of him.
"What do you need Geoffrey," asked Travis.
Geoffrey Tancredi was a tall, slender man with dark eyes and a hooked nose that added to his slightly ominous presence. He was a formidable opponent both in the courtroom and on the squash court. He was noted for his thoroughness and had advised Team 7 on the finer points of legal procedure numerous times.
"Let's begin by establishing some ground rules." Tancredi seldom wasted time on formalities.
"For the record, Agent Dunne, you are to provide as much detail as you can remember. I will ask for further clarification when necessary. You will answer any and all questions to the fullest extent of your recollection. You will answer only questions asked by myself during this deposition. For the record, do you understand the instructions I have given you?"
"I understand sir," replied J.D.
"For the record is at least one of Agent Dunne's guardians present?"
"Agent Wilmington and I are both here," replied Chris.
Tancredi turned to face the other six Agents. "The rest of you," he said looking pointed at Buck, "the rest of you are here as a courtesy only, if you cannot keep quiet then leave now. Is that understood?"
He received six nods. "For the record the others six members of Agents Dunne's team are present and have agreed not to participate in this proceeding. Let's begin Agent Dunne. For the record your full name and rank..."
During the next two hours J.D. recited his story once again providing details when asked. Tancredi's questions, for the most part, dealt with exact dates of events and J.D.'s age at those times. There were some questions that dealt with J.D.'s mother's illness.
When Tancredi declared the deposition to be complete, then Travis, Tancredi and Laurel Tennant left as abruptly as they came. Travis's only parting words were; "I'll be in touch".
"You okay, J.D.," asked Chris. The kid looked wrung out.
"Yeah fine Chris, I do alright?"
"You did just fine son." Said Chris giving J.D. a reassuring smile.
"What's it for," asked Buck.
"I can't tell you because I don't know myself," replied Chris.
"It took us about an hour to bring Travis up to date on J.D.'s personal history," explain Josiah. "He wasn't any too happy with us. He made some generally uncomplimentary remarks as to our collective immediate ancestry and muttered something to the effect that even with our conviction record no Team was worth this much trouble."
"Then he threw us out of his office," said Chris. "On our way out he asked Laurel to get some judge on the phone. We'd just got back to our office from lunch when he called and told us to meet him here."
"We didn't know Tancredi had been invited until he showed up here with Travis and Laurel," finished Josiah.
"Do you recall the name of the judge," asked Ezra.
"No judge I ever heard of," said Chris shaking his head thoughtfully.
"Bradley, I think he said," said Josiah
"No, Bradshaw," said Chris.
Vin jumped suddenly as if startled. "Are you sure, it was Bradshaw, Wilfred Bradshaw," he asked.
Vin rested troubled eyes on J.D. for a moment before answering, "I've stood before him a couple of times myself, Wilfred Bradshaw's a juvenile court judge."
He'd told them he just wanted to be alone for a while, to rest after the deposition. In truth he just wanted some time alone to think about things.
Buck was the hardest one to get rid of. "No Buck. I'm not going to sneak into the pharmacy and do myself in. I'm fine, really. I just need a little space for a while." That seemed to be enough reassurance for Buck and he left with the others.
The sling holding his left arm in place was really beginning to bug him, after trying unsuccessfully for twenty minutes to find a comfortable position J.D. decided he needed a walk to work off some of the nervous energy and get his mind off the sling. After walking the halls for fifteen minutes he found himself outside Ellen Kendall's office. He peaked inside the door. She wasn't there but there was someone stretch out on the couch at the far end of the room listening to music through headphones and leafing through an issue of "Car and Driver" magazine.
The young man on the couch looked to be about 15 or so. He caught a glimpse of J.D. and moved to get up.
"Hey, I'm s...sorry," the kid apologized, "I didn't know anyone had an appointment. I'll w...wait outside."
The kid was tall, really tall, and slender. He had bleach blonde hair cut short and wore tiny wire framed glasses.
"It's okay," J.D. said trying to reassure the kid, "I didn't have an appointment. I just wanted to talk to Dr. Kendall for a minute."
"Watcha reading?" asked J.D. indicating the magazine in the boy's hand.
"Oh, j...j...just an article on the P...P...PT Cruiser." J.D. decided then that the kid wasn't stuttering because he was nervous, but because of a speech impediment.
"The Cruiser's an awesome looking car," commented J.D.
"I'm t...t...trying to get my mom to t...t...trade cars. She's been driving her old BMW f...forever," said the kid.
