waltzmatildah: (greys: alex and april)
[personal profile] waltzmatildah
Title: It's Your Bones That Shatter
Fandom: Grey's Anatomy
Characters: Alex (/April and Amber and Aaron. Seriously!)
Word Count: 3300
Rating: PG-13
Prompt: Snowed in for [livejournal.com profile] richyl88 at [livejournal.com profile] writing4acause
Summary: An unintentional home-coming of sorts as an organ harvest sees them fly in to Iowa... This is set approximately 15 months post season six finale.
Disclaimer: At my user info. page.
Author's Note: Huge thank yous to my betas, [livejournal.com profile] kaitybear and [livejournal.com profile] leobrat. Any remaining mistakes are totally theirs...!! Title and cut text from Jump Into The Fog, The Wombats.



His leg keeps up a staccato bounce that almost sends April's orange juice into the aisle twice. She sighs and shifts in her seat, drains what remains of her drink pointedly but doesn't say a word.

He's grateful because he can only imagine the questions that have spent the best part of the last three hours building and transforming and escalating on her tongue. Knows without doubt that he has answers to approximately none of them.

At least, none that he's willing to share.

Static verbalisations slice the air between them as the pilot crackles to life on the radio. Announces to all and sundry that they've been placed in a holding pattern for the next however many minutes while the runway is cleared of traffic.

That they're high priority and that it won't be long.

He leans his forehead against the plexiglass window. Watches his breath fog the surface a little more resolutely with each deliberate exhale. Laments the fact that what will inevitably come next can't be hidden by a similar smoke screen.





*






They're disembarking half an hour later than planned and as the door of the small aircraft is swung heavily into the arctic breeze that swirls across the runway, he's more than a little surprised they're not later still. Snow flurries dance around his boot laces as he drops his eyes to his toes, descends the metal staircase with caution, landing solidly on the tarmac before turning back and automattically holding out a hand to April.

Tries not to interpret the soft smile she offers back as anything more than desperate gratitude as her newly gloved fingers slide neatly between his.

“Let's get this over and done with and get the hell out of here.”

His voice grumbles, low and gravelly around and over the syllables and she opens her mouth, inhales sharply, prepares the barrage that she's, until now, managed to keep in check.

He makes a show of zipping up his coat. Ducks is chin to his chest and pretends he doesn't hear her first question.

“So, did you grow up far from here?”





*






The road stretches out in front of him. An endless strip of black and grey and dotted yellow that numbs his senses until his eyelids are sandpaper rough and he slides his car into the loose gravel shoulder, sets the alarm on his phone for twenty minutes time.

Doesn't actually sleep for a single second of it but still manages to slam his head against the side window when it bursts to ear-splitting life.

There's a discarded bag of take-out on the passenger seat and he picks idly at fries that have spilled across the paperwork spread out beneath them. Receipts for gas. A photocopied journal article that is now missing a page, or maybe even several. A newspaper from some time last month.

He rolls the window down and shoves his face out into the early evening air. Inhales until his lungs seize and black spots dance in his peripheral vision.

Contemplates swinging the car into an illegal u-turn.

Doesn't. But only just.






*






There's a UNOS vehicle waiting for them at the airport entrance. Double sliding doors rumble seamlessly to open. Spit them out into the freezing afternoon air once more. The constant hot, cold, hot, cold is doing little to settle his overworked nervous system and he presses the heel of his hand between his eyes while she's not looking.

Wonders how hard he'd have to push to stop the slide show of memories currently playing out there in full high definition.

The drive from Iowa City Airport to the University Hospital is treacherous as snow coats the windshield faster than the wipers can sweep it away. And he can't help but to wonder how much of a role the apocalyptic weather has played in the death of the seven-year-old they're about to scavenge organs from.

He knows it was a car accident. He knows very little else.





*






The harvest is almost complete by the time they arrive, late to the party. Donated body parts distributed and packaged and prepared for journeys to various points across the country. April and Alex carry the lion's share. A heart and lungs.

Life.

And the hopes of a desperate family back in Seattle.

He's handed the distinctive cooler as April fills Dr. Altman in on what is scheduled to happen next. Her voice is oddly calming and although he can't quite decipher them, he lets the soft cadence of her syllables drown out the suffocating familiarity that threatens to send him to his knees. She's the one incongruity amid a sea of memories and so he clings to her. Lifebuoy like.

Keeps his mouth closed and his head down and tries not to think too hard about what happened last time he was in this building. A few floors above and what feels like several life-times ago.





*






He parks as far as geographically possible from the entrance to the hospital. Buys himself a handful of extra minutes.

