G R E Y ' S A N A T O M Y
Alex toppled out of the bed in a tangled heap, still engulfed in his vivid nightmare. By now it was seven o'clock and the hospital was filled with chaos once more. Outside the on-call room doors the sounds of meal carts and hungry patients deafened the hall. Families were already arriving to check on their loved ones. However, Alex was unaware of any of this, his dream much more real than the reality just past those doors.
"Mom, make dad stop, please!" an 8 year old Alex shrieked over to his mother, as his father's fist dropped upon his small frame once more.
Alex cried out as the fist connected once again with his face. The blood dripped from his nose as he wiggled in a pathetic attempt to get away. His cries for his mother went unheard as the sounds of his father's thundering voice overpowered his tiny one. He could hear Aaron faintly in the corner, crying out, but he couldn't bring himself to reassure his little brother.
"You think you're so smart, you little shit? Just because you won the damn spelling bee you think you can come home late? You think you can just ignore your responsibilities over here?" Adam Karev demanded throwing his son into the couch.
Alex landed with a thud. Immediately he felt something sharp pierce the back of his head. He brought his hand to his head only to have his hand press against a piece of glass and blood poured from the wound. He had landed on a broken beer bottle. His cries became louder as he panicked. The room was spinning and the sounds of his mother's panicked cries barely registered in his mind. Adam advanced upon his eldest son with murder in his eyes.
"Daddy, stop!" Alex whimpered out causing Adam to laugh out loud drunkenly.
Alex watched mortified as Adam picked up Alex's steel baseball bat. He crawled into a fetal position as Adam raised the bat high above his head. Aaron's shrieks were now louder than Alex's own as Alex braced his tiny body.
"Daddy, stop!" Alex mumbled, flipping around on the floor, still fast asleep.
Miranda Bailey gasped out unable to stop the tears from springing to her eyes as she watched Alex toss and turn on the floor, still engrossed in his nightmare. Besides her, Lexie Grey leaned heavily against the wall as they both just watched. It was Bailey who eventually snapped out of it first.
"Lexie, go start your rounds," Bailey ordered shooing the young intern out of the room.
Bailey shook her head and locked the door to prevent anyone else from entering the room. Earlier on when Alex was still only her intern she had walked in on Alex having a nightmare. Tears were spilling from the man's eyes. Cristina was in the room and she had said something about telling Meredith, but Bailey made sure to put the fear of God in her to prevent her from doing such a thing. Upon waking Alex up he was disoriented and had swung out nearly hitting Bailey. Cristina bolted almost immediately afterwards. Alex was so embarrassed that he had avoided Bailey for the next four weeks. He said nothing of it to anyone, but afterwards Bailey had noticed that Alex was careful about where he slept. It was always where it was crowded, almost to ensure he didn't fall into a deep sleep, or worse, he didn't sleep. There was one week when Bailey had to physically force Alex to sleep during his on-call shift after his admittance that he hadn't slept for two days straight.
"Alex," Bailey called out soothingly, carefully shaking the man from his slumber.
"Stop it, daddy," Alex mumbled out.
Bailey shook Alex more firmly; her voice was louder, but still just as soothing as before, "Alex."
Alex awoke with a start. He looked around the room wildly with unmasked fear until his eyes landed on Bailey. She watched as the fear was replaced with shame. Bailey said nothing as Alex quickly stood and started to make the bed. Rather, she observed the man. She observed the tension in his shoulders, the way his hands still shook a little, no doubt as a result from the vivid dream.
"Alex," Bailey started. "Want to talk about it?"
Alex glanced over at Bailey before quickly looking back down at the bed. "No."
Bailey nodded understandingly. Despite his cocky demeanor, Bailey had been able to see past Alex's front. The smokescreens were simply an illusion to the confused tattered man that lay behind them. Outward, Alex was confident to a fault. He couldn't care less about anyone. But that was outside; that was what Alex portrayed. Over the years, Bailey had come to understand Alex on a level few bother to. Maybe it's because they worked forty eight hour shifts and she was with him more than she was with her family. Maybe it's because somewhere throughout the span of six or so years, the man had transformed from a stranger to someone she considered family. And Bailey rarely considers anyone family.
