A/N: Here we are, the end! This was actually a chapter I had written already initially, but I ended up modifying more than I planned, so sorry for the delay. It's been a long ride, and I am so thankful you all came along for it. I really appreciate everyone of you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts! I also want to thank you all for making me feel welcome the world of grey's writing. I've never done anything like this before so your feedback really did a lot to inspire me and ease my trepidation. I have a sequel to this story in the works, along with one other story about what season 9 might look like, and school is out for the summer next Wednesday so I will have way more time to write and update regularly. Thank you all again, let me know what you think, and enjoy!
There are many people that play roles in the movie of your life. Some are background players, extras; supporting parts who you never really care to know. Others are leading characters. Headliners. Sometimes, we learn to know these people better than we know ourselves.
April pursed her lips to one side, and tapped a pen on her cheek as she scanned a printed sheet of paper clipped to her notebook.
"Amber, your check-in list says you can have your bed at 3 levels okay? Normal, medium, and super loft. You're going to have to think about how you want to utilize the space..." she trailed off, realizing that the young woman was paying no attention at all. Instead, Alex's sister was gazing excitedly out the window of her new dorm room in Haggett Hall, looking for all the world like a kid in a candy store.
"April, look! You can see the water and everything. Awesome! Seattle is such a cool city."
April can't help but smile at the young woman's excitement. It made her remember her first days as a college student away from home. She'd been a bundle of nerves, partly terrified at being away from the farm, and partly giddy over her new freedom. For Amber, April guessed things were even more momentous, as the girl hadn't been so sure college would happen for her at all.
They both turned as they hard a loud grunt and a few swear words from the other side if the room, where Alex was painstakingly assembling a small book shelf, "Damn it!"
April lifted a discarded piece of paper from the desk nearest to Alex, and held back a laugh. It was the instructions for the shelf.
Hearing her guffaw, Alex's head snapped up, "What?"
She held the paper by one corner and dangled it in the air, "Don't you need these?"
"Whatever. Instructions are for whimps. It's just a stupid shelf,"Alex glared for a moment before turning back to his work. After a moment, his screwdriver slipped and fell to the floor, "Freakin' Ikea..."
He'd grumbled all through their somewhat ill-fated trip to the giant furniture store, and by the end April had wanted to join him. The place was huge, overcrowded with people getting stuff for dorms no doubt, and it seemed pretty easy to get lost. For the first time in a while, her knee had ached. But April could tell that Amber was having a good time picking out bedspreads and things, so she'd kept her own discomfort quiet. Because underneath all the young woman's excitement, April detected no small amount of fear too. Remembering her own experiences, April figured the best thing she and Alex could do would be to act as normal as possible. Share Amber's excitement, but let her see that no matter what, they'd be there for her. Which involved helping Amber to move in, and for Alex included grumbling, and for April, lists. Hopefully Amber would get the gist of it.
"Knock knock!" A jovial looking man wearing a Hawaiian shift said as he peered into the open dorm room. Behind him stood a smiling middle aged woman. Next to them stood a tall and lanky looking teenage girl. It must be the roommate.
She stepped forward and said tentatively, "Are you Amber Karev?"
Amber smiled and turned her head away from the window, "Yeah, you Quincy Wu?"
Quincy grinned and nodded earnestly. Amber walked over and smirked, "Not gonna lie, I facebook creeped you hardcore."
"Me too," Quincy replied, biting her lip, and both girls laughed.
April glanced over to Alex with raised eyebrows. This was getting off to a good enough start. Random freshman year roommate situations could be hit of miss. April's sister Kimmie had had a great experience with hers, and they remained close friends to this very day. April's roommate on the other hand had not been the best match at all. Bridget had found April annoying, April had thought Bridget was a slob, and she'd often ended up camped out down the hall in Kenny Dirkin's room because she'd gotten 'sexiled' by Bridget and yet another buff guy from a sports team. At the end of their first year, April had been more than ready to move out, and she and Bridget hadn't stayed in touch at all. She hoped things would work out better for Amber and Quincy though.
