Richard has really taken Alex under his wing, and as he works he lectures the resident that he knows he thinks he has somewhere better to be, but he really doesn't. Alex is antsy with wanting to finish his paper but Richard just goes on that eventually all of the tests and papers fall away because they are just doing those things to get to this, the pure surgery of it all. When Alex "uh-huhs" him, Richard tells him he sounds like Adele. Sadly, Adele does that when Richard tells her about his day because sometimes she forgets he is a surgeon and gets nervous when he talks about cutting people open. Cue the sad background music. Richard warns him that sometimes you don't see the happy part of your life until it is over. Alarms then ring and Alex takes the lead, eventually stopping whatever it is (probably bleeding, it's always bleeding) so that Carter's vital signs go back to normal. He grins, and when Richard asks if he's feeling the joy now he admits that he is.
Alex finds Jackson and invites him to go to the skills lab where Richard is going to help him with a particular stitch. What a funny little threesome these guys have become -- I rather hope it sticks because I like seeing Richard have fun again and I like those rare occasions where Alex finds he can get along with other human beings. Jackson can't go because he's supposed to help April and Bailey in the skills lab, so Alex mocks him and leaves. Jackson thinks a minute and then, instead of following the ladies, uses the "Mayfield in 22" excuse to get out of it. April gets flustered and tells him it's okay while Bailey, with just a hint of a grin, tells him there are things she never needs to know. Derek walks up and invites Jackson to another deck night as well as helping out with a surgery the next day and Jackson agrees, but seems troubled about it.
Somewhere among all of this surgery and joy-finding, Alex has had time to write a 19-page paper, which he happily shows off to Richard. Richard takes it from him and then won't let Alex have it back, now using the "Once the Chief, Always the Chief" card after spending the previous couple of days trying to train Alex not to call him that. Jackson joins them and asks for some advice, since he's now agreed to assist both Mark and Derek at the same time the next day and he doesn't know how to choose. Richard asks logically who he wants to work with more and Jackson admits he prefers plastics but wants to actually get his hands dirty. Richard will just tell him that choosing between two world-class surgeons is a privilege and Alex can't help brown-nosing a bit by telling Jackson to feel the joy, much to Richard's delight. Alex then asks Jackson how he got out of the skills lab and when Richard hears that he used the Mayfield excuse, his joy grows exponentially and in fact he has to take his glasses off and wipe his eyes from all the laughing. He's especially amused that Jackson used it on Bailey. Jackson was pretty pleased with himself but as Richard's laughing continues, Jackson seems to realize this might be at him rather than with and starts to worry.