A/N: Hello, hello! As much as I'm loving the fact that Shonda has suddenly remembered their beautiful friendship, the two minutes of Alex and April we've gotten over the last couple of weeks just doesn't feel like enough. Thus, I've been inspired to...expand. A lot. Please bear in mind that as strong as my Alex muse is, I don't get a lot of time to experiment with his character in this way.
Disclaimer: That said, I don't own any of these wonderful characters. All rights belong to Shonda Rhimes. I'm only using them for the sake of entertainment.
The damn thing was starting to burn a hole in his pocket. Well really, it was burning a hole in his sock drawer but whatever. Same idea. Jo was always conveniently meeting him at every corner, making his attempts to avoid her that much harder. And it was hardly ever about work anymore. Lately all his girlfriend had to offer spat on his relationship with Meredith, all of which seemed to come to light after Derek died. Or maybe it started a slow simmer after they'd lost Yang. Somewhere in the paperwork that granted him Cristina's share of the hospital, there was also a paragraph or two that dictated custody to their friend. He had somehow become her person. Not that he even wanted the role in the first place. He didn't deny that she was the closest thing to a sister he had (his relationship with Amber quite literally nonexistent) but that wasn't his thing.
Alex's life was a constant balancing act. Making sure his mom took her meds, keeping his brother and sister in school. And somewhere in there he had to make sure his own grades didn't end up in the toilet. Juggling it all had become as easy as breathing. He and Yang had never been close. In fact, they spent most of the last twelve years trying not to kill each other. But they'd found something that worked for them. Almost all of it was mockery but whatever. If there was one thing they had in common, it was knowing that they had to make sure Meredith got back on her feet.
In the coming months he watched his girlfriend get kicked out of bed more often than she was actually in it. Alex would roll over bleary-eyed and scowling, only to have his ear talked off about the most useless crap. He was sure it was actually meaningful some of the time but he wasn't exactly in a state of mind to care. As many times as he'd seen Meredith and Cristina ramble on at 3 in the morning, feeling the bed sag as she curled in beside him just pissed him off. But he'd made some kind of promise to her. Whether he liked it or not, he was her new person. Alex had no idea how true that was until weeks before when his friend laid lifeless on a gurney, a swarm of doctors surrounding her.
Recalling the nightmare still put a knot in his chest, dust collecting quietly at the corners of his eyes. With a sigh he continued working through the chart in front of him. Jo had yet to give him anything that resembled an answer. The way he went about it wasn't exactly what one would call romantic but they both lived out of their cars for years. They weren't exactly looking for anything fancy. He was fed up with the two spinning circles around each other. Didn't Wilson get that he was in her corner? He was her boyfriend for godsake. Why the hell wouldn't he be? So he'd gone ahead and done it. Alex showed her just how much she really meant to him, how important she was, only to have it thrown back in his face. Whatever. Mer had almost died and he was supposed to apologize for stepping up to take care of her. The notion almost made him laugh. Taking care of people was his job. Inside or outside the hospital it didn't matter. Grey needed him to be there and so he'd been there. This thing with Wilson was just one big stupid waiting game.
"Keep it in the drawer," she mumbled. Alex looked up from his paperwork, his brow raised.
"I don't want it, but I, uh, I don't want it gone." Oh. Like that made any real sense. If she didn't want it, she didn't want it. What the hell was he supposed to do with it in the meantime? "So the drawer is good. Just, um, keep it in the drawer." Before Alex could give her anything that resembled an answer, she was already walking away.
"Here. My half of the phone bill." Letting his attention shift, the attending rolled his eyes. Neither of them had been quiet about their separation. As reliable as the mill was at Grey-Sloan, Kepner kept countless arguments going in hospital hallways. As irritating as she was to hear sometimes, Karev could hardly blame her. For someone who put so much stock in God and soulmates it was a wonder she and Avery worked at all. No, the mailman hadn't served them to her but for someone like April he guessed it was just as bad.
"Oh, no. I told you."
"And I appreciate that. But I don't want to leave anything, um, undone. Okay?" It was hard to believe that things were really coming apart for the couple. Jackson had made his love for the redhead more than a little bit public. As rarely as it actually happened, in the midst of her wedding to the paramedic, whose name he couldn't even remember, the guy objected with a long speech about undying love. Now here they were, divorced, going Dutch on a stupid phone bill. He had to think the word was and always would be a foreign concept for the trauma surgeon.