"Older people are like that I've noticed," said J.D. "They seemed to get attached to some things. My roommate won't part with his old truck. The way he talks about it you'd think it was an old friend."
"I know what you m...mean," agreed the kid. "Mom says the car knows all her quirks and she knows all of its, so why sh...sh...should she have to get to know a n...new one if this one works fine."
"I'm J.D. Dunne by the way," said J.D.
"Josh Kendall," replied to kid. "What happen to your shoulder?"
"I got shot."
"Oh, s...s...sorry, I didn't mean to be n...nosey."
"It's okay. It was sort of an accident. What happen to your leg?"
"Some guy sh...sh...shot my foot off."
"Geez, now I'm the one who's sorry."
"It's okay. It happened along t...t...time ago."
"Hi Josh," greeted Ellen cheerfully as she walked swiftly into her office. "How was your d... J.D?" The surprise was evident on her face as she realized J.D. was there.
"Hi Mom" said Josh returning the greeting.
"Ah, hi Doctor Kendall." J.D. suddenly felt like he didn't belong here. "I better be going," he said as he headed for the door.
"J.D. wait, " ordered Ellen gently.
"Josh, can you wait outside a minute while I talk with J.D?" asked his mother.
"Sure." The tall kid took slow measured steps out the door trying not to limp. "Take you're time Mom, I'm gonna go g...get something to eat."
"What happened J.D.? You don't look well." Concern for him was clearly evident in her eyes.
"I um, I spent the afternoon giving a deposition to the Department lawyer. The deposition described the computer hacking crimes I committed as well as other subsequent crimes using falsified documentation." He paused, his chin began to quiver and his eyes become dewy with tears. "I'm scared."
"Come here J.D.," said Ellen as she took him in a hug mindful of his left arm and shoulder.
He hugged her back. Six inches taller than she was, he bent his neck to rest his head against hers.
She felt him tremble against her. She stroked his hair and whispered many of the same gentle reassuring words as she had the other day. After a few minutes the trembling stopped. He took a deep breath and loosened his hold. She took her cue and let him go as he stepped back.
"It's just that you remind me so much of my Momma that..."
"I understand. Do you feel better," she asked.
"Yeah, much. Thanks," he replied with a smile and nodding his head slightly.
There was a quick knock at the door and Buck's head appeared. His mouth broke into a wide smile and he exclaimed, "Hey there y'are kid. Chris and I came back to find you gone so we came looking for you."
Buck stepped into the room and looked from Ellen to J.D. and back again.
"What are you doing here?" Then concern filled his eyes, "Everything's alright isn't it?"
"Everything is fine Buck," said J.D. His tone of voice became sarcastic. "She is my doctor you know. I can talk to her if I want to with out having to ask your permission."
Buck put his hands up in mock surrender "Alright, alright, don't get your shorts in a knot. I only give a damn about you kid that's all."
J.D. paused at the comment and noticed the worry in Buck's eyes. "I appreciate that Buck, I really do but I'll let you know, I promise, no more secrets like that but I'm still entitled some private stuff too. Okay?"
Buck opened his mouth to argue and then he looked as if he was rethinking his course of action. Deciding to relent he replied, "Okay kid".
Ellen smiled to herself, welcome to parenthood Buck she thought. "Buck, where's Chris? I want to talk to him."
As if in reply to her question, Chris appeared in the open doorway.
"Mind if I join you," he asked as a formality only as he entered the room, closing the door behind him.
"What are you two doing back so soon anyway?" asked J.D.
"Travis called, Chris and I figured we'd better give you the news in person," replied Buck.
"J.D. you're to make yourself 'available' at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon, to meet with Judge Bradshaw," said Chris.
All eyes were on J.D.
"I guess we find out what happens to me then" said J.D. solemnly.
"I guess," said Buck in sympathy reaching over to place a big hand on the J.D.'s good shoulder. "Remember kid, we'll be right there with you, we won't let anything happen to you."
"I know Buck," said J.D. with a sad smile. "I'd like to go back to my room now."
"Sure kid, let me walk back with you."
The two friends left quietly.
"Chris what happened to J.D. this afternoon? I seemed to remember saying I would support whatever decision you made but I can't support you if I don't know what's going on."
"Ellen I'm sorry..."
"Don't give me that I'm sorry baloney! He came looking for me and he looked like he'd been through hell." She was angry now. "You know the emotional stress he's been under, why wasn't I advised?"
