Super looooong chapter this time! Hope you enjoy! :)

"Max, are you sure you're ready for this?"

"For the twelfth time David, yes!"

The pair stepped off the bus and onto the pavement, David waving a friendly goodbye to the bus driver as the vehicle rolled away. Max had stayed an extra night at the hospital, but it had become clear that they couldn't keep a perfectly healthy kid at the hospital indefinitely for no reason other than 'his parents suck'. So, with a heavy heart, David had decided to walk Max home personally, as both he and Gwen had agreed that they didn't want the boy's parents to return to the hospital.

Now, as they walked down the pavement towards Max's house, David began to feel increasingly nervous, and whenever he glanced down at Max, he could tell the boy was feeling the same. Bad kept fiddling with the cuffs of his hoodie, biting his lip and blowing his fluffy hair out of his eyes. It was a brand new hoodie as well, the moment David's shift had ended, he had gone to an all night clothing store and purchased Max some clothes to return home in. Max had brushed it off, but the look of relief and gratitude in his eyes was enough for David.

After what seemed like an eternity, but at the same time only a few short seconds, David and Max arrived in front of a house with it's front window boarded up. Max stopped and sighed.

"This is it." He muttered. David nodded, trying to keep his cool and not barge in to challenge Max's parents. He had always gone through life seeing the good in everyone, but this? Max's parent's behaviour was inexcusable. They didn't deserve to have a son, definitely one as amazing as Max.

"Right, Max, you have my phone number, right? And Gwen's? And the hospitals, and Neil's and-"

"David!" Max held up his brand new nokia phone that David had purchased for him so he could call for help at any time. He let out a sigh. "I've got them. I even have Nurf and Ered's!"

"Of course." David said quietly. He smiled briefly at Max. "I'll come and visit you on your days off. And whenever I can, I just want to make sure you're safe!"

"David, I've been doing this for years!"

"But you shouldn't!" David cut in, then sighed again. "I know Max. I know you're smart and capable and dare I say responsible, but I'm still going to worry about you."

"I know." Max said. "Um, thanks David." And before David could say anything else, Max wrapped him in a hug. It wasn't a long one, but it gave David enough time to hug him back.

"You deserve better Max." David said with a sad smile.

Max nodded. "Yeah, I do." He confirmed, and David's heart leapt.

David watched as Max made his way up the path and opened the door of the house. He stopped, waved, then disappeared inside.

...

"You want to adopt him!" Gwen looked incredulous. "Are you insane?"

David shook his head, still smiling brightly. "Of course not Gwen! And yes, I know that I'd need to get a more stable job and a better place to live before I can adopt anyone, but it doesn't change the fact that Max's home isn't safe for him! I can use my ties to the foster system to get him out of there, and maybe put in an application."

"David, you know it doesn't work like that."

David sighed and sat down on the bottom bunk, ignoring the fact that it was Gwen's bed. "I know Gwen. But even if it isn't me who takes care of him, I'm not going to rest until I know Max is with someone who is going to take care of him!"

Gwen sighed. "Even if it's not you?"

David nodded. "Even if it's not me." He sounded disappointed and Gwen gave him a sympathetic smile.

"Alright. I'll do what I can to help. But David," She paused and glanced out at the kids in the ward. "Did you mean what you said about a better job?"

David nodded and smiled at her. "My dad runs this hospital like a scam, and he's made it very clear that he doesn't want to waste his income improving it. I want to get my doctorate and work somewhere I can directly help people get better! Even if I don't look after the kids. Even if... it's not here."

Gwen sighed. "I know." She said softly. "I know you want to help and, I'm not going to stand in your way."

David grinned and before Gwen knew it, he had swept her up in a hug.

"Oh thank you Gwen, I knew you'd understand!"

"Knock it off, you idiot!" She shoved him off, but gently. "When do you leave?"

"Two months." David told her. "I'm giving it enough time for all the kids to get out of here before I leave, I don't want to abandon them. Well, except maybe Nikki, but she's always going to be accident prone."

Gwen chuckled. "I'm going to miss you." She said. David smiled softly.

"I'll miss you too. But we're both in our mid twenties by now. We should probably, learn to move on."

Gwen smiled and glanced at the photos she kept on the shelves. "Yeah. Move on."

...

Space Kid was the next to go. As sad as it was for the brightest ray of sunshine to depart the ward, his head was all healed and almost all of his memory before the incident had returned. It was time for him to go home.

His family came to pick him up, his parents all with smiles, handing him some brand new clothes, space themed of course, and even his indifferent sister ruffled his hair and said she promised to introduce him to her new girlfriend.

