Jolex – Circuitous Route

Chapter 16 Questions

As Alex and Meredith walked down the hospital hallway, Alex kept pulling up pictures on his phone and telling Meredith, "Oh, yeah, and look at this one!" Pictures of the wedding were outnumbered only by pictures of Sekani. "And here's the spot where we were married, Mer. Look at that. Look at those waterfalls. It was beyond description."

"I am so happy for you, Alex," Meredith confirmed with a reserved grin.

"But…?" Alex inquired, sensing that Meredith was holding back.

"What do you mean?" Meredith asked, trying to cover her deeper concerns and thoughts.

Alex stopped walking, cocked his head toward Meredith and attempted to study her face.

"What?" Meredith asked, incredulous. "Why are you staring at me?"

"It's just…" Alex began. "I dunno, Mer. You're holding back on me. This is me. I know you. You know me. Just spit it out."

"Are you sure? Because once I say it, I can't unsay it," Meredith explained. Alex nodded and raised his eyebrows with impatience. Meredith continued, "I'm just wondering where you left my friend Alex. In 10 days, you went from, you know, Alex to smitten, smiling husband and doting Daddy. I'm just a little… a little… in shock. Happy for you, but in shock."

"Pfftt," Alex reacted. "What the hell, Mer? I'm still me. I'm still Alex. Insensitive ass and everything."

"Yeah, right. Ok, Alex, if you insist," Meredith countered.

"What is that supposed to mean?!" Alex contested.

Meredith grabbed Alex's arm and drug him into a women's bathroom. "Look at that face," she insisted.

"Mer, we're in a Ladies' Room, I need to get out of here," Alex mumbled.

"Alex. Look. Look in the mirror. Look at that face," Meredith emphasized again.

Alex grinned and looked in the mirror. His eyes were wider than normal. His face was far more relaxed and less intense. And, perhaps most stunning, he was smiling…well, grinning. With a look of surprise, Alex walked out of the Women's Restroom and back to the hall.

"Were you…" Jo began to ask as Alex physically ran into her as he left the bathroom. Her brows were lowered and her eyes narrowed with bewilderment as she pointed toward the restroom.

"It's a long story," Alex responded in his typical Alex tone. Then, almost unconsciously, his face returned to the new Alex as he put his arm around his wife. He thought to himself, mywife. Wow. Maybe Mer had a point.

Jo nuzzled in toward Alex's chest and provided an update on the baby. "Sekani is thriving in daycare. I just went to peek. I couldn't help myself," she admitted. "He's charming everyone with his flirty glances and quick giggle. Kind of like his daddy," she beamed as she concluded.

With his arm still around his beloved, Alex smiled and chuckled, "Who me? Me?"

Jo kissed Alex on his cheek and giggled, "Yes, Dr. Karev. You. I gotta get back to the ER. Coffee later?"

"Absolutely," Alex promised. He leaned down toward Jo and kissed her before she stepped away and whispered, "I love you, Dr. Karev." Jo grinned and departed.

"See what I mean?" Meredith emphasized as she came up behind Alex and scared him. She had been walking behind he and Jo, having followed Alex out of the Women's Restroom.

"Crap, Mer. You scared the hell out of me," Alex reacted with a slight jump. He took a deep breath and asked with exasperation, "What do you mean do I see what you mean?"

"You've turned soft, Alex. Googly eyes at Wilson, smiling, professing your love in public. Like I said, I'm happy for you. I really am. But I'm just wondering where my person went," Meredith admitted.

Alex shrugged and looked toward the ceiling, "Whatever, Mer. I gotta go round. See you later?"

"As long as you stop at that question and don't look at me like an over-hormoned teenager and tell me you love me," Meredith groaned.

"No worries," Alex smiled as he shook his head. Then, noticing he was smiling, he intentionally tried to look grumpier. That appearance shift lasted 10 seconds before the new, lighter Karev reappeared. He walked to Peds to check on a few post-ops with a spring in his step, and entered into Danny's room. Danny was a 9 year old who underwent surgery the prior day.

Speaking while burping, Alex offered, "Hi Danny."

Danny cracked up, then grabbed his abdomen, "Dr. Karev, you can't do that! It hurts too much to laugh."

As he whipped his stethoscope off his neck and into his ears, Alex mocked an innocent look, "Like what?"

Danny grabbed the end of the stethoscope and spoke into it as he burped, "Like this."

"Whoa! Dude…that's loud," Alex smiled as he messed up Danny's hair before beginning to palpate Danny's abdomen. Alex became more serious as he stopped palpating and listen to an area with his stethoscope. He inquired, "Is that tender, Danny? Does that hurt?"

"Maybe a little," Danny admitted with a grimace.

"Dude, it's just you and me here. Does that hurt?" Alex pushed verbally. Danny scrunched up his face and nodded. Alex responded, "That's what I thought. Here's what we're going to do, Danny. I'm going to ask someone to take you down for a CT. I want to take a look inside there and figure out what's going on, ok?"

"Ok," Danny burped-spoke. Alex smiled and excused himself to put in the order.

After stopping at the nurses' station and chatting with the two nurses milling nearby, Alex continued to 5 year old Emma's room. Emma had broken her arm and had it poorly set at a rural hospital. The bad set led to a surgery to rebreak and reset the arm. Callie had performed the surgery, but Alex had treated Emma before and wanted to say hello.