"Ellen, the rest of us were there to support him. I didn't think it was that hard on J.D. Josiah and I met with Travis only this morning. We got twenty minutes notice to show up at the hospital and were told of the deposition only after the lawyer arrived. Travis still hasn't told me what he has in mind."
"J.D.'s emotional state is to say the least fragile. Carolyn Baldwin should have been there as medical advisor to monitor..."
"Now let's be honest here Ellen. It's not Carolyn Baldwin he's developed a bond with, it's you, and that's why you're so upset, you feel guilty having not been there to protect him." His voice was raised now. "You want to protect him, Buck wants to protect him, I want to protect him, every man on the damn team wants to protect him but we can't. NONE OF US CAN PROTECT HIM."
Two sets of eyes, each full of anger and pain glared at one another. Ellen turned away, as angry tears beginning to fall. "We seemed to be good at that don't we?"
"At what," he snapped angrily.
"At not being able to protect those we love."
Chris's head jerked as if he'd been slapped.
"You should be at the meeting with Judge Bradshaw tomorrow afternoon. Consider yourself advised Doctor," he said coldly and then he stormed out slamming the door behind him.
Tuesday Afternoon, Dr. Ellen Kendall's Office
Ellen was waiting in her office when Judge Wilfred Bradshaw arrived shortly after 1:15. They made light conversation while his court clerk busied himself with the recording equipment for the proceeding and set out the required paperwork. A police officer was sent to escort J.D. to her office.
Wilfred Bradshaw had worked his way onto the juvenile court bench 20 years before. Serving the last eight years as senior magistrate. He was a big black man, completely bald, slightly bug-eyed and he possessed a booming voice. He had no qualms about using his physical attributes to intimidate those who dared to try and intimidate him or the children in his courtroom. More that once the high priced lawyers of parents who tried to use money to "make the problem go away" found themselves in the corridor while their clients suddenly found themselves with court appointed counsel and the absentee parents found themselves in contempt. An eloquent public speaker, he was the bane of politicians who claimed "Children are our most precious resource" and then cut funding. Wilfred was there for the children, he new he couldn't save them all, only that he could give them a fighting chance.
Shortly after the judge, AD Travis arrived.
The two men shook hands warmly. They had known each other nearly 30 years. Two veterans of war against crime between them they had seen too many cases where only innocent people were hurt. Today, maybe, they could prevent that from happening one more time.
After introducing himself to Ellen Travis asked, "How did we end up in your office Doctor?"
"Doctor Kendall here contacted my office and requested that the proceedings be kept out of the hospital ward. She didn't want any of the other patients upset. She suggested we convene here in her office instead." Replied Judge Bradshaw.
Bradshaw was seated with his back to the doorway. His clerk was seated next to him on couch with the recording equipment in the middle of the table and the paperwork spread out on the coffee table in front of him. Ellen was seated at the other end of the couch. Travis had taken a seat opposite the Judge, in the chair next to Ellen.
Just then J.D. appeared in the open doorway handcuffed to the police officer. He was dressed in jeans, a loose Boston Bruins sweatshirt and untied Nikes. Clothes that Buck had brought from home that morning for him to change into. His left arm was secured across his chest in the sling under his shirt. The loose sleeve had been pulled inside out and left inside the sweatshirt. His bangs now hung limply into his eyes. There was no free hand to brush them out of eyes since his good hand was handcuffed to the burly police officer. He looked more vulnerable than ever.
"What's going on with my patient," Ellen demanded, wondering briefly where Chris and the others were and why they had let this happen. "Why is he handcuffed?"
"Mr. Dunne is under arrest ma'am," replied the Officer.
"Fine, I want those cuffs off now," ordered Ellen. "He's just had extensive re-constructive surgery of his left shoulder. He's no condition to make any escape attempts."
"Officer, comply with the doctor's request," said Judge Bradshaw not even looking up from the paperwork he was studying.
"John Dunne I presume," stated the Judge looking up at J.D. "Please take your seat here," said the Judge as he indicated the seat beside him opposite his clerk.
At that moment Team Seven appeared in the doorway. They filed in quietly one be one. The Officer closed the door after them. Ellen looked up wonderingly at the group of men as they passed her to take their places. Chris and Buck, as guardians took the remaining two seats around the coffee table. The other four stood over by the window. Buck's clothes were in definite disarray. One cheek was beginning to turn colour from a bruise. Chris seemed to be nursing his right hand. The other six had an exaggerated air of innocence about them. She caught a wink from Josiah. Oh, she thought to herself, it would seem that Buck had taken exception to the handcuffs.
