Fandom: Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice
Characters: Alex Karev/Amelia Shepherd (Addison Montgomery, Derek Shepherd, various mentions of others)
Rating: PG-13? Maybe R-ish?
Summary: In which Alex doesn't exactly stick around Seattle.
Authors Notes: This pairing, as well as various incarnations of this fic, has been kicking around my head since Amelia was introduced at the end of season 3 of Private Practice. This turned out to be more character-focused than pairing-focused, but I was happy with the end result. Hell, I was happy that I finally sat down and wrote it and got it out of my head. Goes AU from the end of S6 of Grey's and S3 of PP. Some liberties are taken, timeline-wise, and probably realism-wise in a couple places. A bit of the Derek/Amelia scene is taken from what actually happened, but it felt important that it be included.
He stays in the hospital for two weeks. He only stays that long because it’s not Seattle Grace.
The first time he walks back into his hospital two weeks later (it should’ve been longer, but he’s stubborn and the workaholics don’t have a monopoly on using work to cope with shit), it takes Alex several moments to realize that he can’t breathe. His eyes are locked on the elevator bank and his feet are stuck to the tile floor (that he can still feel, cool and slick with his own blood, under his hands).
He can’t get into those elevators.
He wants to turn tail and run like a little bitch baby.
She finds out through the news. No one calls her. The screw-up little sister has no place in the family crisis.
Mark calls Addie, though, and Addie tells her everything. Keeps her updated on Derek’s condition. Constantly reminds her of the fact that he actually is getting better, despite Amelia’s constant nightmares about the exact opposite. She hears the gunshot from her father’s death in those nightmares, but it is her brother that she sees fall.
She can’t lose Derek like she lost Dad.
She wants to dive headfirst into a bottle of pills to take away the anxiety.
To say that Addison is surprised to see him leaning against the door frame of her office would be the understatement of the century, but she’s got a hell of a poker face.
He doesn’t. His face is drawn. His eyes are emotionless. He opens his mouth a couple of times, trying to speak.
No words come out.
Addison lifts a perfectly groomed eyebrow.
“Can I just, like-- I gotta work,” Alex finally says with a half-shrug. “I can’t just stop doing my residency. But I can’t be there.”
Addison, to her credit, doesn’t even blink. “I’ll talk to the others.”
They’re still smarting over the loss of Dell. It makes them reluctant to accept someone new, she can tell, especially after Amelia’s arrival. There are arguments about keeping the status quo, budgetary concerns, personal concerns. But in the end she wins.
Addison Forbes Montgomery always wins (when it isn’t regarding her personal life).
Within two hours she’s got Karev privileges at St. Ambrose and has already contacted Richard in Seattle about the necessary paperwork. Addison answers as few questions as possible, because they aren’t her questions to answer.
She wonders if the shell of Alex she’d seen in the doorway is ever going to be ready to answer them himself.
Addison lets him stay in her unused guest room. For now.
“Don’t think this means...anything,” she says, stopping him with a hand to his shoulder before he can walk into said guest room. Alex lifts an eyebrow.
“Get over yourself.”
Addison probably should be insulted, but instead she laughs.
They don’t mention it again.
It isn’t that Amelia minds running into shirtless men in the kitchen at three AM. But a little warning from Addison would have been nice, because this one has a nasty looking, if mostly healed, gunshot wound on his chest and it reminds Amelia a little too much of the dream that’s the reason she’s awake at all.
“Hey,” she offers, yanking the fridge open and grabbing a bottled water. On impulse, she reaches for another and tosses it to Hot Shirtless Stranger.
He catches it neatly, nodding in wordless thanks, looking a little too grim for her liking.
“Right. New guy at the practice. Peds?”
“Looking that way. Maybe neonatal.”
“Cool.” She surveys him carefully. “So, Seattle Grace.”
“Yep.” He surveys her just as intently. “Anyone ever tell you you look just like your brother?”
“Anyone ever tell you that’s a creepy as hell pickup line?”
He actually laughs at that. Amelia’s pleasantly surprised at the way it completely changes his face, and makes a resolution to make him do it more often.
“I think I’m gonna like you, Alex,” she announces, propping her chin on her fist and studying him.
“Hmm. Jury’s still out on this side.”
It takes approximately two weeks of Alex working at Oceanside Wellness before they become bar buddies. He’s resistant to her overtures of friendship at first, but Amelia finally worms her way in with the promise of a Jenny Lewis show at McCabe’s and booze that’s on her. After that, it’s surprisingly easy to drag him out after a long day of screaming children (for him) and goopy, screwed-up brains (for her).
“So. Big hospital versus small beachside private practice. Which one wins?” she asks one night over beer at The Daily Pint, a month into his stay. She’s keeping an eye on the fooseball table, hoping that the drunk as shit college kids will give it up soon.
Alex shrugs. “Oceanside doesn’t have maniacs with guns or memories of my ex-wife around every corner.”
