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Grey's Anatomy fic: Losing Farther, Losing Faster (None of these Will Bring Disaster) 1/1

November 14th, 2013 (05:52 am)
embarrassed

feeling: embarrassed

Title: Losing Farther, Losing Faster (None of These Will Bring Disaster)

Disclaimer: I do not own Grey’s Anatomy.

A/N: I don’t even know, okay? Beta by sendintheklowns. Probably set in the S9 range. Centric on Alex, with a lot of Meredith and Cristina. Fills the prompt amnesia for my hc_bingo table. Apologies to Elizabeth Bishop for the title. And really, the medical stuff in this is off the top of my head. So don’t look to it for accuracy.

Summary: The more Alex learns, he’s starting to think the amnesia is the good news.



-o-

He doesn’t remember.

There’s a bright light, and people are talking. Someone yells; someone cries. Someone puts a hand on his head, another squeezes his hand. “Don’t you dare give up on me, Alex. Don’t you dare.

They sound just as desperate as they do pissed, and he feels inexplicably like apologizing before the pain explodes in his head.

And there’s nothing left to think about at all.

-o-

When he wakes up, someone is staring down at him. His dark hair is peppered with gray, the face covered in unshaven scrub. He looks serious.

“Alex, can you tell me where you are?” the man asks.

Confused, he wrinkles his brow. He takes a breath; it hurts. His chest constricts and tears spring to his eyes.

“Alex,” the man says, a little more urgently now. “Can you speak?”

It seems like a stupid question -- it is a stupid question -- except when he realizes that he can’t. He can’t speak, and he can’t move, and he can’t tell this guy anything.

Because he doesn’t know.

He doesn’t know.

And the blackness rises again.

-o-

The next time, the room is dim. There’s a rustling, and he turns his head. There are two women now, each one in scrubs, each one looking exhausted.

The first one rouses, her brown-blonde hair messy as she almost drops her stack of papers. When she yelps, the second one startles, her dark hair and dark eyes first annoyed and then surprised.

“Alex?” the first asks.

“Evil spawn?”

The first slugs the second.

He frowns.

“What?” the second asks. “Derek asked us to check for recognition.”

“So you insult him?”

“I’m using a familiar term of endearment, unique to our relationship,” the second explains.

The first sighs, shaking her head and moving closer. “Ignore her,” she says curtly. “Seriously, though, can you tell me how you’re doing?”

It’s tempting to go back to sleep -- he wants to, he really wants too -- but there’s something about the question. Something about her. He frowns and swallows, his throat blanching painfully. When he moves his tongue, it’s thick and sticky and licking his lips just makes it worse.

“Sorry,” the woman apologizes. “You’ve been here for a while.”

“You’re lucky we didn’t leave you intubated,” the second says dismissively. “Then you’d really be feeling the pain.”

“Cristina,” the first hisses.

“It’s true!”

He furrows his brow, trying to track their conversation. One to the next; it’s just confusing. Too much. His eyelids feel heavy and he starts to close his eyes.

“Hey,” the woman says, reaching out to touch him.

He startles at the touch, opening his eyes and looking down to where her hand is on his arm.

She blushes a little, but then cocks her head. “Alex?” she asks. “Can you say something?”

He swallows again, this time having a bit more luck. The effort is monumental, but he makes it anyway. For her, it seems worth it, even if he doesn’t know why. “You guys talk too much,” he croaks.

A grin spreads across the woman’s face. The second sits back contentedly. “See,” she says. “He’s fine.”

The first rolls her eyes. “He’s suffered a major head trauma--”

“Yeah, and we had to crack his chest,” the second says. She leans forward intently, looking at him again. “Don’t worry. My work is flawless.”

“And Derek says you did great on the table,” the first assures him. “You’re going to be okay.”

That’s all well and good, probably. Except…

He frowns deeper.

The first cocks her head. “Alex? Is everything okay?”

“I guess,” he says. “But…”

The second raises her eyebrows; the first tightens her grip protectively.

He shrugs. “Except I don’t know who the hell you people are.”

-o-

They think he’s joking, which is actually pretty annoying. They ask him countless questions until he’s so angry that he wants to scream, and when they finally call in his apparent neurosurgeon, he has to go through it all again.

No, he doesn’t know what happened.

No, he doesn’t know who these people are.

No, he doesn’t know where he is.

No, he doesn’t know who he is.

All he knows is that everything hurts and he’s tired. He’s so, so tired.

The rest, he decides, will just have to wait.

-o-

He sleeps longer than he should, sort of because he can. Sometimes, when he wakes, he hears voices, hushed whispers and fragments of conversations.

“Could it be psychologically induced?”

“What’s the latest scan say?”

“Have we checked for other neurological markers?”

“Maybe we missed something, a clot or a tumor--”

“There has to be something--

There is.

There’s sleep, and he takes it as long as he can.

-o-

There are tests. Lots of them. He’s put through machines and examined by countless doctors. They bring in a shrink, and everyone perches on the edge of their chair around him, hopeful and reserved. Like they think he’s going to break.

