Thank you so much for all your reviews and for continuing to read this story. Your support is the BEST! Special thank you to Emma Winchester424 for her help with this chapter! I wouldn't have been able to do it without her :)
I took some extra time with this chapter because I wanted to make sure everything came out as I had it planned in my head. Now the drama is starting…eeekk!
Also, I want to point out that there are mentions of abuse in this chapter (nothing detailed or graphic).
Read, Review, but most importantly, ENJOY!
"Amber, what the hell are you doing here?" Alex demanded.
Amber felt her breath hitch in her throat at his tone. Whether he was worried or angry, it was hard to tell because his tone never changed.
Her fingers immediately realized the picture was still in her hand and she tried to push it between the cushions as stealthily as possible without taking her eyes off his. "I came to see you," she replied, feigning excitement.
Alex walked harshly into Cristina's legs on purpose, making her take them down so he could walk past and sit on the lounging chair perpendicular to Amber. "Are you okay?" The only thing running through his mind was that she'd come to the hospital because something had happened.
"I'm fine," she reassured him with a smile. "Nothing's wrong."
Now that they had established the most important part to him, it was time for details. "How'd you get here?" he demanded, his elbows resting on his knees.
Alex ran a hand down his face. "The bus?!"
"You know, a vehicle with 8 tires that go round and round," she joked.
"But I didn't even show you—"
Amber held up her hand to stop him. "The internet has lots of information these days." Alex stared at her, not even sure what he wanted to say next, but certain that he hated the idea of her traveling in this big city alone without any help at all. "I didn't get lost, if that's what you're worried about," she lied. What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
"Yeah, well you don't need to be out taking the bus alone in a new city," he scolded. Amber didn't say anything, just slightly nodded her head in reluctant understanding and Alex let his worry die away. "What are you doing here then?"
"I thought I'd come see my brother at work," she remarked, reaching out and smacking his upper arm.
Brushing off her sudden touch, he countered, "You should have asked."
"Would you have let me come?"
"Exactly why I didn't bother asking," she smirked.
Alex rolled his eyes, hating that she seemed to have a sarcastic remark for everything. It was like fighting with himself and he didn't like that one bit. "Did you finish picking out your classes?"
"Not yet…" She diverted her gaze, knowing she should have done that before she'd come.
Alex sighed. "You should be at home doing that," he countered flatly.
"But I just wanted to come see where you work," she defended, throwing in a small smile in hopes of persuading him, but to no avail.
Alex stood up, signaling that their conversation was about to come to an end. "You can't be here, Amber. This isn't a place for kids."
"Says the pediatric surgeon," she quipped.
Alex narrowed his eyes, frustrated that she seemed to think this was all a joke. He took a deep breath, willing himself to keep his anger at bay. "Have you had lunch?"
"Not yet," she replied honestly.
He reached into his lab coat pocket and pulled out a few bills. "Go get something in the cafeteria and then go home," he said, adding extra emphasis to the last two words. He pulled her arm gently so she was standing up in front of him and then started dragging her toward the door. "On second thought, come back here when you're done. Dr. Shepherd is almost out of surgery. I'll see if he can take you back instead."
"Alex, I can take the damn bus," she retorted, pulling her arm out of his grasp, gravely offended. "I'm not a little kid."
He shifted his weight in annoyance. "Just come back here when you're done and go with Derek," he said, his tone and facial expression showing there was no room for discussion.
Amber stared him down, inwardly deciding if this battle was worth continuing, but in the end, she decided a free ride back to the house would be great because it'd save her time and the possibility of getting lost. "Fine," she mumbled.
Amber turned around to leave, but before she had a chance to open the door, Alex grumbled, "And stop talking to so many people." He had been quite annoyed when Jackson had come up to him, asking if he really did have a sister and why she was here in the lounge. He had kept his personal life separate from his professional one for a reason and he hated seeing that all go down the drain.
Amber's brow creased. "Oh? Now I'm not even allowed to talk at all? Guess I'll have to look into a career as a mime."
She turned on her heel to fully face him with her back up against the door, the question burning the tip of her tongue. "Why don't people know about me?" she demanded, her eyes searching his for some kind of answer.
"My personal life is personal. I don't need to go around broadcasting it," he snapped. Actually he had been taken quite off guard when Jackson had come up to him. If it hadn't been for that, he may not have found out she was even in the hospital.
"Alex, you're practically adopting me and yet you don't feel the need to tell anyone you have a sister?"
Cristina instantly shot up on the couch. "Wait, you're adopting her?"
"Not now, Yang," Alex barked, pointing a finger in her direction. Cristina just shrugged her shoulders and shook her head before returning to her comfortable position, trying to sleep and successfully blocking their voices.