Space Kid said goodbye to all the kids in turn, with friendly little high fives and hugs. When he finally reached David and Gwen, however, he looked suddenly crestfallen and sad.

"I'm going to miss you guys." He said, and quickly latched onto David's legs.

"Aww, we'll miss you too Space Kid." David said, detaching the small child from himself and kneeling down in front of him. "But there's so much more out there for you to explore! We'll always be here at home base."

Space Kid giggled and saluted. "Roger that Commander David!" He announced, and turned to Gwen. "Here Gwen, I want you to have this." He pressed his toy rocket into her hands.

"What, no, Space Kid, I can't-" She looked down at the mangled toy in her hands. "This is yours."

"Oh don't worry." Space Kid said cheerfully. "I've got way more. And besides, it's your turn to have your own adventures. Leave home base for once." He waved at her as he hurried over to his parents. "Goodbye friends! I'll never forget you all!"

"Bye Space Kid!" Nikki waved him off.

"Max says to cause chaos on other planets for a change!" Neil called, glancing up from his phone.

Space Kid saluted and then he was gone.

...

Next to leave was Nurf. Truthfully, he wasn't quite recovered from his operation yet, but he had insisted that he couldn't stand being cooped up in here for one more day. And besides, he was incredibly excited when he got news about his impending trial.

"I got off!" He announced, reading a letter from the social worker that had been delivered that morning. "All charges dropped."

"Charges for what?" Neil asked, and Nurf remembered that hardly anyone knew his situation.

"Oh you know, stuff." He muttered, glancing up at Gwen and David.

"Nurf, that's fantastic!" David said, coming over to read the letter for himself.

"I know! Apparently they listened to my sister's testimony and concluded that I acted in self defence, as well as defence of others! That's way better than I expected!" Nurf looked genuinely excited over this and David's heart leapt to see such a smile on his face.

"That's great Nurf." Gwen said, also joining them. "What will happen to you and your sister now?"

Nurf shrugged. "We'll go to a care home, I suppose. The same one if all goes to plan."

"I'll pull some strings and make sure it's nice." David told him. Nurf grinned.

"Thanks David. You too Gwen. For, uh, always being here for me."

"Of course kid." Gwen tousled his hair affectionately.

The day came for Nurf to leave, and a social worker came to collect him, and told him his sister was waiting for him downstairs. Nurf's who face lit up and he swiftly said his goodbyes to the kids in the ward.

"Keep hold of this." He said to Neil, pressing the remains of his alcohol collection into his hands. Neil grinned.

"Thanks Nurf. You're not so bad."

"Neither are you." He high fived Nikki with a grin and glanced at Neil's phone. "Tell Max I say hi, and that we should hang out sometime."

"Will do." Neil nodded.

Nurf approached Ered, who glanced at him with a small frown. She was now mostly out of her body cast, only with her legs still in need of repairing. "What is it?" She said. Nurf sighed.

"Look, Ered, I'm sorry for what I said about your dads a while back. And for just, being a jerk in general." He rubbed his elbow self consciously. "I was going through some stuff and, I'm sorry. I don't really think that about gay people."

Ered grinned. "I know man. You're pretty cool." She fist bumped him. "Not as cool as me, but respect. See you around."

Nurf nodded. "Sure. See you around."

He waved at Gwen and David as he left. They waved back.

...

Next it was Nikki's turn. Nobody seemed in doubt whether she would return though. Nikki always came back somehow.

However, in the days and hours leading up to her departure, Nikki seemed a little downcast, which was understandable given her situation. However, rather than let her stew, David decided to talk to her about it.

"I know my mum won't have stayed with Frank, but still..." Nikki trailed off and grimaced, rubbing her head a little. David put a hand on her shoulder.

"Nikki, your mother might not be the most attentive from what I've observed, but I do know that she definitely cares for you." He said. Nikki nodded and smiled.

"Yeah, I just need her to get back together with one of the nice ones, like Julia, or Leon! They always gave me food. Well, Leon usually gave me beer, but he was nice anyway."

David winced and searched for something to say in response to this.

"Well, call em if anything goes wrong." Neil said, holding up his phone. "We're all on for a group call with Max tonight anyways."

"Heck yes!" Nikki jumped on the bed excitedly. "Let's play Uno!"

"Nikki, you can't play Uno in separate locations!"

David chuckled as the friend settled into another clash of personalities and a friendly argument. Truthfully, he was going to miss Nikki and Neil's friendship. Neil wasn't far from leaving the ward himself and after that, things just wouldn't be the same.

Apparently Nikki had realised this too, because when her mother came to collect her, she took David aside to tell him something.