"Okay." Alex couldn't keep from feeling at least a little bit bad for her. She'd gone against everything she believed in to give Avery what he wanted. Gone around in circles about it forever but eventually April gave in. And as much as he knew it broke her, she was still so...calm about the whole thing. There was no denying she sometimes looked like a kicked puppy but that was April. She didn't exactly hide her disappointment very well. In this case, had to admit, it wasn't the worst thing ever. Maybe eventually he would realize just how much he'd taken from her. That wasn't to say that Jackson didn't lose something too. They were mourning the loss of a baby. But one of them was doing a really good job of ignoring the "worse' part of their promises to each other. It reminded Alex of someone else he knew. Or at least he thought he did.
Watching Avery walk away, Alex shook his head. Approaching her at the nurse's desk he shuffled nervously. He wasn't exactly pulling her hair anymore but they weren't bffs either. She must have been aware of somebody's presence because he wasn't about to open the lines of communication after what he'd just witnessed.
"What?" Alex stood silent for a minute, trying to find the right words. He couldn't even remember the last time they had even talked about anything surgical, let alone personal. Years ago he wouldn't have cared. Years ago Kepner could just go about her stupid business because it sure as hell was none of his. But six years of working together, put in more than a couple of life or death situations kind of brings people together or something. He wasn't about to admit that working with kids made him soft or anything but they sure as hell made him less of an ass.
"You need anything?"
"What do you mean?" He couldn't help but carefully look her up and down, hopefully in a way she didn't exactly notice. She might think he was checking her out or something. Or at the very least staring at her boobs. At one time he had, but that was true of every chick back then. He was...something now with Wilson. He couldn't afford to let himself wander.
"It's just...let me know if you need anything. Let me know, okay?" Seeing as this was the first non-professional conversation they'd had in what felt like years, the comment must have sounded weird as hell coming out of his mouth.
If she wasn't still trying to make sense of the exchange with Jackson only moments before, April would be at least a little bit surprised. Given the circumstances, she was just left confused. When was the last time Alex Karev offered her anything that resembled help? If anything she was expecting something crude or sarcastic to be sent her way. Not that he was a bad guy. He worked with small children after all. The attitude she expected was reserved for his co-workers and if she'd learned anything about him over the years it was that he didn't spare anyone, especially her.
Before she could even process his kindness, her hand absently wandered to her flat stomach, as if to hide the evidence and deny that she had in fact been caught. Maybe this had nothing to do with the baby. Maybe this was just Alex doing his part to help in the divorce. April grimaced. The word tasted so bitter in her mouth. Meeting his gaze, the softness of his eyes surprised her. She'd only ever seen him look like that around...No. There was no way he...But she did tell Arizona. No matter if she'd stumbled into it or not, the perky blonde was still the only one who knew. At least she hoped so.
"Did um...Did Arizona tell you—" It would make sense. They were both in pediatrics. If somehow she let that little tidbit of information slip... Alex blinked. No, she hadn't, though he wouldn't put it past her if she let it fall out eventually. As different as she and Kepner were, they both did a hell of a lot of talking. More than he liked sometimes.
"I work in Peds. I figured it out." Oh she thought. Going over his reply in her head, she almost chuckled. Pediatrics had nothing to do with having some kind of pregnant woman radar. Still, the excuse was sweet. "You're like all happy all the time, kinda sweaty. How far along are you?" If she wasn't already so touched April would be able to find her laugh. Instead she just listened, taking him in. Who knew how long it would be before this side of him surfaced again.
"Nine weeks," she provided, allowing herself the hint of a smile.
"He doesn't know?" April bit her lip, unsure of exactly how to tell the father of her baby something like this. If she went to him now, it would come off as convenient, some kind of excuse she cropped up to force them to work on their marriage. In the last year, they had both been through more than enough. She wasn't above admitting that a lot of it she had forced on him. At the same time, he had to understand that in order to grieve, she couldn't be here. She couldn't walk the halls of the hospital where they had held their son, with them for barely an hour before he died. In her arms no less. April had to make herself useful. She had to find distraction in something productive. After all that Jackson did for her, at the very least she owed him this. A proper explanation. If she approached him now it would be thrown together and jumbled in a mess of nerves and emotion. She just had to find the right words...
"Not yet." But she would. April would tell him. Just not right now. She needed time. They both did.
"I think you should tell him before he figures it out too." The doctor stayed silent as her friend retreated. Alex was right. To some extent, he always was. Brutal honesty brought that out of him more than it did anyone else she knew. But he didn't understand how delicate a situation like this was. If she told Jackson now, there was a good chance they would just end up fighting again. She loved her husband but he had a way of taking control of situations that left very little room for opinion. As well as she understood that, she wasn't ready to have the conversation just yet. When the time was right, she would. She would.