“But it does have Sheldon,” Amelia points out.
“Technically he’s downstairs. And he’s not so bad.”
“Yesterday you told me that if he didn’t stop trying to psychoanalyze you, you were going to throw him out Addie’s office window.”
Amy traces the rim of her glass with her finger, considering her words-- something that she rarely does, but something in her feels like Alex deserves the courtesy.
“You don’t talk about her,” she says finally.
“Nothing to talk about.”
“Fair enough.” The college kids are gone, and she jerks a thumb over her shoulder. “Fooseball?”
In retrospect, the massive amount of tequila they consumed was probably a terrible idea.
However, nothing seems like a terrible idea as Alex presses her back against the wall of Addie’s guest room-- his, not hers-- holding her up with his body as his hands yank her shirt over her head.
Nothing except stopping whatever is going on here.
So Amelia just reciprocates, taking in the sight of his chest without flinching. She’s used to his wounds by now.
The groan makes Amelia stop, sitting on the edge of his bed and glancing at him over her shoulder.
“Is that supposed to be intelligible?” she hisses, nudging his shoulder. The early light of morning is spilling in through the mostly-closed blinds and she’s got to be at the hospital in less than two hours.
“Yes. It means stop moving. ‘m trying to sleep,” Alex grumbles.
“Oh good, I was afraid it meant ‘oh my God, I actually did sleep with her, thank God she’s leaving’,” she drawls as she untangles herself from the sheet.
“Amy. Shut the fuck up. You have time to sleep another hour.” He grabs her arm, pulling her back down beside him.
“I have to get dressed.”
“You live across the hall. We’re twenty minutes from St. Ambrose. And you’re making my hangover worse.”
“Such a fucking romantic,” she mutters, shaking her head.
But she stays.
“You gotta talk about it sometime.”
“Us sleeping together for a month or so doesn’t mean that you know me.”
It’s a rare night sometime in mid-August when they’re alone in the house, the two of them not working and Addie over at Sam’s. Amelia’s cooking, because she’s starving and doesn’t feel like takeout. His statement makes her drop the spoon into the tomato sauce she’s stirring.
“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” she asks, hands on her hips.
He takes a long pull from his beer, setting the bottle back on the counter deliberately. The noise it makes rings between them.
“I’m not trying to shrink you, Alex, I’m not Sheldon,” she spits. “But I know from experience that if you let something like this fester, bad things happen.”
“Right, because you’re so eager to talk about your addiction. You’re so eager to discuss the fact that I wasn’t the only one that got shot. So did your brother,” he reminds her.
He’s aiming to hurt, and she’s pissed that it worked. So she fires back, like she always does when she’s cornered.
“At least I don’t run away from my problems. You took the coward’s way out, instead of staying and working through your shit.”
“Like I said, you don’t know me,” he tells her coldly, slamming the beer down with more force this time as he stands.
“Because you won’t let me!”
“Fuck you too,” is his only response. He leaves the kitchen, and as she listens to his footsteps on the stairs, part of her wants to go after him.
But he’s right. She doesn’t know him. They’re just two people in close proximity, fucking to ignore their own pain.
She turns back to the tomato sauce. If nothing else, she and Addie can eat it for lunch tomorrow.
She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t surprised when Addie tells her a couple days later that Alex has gone back to Seattle.
“You okay?” the redhead asks cautiously, not meeting Amelia’s eyes as she rinses out her coffee cup.
“Yep. I’m awesome. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Amy, you are aware that I have been living in my house the past couple of months.”
She sighs, slumping back against the counter. “It was just sex. I don’t need a relationship counselor. Or a mom,” she adds, looking up at Addie out of the corner of her eyes, a slight smirk tugging at the edges of her lips.
“Then why do you look so bummed?”
“Cause I was a jackass. Said some things I probably shouldn’t have.”
“Hm, welcome to the club. We’re all jackasses at some point.” Addie pauses. “We do have really good wine, though.”
“At least there’s that silver lining.”
Early October, Amelia ends up in Seattle, thanks to some sort of impromptu family reunion her mother and Kathleen cooked up. She isn’t even given a choice; the confirmation email for her flight is waiting in her email inbox right after she hangs up with her sister.
Staring at the doors of Seattle Grace takes up about the first twenty minutes of her visit. She doesn’t want to go in. Derek probably doesn’t even want to see her.
Actually, she’s amazed that the screw-up sister was even invited.
“Is this the part where I get to call you a coward and piss you off enough that you face your demons?”
“As poetic as that would be, I would much prefer that you just literally kick my ass through the door.”
“I can do that too.”
He stands beside her, hands shoved in his jacket pockets. “Your family really that bad?”
“How do you know that’s why I’m here?” she asks, looking over at him for the first time. There’s barely a shadow of a beard on his chin. Amelia approves.
“People talk. I’m back living with Mere and your brother.”
“Really?” she drawls.