"David, I don't think I'm coming back here anytime soon." She said.

"What do you mean?" David asked, kneeling down to talk to her more easily.

"I mean," Nikki shuffled from one foot to the other. "For a while I've been kind of reckless, well, more reckless than usual, because I didn't care if I got hurt or not. Really, I kinda prefer being here than being at home. But now that Max is gone, and Neil's getting better, and you're leaving, maybe there isn't much point in coming back."

David nodded, then paused. "Wait, who told you i was leaving?"

Nikki chuckled. "We spy on you guys sometimes. Everyone knows about it. We just didn't want you to know that we know."

David bit his lip. "Nikki, you're not upset are you?"

Nikki shook her head, frowning. "Are you kidding me, of course not! We're all really happy for you! David, you're the best nurse anyone is ever going to get! You'd make an amazing doctor!"

David's eyes began to glisten with tears. "Really, you mean it?"

"Duh!" Nikki exclaimed. She then glanced at the floor. "So anyway, I'm going to be a bit more careful now instead of being reckless all the time, so i probably won't be back in the hospital for a few months at least. And, um, David, I never really knew my dad, but if I got to choose, I'd want him to be just like you. So thank you, for being the best nurse ever!"

David burst into tears and hugged Nikki tightly.

...

Ered left next, her casts came off and she was able to walk again. The entire ward got very excited about this, nobody had seen Ered walking before and somehow, it was an inspiring sight.

"I never actually realised how tall you are!" Harrison exclaimed as Ered practised standing up.

"Oh yeah, I dominate!" Ered exclaimed powerfully, punching the air.

Before too long, they had to say goodbye to Ered too. She had been a patient for a long time, one of the longest, almost rivalling Harrison's extended stay. As she appeared wearing normal, and very stylish, clothes and her dads arrived in a black, bulletproof car, David found himself a little choked up. He couldn't believe all these kids were leaving so soon!

Or that in less than a month, he himself would be moving on to acquire his advanced medical degree.

Ered approached them with a smile and a duffle bag of all her stuff slung over her shoulder. "Hey guys." She said with a wave. "So, um, thanks for taking care of me a d stuff."

Gwen grinned. "Just doing our jobs sweetie." She said. Ered grinned back.

"Yeah, but anyone could feed me while I couldn't move my arms." She remarked. "Not just anybody would stand by and let us build a cardboard castle, or have midnight parties and barely punish us when we drank! You guys are pretty cool."

"Really?" Gwen's eyes widened. "I haven't been cool since I was a teenager and beat the crap out of Daniel!"

Ered nodded. "Cooler than anyone who would hang out a some dumb roof skatepark anyway." She remarked.

"But I thought you said that was the coolest hangout in the city?" David asked.

Ered shook her head. "Nah, I've moved on from there. I can't go back there after failing my stunt anyway." She tossed her hair and grinned. "Besides, I'm kind of over that dump anyways."

"Sounds like someone's growing up." David said with a fond smile. Ered's face snapped from a smile to an expression of horror.

"Oh God, I'm maturing?! That's what this is?"

Gwen chuckled. "Welcome to the big leagues kid. Welcome to taxes and constant stress."

Ered rolled her eyes. "Nah, I'm gonna stay like a stylish teen for as long as I can. You should give it a try." She glanced at the pair of them. "Something tells me both of you could use a break." She slapped both of their palms with a soft high five and turned towars the door. "Oh, good luck with your doctorate, David! We're all rooting for you!"

Before David could respond, she had already vanished through the door, out of sight.

"Don't cry." Gwen told him.

"I cant help it! All our little birds are leaving the nest!" He sobbed. Gwen sighed, but wrapped her arm around him.

"Come here." She sighed, staring up into the lights on the ceiling to try and keep the tears in her eyes from spilling.

...

When Dolph left, both nurses found themselves close to tears. The little boy's recovery had been slow, but everyone agreed he had been an absolute source of life and joy throughout his stay. It was definitely sad to see him go.

Dolph's mother came to pick him up instead of his father, it had been officially decided between the two parents that it was best for him to be with his mother right now. Dolph's face lit up when she walked in, and he officially changed out of his hospital brand pyjamas and into regular clothes.

"Alright, provided you don't strain yourself, but do some regular exercises, you should be all back to normal in a few weeks." David told him as they prepared to say their goodbyes.

Dolph nodded and smile at David. "Thank you David. I shall try my best." He looked around at the ward with some sadness in his blue eyes. "I am going to miss this place. Despite all that has happened here, it has been some of the best months of my life."

