Hey, folks! For those who read my first story, welcome back! And if you haven't read Rivers and Roads yet, I suggest you take a look at that before you read this sequel as some things from the previous story are connected to this one. This story takes place exactly a year from R&R. I'm almost halfway through with writing this story and your feedback is always appreciated, so feel free to leave a review.
Disclaimer: I don't own Grey's or its characters. I am not a medical expert and any medical related topics in this story was written after doing research online.
For the doctors at Seattle Grace Mercy West, it almost felt unusual to get through a whole year without a traumatic event impacting their lives significantly. No gun shootings, bombs or plane crashes. There was actually room for a life of normalcy for once. The only major event to affect the surgeons was April Kepner's unexpected return to Seattle. It had been a surprise for them, especially with the way she arrived at the hospital – in an ambulance from a serious car accident and 27 weeks pregnant.
Nobody was more surprised than Jackson Avery. His best friend and soulmate, whom he had fallen in love with, nearly died without him getting the chance to tell her how he felt. He was relieved and thankful when she survived, but then the post-traumatic amnesia derailed his plans of starting a life with her and their son, Jordan. Just as he was beginning to accept the fact that part of her memory would never return, things turned around and she was able to regain the memories she had forgotten about him and everything that had to do with SGMW.
They were engaged, raising their healthy baby boy and settling into their new roles as attendings. April could proudly call herself a board certified surgeon like her colleagues. No more worrying about keeping her job or studying for the boards again. She was in control of her life again and outside of work there was a wedding to plan, which had been more stressful than she had hoped.
She was thankful to have friends and family in the area to help her with the wedding planning. Her youngest sister Alice, now a first year medical student at the University of Washington, was her maid of honor. Catherine Avery became the hospital's new Head of Urology over the summer, to Jackson's dismay, but April didn't mind having her future mother-in-law around. There was Lexie Grey-Sloan, who had become one of her closest friends. She also offered to pitch in ideas for the wedding. She was still on a wedding high after marrying Mark Sloan three months earlier in July.
It was October 11, 2013. Not only was it exactly a year since the car accident but it was also the day when Jordan Charles Avery was born. His first couple of months alive were spent in the NICU. Since then his health hadn't been in danger and his development carried on without any problems. He had grown into a healthy 1-year old baby.
"First steps! Jackson, he's taking his first steps!" April shrieked in the living room. She couldn't stop beaming at the sight of Jordan waddling towards her. "Jackson, hurry before he falls!"
Jackson ran into the living room, video camera in hand and wearing only his boxers. He hit the record button and crouched down on the floor. "Way to go, dude! You're walking!"
April knelt down on the floor with her arms wide open. "Come to Mommy, Jordan."
Jordan had a big grin on his face. He seemed to be just as happy as his parents that he was finally walking on his own. He started crawling at eight months, so they hoped he would be walking soon after that. However, they waited a little longer than they expected.
"Aww, good job! We're so proud of you," she said, using her high-pitched baby voice, after he reached her. April picked him up and showered him with kisses all over his cheeks. "I think you just wanted to wait until your birthday."
Jackson turned off the video camera and set it on the floor. "I'm telling you, this kid has legs built for dunking. I can't wait to teach him basketball."
"Not so fast. He could be the next Messi. His Aunt Alice will make sure he grows up with some soccer in his blood," she added, then she grinned at her fiancé. "I'm so excited right now. I don't even care that we're supposed to be at work in a half an hour."
"Oh, crap! I still have to take a shower," Jackson remembered and made a mad dash for the bathroom.
April stood up, carrying Jordan in one arm and holding the video camera with the other. She sat down on the couch, setting her son on her lap. "Let's watch you walk again while we wait for Daddy to get ready," she suggested.
Alice Kepner entered the apartment using the spare key April gave her. She closed the door behind her with her foot and carried a large cardboard box towards the coffee table. "Here are the decorations for Jordan's party tomorrow," she said, setting the box down. She waved at her nephew, who happily pointed at her. "Hi, Jordan! Happy Birthday!"
"Oh my gosh, you have to watch this video," April chirped and patted the empty space next to her on the couch. "Guess what Jordan just did a few minutes ago?"