Coward that he is.

His hands are shoved deep into the pockets of his jacket. It's warm, the sun reflects off the walls of glass that confront him, rivers of sweat bead and run down his back.

He shivers nonetheless. Can't escape the sense that this is it now.

The end of the line.

He goes to Amber first. Stammers out a request for directions at the reception and only just manages to remember the details as the elevator takes him up seven floors to the kids unit.

And isn't that another slap in the face? She's just a kid. Everyone but him seems to know it.

There are people in her room. Strangers. But she's sleeping and they're sort of just milling about more than anything and her hair is short. Short and spikey.

He walks in with a false air of authority. Tries not to think too hard about the fact that he's just like them.

A stranger.






*






They're almost back to the parking lot when they get the call from UNOS. Air Traffic Control has just closed the airport. Plans are being made to get them a helicopter but the chances of it happening in the next few minutes are slim.

There's a window. A window of time. Before the heart and lungs will be redistributed. Before the cooler of vital organs is wrenched from his grip and road tripped to Kansas. Or Chicago. Or maybe even Duluth.

There's a window and it's closing fast.

April reaches for her cell phone. Makes calls across the country, back and forth to Seattle, conversing hurriedly as they're ushered back inside to wait.





*






They're shown to a conference room and he places the cooler on the table. They're still his charge. For now.

Picks absently at a rough patch on one corner of the white Styrofoam lid and stares at the self important tape that holds it in place until the letters blur and bleed into one.

April is babbling constantly. He loses track of what she's asking him and when she finally falls silent he figures it's because she's sick of him asking her to repeat herself.

“You okay?”

The question catches him off guard. Her quiet concern drags like nails down an obsolete blackboard.

“What?” He barks the reply out with a little more defeated venom than he intended and he sighs as she shrinks back in her seat.

“Nothing...”

Her immediate capitulation is as welcomed as it is perturbing and as she pulls the buds of an iPod from her pocket and plugs herself in he can't help but wonder if it's more to block him out than anything else.





*






Aaron is sedated and restrained and at first it's all Alex can do to bring himself to look through the reinforced glass that separates them. A psych. resident is reeling off admitting information that bounces off his shoulder blades and the impassive planes of his face, never quite makes it any further than his outermost layer of skin.

He thinks he might be sick.






*






April is singing softly under her breath. He can't hear the words but her lips are moving to a beat and she's as peaceful has she's looked all day.

He reaches across and flips an earphone free. Shrugs and forces a grin, pushes the piece of plastic into his ear. Prays the inane noise will drown out everything else.

She nudges him back playfully with her shoulder, a half hearted show of disbelief at his boldness. The music surprises him but he doesn't say so because he already knows that she's waiting for him to do exactly that.

The volume hitches a notch or three when he doesn't protest and she bops her head around with a little more freedom. Silly and fun.

He laughs and thinks he almost means it.





*






An electronic hum bursts to life in his pocket and dissolves the easy moment in an instant. He struggles to standing and pulls his phone free. Walking towards the door he flips it open expecting Altman.

Gets Meredith instead.

“What's going on?” Breathless, like she's climbing stairs.

“What do you mean?”

“I just heard you're in Iowa.”

“Yeah, a harvest surgery. We got here a while ago. You were in surgery when we left.”

“Yeah, I just scrubbed out. So, Iowa?”

“Yes, Iowa.”

“And you're cool with that?”

“As cool as I can be considering I'm carrying around a glorified drinks fridge full of a dead seven year old's heart and lungs.” And it's so far from the point she was trying to make, but he's nothing if not well versed in the art of escape and evade.

“Alex.” His name as a warning.

“What?” He hisses, voice barely above a rough whisper. “You think that now I'm back here it must be my turn to lose my shit? Complete the Karev Family Tradition?” And maybe he's losing his touch after all.

“Okay. And now I'm hanging up. Call me back when you've calmed down.”

The dial tone buzzes incessantly in his ear but he's conscious of the fact that April is probably listening, or at least, looking in his direction, and so he feigns conversation for a couple more seconds before tilting his head in her direction.

“I'm going to the bathroom.”





*







He slides down the stall door 'til his chin is at knee level.

Feels the cold leech into his bones.

Wonders how many committal hearings you have to sit through before they become nothing more than practised second nature.






*






He waits until the stall door has bounced dully into place before closing the toilet lid and settling in to wait out his most recent lapse in self control. Rehearses inevitable conversations with Meredith before tapping out a simple sorry and hitting send before he can change his mind.

Drags in a deep breath before reluctantly shouldering the door back open and stepping out into the hall.