David smiled. "Even though you tore your stitches and had to deal with our incompetence every day?"

Dolph giggled. "What you call incompetence, I call being fun!" He said. He looked up and towards Gwen, beckoning her over. "Oh, Gwen I wanted to give you something!"

Gwen came over and Dolph held up two pieces of paper, folded in half. "I drew these for you. One each." He said shyly.

David gasped and took his. "Dolph, you didn't have to, oh!" He opened up the paper and found himself gazing down at a woodland campsite scene. The scenery was detailed down to the last twig and the campsite was filled with all the ten patients that David had been looking after for so long. Nobody was sick or hurt, however. Everyone was smiling and roasting marshmallows. David's eyes blurred with tears of joy.

"Dolph, this is..." He couldn't find the words. Dolph smiled.

"I know, I think I have been improving." He said. "Evolving my craft throughout my stay. I am glad you gave me that sketchbook, David."

"Me too." David whispered. Dolph gave him a pat on the arm and David suddenly swept the young boy up in a tight hug.

Gwen joined in, sniffing slightly, wrapping her arms around the two. "Thank you Dolph." She said, drawing clutched in her hand. Dolph nodded and grinned.

"Thank you too, Gwen. Don't worry if your dreams aren't coming true right now. Someday they will. You'll get there."

Gwen barely masked a sob and drew back. "I'm gonna miss you, kid." She said fondly.

"Me too." David said, releasing Dolph from the hug at last.

Dolph nodded. "I shall miss you both too." He hopped down from the bed and picked up his little bag of belongings. "But now I get to spend time with my mama, and meet my new baby brother, or sister. And David gets to be a doctor, and Gwen gets a chance to figure out who she wants to be beyond this hospital." He smiled up at them. "Enjoy the pictures. I hope I'll see you again someday."

He turned and walked towards the door. With one last wave, he left.

Gwen sniffed again. "Don't cry." David teased her.

"Shut up." She said, and hurried into the nurse's office o let her feelings out in private. David smiled down at the drawing that Dolph had given him. The shading and the crayon work wasn't perfect, but David would have chosen this drawing over any famous Da Vinci work. Every time.

He folded the drawing up and tucked it into his pocket, next to his heart.

...

Neil demanded no fanfare when it was time for him to leave. After Nikki had left, it was obvious that he had been bored out of his mind while waiting for his burns to heal. And true to her word, Nikki hadn't come back. So when Neil could finally work with minimal pain and wear clothes without bandages or worry of infection, it seemed like a lot more of a relief than anything else.

Since Neil's mother had returned from her honeymoon, Neil had been stuck with a decision of whose house he would return to when his stay at the hospital was up. With his mother he would have to try and get along with her new husband, but with his father, he had declared that he would go insane with annoyance. So Neil had decided to stay with his mother and give his new step dad a try.

"I can't exactly avoid it forever." He had remarked to David while they were still sorting out his living arrangements. "I might as well try and get along with this guy. I mean, if anything living here for three months has taught me anything, it's how to handle living with difficult people."

David smiled brightly, so glad that Neil was learning to adapt.

"Oh, and apparently I'm expelled from school now." Neil added. "Which is good!" He said hastily when he saw David's face. "I mean, I hated that place anyway, and I'm far too smart for their curriculum. Either I'll stay at home and teach myself, or look into high school."

David nodded. "Hmm. Seems like you have everything figured out." He noted. Neil nodded.

"Yeah, well the last time I did something on a whim, I ended up here!" He gestured around them to the ward. David chuckled.

"No more explosives then?"

Neil shrugged. "Well..."

"Neil!"

"No more unnecessary explosives." Neil said quickly. David sighed, but smiled.

"Of course. I trust you to make the right decisions."

Neil grinned sheepishly. "Sure. You too, you know. And Gwen. You guys might not seem it, but you're good nurses. You care about people."

David smiled happily. "We know." He said.

Neil swung his legs off his bed and got ready to go. As David watched him gather his things, already dressed in his new clothes burn scars only slightly visible on his face, Dvaid felt a strange sense of pride. Neil had been something of a permanent fixture in the ward, always there to be cynical and lightly encourage other's crazy ideas. Without him, the place wouldn't feel the same. Well, it wasn't like it felt the same right now, with so many empty beds.

Neil's mother came to collect him and quickly thanked David for taking care of her son.

"Oh it's no trouble." David remarked. "We were just doing our job. Neil is a remarkable kid. You're lucky to have him."

Neil's mother smiled. "I know." She ruffled her son's hair, much to his annoyance. She glanced around at the hospital. "You guys should really have this place cleaned up though. It's a dump."