Shockingly, Amber offered to run to the parking lot with her new roommate to assist with carrying up boxes to their 6th floor dorm room. Which was probably good in terms of them getting to know each other. They probably wanted to get away from the adults and talk, but April found it a little funny because Amber and Alex had both whined and complained about having to bring up her own boxes. Funny how that works.
On her way out the door Amber called back to April and gave Alex a pointed expression, "I think I'll go with the super loft. So my desk can go underneath or something."
Quincy's eyes lit up and she turned back to her parents, "Oh, mine too!"
After the girls had left, Alex and Quincy's dad both rolled their eyes, and the other man said, "Meaning we have to do it right?"
Nodding Alex added, "Yup. Ungrateful little brats."
The Wu's looked initially startled by Alex's seemingly harsh words, but the smirk on his lips make them relax.
April decided that she could at least get a jump on unpacking Amber's clothes, so she unzipped the girl's suitcase, and began folding and hanging them up in the dorm room's small wardrobe. She barely tuned into the small talk that Alex and Quincy parents were making, until a small exchange picked her interest.
"You guys look a little young to be Amber's parents..." the mother said awkwardly.
"Nah," Alex replied screwing a piece of the bed frame on Amber's bed together. "We're not. Amber's my kid sister. We live in Seattle, and my mom isn't...really in a place to come out here with her to help set up, so..."
"That must be nice," Mr. Wu said wistfully. "We live in Honolulu. It's going to be hard having Quincy so far away."
"I guess. And, uh, if it makes you feel better or something you could have her call me if she ever needs help or whatever. We just live 20 minutes from here," Alex offered, grunting on the last syllable as he hefted on part of the bed frame into the super loft position. April had started to watch the exchange out of the corner of her eye. She she'd been kind of proud of how Alex was handling things. He'd even mentioned his mom calmly. Mere months ago, Alex never even touched upon his family at all, yet now he was as easy as pie.
The next snippet of the conversation took her breath away.
"So are you two?" Mrs. Wu gestured to her ring finger on her left hand.
"Married or whatever? Not yet. " Alex lifted the next piece of the bed frame, before waving to Mr. Wu. "Hey, could you grab this corner for me?"
April blinked in shock. Keep it together. Play it cool. He'd spoken so nonchalantly. The words fell from his mouth so easily. Like he wasn't even really thinking. Like it wasn't a big deal. Not yet. Not yet. As though it was a forgone conclusion that they were on that path. Meaning that someday they might be married...or was she reading to much into it? Probably. But...but April couldn't deny the way his words made her feel. And if he'd never ever ever consider of the idea of being married Alex could have just simply said no, right? But he'd said, not yet. Not yet, was reason to hope. She swallowed and absently continued her work, smiling and occasionally glancing over to where Alex continued lofting Amber's bed.
Alex caught her looking at him and squinted, "What now?"
He still didn't seem to realize that he'd said anything of significance at all. Or did he? After beat, Alex's eyes softened and he shrugged as the corners of his mouth pulled into a smirk. Her favorite of his smiles. April had to wonder. Maybe he knew exactly what he was saying. Maybe it was his way of testing the whole concept out without expectations.
She smiled brightly and replied, "Nothing. Everything's fine."
But the real twist in life is that sometimes, in the end, a background player, someone you thought was a mere extra on the periphery of your story turns out to be your co-star. And when you have a co-star, the movie of your life could become something entirely different from how you'd imagined it. Suddenly they have transformed your life.
Quite the change.
Meredith leaned in the doorway of her kitchen, watching her friends and family in the living room as the celebrated and laughed around the Christmas Tree. It was her first Christmas with Zola, and she and Derek had gone all out, decorating their new house with stockings, a huge tree, and many other holiday trimmings. They'd also invited the friends who they considered family to join them, and happily most had been able to come.
Webber sat nearest the Christmas tree, with Zola and Sofia sat on either knee, gleefully pointing out shiny ornaments. Derek and Mark flitted around their daughters with cameras one apparently taking video and the other photographs. Amber hovered around the food table chatting with Lexie, while Callie and Arizona where flipping through a book of carol songs with Owen, who had his guitar. Alex and April sat on the couch nearby holding hands and talking. She must have said something that made Alex laugh, because suddenly grinned and gave April a quick peck on the cheek.