“Oh, there you are!” Comes face to face with a breathless April, cooler clutched protectively to her chest. Doesn't bother to speak as she continues on, “They're saying the organs are being re-distributed.”

“What? Where's the helicopter?”

She shrugs, tilts her head and waits like he has all the answers she could ever need and then some.





*






Altman buys them a little more time. Not much.

Maybe not enough.

They're given sandwiches and cups of stale coffee that go untouched on the conference room table as snow continues to blanket the city. April's iPod peters to a dismal silence and she doesn't bother to fill the empty space with conversation.

It's somewhat disconcerting but he's not going to question it.

There are surgeons from closer cities circling. Waiting for the moment when the organs are taken off Seattle Grace and reallocated. He'd call them vultures but he knows he'd do exactly the same thing if in their position.

Remembers a time when he did just that.

He thinks the redistribution is inevitable now anyway and that they should probably just get it over and done with.

Stop wasting everyone's time.





*






The official call is made at six fifty seven pm. And it feels a lot like calling time of death.





*






Amber's awake the next time he ventures close enough to the room they're keeping her in. He's tentative, unsure. Isn't even convinced that she'll recognise him.

That she'll want him anywhere near her.

There's a television humming softly in a far corner, casting a flickering glow over the room. The pale blue blanket mostly covering her acts as yet another screen for whatever crappy news station is on. He could be in any hospital in any part of the country. This could be any patient.

This is his sister.






*






They're informed a hotel room has been organised for them. That the airport remains resolutely closed and looks likely to remain that way for some time. That they're no longer high priority.

April stumbles over a muted protest. Laments the lack of a toothbrush and clean underwear. The scheduled craniotomy she'd been promised by Shadow Shepherd the following day.

He offers up half-hearted platitudes as the local ghosts start to settle mockingly in his peripheral vision. Envies her unexpected ability to look past the fact that they've just signed the death warrant for an eleven-year-old boy whose only crime was to be born with a heart that didn't quite know it's job well enough.





*






They, the nameless and the faceless, let him take Amber home.

For what it's worth.

He carries her bag and redresses her facial lac and tries not to look too hard at the way her hands shake as she runs them through her hair.

She watches him through lashes that sit perpetually at half way open. And she looks so much like their mother in that moment that he almost has to look away.

Almost.

“Alex.”

Says his name like she just wants to taste the word rolling off her tongue. See what it feels like. Not a question. Not a request.

Just a statement of fact. Like she's confirming for herself that he's right there.

He shrugs. Offers up a lopsided smirk.

“Amber.”

Slides his lips into a proper grin that she reciprocates in kind.






*






The hotel is swanky and April's one-eighty is almost instantaneous as she marvels over furnishings that don't appear all that different to his Ikea standards and sweeps open expansive drapes with a flourish to look out at the sea of white below.

He heads straight for the mini bar. Doesn't even bother to hide the fact that he's a complete cliché.

They're given separate rooms that they both know won't be used. They smile and nod and offer their thanks to the UNOS administrative staff that have organised everything except the weather to run liquid smooth. By the time his fist is twisted around the handle of her door she's already close to shedding.

Bra, panties, lashes lowered to coy and questioning and not much else.

Feigning a shyness that she shed in front of him months ago.

He closes the distance between them and slides his fingers up into the soft curls at the nape of her neck. Inhales as the familiar smell of her shampoo brings with it Seattle and Joe's and a cramped bedroom in a glorified frat house that feels more like home than anything else he's ever lived in.





*






It's not the house he grew up in and he's both grateful for that and oddly saddened by it in the same split second. The nostalgia, the onslaught of memories, the familiar sense of unease, none of it comes.

He could be anywhere.

But there's a photograph of his parents on a side table, and an afghan his grandmother knitted back when family gatherings were more barbeque less court room, is draped over the arm of a worn sofa.

Little bits here and there. Just enough but not too much.

Amber gives him the grand tour. He calculates it takes her three minutes and forty eight seconds. And that's only because they spend at least a minute getting acquainted with Pepper. A three year old ball of white fluff that greets his sister like she's the second coming of something far more religious than he's ever really taken the time to learn.

And as she laughs genuinely into a tuft of soft fur he wonders whether the dog might just be right.






*






They're shipped out early the next morning. It's still chaos on the roads but the airport has re-opened and Seattle beckons. Iowa fades into the retreating distance as delicate fingers curl around his own. Deliberate and tight.

It's been a while he thinks. Since he hasn't wanted to flinch away from the touch.

From any touch.

Wonders if it's resignation, exhausted acceptance of the inevitable, or something else entirely.