The two sisters watched the video of Jordan walking, then Alice squealed in excitement. "Oh, yay! He's walking now," she cheerfully replied. "Mom and Dad are going to be so thrilled about this. Let's not tell them he can walk yet. I think it'd be more fun if they watch him do it at the party."
April nodded in agreement. "Good idea. Are you sure you can pick them up from the airport later? You don't have a long break in between your two classes. I don't want you rushing or being late for class."
"I can do it, Apes. Don't worry about it," the younger Kepner insisted. She slouched on the couch and placed her feet on top of the coffee table. "How did you get through med school? It's only been a little over a month and I'm dying."
"It's always tough your first year. You're trying to get used to everything, but you'll be fine," she assured her. "Anyway, thanks for the birthday decorations. Jackson and I will try to set up the living room for the party after work – if we're not exhausted."
"Well, I can come over after class and do it," she offered.
"No, no. You're already picking up Mom and Dad and you're also taking care of maid of honor duties while balancing med school. You've got enough work on your plate," she politely dismissed her. "Have you narrowed down choices for the bridesmaid dresses?"
Alice grimaced as her eyes slowly wandered towards her feet. "I've been umm… loaded with homework, so no. I haven't."
"Oh, it's okay. It's only October, but make sure you decide on something by December. We need to get measurements done." April gently patted Alice's thigh. "Don't let medical school drive you crazy. It'll be worth it in the end."
"Does today feel eerie at all?" she asked curiously. "I mean, it's been exactly a year since you almost died, both you and Jordan."
April shook her head. "I don't think about that. I'm more grateful that we survived, especially him," she said, tickling Jordan's stomach and smiling when his giggles filled the living room. "And it's his birthday, so it's all about happy times."
Jackson and April walked into the daycare center to drop off Jordan. Also inside were Callie Torres and Arizona Robbins, who were getting ready to leave Sofia behind. April decided to show him off to her coworkers and let Jordan walk around.
"Look, Jordan. It's one of your best friends, Sofia," she excitedly said after she set him on the floor.
Callie smiled as Jordan slowly took a few steps towards them. "Hey, when did he start walking?"
"Just this morning," April answered, then she laughed when Sofia hugged Jordan and kissed his cheek. "How cute is that?"
Callie nervously laughed as Sofia continued to peck Jordan's cheek. "Umm, Sofia. That's enough, sweetie." She forced herself to intervene, gently pulling her daughter away from the Birthday Boy. "Okay, let's give him some room to breathe."
Arizona grinned. "Sloan's genes at work," she quipped. She knelt down and grabbed a hold of Jordan's little hands. "Happy Birthday, Jordan! Do you know how old you are today?" The baby responded with gibberish, but it was enough to draw squeals from the three female doctors. "Yup, you're a year old today. You're a big boy now."
It was many months late, but because Arizona took care of Jordan in the NICU just as much as Alex did, April asked her to become his second godmother. Plus, the ratio of godfathers to godmothers bothered her and she felt better if there was an even number of godparents for Jordan. She and Jackson agreed that the perky pediatric surgeon was the perfect candidate.
The parents said their goodbyes to their children and left to change into their scrubs. An elevator arrived to pick them up and Catherine Avery was inside alone. She immediately smiled at April and Jackson as they joined her inside, along with Callie and Arizona.
"Good morning, my lovelies," Catherine greeted them. She squeezed her son's face, kissing his cheek and purposely embarrassing him in front of their coworkers. "Did you just drop Jordan off at daycare?"
"Yes and he might have himself a new girlfriend," April joked. "Sofia wouldn't stop kissing his cheek. It was so adorable."
"And a little worrisome," Callie muttered and laughed. "She's definitely a Sloan."
Catherine chuckled, then she faced April. "I thought of a brilliant idea for the wedding reception, honey. What do you think about the Space Needle? I can get the entire place reserved for your special day."
"Uhh, the Space Needle?" the redhead asked, clearly taken aback by the suggestion. "Isn't that a bit expensive? And I'm actually afraid of heights. Jackson, Reed and Charles once went up the Space Needle and left me behind because the elevator was enough for me to wuss out."