"You better not have hung any stupid mistletoe," Cristina sneered, coming up behind Meredith carrying two mugs of eggnog. "I do not need any more opportunities to see Evil Spawn eating Kepner's face."
Taking the drink her best friend offered, Meredith rolled her eyes, "They're just happy. He's not eating her face..."
"Hanukkah is so much better," Cristina continued, teasing. "Eight presents, no kissing."
Meredith realized that it was important that every one of her close friends had managed to attend, and she really did appreciate them all, but the fact that Cristina had managed to come up from Stanford was just the icing on the cake. Sometimes over the past several months, Meredith had missed her friend so much it hurt. Up until now, her entire medical experience at Seattle Grace had included Cristina. Her person had been there for the entirely of Meredith's residency, and since becoming an attending, she'd had to learn to live without Cristina. She'd learned to stand on her own and she was getting used to it. And that was probably worth it in a way. Meredith knew her strengths. Her friendship with Cristina felt stronger if that was all possible. Maybe because they had to make the effort to now. Neither of them was just there, in some other part of the hospital or Seattle whenever the other needed them.
They watched as April got up from couch, excitedly loping her way over to Callie, Owen, and Arizona, practically shrieking, "Oh! I love carols!"
Alex tilted his head to one side and watched her go, before standing up from the couch to and joining Meredith and Cristina in the doorway. The three of them watched incredulously as their friends began a cheerful rendition of 'Deck the Halls'.
"Not joining the glee club, lover boy?" Cristina mocked, leaning forward and nudging Alex.
"Hell no," he replied shaking his head. "I'm not into that crap."
"Break a window, pop a tire! Fa-lalalala-la-la-la la," Amber shouted her own verse over the chorus through a mouthful of cookie as she and Lexie headed into the living room. "Set the Christmas tree on fire! Fa-lalalala-la-la-la-la!"
The rest of the party moaned and groaned, but as the young girl passed the doorway she shared a quick high five with her brother, and Alex mumbled a soft and approving, "Atta girl. Show 'em a Karev Christmas." She and Lexie made their way to join the others and the singing commenced, with proper lyrics.
Meredith was really impressed at Alex's apparent turn around over things with his sister. She'd come to Seattle for college, and so far had done well her first quarter of instruction. Alex had mellowed and had taken care to look out for his sister since she'd moved to the city, something that Meredith wasn't sure she'd thought he was capable of doing before. Before she'd runaway from home. Before his relationship with April.
Alex reached over and swiped the mug of eggnog from Meredith's hands, pulling her from her thoughts. He held the cup up to his nose and sniffed carefully, eying Cristina.
"This have booze in it?"
"Hey!" Meredith cut in. "I was going to drink that."
With a glint in his eye Alex took a long swig from the cup saying only, "You snooze, you lose Mer!"
Smiling fondly and shaking her head, Meredith turned her attention back to the rest of the party. She watched as Derek set his camera on the coffee table and scooped Zola into his lap. He held her tiny hands in his and made her clap along to the music. Meredith felt a lump form in the back of her throat and her eyes became a little misty. The first Christmas with their daughter felt almost perfect. Glancing over to Cristina, she saw her friends expression soften as she watched Owen play his guitar. A smile tugged at the corners off Cristina's mouth as her husband threw his head back and sang, looking more carefree than Meredith could remember seeing him since his promotion. She noticed Alex's eyes were following April as she laughed and swayed along to the music, leaning toward Callie as they sang pretty decent harmony with everyone else on melody.
Catching Meredith watching him, Alex sniffed and crossed his arms, "Boy, we all ended being a bunch of saps."
Cristina only rolled her eyes, and Meredith shrugged. Maybe it was true. She didn't care. If this was being a sap, she'd take it. This first year with Zola, the new house, passing boards, and starting a fellowship had been one of, if not the happiest, years of her life, clinical trial and Cristina's move included. Meredith never wanted to go back to the way things were before. She knew things wouldn't always stay bright or shiny forever, but she also knew that despair was not a place she wanted to reach in life ever again. And she didn't think she ever would. Not with Zola around. And Derek.