"Why do you want to hide me? I don't get it!" Amber retorted, her voice starting to fill with anger.
Alex crossed his arms over his chest. "It's not like that and you know it. You have nothing to do with my work so there is no point in brining it up!"
Like any Karev, Amber fed off of his anger, letting it add fuel to her own fire. "So you're ashamed of me?"
"You literally showed up a few days ago."
"But I've been your sister for sixteen years."
Alex let out an annoyed sigh. "Even if I had wanted to tell people about my private life, there really hasn't been any time, Amber! In case you didn't know, I'm pretty damn busy here. I don't have time to just sit around and share our life story!"
Completely ignoring his rant and suddenly recalling the picture of Izzie, Amber spat, "Keeping secrets seems to be your thing anyway."
Alex couldn't take it any longer. "You're one to talk," he snapped, regretting the words the second they left his mouth.
She froze for a few seconds at his words and then stood up straighter, as if trying to let his words roll right off her. Sure she had her secrets. Hell, she had enough baggage to fill an entire jet, but why was he all the sudden accusing her of this? He clearly had his own suspicions about something from her past and she cringed at the mere idea of what he might be on to.
They continued to stare at one another, their eyes locked as they seemed to be lost in a silent battle, like x-ray vision trying to see who could crack the other's internal vault of secrets first. Amber had come here to get answers and Alex had walked in at the worst possible second, preventing her from finding out the truth. And it would seem she'd be leaving without those answers as well.
Finally she was able to regain her composure and she scoffed, "Well, no need to worry. I'll be back at the house in no time and you can go on pretending I don't exist!"
"Quit being a drama queen." His blood continued to boil and he was reaching his breaking point.
"I'll go back to being your invisible little sister in no time. So carry on then, Alex."
"Will you knock it off already!" Alex yelled loudly as he threw both his arms up in front of him in complete and utter exasperation.
And that's when he saw it. His sudden arm movements had caused Amber to react.
She flinched…her body seemingly prepared to cower back in fear of what was to come.
To the normal eye, it probably would have been almost unperceivable, would have gone unnoticed. But from his own experience, Alex had always been aware, alert, able to perceive what was going on when others might disregard it as nothing. His eye had been trained to pick up on those things. It was something so subtle that only someone who had been in her place would be able to notice. Amber was completely taken back as Alex suddenly paused, staring at her with an unexplainable expression.
Because she thought he was going to hit her.
On some level buried deep in her mind, her body had told her to prepare for the worst, to shrink away because the inevitable was coming. But as soon as his hands had rested down at his sides, out of reach, her body suddenly relaxed, regaining its composure, all within milliseconds.
And judging by her current stance and glare, she had no idea it had even happened. That was what worried him the most. It had been a subconscious reflex…an instinct…and that's only something that develops over time, put in place after being in the same situation over and over again, after learning that angry voices and sudden movements seem to go hand-in-hand. It was exactly what he would have done when he was younger, scarred for life from his abusive father.
Alex was now a sophomore in high school and his Devil-may-care attitude and lack of respect had already landed him in the principal's office multiple times this semester. He sat slouched down in a chair facing Mr. Miller's desk, staring down at the old brown carpet covering the floor, just waiting for it to be over already.
After a long pause, Mr. Miller finally broke the silence. "This is the third time you've been in here for showing blatant disrespect toward a teacher. And after looking at your record, there seems to be a long history of this." He hesitated for a moment, trying to see if Alex was going to defend himself against these allegations. "What do you have to say for yourself?" he demanded.
Alex continued to stare at the ground and shrugged his shoulders indifferently, feeling no need to partake in this conversation. It always went down the same way. They'd lecture him about respect, give him a week's worth of detention, and then he'd be on his way again. It was the same song, just a different day.
"Do you feel any remorse at all?" he interrogated, wanting to illicit some kind of response from the kid. But his stoic features and stone cold demeanor told him it was going to be a lost cause. Frustrated that the boy wouldn't even make eye contact, Mr. Miller stood up, hovering over his desk, his gaze drilling into him, and he belted out in a surge of irritation, "Alex, look at me when I'm speaking to you!" as he slammed his hands down on the table with a loud crash.
And that's when the principal saw it. The boy's body recoiled at the sudden outburst, like it had instinctively expected that blow to come at him, but once he realized that the table had been hit instead, he relaxed a little, his muscles no longer tense.
Suddenly everything he thought he knew about Alex disappeared. He had pegged him to be the usual disrespectful kid who had no parental supervision at home, so he always did whatever he pleased. But when he saw Alex react like that, he was hit with the abrupt realization that not everything was as it seemed to be. There was a story hidden behind that tough-guy outward appearance The kid didn't flinch because he was scared by the abrupt noise…no, he flinched because he thought that blow was coming at him.