"Oh, that's not a problem, dear. We can just blindfold you on the way up," she suggested.
Jackson pursed his lips, slowly shaking his head. "Mom, no. It's a nice idea, but we're looking for something more simple and non-life threatening for April… or anybody for that matter." With their luck, the Seattle Needle would probably explode on their wedding day.
"Fine, fine. I'll keep searching, but if you change your mind-"
"Trust me. We won't," he replied, forcing a grin. "Thanks anyway."
The elevator doors opened and Catherine stepped out first. She turned around and pointed at the partially visible hickey on April's neck. "By the way, you should cover that up better, honey. You don't want to distract your patients."
April reached up, covering her hickey with her hand. "I-I umm… thank you," she stammered, her cheeks bright red as she heard Callie and Arizona snickering behind her. She bit her lower lip while she walked out of the elevator with Jackson. "Your fault."
Jackson chuckled. "Not really." He kissed her temple as they strolled into the attendings locker room. "The Space Needle? What did I tell you? My mom wants our wedding to feel like one of those A-list celebrity extravaganzas."
"But we politely declined her offer and she left it alone. It's not a big deal, Jackson."
"Not yet anyway," he replied and smirked. "Just wait and see. She'll get crazier as the months go by."
The living room was decorated with a cars and trains theme. A customized birthday sign with Jordan's name hung on the wall above the TV and there were different colored balloons tied to some of the furniture. Most of the surgeons were able to attend the late afternoon birthday party as well as family members visiting for the weekend.
Big Joe and Karen flew in from Ohio the day before and were staying in Jackson and April's apartment until they left. They were delighted to see their grandson walking on his own, making videos of him with their cell phones.
Libby and Kimmie Kepner arrived that morning with their children. Libby brought her youngest, Mason, and Kimmie's only child, Maya, tagged along with her. They were staying with Alice at her apartment.
To Jackson's surprise, his other sister made a last minute decision to fly into Seattle for the weekend. Joslyn Avery was a cardiothoracic surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She arrived solo and he was fairly certain she decided to visit because Samantha was too busy to celebrate Jordan's birthday for a day. She hadn't met her nephew yet and she had been curious to meet April since she learned that Samantha met their future sister-in-law first.
Like her siblings, she had the same bluish-green eyes. Her long, curly black hair dropped past her shoulders. She too looked like Catherine, but slightly shorter than both her mother and her sister. If Jackson had to choose, he preferred Joslyn's presence over Samantha's. While she showed signs of arrogance, she wasn't as unbearable as the eldest Avery sibling.
"Your apartment's a little small," Joslyn noted while she chatted with her brother. "You don't think it's claustrophobic?"
"Actually, I think it's comfortable and nicer than most apartments in Seattle," he replied, rolling his eyes. Jackson turned his head to watch Derek Shepherd entertain all of the children with simple magic tricks he randomly knew how to do in the middle of the living room. "When April and I are married we'll probably search for a house. One that you can complain about being too small as well."
Joslyn softly chuckled. "Your sarcasm was always adorable, Jackie." She scanned the living room for April, who was nowhere to be found. "Where is your fiancée?"
"Probably in the kitchen getting the cake ready. Why?"
"Well, I was wondering who her bridesmaids are. I know she has three sisters, one of them being her maid of honor. Don't you think it'd be fair to have one of your sisters in the wedding?"
"Uhh… you should talk to April about that," he answered, clearly uncomfortable. "Mom's already making me have David be a groomsman since I was in his and Sam's wedding."
"What? And not have Vince in your wedding?" Joslyn asked, appearing offended. She placed her hands on her hips. "You can't have David be in it and exclude my husband. You were in my wedding too. That's not fair."
Jackson groaned. "Fine, I'll have Vince in the wedding too. I needed one more groomsman anyway," he admitted.
Joslyn grinned. "Good. By the way, I think April is a doll and a beautiful woman."
"While I definitely agree with you, kissing my ass won't force me to put you in the wedding," he said and smirked at her. "Talk to April. In fact, you should be talking to her instead of me. You know me already, so go bug her in the kitchen."