"I don't want to see you guys get hurt again." April was doing her best to keep from letting out an exasperated groan. She'd already been doing this with Arizona all day. It would only be a matter of time before Alex was chasing her down with swabs and viles too. She didn't need to be tested. Not this time. This felt different than when she was pregnant with Samuel. It had to be. The tests were just a waste of time.
"Neither do I," she exploded. "I'm not telling him because we have been through enough, especially him." Exactly my freaking point Alex thought. Their divorce had already become a very public disaster. He didn't need to hear it from any stupid interns. News like this was guaranteed to explode into hospital wildfire. Didn't she get that? If they were all biting words and two minute conversations now, this would throw them right back into that eerie silence they had going for weeks. "Because he never got over the last one. He never had the chance to, and I am hanging on to every last shred of faith I have that this time it'll be okay. But he doesn't have that. So, it'll just be better if he doesn't know yet." The surgeon rolled his eyes. And this was better how exactly?
"It won't. You're making it worse," he said softly. Before he could say much else, April was already turning her back, likely more frustrated than when he cornered her. So much for this caring crap he thought. He didn't know what the hell else he was supposed to do. If Kepner kept her mouth shut for much longer, once Avery found out, work would keep with its little soap opera that everyone and their mother had to know about. If it had been Jo...If she hid this kind of thing from him he would be...pissed. So pissed. How pissed? Well, he wasn't quite sure how the hospital felt about busted walls and shattered closet supplies. Luckily, he didn't have to resort to that yet. But when it became about a man's kids...Well that was a completely different kind of anger.
"Um, have you seen Dr. Avery?" As infuriating as it was to be hounded, it was only fair. She just had no idea how she was going to broach the topic yet. How angry would he be? Would he be supportive at all? Would he think she was trapping him in a marriage he no longer wanted to be in? All three options seemed equally plausible. She hadn't exactly shut up about the seriousness of the vows they'd made in Tahoe. April was really only getting him to understand that she believed in them enough to keep fighting. Both made a promise to God to make the most beautiful life together. She had made a promise to stay and work through even the ugliest of circumstances.
"Upstairs in the lab." Offering the woman a polite 'thank you', April carefully made her way up. With each step she could feel her heart in her throat. The last time she had even brushed the subject of Samuel, the room was charged with enough energy to charge a cell phone. Jackson had done enough yelling for the both of them, April unable to find the words that would deem her side of the story worth listening to. It certainly didn't help that she found herself saying a lot of the same thing over and over again but even so, she stood by her argument.
"Jackson, can we—" The minute she let the door swing open, the woman froze. Along with her husband (she still couldn't find it in her to change the term) stood Dr. Robbins, surrounded in viles and... "Oh..." she mumbled. If she had anything resembling an explanation it was gone now, shock in its place.
"Why is she telling me this?" Because I was trying to protect you she thought. Instead, she shuffled into the room, softly clearing her throat, now dryer than ever. "I…I didn't want to hurt you. I…I was trying to find a way to…So it wouldn't hurt…" Before the words were out of her mouth she knew how laughable they were. Hiding it would only make it worse, just as Alex had said it would. And even though it was hard to pull out from behind all of his stoic anger, she could see it, if only for a split second.
"And when the hell was that gonna be? When you start showing and everyone in the damn hospital knows?" The surgeon swallowed hard, shaking her head slowly. For a woman usually so flustered and wordy, Kepner had nothing.
"Jackson…You have to understand I…." she whispered daring to close the distance between them. She knew better than to touch him. Touching would set him off when he was like this and she wasn't about to make a scene in front of her friend. "I was going to…I swear I was…I just had to figure out how I—" The man let out a not so subtle growl, cut short as he adopted a hardened expression, save for his eyes, a darker shade of green only recently made familiar to her. These eyes were reserved for masking a bubbling rage.
"How you what? How you were going to tell me?" he muttered. On the other side of the counter, the peds surgeon ran her teeth along her bottom lip nervously. Maybe this hadn't been the best idea. As important as it was to run these samples, looking onto her two friends was at least five different kinds of awkward.
"I'm going to…leave you to…" The redhead spun, the sound of her friend's voice startling her. She'd come up here looking for Jackson. She'd completely forgotten about…Suddenly she flushed, a quiet anger building up inside of her.
"Robbins, wait," April called. The blonde stiffened. Very rarely were the two so formal. The tone that helped to shape her words told her just how much trouble she was potentially in for going behind the trauma surgeon's back. Arizona carefully turned, too preoccupied with what she had done to worry about the fact that her prosthetic collided painfully with her other leg.
"Why is he hearing this from you?" Upon hearing those words, all of the perk quickly drained right out of her, the seriousness of the situation giving her an even expression.
"Maybe because I deserved to know?" Jackson offered stiffly. April scoffed.