Interrupting her musings for the second time in as many minutes, Alex asked quietly, "So is it worth it? Does it make much of a difference? Getting married or whatever. I thought it would with Iz but..."
Meredith blinked in surprise and teased gently, "I've only done the post-it note and a courthouse thing, so weddings aren't really my strong suit. I gave you my white wedding remember?"
"Not wedding weddings...not just a wedding alone," Alex retorted stretching and scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably. "Just the being married part...like-is it better? Does it make a difference?"
Turning to watch his expression more closely, Meredith realized that his line of questioning meant that Alex was probably thinking of asking April to marry him. At some point. At least, he must be considering it. After Izzie had sent him the divorce papers, on one drunken night at Emerald City Bar, Alex had revealed to Meredith that he didn't think he was the marrying type at all, because he'd failed at being a husband. She'd disagreed. Because through all Izzie's trials with cancer, she'd watched Alex be a great husband. But the whole fallout of Izzie leaving had made Alex blind to seeing any of that. For a long time it had made him blind to seeing any good in himself.
And even though he'd made major strides in the past several months, with his family, opening himself up, and in giving himself more credit, Meredith was surprised that he would be thinking this direction. Although she realized she shouldn't be. April's injuries in the earthquake had turned out to be the wake up call Alex had needed. April and their relationship was the catalyst for everything that followed. It was hard to believe Alex's thoughts could change so rapidly, but if anything would do it, Meredith would have to say it would have to be April. Because at the very least, it was safe to say April Kepner was not the not marrying type. So, if Alex really didn't ever want to lose his girlfriend, he'd at least have to open his mind to the possibility. Still, Meredith knew it was a big step.
"It makes a difference, being married," Cristina said slowly, surprising them both. "It does. I don't know that I'd have stayed with Owen through all of this if we were just dating. I might have bailed. It would have been easier not to compromise. So much easier. But things between us are better now, so...if I had left, I'd be missing out."
"Yeah. Marriage can make all the difference," Meredith agreed, thinking of the times she and Derek had been in conflict. The post-it note and all it represented had kept them together when otherwise one or the other of them might have wanted to walk. It was worth it. It did make a difference.
"It didn't with Izzie," Alex said sadly. "We were married and she still bailed. And I know with April I shouldn't even...but I can't stop wondering...what our life might be like if..."
She paused and then turned in the doorway to face Alex, "Change your mind about being the marriage type?"
He shrugged, "I dunno. I'd probably be crap at it again...it's just..."
Alex trailed off, gesturing vaguely to April with his eggnog mug, "I keep thinking, I like this, you know? Me and her. I really do."
Meredith gently lifted her hand to his and said, "You love her."
"Yeah, I do."
"That's pretty much the basis for any marriage," she continued. "Whether it's big and frilly, begins on a post-it note, or notarized by a judge. It's love that starts things off."
Cristina pursed her lips and nodded in agreement, "You weren't a crap husband to Izzie. She left because of her stuff, not because of you. You weren't crap then, and you wouldn't be if you wanted to get married again. April certainly isn't Izzie. I think you'd be okay."
"Really?" Alex asked, genuinely touched.
"Sure," Cristina replied, making eye contact with Meredith over his shoulder and continuing playfully. "I mean Kepner could do worse. Then you, I mean. Way worse."
As Alex was distracted glaring at Cristina for insulting his girlfriend, however obliquely, Meredith took the opportunity to grab her mug off eggnog back. It was considerably less full now, but she still held it to her lips and drank triumphantly.
"You snooze, you lose, Alex!" Meredith quipped, letting her eyes drift along with Alex's to their family in the living room. She looked pointedly toward April and repeated, "You snooze, you lose."
Change can sneak up on you. Catch you completely unawares. Most of the time change is something we resist. All lot of the time it is traumatic. In the worst moments of our lives we beg to know, "Why is this happening to me?" Because there is no way to see what lies ahead, and in a moment of pain there is no way to see how things could ever get better.
But the worst moments always give way to better ones. And all those moments that we think will break us, usually don't. What they say is true: If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. Winter always turns into Spring. Good and bad times make us who we are. Life is unpredictable and surprising.