It pained Bailey to know that she would be responsible to practically breaking the already broken man. Lexie came to her earlier, flustered beyond typical intern flustered, tears in her eyes as she rambled on about Aaron being back, and Alex's mom being in the emergency room. She didn't understand what Lexie was trying to say, but she understood enough. She understood that Alex was going to have another shitty day. It almost angered her to know that Alex, the man who was really a good man underneath all that ass; the man she had taken under her wing like she would a child – that man was going to have to face his nightmare in the waking realm.
"Am I missing something, Dr. Bailey?" Alex asked, interrupting Bailey's thoughts.
Bailey looked up to see Alex's eyes hard and set, ready for the day. The emotions that were written clear as day on his face just minutes ago were nonexistent. In their place was a mask that Bailey knew all too well. It was the Alex mask. It was reserve for days where he was in a particularly bad mood and he'd slip into his cocky disgusting self. It was the mask he wore when he was hurting more than usual. He wore it a lot lately.
"Alex, you should sit down," Bailey started attempting to be nice.
"Why?" Alex scowled impatiently.
Bailey swallowed dryly. Her eyes narrowed as she watched Alex try to look disinterested in what she was saying. Of course, she knew Alex, and she knew that it was just a defense mechanism, but the damn boy did it so well sometimes…
"Aaron is downstairs," Bailey said in a matter-of-fact tone.
Alex paled looking up from his beeper, which didn't look so interesting anymore. Suddenly the alcohol from last night decided to churn his stomach upwards, and he had to swallow several times before he could even open his mouth. He stood up straighter, but his hands shook a little more by his sides.
"Why?" Alex questioned failing miserably to keep the same demeanor he had just moments ago.
"Alex, your mom came in to the E.R. early this morning," Bailey started.
"What!" Alex yelled out causing Bailey to flinch at the harsh loudness of his voice.
Bailey allowed for Alex to easily push her aside as he grabbed for the door. She chased after her intern (because yes, no matter how great a doctors each and every one of them was blossoming into, they were still her interns), but allowed him to propel his body through the crowd. She said nothing as they both reached the emergency room, nearly running into him after he stopped suddenly.
Bailey peeked around Alex to see a clear view of Aggie Karev's room. Currently they were trying to stabilize her enough to prepare her for surgery. It had been fifteen minutes since her arrival, but the commotion hadn't died down at all. Lexie and Mark were still in there assessing the patient. Outside the room Aaron and Amber stood patiently. Their eyes trained on the semi closed blinds as they waited for someone, anyone to talk to them.
"Holy shit, you weren't kidding," Alex squeaked out.
"Alex, I came up to tell you because her files came in from her home doctor. You're her next of kin as well as medical proxy," Bailey informed him.
Alex nodded. "I told her to do it after I graduated from med school, but..." Alex whispered. "I can't do this…"
Bailey shook her head; she reached up and grabbed his chin, forcing him to look down at her. "Yes, you can," Bailey encouraged.
Bailey smiled encouragingly as Alex forced one of his feet forward. His eyes averted downwards as he purposely slipped into his mother's room bypassing his siblings. Alex froze as his eyes landed on the blood all over Mark's scrubs. His entrance into the room practically went unnoticed by the nurses as they all shuffled past him busy trying to save his mom's life.
"Alex!" Mark greeted with a sense of urgency looking up from Aggie's prone form.
Alex looked up. He cleared his throat a couple of times in attempt to swallow the lump that had formed upon entering the room. "What do we have?"
"It seems the bullet has traveled and is currently stuck in the upper right quadrant. We're going to go into surgery in five minutes Karev," Mark offered. "We're waiting for Hunt to get in."
"Is she awake?" Alex asked. "Do we know how this happened?"
"Somewhat lucid. The cops are in the waiting room waiting to question the two that came in here with her," Mark nodded his head in the direction of Aaron and Amber who were still in their same position. "Alex," Mark added, his tone of voice strangely empathetic. "Go talk to them, they seem really shaken up.