"Kind of like I deserved to know that you don't care enough about your vows to stick to them?" she shrieked. She watched the doctor's lip furl, standing expectantly, her arms folded over her chest.
"This has nothing to do with our vows, April! If I'm not mistaken, you were the first to break them!" She let her eyes go wide, every nerve in her body fighting the natural urge to stretch out and slap him.
"Me? I broke our vows? You've got to be kidding me," she laughed, every trill free of humour. "When the hell did that happen?"
"Guys, I really shouldn't—"
"Sit!" April snapped, the demand coming out with more authority than she intended. Quickly turning to face her, she let her head sway back and forth in dismay. "You know, I would expect a stunt like this from Alex. But you...God, Arizona...You...Behind my back? Did you really think so little of me that you had to—"
"Hold on. Karev knows about this? You told Karev about my baby?" April blanched, her cheeks once again flushed with irritation.
"Yes," she said flatly. "But you know, funny thing...I never had to say a word. He found out on his own. Don't ask me how but he...He asked me if I...If I needed anything. At first I had no idea why. Alex doesn't exactly donate his time so willingly. Not unless it involves kids or..." She stopped then, the last of her words caught in her throat. "He spreads himself paper thin for family. We saw it with Meredith not too long ago," she mumbled. "Now...We all know there's only one of those...But the fact that he offered...The fact that he noticed...It's more than I've gotten from you since coming back. Which, if you really think about it is kind of messed up, right? You're my husband...You're..."
"Ex-husband," he corrected. April nodded, trying hard to ignore the incremental sinking of her heart. How could he be so comfortable with the word already?
"You...Jackson you used to be the only one in this hospital who saw me..." she muttered quietly. "Now...Now I'm just...You look right past me..."
"I'm not the one who left," he pointed out. "I stayed. I waited for you. For a whole year, April. In the time you were gone, Shepherd died, Grey had a baby and...A whole damn, year...And I let you. I supported you because I knew that's what you needed. Your feet barely touch the ground and you're talking about going off again. Leaving me...Leaving us...again. I can't put my life on hold for you, April. Not anymore. I've been strong long enough for the both of us. The only reason you came back to a nursery that didn't destroy you is because I took it down. By myself. Just like you went off to...Who knows where. By yourself. You needed your space. You needed your time. And I gave that to you. No matter how much I needed you. I need my time, April."
"How much time?" she whispered. Jackson sighed, hands shoved in his lab coat pockets.
"I don't know..."
"You could have said something...Instead you give me a bunch of papers and..."
"I already told you. We can't come from this..." As sure as she was that he would be saying those words, something in his words turned her knees to water. Whether it was the finality in them, or the hollowness, she wasn't sure. Nor did she care. They had succeeded in bringing her to her knees. This time though, the position left her with no desire to beg. She'd already done her share, exhausted all of her options. She had to blink back tears when the arms that encircled her were not as familiar as she'd hoped. These were friendly and warm but nowhere near the ones she wanted.
"You're okay," Arizona murmured. "I've got you. You need to breathe..." How many times would she have to say it before people understood? None of this was okay. None of it was ever going to be okay again. They might heal and move forward but a break like this one was irreparable. And even if by some miracle they had enough to stitch themselves back together, she knew it would never really be the same.
"In front of God..." she whispered refusing to look at any part of him.
"God has nothing to do with this!"
"He has everything to do with this. He gave us Samuel..."
"For how long? An hour? And then he died. He died in your arms. Don't you find it cruel? Disgusting? For a guy who's supposed to be all about blessings 'reasons', He still hasn't given me a single one. You can believe in all of that, April but don't expect me to. I'm a man of science. I like answers. Don't you want those? Answers? Don't you want to know why?"
"I don't have to know why..." she whispered. "It's all part of something so much...bigger. I know you don't see it this way but...But I do. I have to believe his short life had some kind of purpose..."
"Well, when you find out what that is, it'd be cool if you let me in on this secret of yours."
"Jackson, that's not how it works..."
"Maybe not. But I know how this works," he mumbled drawing their attention back to the lab counter. April slowly shook her head
"I don't want the test," she said, her tone coming off with more strength than she felt she had. "I already told them I don't...I don't want the test. This...This baby. It feels...different. This is different. He's not sick."
"You don't know that," Arizona whispered. "But the test...The test will—"
"I don't want the test!" she cried. How many times would she have to say it before it got through their ridiculously thick heads? Taking it would just increase the paranoia...the fear. Taking this test would just make everything far too real.
"That's my baby, April. When I say I want you to get this done, you're going to get it done."