If Travis or Bradshaw noticed anything, they kept their questions to themselves.
"Let's begin," said the Judge. Looking up at the group seated around the table.
"Are John Dunne's guardians here?"
"That would be Buck Wilmington and myself, Chris Larabee Judge," replied Chris.
"And who are you four and why are you here?" asked Bradford looking at the group of men standing by the window.
"We're the rest of Team Seven. We're here because we're John Dunne's friends and we're concerned about him." Replied Josiah.
"Do you plan to stay as well Doctor Kendall?" asked the Judge.
Before she had a chance to answer a voice to Bradford's left said, "I'd like her to stay if it's okay with you sir."
Bradford looked down at J.D. "Do you want these other four men to stay as well?"
"If it's alright, yes sir."
"Orrin, do you have any objections to any of these people?" asked Bradford turning his attention to the man at the opposite end of the table.
"None as far as this proceeding in concerned Wilf."
"We'll begin then. John Dunne my name is Judge Wilfred Bradshaw."
He handed J.D. a report. "Please take a moment to review this document and the signature on the last page."
"Is this your deposition?"
"Will you confirm that this is your signature?"
"Is everything true as written here?"
"J.D. I have reviewed your deposition. It is quite a story. You seem to be a very bright young man. Tell me did you know you were breaking the law when you committed these crimes?"
"Then, why did you?"
J.D. looked Wilfred Bradshaw in the eye. "Because sir, though I wouldn't have been able to admit back then, in my heart, I knew my Momma was really sick. I was only twelve years old and I was afraid I'd be taken away from her and put in foster care and she would be put in a charity ward or someplace. Then we'd only be allowed to visit each other. I just wanted us to stay together as long as... as long as... until God took her."
"Mr. Dunne, are you proud of what you did?"
"Not exactly sir."
"I'm glad that I was able to take care of her, and that we were able to stay together for as long as she had left. I'll hold those last few years we had together in my heart forever, but I'm not proud of what I had to do to do it."
All was quiet while the Judge considered J.D.'s answers. After a moment Bradshaw asked. "Mr. Dunne, do you freely admit to your crimes?"
"I hereby pronounce the minor child John Dunne guilty of the crimes outlined in these charges."
The tension in the air was stifling. Judge Bradshaw leaned back in his chair before continuing.
"In determining your sentence I must take into consideration your age at the time of these crimes, the motivating factors for these crimes, your subsequent confession and the fact that no one else was harmed by your actions. As well, I have a medical report here submitted by Dr. Ellen Kendall, in conjunction with a corroborating expert opinion by Dr. Carolyn Baldwin, who is an agent of this court. I am satisfied that the remorse suffered over these crimes is sufficient penalty. I hereby suspend your sentence on the understanding that there will be disciplinary action forthcoming as stipulated by your employer."
There was an audible sigh of relief from around the room.
"Quiet!" barked Judge Bradshaw. "Mr. Dunne, according to my records here your next birthday is Friday of this week."
"How old will you be?"
"I rule at this time that the criminal record of the minor child John Dunne be sealed. Mr. Dunne you now have a "clean slate" as it were. I hope you do not plan to continued your criminal activities as an adult."
"Yes sir, I mean no sir."
"This proceeding is adjourned."
Wilfred Bradshaw rose from his chair, as his clerk gathered the paperwork together, he shook AD Travis's hand.
"Wilf, always a pleasure."
"Barbara and I will see you and Evie for supper and bridge Saturday night?"
Judge Bradshaw lumbered out of the office. His legal clerk close behind. It wasn't until after the latch on the door clicked that anyone finally spoke and then everyone did.
"You're a free man kid!"
J.D. was suddenly subjected to handshaking, hair mussing and backslapping. The celebration was short lived however.
"It's not over yet," growled Travis. "Agent Dunne there is still the small matter of the 'disciplinary action forthcoming as stipulated by your employer'."
"You will consult one week a month with cyber-crimes division for the next two years. You will show them what you did, how you did it and how to prevent it from happening again. You will assistant them in any current investigations under the direction of Agent Childress. At the end of the two years we will revisit the terms of this agreement. Understood?"
"Agent Childress sir?"
Travis cocked an eyebrow and directed a discouraging expression at J.D.
"Yes sir," J.D. replied quickly. "Understood sir. Under the supervision of Agent Childress sir."