She took her brother's advice, walking into the kitchen where April was deciding where to put the single candle on Jordan's birthday cake. She leaned back against the counter, smiling at the redhead. "You should put it next to that tiger sitting on the cake," she suggested.
April held the candle just above the surface of the cake, then she slowly pushed it in. She nodded approvingly and she clapped her hands underneath her chin. "That looks good. Thank you," she cheerfully said. She smiled at Joslyn. "By the way, I'm so happy you decided to fly in for Jordan's birthday. It means a lot to Jackson and I, even if he thinks you're just here to make your sister look bad for not coming."
Joslyn waved her hand and laughed. "Oh, but he's right. I mean, it's great that I'm finally meeting Jordan – and you, of course – but Sam has always been work before family. I want you to remember that."
"Umm… I'll keep that in mind. She'll come to the wedding though, right?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "I would like a solid head count, so we're not wasting money on empty seats."
"Sam will be there. Our mother will make sure of that," she assured her. "So, who are your bridesmaids?"
April began pointing out certain people in the living room. "My youngest sister Alice is my maid of honor, then there's Libby and Kimmie, who are my other sisters. They're bridesmaids. And over by the couch with the long, brown hair is Lexie Grey-Sloan. She's one of my closest friends." She looked back at Joslyn. "I'm still trying to decide on the last one. It's still up in the air."
"What about yours truly?" Joslyn pointed at herself. "Actually, Jackson thinks I'd be a better choice than Sam. He asked me to talk to you because he wasn't sure if you'd be okay with him making the decision for you. C'mon, it's not a complete wedding party without one of your future in-laws. You don't want to be rude, do you?"
"N-no. Not at all," she reluctantly replied. "I think… you should be one of my bridesmaids. Umm… please?"
"I'd love to!" Joslyn loudly said and hugged April. "You won't regret this decision, dear. I promise your wedding will be a thousand times more beautiful because you chose the right sister-in-law to be in it."
April glanced up at the ceiling as Joslyn nearly squeezed the life out of her. "I can barely contain my excitement," she murmured before she politely pushed her away. "I have to bring out Jordan's cake now."
Joslyn left her alone in the kitchen and proudly approached Jackson. "It's a done deal, Jackie. I'm in the wedding now."
"Why does it sound way too easy to me?"
"Because I used the Joslyn Method." She moved closer to her brother, lowering her voice to a whisper. "A hint of charm, a pinch of persuasion and a slice of white lies. I always get what I want."
Whatever his sister said to manipulate April, he knew it worked since she openly admitted it to him. "Awesome," he sarcastically replied and shook his head. "That's the last time you get to use the Joslyn Method on April. Am I clear?"
"Business is taken care of, so my work is done."
April asked everyone to gather around the living room to sing "Happy Birthday" to Jordan. She lit the single candle on the cake before she brought it out from the kitchen. It was a chocolate and vanilla cake with the letters written in blue icing. A small tiger sat next to the candle to symbolize Jordan's first buddy, Benny. She set the cake on the coffee table and knelt down on the floor with Jackson, who held their son in his arms.
The baby was mesmerized by the candle and even tried to touch it, but Jackson made sure to keep his hand away from the tiny flame. As everybody started singing for Jordan, Lexie was busy snapping photos of the trio with the cake. For April, it had become an emotional moment for her. Her eyes were filled with tears and Jackson grew concerned after they finished singing.
"Are you okay, April?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay," she blubbered, trying to keep her composure while she dabbed away her tears with a napkin. "I… I'm just grateful that Jordan survived and is alive and well. Seriously, Robbins and Karev made sure our baby boy would make it. I still can't thank you enough."
Alex Karev quickly shrugged and smiled. "The little tyke was always gonna make it." He pointed at the cake. "Can you blow the freakin' candle out already? Some of us want cake."
She chuckled, then she leaned forward with Jackson. They blew the candle out for Jordan at the same time. Their family and friends cheered and applauded, which made the Birthday Boy imitate them with his own clapping. He had the honor of tasting April's cake first, though most of it ended up on his face than in his mouth.
April finished serving cake to their guests before she followed her fiancé into the kitchen. He was done cleaning up the cake and frosting from Jordan's hands, face and clothes. "Successful party?"