"No. This is my baby. Mine. You may have contributed to making it but the way your acting? Shoving me in a corner and spitting in my face to get your way? That's not the voice of a father. That's the voice of a man who wants control of a situation he gave up long before papers were drawn. Papers I never wanted to sign. To end a marriage I put every ounce of my energy into saving. And you just...You throw it all away. Just like you wanted to throw away our son."
"You heard me. Jackson Avery wants perfect. He wants flawless. He wants so badly for his children to be normal, the fact that it might as well be murder...The fact that it is murder doesn't mean a damn thing."
"I told you to go get an—"
"That's right. You told me. You didn't ask. You made up my mind for me. You wanted the last word. Just like you always do. "Even when you know I don't believe in any of it. I'm not going to end the life of my child simply because he is different. Do you have any idea how cruel that is?"
"He was going to die no matter what we did...You're a doctor. You know that. I'm sorry I tried to spare us...spare you the damn heartbreak." As the memories of Samuel's birth came flooding in, she found herself gripping her friend's arms harder than ever, if only to focus on the pressure rather than the urge she felt to vomit all over this floor.
"Stop talking. Please just stop talking...I can't...I can't do this right now..."
"You can't do what? Talk this out with me. Isn't this what you've wanted since the beginning? Well, now we have no choice. All we've got time for now is talk. So let's do that. Talk." Fire swarmed her pale face, the tie in her hair suddenly gone. In an effort to hide from the piercing ache, she allowed the red to shield her, protect her, just as she was trying desperately to protect the child inside of her.
"This isn't talking, Jackson. This is fighting. This is all we've been doing. And I just can't anymore. I'm done. I'm tired. I...I don't have time for this. I have to get back to work."
"Convenient. I'm pretty sure your shift ended about two hours ago. Please April, just take the damn test...I...I have to know," he said, his tone soft for the first time in what felt like years.
"Come on, sweetheart," Arizona whispered. Upon hearing those words, she suddenly found herself in an empty nursery, surrounded in all that could have been. Jackson had offered for the first time in his life to attend church with her, if for nothing more than to give her something to do. They hadn't gone but the thought and effort brought fresh tears to her eyes. "It'll be a few minutes. I promise..." Whether it was her specialty or Sofia, April couldn't help but be grateful, at least for the way she spoke to her. It was a far cry from the bows and arrows Jackson flung in her direction.
"I know you don't. And normally I would let it stand but...as your doctor I highly recommend that you do." As your doctor she thought. Arizona said it in a way that left the topic nonnegotiable and still managed to stay encouraging.
"When were you going to tell me?" he whispered.
"Not now, Avery," Robbins muttered sternly.
"No really, I'd love to know. Was I going to hear it from Karev?" He watched as his words washed over her like a sudden spell making every part of her go still. No she thought. She would have...Eventually she would have..."Or when the gossip mill in this place started spinning like a dam and I'd have to find out from DeLuca and all his buddies that my wife is pregnant with my baby?"
"I'm not your wife. Not anymore. You made that pretty damn clear to everyone in this hospital."
"Well, no matter what we are that is still my baby in there. And I had a right to know! Before Robbins, before Karev…Before…anybody really. But the way this was shaping up I would have likely been last on your list," he said bitterly. "Alex…Honestly April."
"Alex is my friend…."
"Right. The one who pretty much raped you in the on call room," he growled. April wasn't quite sure when Arizona brought her to standing position. What she did know was that now she stood level with her ex-husband's perfectly sculpted face, no trace of apology across her own as she let her hand crack across his jaw. Despite the obvious flinch, she saw a smirk come across his face.
"Avery!" she snapped, her blue eyes dancing with anger.
"Talk about him like that again and I can assure you I won't be the only one to put you in the pit," April growled. Jackson was far too shocked at her reaction to form words. Instead he laughed.
"Since when do we defend the guy?"
"Who the hell are you and what have you done with Jackson Avery?" April wondered quietly.
"Come on, April. You know what I meant. You can't deny the fact that he used you for sex. You came to me crying right after it happened." Arizona on her part was quietly fuming. Angry or not, to hear Karev talked about like that set off all kinds of alarms.
"And I suppose you forgot the part where I said that nothing happened? Did you forget about the part where I said it wasn't his fault? That I…"
"Don't tell me you seriously wanted to lose your virginity to that guy?"
"And what if I did? What then?"
"Well then I would have no choice but to call you a complete idiot. Alex doesn't know the first thing about respecting a woman in bed. Hell, a lot of the time he doesn't know how to respect anyone who walks through this hospital. Don't get me wrong. He's great with the kids. They make him human or something but…He wasn't the guy to take you to that place in your life." April snorted, her eyes rolling violently.
"And you were?"