“Well.” He delivers the word on an expulsion of air, whispered almost as it tumbles from his lips. “The hotel was pretty freaking nice but, overall, that was a complete waste of everybody's time.”

He can hear her shift in her seat, twist in the restrictive belt she refuses to loosen even an inch until she's facing him.

Cocks her head to the side and raises her eyebrows. Universal chick pose for I disagree.... Or something.

Her jaw drops suddenly as she inhales and he silences what he knows is coming next with a quick kiss that lands just shy of her parted lips.

Blink-and-you'll-miss-it quick.

Settles back into his seat, eyes front and centre, as a grin he can't quite find the energy to deny surfaces and he bounces their entwined fists twice on the arm rest that separates them.

Agrees with her without having to actually agree with her.





*






An aunt that Amber seems to know quite well is coming to stay. They make up a bed and then sit on it, shoulder to shoulder, as they wait for her to arrive.

The committal hearing is at nine the next morning and he says he'll sleep on the couch. She doesn't suggest Aaron's room and he knows he wouldn't take it if she did. He's yet to see his mother and he's almost too afraid to ask.

Figures one thing at a time is more than enough right now.

“You're leaving after, aren't you?”

She'd been quiet until that point. Picking at imaginary fluff from faded sheets and poking her bare toes at Pepper who seems to find the game hilariously entertaining.

He nods because the words are too heavy on his tongue.

“It's okay,” she continues, nods her head to emphasise her point. “I mean, I figured you would and all so... it's okay.”

They both know it's not even close.






*






Icy sleet greets them as they step back into the Seattle winter. A wet and weary welcome. April holds her ridiculously oversized handbag above her head like it'll ward off the rain as she skips through puddles to the cab rank.

Pulls the car door open expansively and mock salutes as she shoves him into the rear of the vehicle ahead of her.

Scurries in after him with a huff of defeated laughter.

“Home, sweet home, hey?”

Glances over at him sideways to make sure her loaded undertone is received loud and clear.

“Yeah,” he offers back; cranes his neck until he's peering through the rear window and up at the never ending grey, “or something like that.”

Date: 2011-02-25 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rorylie.livejournal.com

You just write the most beautiful things. I love everything about this.

Date: 2011-02-27 02:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
Thank you!!! Also, you know what this means???

You're up! You might want to give me a few prompts because, while I'm gonna try, I'm not convinced I'll be able to do one 5200 word fic... so if you can give me a few ideas that would be fantabulous.

The only couple/pairing I refuse to touch is Owen/Cristina! (actually, Owen in general!).

Date: 2011-02-25 06:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] niennatru.livejournal.com
Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. The flashbacks, Aaron and Amber, the i-pod moment between April and Alex, the texted apology to Meredith, the Karev Family Tradition, Amber's adorable dog (awwwwwww....), going back to Iowa, back to the same hospital--just everything. Thanks so much for writing!

(One thing, though, you wrote, An aunt that April seems to know... in one of the flashback scenes. That should read "Amber," right?)

Date: 2011-02-25 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
OH! It totally should! THANK YOU!!!!

Too many A names!! I'm fixing it right now.

And thank you so much for reading, glad that you liked it!!

Date: 2011-02-26 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] niennatru.livejournal.com
Too many A names!! I'm fixing it right now.

Lol!

And thank you so much for reading, glad that you liked it!!

Thanks for writing it!! ^^ You know how much I adore Alex, Amber, and Aaron, so this was an awesome treat.

Date: 2011-02-26 11:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] llywela13.livejournal.com
Oh, I like it. Really clever way to explore what happened with Aaron and Amber juxtaposed with Alex's feelings about it all now.

Date: 2011-02-27 02:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
Thank you!!!

Date: 2011-02-26 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farmerliz.livejournal.com
Loved this story. You've got both voices exactly right. I also loved the writing of this bit:

"Aaron is sedated and restrained and at first it's all Alex can do to bring himself to look through the reinforced glass that separates them. A psych. resident is reeling off admitting information that bounces off his shoulder blades and the impassive planes of his face, never quite makes it any further than his outermost layer of skin. He thinks he might be sick."

Great imagery.

(Also, sorry, no Grey's icons! I'm new to GA fic.)

Date: 2011-02-27 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for reading!! I'm very glad that you liked it! And welcome aboard the Grey's train! It can be a very bumpy ride! Are you new to the show, too?