Emma was playing on a Leap Frog, deeply engaged in a Tinkerbell game. She didn't see Alex walk in.

"Oh, man, Tinkerbell? Has she stormed the city yet? Wrecked some cars? Destroyed Peter Pan?" Alex asked with enthusiastic anticipation.

Emma demurely put the Leapfrog down and grinned at Alex like a grown woman. "Oh, Dr. Karev, you really are silly," she offered.

Alex shrugged, "Well, you know…" He smiled at her and gently touched Emma's cast, "How's it going?"

"Ok, I guess," Emma answered. "It hurts sometimes."

"Yeah," Alex nodded. "Want to see a picture that will make you forget it hurts?"

"Yes!" Emma exclaimed with a smile.

Alex pulled up the selfie he took with Jo and Sekani by the waterfall. "See these guys? That beautiful lady?" Alex whispered as if he was sharing something top secret, "That's my wife. We just got married. And that kiddo? That's my son, Sekani. My wife and I just adopted him. He was born halfway around the world in a country called Malawi."

In a high pitched, girly girl voice, Emma squeaked, "So cute!" She lifted her shoulders toward her ears and smiled from ear to ear. "Your family is super cute, Dr. Karev."

"Thanks," Alex grinned as he put his phone back in his lab coat pocket.

"How come your son had to be adopted? What happened to his mama and daddy that had him?" Emma asked with innocence and curiosity.

"It's pretty sad. His dad died in an accident and his mom died after she had him. If she'd been here, doctors could have saved her easy. But in Malawi, there aren't enough hospitals or doctors to help everyone. That's why Dr. Wilson and I went there," Alex explained.

"And then you brought home that smiley face guy? He looks fun. Can I meet him sometime?" Emma begged.

"You know what? Yes, you can," Alex assured her. "I'm going to take a break in a little bit. After my break, he and I will stop by."

"Cool!" Emma exclaimed before Alex excused himself.

As he stepped in the hallway, Alex's cell phone buzzed. He walked into the stairwell to take the call and sat down on the stairs.

"Dr. Karev, this is Trudy Willow. I'm the social worker that will be working with you and your wife during your adoption process. Do you have a moment to chat?"

Alex responded, "Sure."

"As you probably know, we need to meet soon to process some paperwork. I'd also like to set up a time for a home study. Has anyone explained that step to you?" Trudy asked.

"I have a friend who adopted a few years ago, so she explained it a bit. The people at the Embassy in Malawi mentioned it too. But, really, I don't know a lot of details about it," Alex admitted.

"The home study will give me a chance to get to know you and your wife. We spend quite a bit of time asking questions and listening to your answers. The questions focus on your backgrounds, your parenting philosophies, and your interest in adopting Sekani. I'll also want to tour your home and assess your preparation for the baby. Since he's already with you, some of these steps may be a bit different than the normal process," Trudy shared.

"Sounds great. When would you like to meet?" Alex asked.

"I'm guessing your schedules might be a bit irregular since you and your wife are both doctors. Is there a good time in the next week or so that would work for both of you?" Trudy asked.

"I'm not sure of my wife's schedule, but I'm about to meet her for coffee. We can compare our schedules and find some options. Can one of us call you back in a while?" Alex asked.

"Absolutely," Trudy agreed. "I'll look forward to hearing from one of you soon."

Alex walked up to the daycare and flirted with Sekani through the window before entering the daycare room. When Alex walked in the room, Sekani began calling, "Daddadada Da Da Da." Running up to his son, Alex bent down and picked him up. The baby gave him a wet, slobbery baby kiss and smiled at him.

"Do you want to go see Mama?" Alex asked with excited eyes and a smile. Sekani smiled at Alex in response. After signing the baby out, Alex took Sekani to the cafeteria where they met Jo.

"I had no idea you were bringing the little man with you," Jo gushed with joy. "Hi, sweetheart!" Sekani flirted with his Mama as he snuggled into Alex's chest. "Here, I have some food he can nibble on," Jo suggested as Alex sat down.

Alex grabbed food off her plate and ate it himself as he shared, "I just heard from our social worker. We need to schedule a thing with her. Can you call her back?"

"Sure. What's a 'thing'?" Jo wondered aloud.

Alex clarified, "She comes over to the house and asks us a bunch of questions and makes sure we're not running a dog fighting business in our basement. Stuff like that."

Jo's face was overcome with concern, "What kind of questions? Do you have any idea what she'll ask?"

"Mer might be able to remember what they asked her when they adopted Zola," Alex suggested as he grabbed a couple crackers and gave one to the baby before eating the rest himself. "She said something about asking about our parenting philosophies and childhoods and crap like that."

Jo locked her eyes on Alex with a stare, "First, maybe you need to go grab yourself some snacks since my food's all gone, and, second, what in the world will I say about my childhood? This is freaking me out."

Alex rolled his eyes as he handed the baby to Jo, "Jo…it's all going to be fine. Do you want me to grab you anything?"

"Just a handbook for how to answer the social worker's questions," Jo mumbled as she hugged the baby.

Readers – call me paranoid but I didn't hear much feedback on the wedding and Sekani chapters. Did I freak everyone out with my weird Malawi detour? I ended up getting really interested in Malawi as I researched and then the chapters took on an unexpected life of their own! I hope you're still enjoying the story nonetheless. If not, throw me some suggestions – I'm always open to that.