"If I had known you really felt this way about the whole thing, I would have thought twice…maybe three times about even sharing that information with you. Alex Karev is a good man. He's a man who cares so much that he's the one who encouraged me to come up here and tell you. Like you he thought you had a right to know. He just happened to do it with three times more class than you."
"Because I did…"
"Yes you did. I was just trying to find the right words...the right time. But we've already been over all of that. And other than your immensely inflated ego and your strong desire to be right all the time what does it really solve?"
"It's my kid. It's my job to take responsibility."
"That may be true but your only goal right now is to stick me with needles and swabs so you know whether or not the baby is defective."
"Don't tell me you're not thinking it," she mumbled. "Right now that's all you want. You don't give a damn about me, about our marriage. Your only concern is making sure the Avery bloodline is reliable and pure."
"What the hell does that mean?" he growled.
"It means we really don't need to do this. It's a good idea. It'll prepare us. But it doesn't change the fact that no matter the outcome, nothing is happening to this baby."
"You really wanna go through that again?" he asked trying to hide his astonishment. "You want to put me through that again? Once is enough, April. More than enough. It's a simple test. Five minutes and we're done. This way….This way we'll know. Were you seriously thinking you could go through your entire pregnancy in the dark?"
"No...I...I wasn't. This baby is fine. It's going to be just...just fine," she said shakily, finally allowing the fear to wash over her.
"Until it's not and we have to go through this same song and dance all over again," Jackson muttered.
"What 'song and dance'?" she asked impatiently.
"You going off to some warzone while I'm stuck here, trying to keep face for everyone in this place."
"See, this is exactly what I'm talking about! This has become all about you. You and your spotless self-image."
"Good god…You're not even listening. Goes in one ear and right out the other."
"Oh...Okay then. Please, enlighten me. Because right now all I'm hearing is you knowing what's right for our child. Once again we're at a standstill because you can't be bothered with an opinion that isn't your own."
"What the hell does that even mean?"
"You know exactly what that means. But for the sake of humour, let's be hypothetical. Suppose the test does say it has OI. What then?" The plastic surgeon looked over in disbelief. Once again they were spinning endless circles. Not only were the topics of discussion so painfully similar but they were starting to recycle words too.
"Then we deal with it. Like before. But in order to do that we have to get you tested!"
"'Deal with it'. You'd just want it gone. Because God forbid there's anything imperfect about him."
"God has nothing to do with this!"
"Of course he does! God gave us this child."
"Science, April. It's science. Science and evolution. We all learned the same stuff to get to where we are in this hospital. God did not get you here. God didn't get any of us here. We worked our asses off for every promotion we ever got. That's blood, sweat and tears, not God."
"I'm not asking you to believe what I believe, Jackson. I never have."
"Really? Because that's exactly what this sounds like."
"All I have ever asked is that you let me believe. But even in this moment, when I'm more afraid than I have ever been in my entire life, you can't give me that. You can't give me five minutes of peace. Just a few minutes to believe that this baby might be normal."
"So you're thinking it too. You're thinking that something is wrong."
"That's not what I said."
"April…" Arizona offered softly. The redhead's neck snapped up to meet her gaze, the sudden motion making her cringe. "This isn't about him, alright?" The doctor nodded slowly, tears once more collecting at the corners of her eyes.
"I just…Just one minute…That's all…"
"I know. But you're doing this for the baby, right? Again she nodded slowly. "We're all on the same side…"
"I…I have to go…" she said hoarsely. "I…I can't…I can't be in here…" She wasn't even sure when it happened but somehow she knew that her friend had already stuck her, the samples so neatly collected. Swallowing hard, she closed her eyes, begging the room to stop spinning long enough for her to leave the room and make it back down the stairs. Alex. At least in this moment, Alex made all the sense in the world."I...I can't do this. I just…I can't. I…I have to go. I have to go now." A sudden surge of energy took over then and even without knowing exactly where it had come from, she let it and her trembling legs take her. Anywhere. Anywhere but here.
Trembling hands reached along every room, though she didn't dare look for an open room. Knowing this hospital, any number of things could be inside of them. With her breath coming in heavy, her vision blurred, she felt one of them give way, the sudden slamming against the wall bringing her out of her thoughts for only a minute.
"Kepner, what the hell?" Alex hollered. The sound of his voice brought her to attention as a scalding heat crawled up her neck.
"I…I'm so sorry I…" she apologized, her voice shaking. This wasn't exactly out of the ordinary. April was a nervous wreck about everything. And he would have left it at that if she didn't look as white as the cot he sat on. Only then did he really hear it. The woman sounded so much more uncertain than normal. Before him wasn't the trauma soldier he'd come to appreciate more than he would ever really say out loud. The woman never wasted a single second when it came to the lives of the battered and broken they saw every day. The idea that the shoe might actually be on the other foot (even if it was just this one time) felt so unfamiliar to him. He'd seen it every day of his life. He just never thought to consider the idea that April might be just as breakable as the rest of them.