It’s probably a little flattering to know they care.

Mostly, though, it’s just annoying.

-o-

“Amnesia,” the neurosurgeon says. “There are always unexpected results with any head trauma. The hematoma interrupted the neural pathways, so some complications were expected--”

“This isn’t an impairment, though,” the first woman says. “He’s fine in every other way.”

“There’s not always a clean explanation,” the neurosurgeon says, as if he’s reminding them.

“Still, this is rare, isn’t it?” the second asks.

They all look at the neurosurgeon, and he makes a face, shrugging in return.

“It’s uncommon,” the neurosurgeon says, sounding a little vexed. The he nods, as if rallying his optimism. “But there’s every reason to be hopeful.”

-o-

Hopeful around here means annoying.

Apparently, to treat his amnesia, they decide to talk to him.

A lot.

“Alex, do you remember Joe’s? You go there a lot.”

“What about pediatric surgery? Can you walk me through a routine appendectomy?”

“Do you remember your family? You don’t like to talk about them.”

“Who was the last girl you slept with?”

“Where do you live?”

The more they ask, the more he wants to remember just to shut them up.

-o-

This is what he learns:

His name is Alex Karev. He’s a resident in Seattle, specializing in pediatric surgery. He’s pretty good, but not the best, and he’s worked hard to get here. He’s had to overcome a lot of crap, which means he doesn’t have the best people skills. He’s slept with most of the female staff, and that’s not a good thing. He has anger management issues and he sucks with people, but works well with kids.

That’s what happened, actually. He held his ground with a patient’s father, and bam -- he never saw the punch coming that knocked him out cold on the floor, hitting his head hard enough to cause a bleed in his brain that nearly killed him.

Worse, it threw a clot, which ended up in his heart, effectively giving him a heart attack. He basically died on the table, even if they did get him back in the end. All things considered, a little amnesia is nothing.

In fact, the more he learns, he’s starting to think the amnesia is the good news.

-o-

He starts physical therapy. “Nothing too rigorous,” Meredith says.

“It has to be a little rigorous,” Cristina counters. “That’s the whole point.”

“He’s still recovering,” Meredith protests.

“Yeah, and he needs to push himself to get better,” Cristina says.

“He’s just over a week post-op,” Meredith argues.

“And his vitals are stable,” Cristina says.

“Because he’s resting.”

“I wouldn’t have him do it if I didn’t think he was ready.”

“Sure, but I’m saying we should be careful.”

“And I’m saying we should be aggressive.”

Alex sighs. “Can you two shut up?” he snaps as they look at him in surprise. “If I’m going to be pissed off and tired, I’d like to actually do the work first.”

-o-

People visit, but it’s a pain in the ass to keep them sorted. A bunch of interns who look stupid and nervous. One of them brings flowers.

Arizona Robbins tells him they miss him in Peds.

Owen Hunt reassures him his job is safe.

Richard Webber pats him on the arm and says he’s doing just fine.

Jackson Avery, April Kepner, Callie Torres, Miranda Bailey: they all come by with their own form of appreciation. They ask questions and tell him stories, hoping to jog his memory.

It makes him want to scream a little, because he can’t remember. He doesn’t know these people, and he can’t be the person they remember. He doesn’t know how. He doesn’t know.

And they seem like nice people, they seem like good people, so he wants to. He really does.

But when he looks inside, when he looks really, really deep, there’s nothing there.

-o-

He grows sullen. He starts to argue with people and doesn’t pretend to be social. He stops caring about the therapy and when they do stupid mental stimulation, he’s just too frustrated to bother.

“Alex,” Derek says slowly. “I know it’s frustrating--”

“Do you?” Alex snaps with a petulant glare. “Do you really?”

Derek doesn’t flinch, barely even blinks. “Better than you think. But you can get better.”

“Well, that’s great of you to say, doc--”

“Do not trivialize this,” Derek tells him seriously. “There are people who have worked hard to save your life. They have worked hard to get you this far. And they’re still working hard. No one will be mad at you if you can’t do it, but no one will forgive you if you don’t try.”

Alex sits stiffly. “Funny,” he says snidely. “But I thought I was doing it for myself.”

Derek’s expression shifts, just a little. He looks sad. “I wish you would,” he says. “We all do.”

-o-

He stops taking visitors. He throws the flowers in the trash. His body is healing, but his memory is blank. Sometimes there are moments -- a name or a place, a procedure or a diagnosis -- but it’s gone before he can hold it.

It’s just all gone.

-o-

Meredith finally accosts him one day in the hallway. She steals his wheelchair and pushes him down the hallway while he protests loudly.

No one seems to care.

He ends up in a closet, and Meredith slams the door shut, turning on him.

“Okay,” she says. “We’re going to talk.”

He makes a face. “I don’t remember, okay? If I did, I’d tell you just to shut all of you up.”

“I know that,” she says. “But why don’t you remember.”

“You’re married to the neurosurgeon,” Alex says with a futile hand gesture. “Let him show you the scans.”