"I don't know how she did it," Lexie whined from behind the mountain of paperwork that sat on her desk in the chief resident's office. "I mean, I can barely keep up with just the things I have to do, on top of studying for boards and applying for fellowships. I'd love to do some new programs, and I have ideas, but it just seems like there aren't enough hours in the day... How the hell did April manage to come back to work after surgery, design and implement a brand new trauma protocol, get in on surgeries, and keep this office clean? I just don't understand."
Alex sat on the old green couch, with one leg crossed, flipping through Lexie's fellowship applications. Looking up, he shrugged and replied, "She's a freak."
Lexie's head appeared from behind a pile of papers, and she gave Alex a withering look, "Don't you have a nice big attending's lounge you could be hanging out in?"
"You asked me to help you look at your options," He shrugged again and bent back down to look at the documents in front of him.
"Well, then help! If you don't, I'm telling April on you for calling her a freak," Lexie countered, shuffling through the papers in front of her again.
Alex never said April being a freak was a bad thing. In fact, some of her more freakish qualities, like hyper-organization were really useful. And others, like her ability to see the best in people, no matter what, made huge difference. It had for Alex. And besides, April had learned to love him, even though he was an ass. So whatever.
Swallowing and carefully clearing his throat, Alex tried not to think about the fact that exactly one year ago today, the Seattle Fault quake had almost prevented him from ever getting the chance to love April in the first place. They both could have died that day. It was crazy. But it would have been par for the freakin' course for doctors who work at Seattle Grace Mercy Death. It was sheer luck they'd survived at all.
Currently April was downstairs, reluctantly giving an interview about the whole thing for a local tv station doing a news piece about the year since the earthquake. Alex had been asked to do so as well, and had had his slightly uncomfortable turn in front of the camera that morning. He didn't really know a good way to say no, and the journalist's had reunited him very briefly with Dave Kramer of Search and Rescue, and some of the other rescue guys. It was nice to see them at least. In all the chaos and fear surrounding the earth quake and the days that followed, both Alex and April had missed just how big of a story the whole building collapse had been. Alex thought his part of the interview went okay, but it had brought up some unsettling feelings.
On the one hand he felt like the event was far behind him; his life now was so very different from back then. Alex had been happier in the past year than he could remember. But today, the magnitude of the potential loss made him vividly relive the emotions of that day. Now Alex understood just what he would have been missing out on. And he couldn't imagine what sort of life he'd have now, if April had died that day. He'd still be the bitter miserable jerk probably.
"So," Lexie's voice pulled Alex from his thoughts. "What do you think? Where should I apply? How should I rank hospitals? I keep going around in circles."
He looked slowly back down to the pile of applications in front of him and joked, "If you leave, me and April are gonna be all alone in your sister's house. Kinda awkward."
"You'll have Jackson."
Alex shook his head, "Nope, my bet is he'll move out before you do. He's never home. Mara's place has a balcony. And hardwood floors. And Mara."
Tilting her head to one side and pursing her lips, Lexie conceded his point and countered, "It's not like you and April wouldn't mind having the place to yourselves anyway...and come on, please just tell me what you think. I am being serious!"
Sniffing, Alex straightened his shoulders and scanned the fellowship applications in front of him, "This is a pretty good selection of the best neonatal programs in the country. I dunno what else to say. I mean they're good, and you're good. You're freakin' Lexipedia, they're gonna let you in. I think what really matters is what you think of these places. If the world were absolutely perfect and you could have whatever you want, where would you go?""
Looking thoughtful for a moment, Lexie slowly replied, "I want to stand on my own, I guess. I don't want to only be 'Little Grey'. Meredith's sister, or Mark's ex...Mark's soul-Mark's whatever. I mean, I love being Little Grey, but...I guess I want to be an attending fellow somewhere where...people maybe aren't always linking me with Meredith. Or Mark. Or anything really. I want to see how I can do by myself."