“Yeah. It’s kinda like a frat house.”
“I can only imagine.”
“You gotta go in at some point, Amy.”
“Do I, though?” she asks, shaking her head. “I doubt they’ll even notice. Of course, if they do notice, it’ll just be one more thing to add to the list of stuff Amelia’s fucked up.”
“So don’t give it to ‘em. I gotta go in, though. Got a kid to cut open.”
He gives her a brief smile before ambling off toward the entrance.
Amy pauses for a grand total of about ten seconds before hurrying after him.
“You know where Derek’s office is, right?”
She lasts fifteen minutes, because that is how long it takes Nancy to say something snide about ‘Hurricane Amy’. To her credit (and mostly out of respect for her mother), she doesn’t swear at her sister. She just gets up and leaves.
About ten feet down the hallway she’s stalking through, she realizes she has no idea where she’s going. Still, a hospital is a hospital. It’s gotta be fairly similar to St. Ambrose, she reasons as she stalks around a corner, dragging a hand through her hair.
She barely has time to react before she’s being pulled into what is probably an empty on-call room and very familiar lips are slanting over hers.
“What was that for?” she asks a few moments later, her voice a bit breathy.
Alex shrugs. “Looked like you could use it.”
“Yeah. Really kinda could,” she half-offers, letting her face ask the question she can’t bring herself to voice.
He’s grinning as his hands grip her hips, lifting her so that she can wrap her legs around his waist (‘Jesus, Amy, you couldn’t wear a skirt just once?’) and he can press her back against the door.
It’s frenetic, and punctuated with shushing noises when one of them gets too loud and laughter when Alex nearly falls on his ass trying not to drop her on hers, and over far too soon for her liking.
But they’re both grinning like fools as they straighten themselves up, and she feels far more settled and far less like she wants to punch something (likely her sister). Amelia would chalk it up to sex endorphins if Alex didn’t grab her wrist and pull her back to him to kiss her gently before slipping out of the on-call room past her.
She checks her hair one last time in her phone before exiting herself. The unimpressed (but seriously cute) dark-skinned doctor waiting outside lifts an eyebrow at her. Amy just shrugs and saunters off down the corridor.
“Hi. Where’d Mom and everyone go?” she asks, leaning back against the door after she closes it behind her.
“You mean, do you have to worry about Nancy coming back?” Derek asks knowingly. He pinches the bridge of his nose, a trait that Amy knows they both inherited from their father. “No, she and Kathleen and Mom went to check into the hotel.”
“What about Rachel?”
“Downstairs talking to Meredith, as far as I know.”
Amelia’s glad that one of her sisters is making an effort with their sister-in-law. She makes a mental note to do some sisterly bonding of her own before she leaves town.
First, though, she needs to take care of things on the brotherly front.
“Why didn’t you answer my calls?” she asks, moving from the door to sit on the edge of his desk.
“Because it’s easier to keep you at arms’ length.”
Derek drags a hand back through his hair, and she’s struck by not only how similar their mannerisms are, but how much more grey he is than the last time she saw him.
“All I’ve ever wanted is to keep you quiet and safe. To not let the bad stuff touch you.” He laughs, but there is no humor in it. “That backfired pretty tremendously when you went out looking for the bad stuff, but the instinct is still there. I didn’t want this to touch you.”
“Not knowing how you were made it worse,” she tells him. He glances up at her, a question in his eyes, and she quickly shakes her head. “I didn’t. But I wanted to. I’m always going to want to.”
Silence opens up between them, and Amelia tries to find a way to bridge it. She comes up with nothing.
“What’s it going to take to get you to trust me again?” she asks instead.
“Amy,” he sighs.
Instead of answering, he stands up and pulls her into his arms.
It’s good enough for her.
A dry afternoon two days later finds her standing at those same glass front doors, staring again.
“Heard Webber offered you Shadow Shepherd’s old job,” she hears him say behind her. Amelia bites her lip, fighting a grin.
“That’s the rumor.”
“You gonna take it?”
“I could use a roommate,” he offers. At Amelia’s raised eyebrow, he shrugs. “Your brother and my traitor best friend are kicking me out again.”
“Hmm. We do already know we’re compatible, pizza-order wise,” Amelia reasons.
“And we drink the same beer.”
“Except that nasty shit you like.”
“We drink mostly the same beer,” Alex corrects himself. Glancing over at her, he gives her a cajoling smile. “Come on. You know you’d much rather live in a shithole apartment in rainy Seattle with me than in Addison’s sunny Santa Monica beach house with her.”
“Well, when you put it that way,” Amy drawls. Still, she can’t deny that the idea holds more than a little appeal.
“Come on,” he says again, but this time he’s wrapping his arm around her waist and steering her toward the building, pressing his lips to the top of her head. “Robbins and your brother are cutting a kid’s head open today. I can probably get you in.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls.”
“Nah. Just the ones I already know are good in bed.”