"Alex…." Mr. Miller's voice was now calmer, gentler, causing Alex to glance up at the unexpected change.
"What?!" he demanded, his voice full of teenage rebellion.
Mr. Miller ran his hand along his jaw line, not even sure what to say at first. "Alex…I wasn't….I mean, I'm not going to hit you."
"What the hell are you talking about?" he spat.
"You, uh, you moved when—"
But Alex didn't want to hear another word out of his mouth or what he was starting to hint at. He hadn't been sure if he'd cowered back or not at the pounding on the desk, but in his mind, he'd expected that blow to come at him, although he would never admit that to anyone. His father may have been out of their lives for over 10 months now, but old habits die hard. Then, he stood up, not wanting this conversation to go any further. "Just give me the detentions and we're done here."
Amber flinched because her body expected to get hit…
Alex was bombarded with the sudden urge to either throw up or throw a chair, but he did neither. He just stared back at his sister, all words escaping him.
Having no idea what to make of Alex's sudden change in demeanor, she took it as her chance to just leave and get out of there. "Screw you," she muttered under her breath. Then, turning on her heel, she opened the door and took off down the hall toward the elevators in search of the cafeteria again.
Her older brother was left standing there, watching as she stormed off down the hall. His brain couldn't even form a coherent thought. Sure he'd suspected things since she'd shown up, but there was a part of him that always doubted it were true, a part of his mind that refused to accept the real possibility. However, it was now impossible to convince himself otherwise as a whole new reality started to settle in. Guilt slowly crept up in his throat and he felt it tighten, like he couldn't breath, it was suffocating him. Rage consumed every vein in his body…anger at whoever had done this to her…fury at himself for letting it happen as long as it seemed to have been going on.
Without even thinking about it, he slammed the door shut and banged his fist harshly on the wooden frame, feeling the wood cave in under his sudden blow.
The abrupt noise didn't cause Cristina to jump but rather she curiously opened her eyes. "Alex?" She had tried to sound concerned, but her voice came out as flat and emotionless as usual.
"Shut it, Yang," he snapped. He stood there, resting his forehead on his fist, trying to steady his breathing and push all his emotions down. This was most definitely not the place to Hulk out and destroy things. He stayed that way for a few minutes until he had collected himself enough to take a seat in the chair by the door. Resting his elbow on the desk, he began to massage his temples, trying to keep a pounding headache at bay.
Shortly after, Cristina reluctantly got up, annoyed that she wasn't able to get the 10 minutes of sleep she had hoped for. Just as she was about to walk away, the reflection of something caught her eye between the couch cushions. She reached down and pulled out the forgotten picture.
"Amber left this," she said, slamming the picture on the desk.
Alex sat there, completely stunned, this having been the last thing he expected, much less needed right now. He grabbed hold of the picture and looked down at it. If things hadn't been bad before, they were definitely beyond horrendous now.
"Where the hell did she get this?!" he demanded, his voice low.
Seemingly unfazed by his tone, she grabbed onto the door handle and turned toward him. "Not my problem," she retorted, shrugging her shoulders with a devilish smirk spread across her face. And without another word, she walked outside. Torturing Alex had totally been worth the lack of sleep.
"Yang!" Alex called after her, but he was just met with the evil laugh she was throwing back his way. "Damn it Cristina!"
As soon as she'd disappeared around the corner, he drew his attention back to the picture in his hand. He had no idea where Amber had gotten that picture and it had been ages since he'd seen it, let alone thought about that woman. Not giving it another thought, he angrily crumbled it up in his fist and harshly tossed it in a nearby trashcan. He looked up at the ceiling and shook his head. Why all this? Why now? He couldn't possibly care less about Izzie and that was probably the least of his worries right now.
He just couldn't get the picture of Amber out of his head.
Her body had instinctively ducked down…cowered back in fear…until she'd realized that he wasn't going to strike the blow that she was ultimately prepared to take.
Unable to hold it back any more, Alex rushed off to the bathroom in the back corner of the room, emptying the entire contents of his stomach. The images, fears, scenarios, everything was going through his head at a hundred miles an hour and it physically made him sick that although he didn't know how bad it was, he did know that she'd been put through the same nightmare he'd tried to run from. He sat on the floor, resting his head up against the cool ceramic wall as he tried to calm another wave of nausea that threatened to overcome him again.
Maybe Amber had been right…they both were still holding on to secrets…but no matter how hard they tried, sooner or later, the truth would always catch up to them and it might just strike with the force of an unexpected blow.
Oh my! Prepare yourselves for the upcoming wave of feels :) Don't forget to let me know what you thought!