"Okay," Alex said pulling out the Seattle Grace application and moving it to the bottom of the stack. "You want to strike out on your own. Get away from this joint. Cool. Why not shoot for the stars? You'd have a shot at Hopkins, so maybe-"
He stopped short when Lexie winced and shook her head with a hiss of disapproval, "Something wrong with Hopkins? Because I don't have to have a photographic memory to know that they are the freakin' best. Don't sell yourself short Lex, you could totally get in."
She shook her head, "No...it's just...that's on the East coast. It's a little farther than...I mean Molly and Mer both live out here, and if I go away...I mean Zola won't even remember me...and..."
Picky, but reasonable. Alex could understand choosing to stay somewhere because of the people you loved. And he couldn't fault Lexie for it. He'd done the exact same thing. He sighed and flipped through the stack of applications again, pausing when a title caught his eye, "What about Portland Children's Hospital? They have a state of the art NICU, and I read this article about resusitative distress tests they've done-"
"In the Journal of Neonatal Surgery? I read that too. Pages 65-87. Their survival margin improved by 7%!" Lexie jumped in excitedly. "That article is the reason I even thought about them anyway. I mean they're not super well known but it's not like they aren't doing worthwhile stuff...and it is really close..."
"Yeah, that's what? 4 hours by train?" Alex continued. "You could come see Zola whenever. You wouldn't even have to fly!"
"Yeah," Lexie's face became thoughtful. "Yeah..."
"That could be your top choice."
"Uh oh," Lexie grunted as her beeper went off, and the way she jumped up after reading the message, Alex figured the page had to be a 911. "Gotta go.'
As she brushed by him with a weary smile, Alex laid the Portland application on top of all the others calling after her, "Think about it Lexie. Just think about it."
The door slammed shut behind her, and Alex found himself in the office alone with his thoughts. And the sound of the door suddenly brought home just how important this room was to his life. This was the room. The couch he sat on, the door he'd slammed. One year ago, when he'd run away from April's hospital room. This was the place he'd first realized he might love April. In hindsight, Alex knew at the time, he hadn't really understood his revelation. At the time he'd only felt like he was dirt for walking out, and for not realizing he cared for April in the first place. But of course, the only reason he'd been so anguished about walking, was because the feelings ran so much deeper than simply caring for her. Alex knew this now. He'd lived it.
And suddenly everything became clear to him. He'd had nagging thoughts over the past several months over where the future of his relationship was headed. Alex typically wasn't one for looking too far ahead. Stuff in his previous relationships had usually turned to crap when he did that, so why bother? And he hadn't wanted this thing with April to end up that way, so Alex had initially avoided thinking that way. Except, the relationship had kept going. To the point where it was hard not to think about the future. They had fights, sure. But nothing they hadn't managed to figure out. Or to agree to disagree. And the longer things had gone on, the more Alex wanted them to. He never wanted it to end.
Which for April, he knew would mean...well, staying together was one thing, but Alex knew that April wanted to get married at some point. She'd said it once, in his memory before they were actually even together. She'd said she wanted something like what her parents had. A marriage like that. At the time Alex had made fun of her for it. Because of his own experiences. No way things like that happened. Look at his parents. Him and Izzie. Half the freaking doctors at this hospital. Things hardly ever just worked out. They hardly ever worked out at all, and if they did, there was usually a lot of heart ache and crap to go along with it.
So Alex had been afraid to think of marrying April. But the idea had been nagging at his mind for months now. In a way, he thought she could do so much better than him. She deserved it. Then again, he'd thought the same thing about dating her in the first place, and that had turned out okay. And even if there was probably a dozen guys out there who were better for her, April had always stuck with him. Always. And Alex didn't think she'd stop. Especially if they were married. Maybe Meredith and Cristina were right, he might not be an utterly total failure at being a husband after all. At least, not intentionally. Maybe he could do it. Now Alex realized that he actually wanted to try. He heard footsteps in the hallway and tilted his head back.
"Here you are," April said peering through the door and limping in to join him on the couch, smiling brightly. So freakin' right. She'd shown up at the exact right moment. Alex was even more convinced of the conclusion he'd just reached.