"Come here," he whispered. Expecting her to take a shaky seat beside him, he tried his best to hide the surprise when she all but collapsed into his lap. All four vibrating limbs fell haphazardly over him. He wondered for a moment if moving her over just enough so that she sat next to him would be the better option. If someone found them, he would have a lot less explaining to do. Before he could make up his mind, she spoke.
"They…They made me….They made me take it," she stammered. "He…He knows and….and….and I…I don't know what I'm supposed to do….I…This baby….It's…It's supposed to be just fine….There's….There's nothing wrong….There can't be….There can't be anything wrong," she sniffed.
"It's just a precaution, April." The woman shook her head hard. This wasn't a precaution. A precaution was submitting an application to four different jobs when you only really need one, just in case it falls through. A precaution was taking anti-nausea medication on a boat, just in case it rocked too hard and your stomach did summersaults. This wasn't a precaution. This would be confirmation. Confirmation of her worst fears if in fact they were true.
"N-no…After this…After this we'll know for sure. And Jackson he'll….He'll want me to get rid of it. And I…I can't do that. I won't. I…I won't…." she shivered. Noticing her tremor, he sighed, his hands immediately starting slight friction to keep her warm.
"Kepner, you need to relax," he said firmly. "Nothing's gonna happen to this kid. Nothing. No matter what any of the tests say." Despite his comforting words, she found a hand gravitating to her non-existent belly, prepared and at the ready to go to battle for the child inside of her. She shook her head. As reassuring as she knew those were supposed to be, they could also be painfully wrong. If in fact they tested positive…everything would happen to this baby. Every bone in their tiny body would snap if they so much as dared to breathe. If they moved…Sitting completely still could break a tiny toe or a precious little finger.
"I can't relax, Alex. My baby is…It's…"
"…perfectly fine," he whispered. "We won't know until we know. Till then, this is like any other pregnancy. You can't just sit around and wait for things to go wrong. You gotta believe that maybe this time…Everything will go the way it's supposed to."
"Jackson…He….He doesn't believe…"
"So what? You've done enough believing in this stuff for everybody in this hospital. I know Avery's an ass. Everybody in here knows it. But you can't let the fact that he doesn't understand it stop you from holding onto something. It's never stopped you before. How this any different?"
"Because maybe he's…Maybe he's right," she whimpered. "Maybe there really is no such thing. If...If there was…My son would still be alive. If…If there was…Jackson would still be my husband. If…If…"
"Look, I don't know if I buy all this God stuff like you do. But you know what? If there really was nothing out there, Grey and Sloan would've never found me in that elevator. Every ounce of blood in me would be spread out across the floor and my heart would've stopped. If there really was absolutely nothing to hold onto, my old man would've killed me the first chance he got. Amber would've died that night…If it's really just us out here, then what the hell's the point?" If she wasn't already so consumed in fear, April would have turned to him in shock.
She and Alex never spoke this openly about anything. Alex Karev wasn't sparing of his life with anyone. For that reason alone she wondered if he was even aware of the words coming out of his mouth. For the sake of consistency, she decided to go with the idea that he wasn't hearing himself at all. On the other hand, she couldn't help but feel honoured and touched that he'd given her that. He hadn't disclosed any system of faith in all the years that she had known him. She supposed he still hadn't. But he willed himself to believe in something, if nothing more than pure circumstance. And even if that wasn't entirely true, the fact that he encouraged her to keep her own faith was more than she could ever ask of anyone.
"Alex, what if there's something wrong? What if I hurt my baby?" she asked.
"We'll figure it out." Those words left her to wonder. When he said anything was he really willing to hold her hand through this.
"We will?" she mumbled curiously. The peds surgeon nodded, absently winding the flames of her hair around his fingers. "I thought you said…I thought you said that you didn't want to hold my hand," she smiled, the memory from all those years ago finally something that could make her smile, though she wasn't sure exactly why.
"This isn't screwing," he mumbled. "This is about getting you through this pregnancy." After what he'd seen come apart for the couple over the last few months, he knew that it would have to be a little bit more than that. "This is about your stress level and keeping it as low as possible. Which means you gotta remember to breathe, alright?"
"I…I don't know…"
"Kepner, look at me," he mumbled sternly. Whether it was a small fear that his current demeanor was moments from running out or the amount of hope that swelled inside of her when he spoke the words, she met his gaze nervously. "We've got this, okay? Avery will either figure out or he won't. But right now, you can't worry about that. Your job is this baby."