Date: 2011-02-27 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farmerliz.livejournal.com
Yes and no. I started watching at the very beginning, but during S2 my life got crazy, and I wasn't enamored of the Denny story line, and really didn't like Christina and Burke together, so I stopped watching. But I've recently climbed back aboard, and have caught up entirely from the beginning of S3. I still don't really have time for another hardcore fandom, but I'm having fun. I'll be checking out more of your fic. Any recommendations?

Date: 2011-02-27 05:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
Haha, my favourite season is season two!! (Though, got to be honest with you, I also wasn't a huge fan of the Burke/Cristina relationship or the Denny situation except for with regard to what it meant for Alex/Izzie who are my most favourite thing ever!).

I'm not enamoured with Season Seven. In fact, I've hardly watched any of it because the Owen/Cristina relationship makes me RAGE even more then the Burke/Cristina one!! Haha! And I have had other MAJOR issues with season seven... but, as a whole, I still love the show. And I still live in complete denial about Alex/Izzie being over!!

As for fic recs, it depends on what you like... All my stuff is pretty Alex centric. There are fics that don't involve him (though, they're rare), and fics where he's not the 'main character' but, most of them are pretty Alex heavy.

Also, angst. In the GA fandom I'm known as the Angst Queen! Haha!! So, beware of that too!

I have a masterlist HERE which might help you decide where to start. There is a fair bit to choose from!!

If there is something in particular that you're looking for then let me know. If I haven't written it chances are I'll know who has...! I've been in this fandom for years now.

Date: 2011-02-27 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farmerliz.livejournal.com
Oh, fun! I like Alex a lot actually, and since I came back to the show knowing that KH had left the cast, I wasn't invested in Alex/Izzie. So I like Alex/Izzie, but not exclusively. I'd really just like to see him with someone who will support him emotionally and challenge him in every other way. I love this Alex who is still kind of an ass, but also kind of a brother to Meredith, and so, so good with the pediatric patients. So yeah, bring on the Alex fic.

I've come to realize there's a lot of unhappiness about Hunt/Christina out there. I'm still undecided. Part of me really likes Hunt, but I don't get Christina's tendency to be submissive-until-she's-not in her relationships. She's attracted to those dominant, even high-handed, men, but then goes all "I am a rock; I am an island" on them when they go too far. I'm drawn to the drama/tension/really interesting story potential in those relationships, but then I'm not sure if I like what I'm seeing. Good fic that explores that aspect of Christina's character could be great, if you know of any off the top of your head.

Thanks for the link to your master list. I will definitely explore. My favorite approach to a new universe of fan fic is to find an author I like, and then read her favorite authors. Good writing is attracted to good writing.

Date: 2011-02-27 08:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
Well, as much as I'm invested in Alex/Izzie, I've written Alex with every single 'main' female character except Bailey and including Callie AND Arizona, at the same time! Haha! So, there is plenty of options available to you!

I've also written him with Mark. So beware if slash is not your thing. Though, I think there is only one or two of those...

Oh, and I've also written Alex by himself and/or with his various family members...

Like I said, lots to choose from.

As for recommendations...

[livejournal.com profile] slybrunette is probably one of my favourites.
Also, [livejournal.com profile] truhekili also writes some awesome Alex-centric stuff.

Hardly anyone (actually, that I know of currently, NO ONE) writes Cristina/Owen on a regular basis. There might be the odd fic pop up but it's super rare.

I couldn't stand Owen from the moment he stabbed the pigs in season five and nothing he's done since has made me change my mind. In fact, I think my dislike has only grown.

Neither myself nor [livejournal.com profile] slybrunette write Mark/Lexie, Callie/Arizona or Meredith/Derek. So let me know if you'd like recs for those couples too and I'll have a look through my faves.

I always love being asked for recs because it gets me to go back and read stuff I haven't read for agesssss! Thank you!!!

Date: 2011-02-27 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] richyl88.livejournal.com
I loved it so much! It was perfect. The way you write is just amazing! Everything I wanted :) Sorry it took me so long to read RL was a bit crazy! Thank you so much!!!

Image (http://s8.photobucket.com/albums/a2/girlie_girl31/?action=view&current=tumblr_lgfdgyyPVH1qc63dc.gif)

Date: 2011-02-28 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
YAY!! I'm glad you liked it! I've written stuff that's hinted at Alex/April before but this was the first time I was explicit about it so it was a bit scary!

So pleased it was what you were wanting!!

PHEW!!!

Thank you for buying me!! It made my day!! ♥
Edited Date: 2011-02-28 12:57 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-01 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ovariesofsteel.livejournal.com


This was gorgeous.

Date: 2011-04-11 09:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] waltzmatildah.livejournal.com
Why, (very belated!!) thanks!!

And I am such a slacker, but you already knew that!!

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