"Successful party," he repeated her question with an answer. "So, my sister's in the wedding now. Are you okay with that?"
"I am. Why wouldn't I be?"
"I just don't want you to think you're required to have one of my sisters in the wedding, especially when one of them likes to manipulate people," he suggestively said.
She slightly grimaced. "Joslyn sort of cornered me. I had a hard time saying no to her because she's your sister. I did need one more bridesmaid. Don't you need one more groomsman?"
"Taken care of," he answered, rolling his eyes. "Her husband."
"C'mon, it won't be so bad," she insisted and kissed his cheek. "Now that we have our wedding party figured out, we can move forward with the other plans."
Jackson grinned. "Like honeymoon ideas?"
April wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her chin against his shoulder. "What type of honeymoon do you have in mind?"
"One that forces us to stay in our hotel room all day long," he teased. "Of course we'll have one or two hours of those days to do sightseeing or whatever, depending on where we go. Tropical sounds nice. Let's not go to a place where we're forced to join a tour group or some crap like that."
"Cap," Jordan blurted out.
Both Jackson and April stared at their son with wide eyes. It was the first real word he spoke, but neither of them were prepared for what he had picked up.
"No, that can't be your first word, baby!" April panicked, pressing her hands against her cheeks. She slightly glared at Jackson. "His first word's supposed to be Mama or Dada not… that. What did I say about cursing around him? I already have a hard time reminding Alex about that."
"He didn't say… that. He said cap, which is a completely different word," he said defensively. "It was cap, okay? In fact, let's not count this word as his first. He's very close to saying Mama and Dada, so we should leave that space in the baby book open until he says one of them."
She smirked at him. "Fine, but be careful. I think he's smarter than we thought."
He watched her leave the kitchen, then he looked at their son. "Thanks for getting me in trouble, dude." His son happily grinned back at him, making him laugh. "I knew it. You're a mama's boy." He kissed his forehead and returned to the living room to finish off the party.
The following weekend, the Plastics Posse flew across the country to North Carolina for their plastic surgery conference hosted by Duke University Hospital. They had spent a month preparing for their presentation. Mark forced Jackson to practice his parts in front of their colleagues – while making all of them record him with their cameras. Whether or not video cameras would be present during their real presentation, he wanted his student to get over his fear of public speaking and more importantly, video cameras.
They arrived on a Friday night, checking in to their hotel and getting a good night's sleep. The conference wouldn't officially start until Saturday afternoon, so Mark convinced Jackson to explore Duke's college campus with him in the morning the Sloan way.
And Jackson considered himself to be an extremely fit person. He ran around the neighborhood every morning, sometimes before April and Jordan woke up. But he never once thought Mark Sloan, his much older mentor, could outrun him during a morning jog. Despite how embarrassed he was about to feel, he stopped in his tracks and bent over resting his hands on his knees. He certainly wasn't awake enough for the mini marathon Mark planned.
"Avery, are you kidding me?" Mark chuckled. He approached Jackson and ran in place. "You're the poster boy for the fountain of youth and you can't even stick with my pace? You gotta keep the legs pumping, get the blood flowing again before our presentation. What's the problem?"
"Cramp," he muttered and sat down on a bench. "Some Gatorade would be nice."
Mark patted his shoulder with a grin on his face. "Ah, I knew I forgot something before we left our hotel." He pointed at a random direction. "You know, I'm pretty sure we ran past a café earlier. I'll go back and buy us some Gatorade. We all need our electrolytes. Sit tight. I'll be right back."
Jackson let out a sigh of relief after Mark left him alone. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, sending April a quick "Good morning" text message. He rested his arms on his knees and placed his forehead on top of them as he tried to relax for a few minutes. His moment of relaxation was interrupted by a light tap on his shoulder.
"Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me where I can find Cameron Indoor Stadium? I'm a little lost."
He lifted his head to answer the man in front of him, but instead he was surprised to see who it was. The expression on the man's face matched his own reaction and those same bluish-green eyes stared directly into his. Was this really happening?
Let me know what you think please :)
I'm going with a Mon/Thurs schedule for this story, so chapter 2 will be posted on Monday!