I'd rather be in here. Alex looked out the window to see Aaron running his skinny fingers through his disheveled hair. Reluctantly, Alex made his way out the door.
"Alex!" Aaron greeted rushing forward, practically tackling his older brother in a hug.
Alex returned the hug awkwardly, his eyes fixed on his baby sister. The little girl who Alex could not get out of her favorite princess dress was now a teenager who was wearing too tight clothes for his liking. His protective brotherly instincts kicked in and he had to bite his tongue from demanding to know where the rest of her outfit was. He knew well enough to know that he had lost that right some seven years ago when he had turned around and walked away while she laid on the ground sobbing.
"Hey Aaron," Alex mumbled into his brother's ear.
The two pulled away and Aaron moved to the side to make way for Amber. Alex no longer towered her like he once did all those years ago. The confident, older brother that she once worshipped was replace with this…man standing in front of her in scrubs, awkwardly swiping his fingers through his hair like Aaron always did whenever he was nervous.
"You've grown," Alex breathed out.
"That's what happens in seven years," Amber spat out bitterly.
Alex nodded, fighting to keep his face neutral, though inside he was reeling. He knew that he deserved it. But he also knew that private school was expensive and that his mother's medicine was expensive. He also knew that being home meant having no future for not only him, but for the rest of the family as well.
"What happened? Why are you guys here?" Alex questioned.
"Mom called dad after Aaron decided to disappear off the face of the world a couple of weeks back," Amber started. "The bastard came and he never left. He said he changed…"
"Mom take him in again?" Alex asked despite already knowing the answer.
"Mom thought it'd be different this time," Amber shrugged.
"I came home yesterday and dad was already drunk off his ass," Aaron continued. "He had one of his friends over and the asshole had Amber against the wall. She was screaming and crying and I don't know…I just lost it."
"Next thing I know I'm on the ground and Aaron is beating the living shit out of dad's friend. Dad was going nuts and he hit Aaron over the head with one of mom's vase. Aaron passed out," Amber's voice broke. "Then he came after me again."
Alex swore softly underneath his breath, his nightmare coming to the forefront of his mind as he listened to his siblings' explanations. He had made sure that before he left that they were safe. He had visited his father and made him promise he would stay away from the family. He had sent the guy money to continue on with his rehab program. He had gone homeless for weeks as an intern because he was sending everything he made back home. He had done everything to keep them safe.
"I kept yelling at Aaron to wake up. I kept telling him to," Amber hiccupped out loud.
Alex led Amber to a chair as he listened to the horrifying explanation.
"Dad hit me real hard, and I must have blacked out or something because next thing you know Aaron and him were on the ground wrestling."
"He was fucking standing over Amber with a gun," Aaron laughed out, his voice cracking at the end. "A gun!"
Aaron shook his head, his hands rubbing together roughly as he attempted to calm the shaking. "I knocked it out of his hand and when we were fighting for it ma walked in the door. She was home early from work," Aaron shook his head. "I should have been more aware you know. I should have…" Aaron trailed off.
Alex shook his head vigorously. His hand reached out to pry Aaron's hands apart. Instinctively he took Aaron's hand into his. He let his other hand grasp the back of Aaron's neck like he used to when they were children. "Shh, buddy," Alex said using Aaron's old nickname. "Did dad…?"
"I just packed Amber and her in the car and started driving, intending to drive over to the nearest hospital, but dad just left, you know. He escaped but he promised to finish us. He said he wouldn't leave behind any evidence and I got scared. I told ma to just hold on. I know I was stupid. I know I should have pulled over, but I didn't know what to do. I just, I knew you'd know. So I begged ma to hold on and I drove here as fast as I could."
"From Iowa?" Alex balked out.
"We don't live in Iowa anymore. We live in Portland with ma's boyfriend," Amber spoke up.
"I've been sending you guys checks in Iowa," Alex stated. "They've been getting cashed."
"Dad still lives in Iowa. He cashed your checks and sent us whatever he didn't use," Aaron explained.
"You guys need to explain this to the police," Alex sighed, rubbing his temples. And I definitely need a damn beer. And so the day begins.
G R E Y ' S A N A T O M Y