"Thank you, Alex." He just shrugged. April shook her head softly. "You're never going to see it, are you?"
"The good." Oh he saw plenty good. With every kid saved, knowing that he played his part, he saw it. Anywhere else though, he knew that good was fleeting at best. As quickly as it came, it often went. His long history of failed relationships of various kinds was solid proof of that.
"Whatever." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the hint of a smile cross his colleague's face. No, Alex Karev didn't know the first thing about 'good'. Where to find it or how to go about being it. But her…He saw her. And April was enough good to last anyone a dozen lifetimes.
"What you said before. About needing anything…" she mumbled nervously. As good as she believed him to be, his current behaviour was temporary at best. "I…I just…I was wondering if…"
"If you're asking if I meant it, the answer's yes." April smiled broadly, her heart swelling at the idea that Alex Karev had really uttered such words to her. She couldn't help feeling like she'd been let in on a secret. A secret that only Meredith Grey and her children were ever allowed access to. Against her better judgment, pale knuckles brushed along his cheek, the act freezing him temporarily.
"I…I'm sorry…I just…I don't know." He smirked. Here they were, in much the same position that had failed them once before. And somehow…Somehow knowing that he wasn't going to be the one to rob her of anything sacred made every tense muscle in his body relax. Avery had already done that. The guy had lost all respect for the things he'd been given but in a lot of ways, he couldn't help but think that was inevitable. Easing her hand off his cheek, he smiled.
April felt her heart stop. She had never seen something so genuine come across his face before. At least nothing meant for children over the age of eleven. She was nothing but nerves as a careful finger traced the lining of his mouth, made worse as he breathed a warm gust of air between them. Before she lost the little courage she still had, April found herself inching toward his face, her lips gently brushing his. When she finally let herself become aware of them and how they felt, how they managed to wake up everything inside of her, she realized just how soft they were. For a man who knew nothing but anger and hostility, when he wanted to, when he tried, what he had to say would mean more than he knew for those who bothered to listen.
Even while everything inside of him was screaming to run in the opposite direction, Alex quickly found his arms tightening their hold around her slight waist. Screw the stupid box burning a hole in his sock drawer. Screw Avery for walking away from the only thing willing to put up with all of his arrogant crap. And Wilson. Screw Wilson for expecting him to just sit around and wait for a goddamn answer. As far as he knew, it was pretty much a 'no'. Instead, he was here, formulating a list of things he could be doing…to April of all people. Why was he here thinking up the most unthinkable things he could possibly do to April Kepner? The answer seemed simple enough. She was a free woman and he was fed up with being a chained man. Going over those labels in his head, he sighed. There had to be more to it than that. At least where she was concerned. April had more than enough people to run to in times of crisis. An entire hospital's worth of people. And she'd stupidly chosen him. That's what you get for all this kindness crap he thought. But he'd learned early on that the woman didn't exactly fit any mold that he was familiar with. As weird as it was…as annoying as it was to admit, he couldn't help but admire her for that.
"Doesn't leave this room, got it?" he muttered. The last thing he needed was the entire hospital knowing he'd suddenly grown a heart.
"What doesn't?" she asked tracing lightly along his collarbone.
"This…Us and whatever the hell just happened."
"Right…" she nodded. Whatever had become of them…It was supposed to make her skin crawl. Not because Alex was scum of the earth because truly he wasn't. He just wanted the rest of the world to believe that about him. No. What should have made her skin crawl was the fact that she was pregnant with another man's child, fresh out of an unwanted divorce and already curled up with another man. But…the truth of it was, that she didn't. Because when she really thought about it, they hadn't done anything. A kiss could be shared between friends. She'd seen it a hundred times. No. What being with Alex made her feel…She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt it:
Heard. Alex Karev at least today, made her feel heard. She was made to feel as though what she wanted, what she needed actually mattered enough.
"What?" he asked exasperated. Only slightly, her face fell. "What?" he repeated. The redhead sighed and shook her head.
"Nevermind. It's…It's not important."
"Just tell me," he muttered.
"I know it sounds kind of silly but…Do you think we could…I don't know…Stay like this a while? We don't have to…We don't have to do anything. I know I'm not…Well…I'm not like the others you've been with but…If we could just sit here like this….Just until our pagers go off or something. I…I'd like that…" she mumbled shyly.
"Yeah sure, whatever. We'll sit." Not like he had anywhere else he needed to be. Jo wasn't exactly looking for him. He was on call anyway. Doing…whatever they were doing sounded a whole lot nicer than sitting alone in the dark. "As long as you want," he whispered.
A/N: There we have it :) A lot longer than I expected but I'm quite satisfied with it. Feel free to let me know what you think.