"Where will J.D. work the rest of the time sir," asked Chris.
"He'll continue with Team Seven, on restricted duty, after two years we will review that arrangement as well. Agents Larabee and Wilmington the original agreement pertaining to the guardianship and working conditions of Agent Dunne has been extended two years."
"Thank you Assistant Director Travis," said Buck.
"Don't thank me yet, Agent Dunne's ass is not the only one I now own."
Everyone went still at the obvious threat that came with that statement.
"Special Agent Larabee, you and your team will be available for the occasional 'special project' for as long as I deem necessary. There will be full co-operation by every member of the team. Do I make myself clear?" Travis's tone of voice was ominous.
"Your first 'special project' will be Career Day at Mountain View Park High School one week from today. I expect full attendance, all day. No one is exempt. Understood?"
"Assistant Director Travis?"
"Yes Agent Dunne."
"Thank you for everything sir." Said J.D. in the most serious voice he could muster.
"You're welcome son." Travis couldn't help a small smile.
"Good afternoon gentlemen." Turning to Ellen to shake her hand. "Doctor Kendall it's been a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"The pleasure has been mine Assistant Director." Replied Ellen shaking Travis's hand. "Let me see you out."
The seven men waited until after the door was shut.
"Hey kid it's all over!" beamed Buck, his bruised cheek lending a slightly comical look to his expression.
"There's nothing to worry about any more," said Josiah.
"How does it feel J.D.," asked Vin.
"J.D. you don't seem too happy. Are you feeling alright," asked Nathan.
"I feel fine it's just that... well... I'm sorry, guys you're going to get stuck with all these cruddy special projects from AD Travis."
"It's a small price to pay Mr. Dunne," assured Ezra.
"Hey, you're stuck with Agent Clueless for two years. Even Buck is five times smarter that he is," teased Vin.
"Hey!" objected an indignant Buck.
It was the last thing Chris heard before he left the room.
+ + + + + + +
AD Travis was waiting in front of the elevator when Chris approached him.
"Orrin, thank you," said Chris as they shook hands.
"Just trying to hang on to a good agent." He looked at Chris his expression serious. "I don't know if we've done the right thing in keeping him on with the ATF. Keep an eye on the boy will you Chris? His work is impressive and doubly so when you realize how young he is. He'll make a helluvan agent some day. Watch out for him. I'd hate to have it on my conscience if anything were to happen to him."
The door of the elevator slide open and AD Travis was gone.
Turning to go back to Ellen's office, he caught sight of Ellen coming toward him. He waited for her and without a word she joined him for the walk back to her office.
"Chris I'm sorry for what I said yesterday," she said quietly.
"Ellen don't apologize you only said out loud what we were both feeling," he replied as they arrived at the door of her office.
"I don't know if I'm ever really going to get over it," she said.
Pain flickered for a split-second in his eyes as he took her hand. "I don't know if I will either," he replied quietly. He squeezed her hand gently. Then he let go of it. "When can we take J.D. home?"
"Now, I just signed his release."
They hugged warmly.
"Take care of yourself Old Man."
"You too Ellen."
She turned to leave as he re-entered her office nearly running into Ezra on his way out.
"Yes Mr. Standish," she wondered what Ezra Standish could want now.
"What can I do for you... Ezra?" she asked a little puzzled at what it was he might want.
"Doctor I owe you a long overdue apology for my behaviour during this past week. I have not conducted myself in a gentlemanly fashion. My conduct has been boorish, insulting and to be brief, shameful. Mere words are insufficient reparation for my unseemly display of bad manners during this past week. Might I have the honour of taking you out to dinner as remuneration, perhaps this Thursday evening?" he asked smiling.
"It really isn't necessary... Ezra." She protested.
"Oh, but it is necessary, at least it is to me Doctor. I know I don't deserve another chance but perhaps you could extend me this one last opportunity to redeem myself?" He gave her his most charming smile.
"I really am quite busy and I have a standing engagement every Thursday night."
"Friday night I would imagine I will have to be on hand for Mr. Dunne's birthday celebrations so perhaps Saturday evening? I warn you Doctor I can be very persistent."
There's that smile again, she thought to herself. My, he can be charming when he wants to be. "I'll think about it. At the moment however, I have patients I must attend to. Good day... Ezra."
He smiled as he took her hand and kissed it. "Have a pleasant afternoon Doctor" He watched her leave. He thought to himself, why hadn't he noticed before how lovely her eyes were?
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