“There’s nothing wrong with your brain, Alex.”

He grinds his teeth together. “So, what?” he asks. “There’s just something wrong with me?”

“I don’t know,” she says. “You tell me.”

“I have amnesia!” he explodes. “I don’t know.

“Don’t you?” she returns. “Or do you know and that’s why you don’t want to remember?”

His face contorts in incredulity. “What?”

“You know too much, maybe,” Meredith continues. “You think that amnesia is better?”

“No, amnesia sucks,” Alex tells her honestly.

“But remembering isn’t easier, is it?” Meredith realizes. “Come on, Alex. Do you really still think it’s so bad to be you?”

“Well, isn’t it?” Alex asks. “I sleep around; I screw up. I’m a decent doctor who treats everyone like crap. I’m alone, I have no family. I was married but got dumped, and then I got shot. People around me die, and while everyone else figures crap out, I just keep running in circles.”

“It’s more than that,” Meredith insists.

“From where I’m sitting, I really don’t see how,” Alex says.

“We’re doctors,” Meredith says. “We save lives, and we’re not perfect, but we’re doing what we can. Sometimes we do it right; sometimes we do it wrong. You always want to do the right thing. You just go about it all wrong.”

Alex makes a face. “What does that even mean?”

“It means you sleep around and you insult people and you lie,” Meredith continues. “Because all you want is someone to love and respect you and be honest with you. It’s easier to take what you get when you get to pretend you deserved it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alex scoffs.

“But I do,” Meredith says knowingly. “You always come around. Right now you think having amnesia is easier than facing the fact that people care about you.”

“It’s not all about you!” Alex shoots at her finally.

“Then what is it about?” Meredith asks, not even missing a damn beat.

“It’s about the fact that maybe there’s nothing worth remembering,” Alex says. “I’m a guy who sleeps around and insults people and lies. You seem to think there’s more than that, but every time I look, I don’t see anything. There’s nothing inside of me. Nothing worth holding on to, anyway.”

Meredith doesn’t look away; she doesn’t back down. “You can think that,” she says. “And your life hasn’t been easy or perfect, I know that. But it’s been a good life. You’ve done good things. And I promise you, we will all stay here, we will all stay with you until you believe otherwise.”

She means it. Alex doesn’t know anything, but he knows that.

He knows it.

It’s like an anchor, pulling him down. Steady and constant when everything else is uncertain. For a second, he thinks that could drown him.

Or it might save his life.

It’s probably time to find out which.

-o-

It doesn’t come fast, and it doesn’t come easy. But there are more moments. He knows how to a lateral incision and when Cristina brings him a pig’s foot, his sutures are perfect and in a line. When Robbins visits, he remembers to ask about a patient named Gerald, even if he doesn’t know why. He remembers enough to ask where Izzie is and to apologize to April for giving her so much crap.

When he’s discharged, things are still hazy. But Jackson takes him across the street to Joe’s, and Cristina gets him settled back at his house. Every day, when Derek checks him, he’s more sure, more confident. He starts to joke with Meredith.

He starts to believe.

-o-

At his last follow up, Derek is all smiles. “I told you,” he says, completely smug -- the bastard. “The brain is a remarkable thing.”

Alex grins. “I’m pretty sure this isn’t all about anatomy.”

Derek nods and shakes Alex’s hand warmly. “I know.”

-o-

Meredith and Cristina take him out to lunch to celebrate when he is cleared to operate.

“To Alex,” Meredith says.

“I never doubted your resolve,” Cristina says. “Evil, after all, is more resilient.”

Meredith swats her, but Alex grins. “Lucky for both of us, right?” he jokes.

“And just when I was starting to actually miss you,” Cristina quips.

“Seriously, though,” Meredith says, trying to hold her cup up again. “To Alex. For his perseverance and determination.”

Cristina lifts her. “To all the children he has left to save, and parents he has left to provoke.”

Alex chuckles, lifting his cup. “To the guy who needed to forget to remember.”

They tap their glasses and then drink.

Cristina gulps hers, and puts it down. “That was good,” she says. “Is Alex paying? Because I’ll have another.”

Meredith groans. “I’ve got this--”

“Nah,” Alex says, digging into his wallet. “Let me.”

Cristina arches an eyebrow, and Meredith is surprised. “Are we sure there was no lasting damage?” Cristina says.

“Ha ha,” Alex says. “Shut up and order your drink before I change my mind.”

-o-

When Alex goes home, he’s tired but happy. He showers and gets ready for better, laying down to stare at the ceiling. It’s all come back to him now, from his messed up childhood to his asshole ways back in med school. He’s not a good guy, and there’s no way he deserves the life he has. These people are his friends, and he’s spent a lot of time pretending they weren’t. He’s fought that, he’s avoided it, he’s ignored it.

The thing is, now, after all this, he’s not sure why. Maybe to protect himself; maybe out of habit. Maybe because he’s been so damn scared his whole life; maybe because he never believed himself to be worth any of it at all.

It might be a lot of things.

It might be everything.

But now, Alex just doesn’t remember.