He looked over and smiled at her, cognizant of the fact that a year ago at this time, April had been in the middle of complicated surgery. And Alex had been in the middle of the most agonizing waits of his life. But now, on year later, she really was healthy, and although she still moved with a pretty pronounced limp, April rarely needed to use her cane, save for the most humid of days. Look at that. Freaking amazing. Just because stuff in his life had always ended up crappy before, Alex didn't believe it had to with April. Even the most serious, worst crap deal in her life had worked out in the end. If that was possible, why not a marriage? It was worth a try.
Reigning in his thoughts, and realizing that April had only just arrived after finishing her news interview, Alex stretched his arms along the back of the couch, resting a hand on her shoulder, "How was it?"
"Okay, I suppose," April replied, resting one hand on his knee. "I mean, it was a little weird. I don't remember much more than being in pain and passing out a lot. And being sure you'd get me out. I'm not sure it makes for the most interesting story."
"Yeah it does," Alex joked. "When you add in the part about me being your boyfriend now. I was so freakin' dense about you that it took the movement of tectonic plates to make me pull my head out of my ass."
April leaned closer to him and made a face, "Well, some of that I'm pretty sure can't be said on the air. And you're not dense anymore than I am. It took the same thing to make me realize I had to be a lot more proactive with...you. Life's too short for me to have just kept on being afraid to...to...anyway, at the end of my part of the interview, I got to see Tom again, our patient in the building remember?"
"Cool kid," Alex nodded, tracing small circles on April's shoulder blade. "Way calm under pressure. He doing okay?"
"Yeah, it was really nice. He's doing well. His family's not on the streets anymore either..."
"Good," he deadpanned, a little to eager for his usual self. "Awesome."
As they fell into silence, Alex padded her shoulder distractedly, which made April suspicious. She lowered her eyebrows and eyed him closely, "You're acting...a little odd..."
He bit his lip. This was it. It could be the moment. Maybe he should plan more. Do some romantic crap. Wine and dine with a ring in the desert? But didn't that usually end with the chick choking or something? Maybe only on tv. Still, Alex paused for a second wondering if he should do things differently. Get a ring and a string quartet or something. But, what the hell? This whole relationship had been less than conventional, so why should a proposal be any different? And this place was a place that mattered. It was special.
"I've been thinking..." Alex fumbled.
"No? You don't say," April joked. "About time."
He snorted and continued, struggling "Right? But no, I-I've been thinking for a while, and I know this isn't the best sort of place for..."
"Uh, well I mean, I want to ask you something."
April gasped and a hand flew to her mouth, "Oh my God!"
"Are you going to ask what I think you are going to ask?"
"Uh," Alex pursed his lips. "That depends on what you think I am gonna ask?"
Suddenly April was a grinning nervous bundle of energy. Her free hand flapped in the air excitedly while the other bobbed up and down on his knee.
"Ask me! Just ask me," she looked Alex right in the eye. He could see absolute trust and love in the depths of her gaze. She knew what he was thinking. Somehow she freaking knew. He smirked. Chicks.
"Okay...um, I don't have a ring or whatever right now, and..." he shrugged. "I know I'm not always the easiest person, but I love you April...so, I wanted to ask..will you, uh...will you marry me?"
Her hand squeezed his knee tightly and she bit her lip as her eyes welled with tears. Suddenly April was kissing him, just like she had that night at Meredith's when she'd convinced him that they could try being normal people and Alex supposed that that was answer enough to his question. Even so, he was damn happy to hear April's breathless words as they pulled apart.
"Absolutely...of course, yes. Yes!"
Now it was Alex's turn to grin and press his lips to hers. She said yes! April had said yes. He felt like he had superpowers or like he could freaking fly or something. He feft like all the crap his life had put him through before had been leading to this moment. And that it was all made somehow worthwhile. Because April had just said yes to a life with him. It all seemed like it had happened for a reason. And whatever new crap that came up in Alex's life...and April's too really, well it wouldn't be too much for them to handle. Together.
They'd be okay, he knew. It would all be okay.
If you're willing to go with it? To really see all the people around you? To accept change? Embrace it? To batten down the hatches and muddle through it all? You might find that your life on the other side of the storm is wonderful. Better than you thought you deserved. And better than you could ever have imagined.