David sighed and nodded. "I know. However, I myself don't plan to work here for much longer."

Neil's mother smiled and nodded. "That's good. Put your talents to good use." She glanced down at her son. "That applies to you too, Neil. No more bombs."

Neil rolled his eyes once more, but smiled at David. "She's right David. Good luck being a doctor."

David grinned and barely felt sad as Neil disappeared through the door. Sure, another one of his treasured patients was leaving. But Neil was putting his skills and himself to good use and David was happy for him. It was time to move on.

...

By the time Harrison was ready to leave, David was as well. Harrison had been in and out of the hospital for years, his permeant stay had been going on for months. But Harrison hadn't given up hope and David had stopped hoping for him either. And eventually, it had paid off.

Harrison's last treatment had been a celebration worthy of a midnight feast. Unfortunately, when it was only one patient left there wasn't much point. He had assured David that it was alright though. When Nerris and her family came to collect him, they were going to throw a massive party.

"You guys can come, if you want?" he offered. Gwen and David politely declined.

"Oh, I'm not much of a party person." David said cheerily.

"And plus it would be super weird to have us hanging out with a bunch of people we don't know." Gwen told him. "But thanks anyway. I'm happy for you, kid."

Harrison grinned back.

That was another thing that had happened. David had put Nerris and Harrison's parents in touch with one of the social service lawyers that he had gotten to know throughout his childhood. Harrison's parents hadn't seemed exactly thrilled to give him up, but after lengthy discussions, everyone had come to the conclusion that it was for the best. Nerris's parents were more than equipped to take care of Harrison, which left Harrison's parents more time and money to look after Chucky and his various long term injuries. Just like that, Harrison had been unofficially adopted. And just like that, his stay at the hospital was over.

"I guess this is kind of weird, huh." Harrison noted as he walked from one end of the ward to the other. "Everyone else is gone. How come you didn't get any new patients?"

"Budget cuts." Gwen told him, sitting on the bed that had once been Nikki's. "And a certain someone went online and spread bad reveiws about this place, encouraging potential patients to recover in other facilities."

"No comment." David muttered.

"Oh." Harrison looked out of the window. "Does that mean the place is shutting down?"

Gwen shrugged. "Who knows? But it's been made clear that there will no longer be a children's ward one. This place will be used for storage in the future."

"That sucks." Harrison looked up at her. "Wait, will you lose your jobs?"

"Looks likely." Gwen muttered, but then smiled. "It's fine though. It's been fun, I'll find another one."

"And I already leave next week." David said. He looked around the place a little sadly. "I must say, however, I'm going to miss this place a lot less that I thought I would."

"Wait, less?" Gwen turned to him. David nodded his trademark smile firmly in place.

"Yeah." He said. "I guess when it comes down to it, this place is just an empty room with a bunch of empty beds. It's all you kids that I'll miss most of all."

"Aww." Harrison smiled back. "I'll still remember you when I'm a rich and famous magician David."

David chuckled. "I don't doubt that, Harrison. I'm glad you're getting out of here."

There came a noise at the door, Nerris and her parents had arrived. Gwen stood up to greet them, and Nerris and Harrison raced towards each other, hugging and chatting.

David stood up and headed into the nurse's office to check through his belongings one last time. Now that he and Gwen would no longer be living here, everything was tucked away in boxes and a suitcase, no longer the messy pile they had been living in before. All those boxes stacked as high as the ceiling reminded him of the cardboard castle the gang had built, which reminded him of the gang and all the kids that he would likely never see again.

David considered breaking down sobbing, but just wiped a few tears away. He gently reached into a box and took out a photo.

"Well, I did it Jasper." He whispered softly to the boy in the picture. "I made these lives of these kids better, I think. At least, I made sure they still had lives to go back to." He thought about Max, and how often he still called Nikki and Neil, and the random selfies he kept sending of himself around town. His face and body seemed free of bruises from what David could see. Somehow, Max had moved on from that part of his life.

It was time for David to move on too.

David slid the photo back into the box and left the little room to go join the others. Gwen and Nerris's mother were talking near the door while Nerris's dad was involving the kids in some sort of hunt for treasure, basically picking up the little mementos that the other kids of the ward had left behind. David siled. He would miss these people. But he would never forget them and knew that whatever impact he had left would last.

Gwen caught his eye and smiled.

"We'll walk you guys to the entrance." She said to Nerris's mother.

David nodded back.

The five of them walked out the door together.

Oh, and special news! The next chapter will be the last one to come out for this story! We're so close to the ending and I have loved every bit of it, and I hope you have too :) See you next week, for the last time!