amber_v: i will stare at you until you realize i am right (blinds)
amber_v ([personal profile] amber_v) wrote in [community profile] alwaysright2009-11-19 03:13 pm

31 October 2007 - Evening

Amber chucked her purse and winter coat onto the sofa. Her day hadn't improved any: after hitting all of the hospital's departments, she'd come out empty handed. Either one of the other game players had already been there (and found nothing), or there were no strangely ill patients to be collect. In the clinic there'd been one wailing kid baffling everyone, but turned out he'd swallowed a pen cap. No mystery of the week there. At least Amber had gotten in the workout she'd meant to, making up for yesterday's lost yoga class. She was vaguely sore all over, but that ache symbolized the one thing she'd accomplished correctly today. That, and turning off her hallway door light; it was her apartment building's convention for warning that trick-or-treaters would not be welcome. She was in no mood for brats, in costume or not.

Next off were her heels, though she took the effort of storing those away, together with the rest of her outfit. She hadn't seen Eric again. It was probably for the best. If Amber saw him now-- she didn't know how she'd react. Just thinking about him, and House's conversation, made her close her eyes, hand on the closet door. She'd want to know how much of what House implied-- and said-- about Eric was true. More than that, she'd want to not care. A little too late for that, though.

In a pair of jeans and sweatshirt (not the one from last night, that had gone into the laundry, together with the rest of yesterday's outfit), Amber felt better. She wasn't fired yet, and House did appreciate a good bit of drama. If he kept her on just to watch her relationship with Eric play out, it'd give her the chance to prove herself in the battle field; she'd solved last week's case and she'd do it again.

Amber prepared herself one of her simpler meals, spaghetti with canned tomato sauce. It might not be an incredible recipe, but it was something doable, and she ate it leaning against the kitchen counter, letting herself slurp through some of the strands, tasting the oregano she'd added to the concoction. Through the walls she could hear the voices of children and parents as they returned from an evening of demanding candy from strangers.

None of it was Eric's fault. Not really. The worst she could say about him was that he'd had a life before her, which of course he did. He'd already pretty much told her that. And if he'd been some crystal-pure being of light before meeting her, they probably wouldn't have cared one bit for one another. House had simply found the worst way possible to drive in that point, making being with Eric seem like some kind of competition: there can only be one! But her reaction, now that was uncalled for. But there wasn't anything she could do about that, besides break up with Eric, and even that wasn't really an option, since if she had to see him every day at work she'd not only keep on being stupid, she'd hurt to see him all the time and be reminded of what she'd given up. The most she could do was reign in her emotions-- for real, this time-- and wash the dishes. Which she did.

Back in the study, Amber considered the volumes on her shelves. In her line of work, she couldn't ever stop studying: new medicines entered the market all the time, research revealed old truths to be dead wrong, and there was so much she'd simply never learned in the first place, in med school or the years since. With House, the pressure was increased exponentially; being the best radiologist wouldn't cut it anymore, she had to know everything. Which, even by her own perfectionist standards she knew to be impossible, but she had to get as close to that as possible.

But-- she wanted to talk. To Eric, too; what was he doing? Aside, she thought with a grin, from "thinking" about her, if he even really did get around to that. But someone else. Forgetting to set her alarm clock, getting so worked up last night, letting House get to her, they were all signs she was losing perspective. And anyway Amber missed her mom, it'd been over a week since she'd last called.

So with her wireless phone in hand, Amber curled up in her olive chair and speed-dialed her parents. The numbers whizzed by quickly and then it was the slow ringing: once, twice, and more. Amber waited, since they had to be at home. When someone did answer, it was her mom. No surprise there. "Hello, this is the Volakis residence."

"Hi, mom." Amber scratched her head. Her hair was still damp from the shower at the gym. "What's up?"

"Oh, Amber, good thing you called." Her tone warmed up. "You know how we're renovating the first floor-- we're also throwing out some things, might as well get a head start on spring cleaning. Do you want anything? We're getting rid of your father's mountain bicycle, he never uses it, and our old computer--"

"No, thanks, mom, I'm good." Last thing she needed was her parents' old junk. Amber brought her feet up to the seat of the chair, knees coming up to her chest. "They haven't messed anything up yet?"

"Oh, don't get me started," she sighed. Railing about construction workers was one of her favorite ranting subjects. "One of them nearly nicked my digital camera, and the only reason he didn't was because I keep a close eye on them. He's been fired, I saw to that. And another one, what's his name, the guy with no hair, he almost stepped on my spider plant. That vase is an antique!"

Amber softened to a smile. "I told you they'd be a nightmare."

"Trust me, no one needed to tell me that." But from the sound of it, pain in the ass or not, her mom was fired up with the work. She did always like a good project; even after retiring she found some mission to sink her hands into. "How about you? Are you still doing that extended job interview?"

Amber had never gotten around to telling them that it was more a mouse-and-cat game than a real job interview. "Yup, we're down another person." As well as one slot, thanks to Cuddy rehiring an old team member. But Amber couldn't find it in her to be very angry about that, not when it was what led her to meeting Eric. "And I figured out the diagnosis last week, it was ergot poisoning."

"Mmm." Her mom had never understood about medicine, so Amber wasn't really surprised when the name went over her head. "Is that the first time you solved something? You've been there for over a month."

"We've had four cases so far, mom. And I've helped find the solution the other times." She'd explain how she'd contributed, but if her mom hadn't been able to understand a simple diagnosis, she wouldn't get the process of reaching one. "And I'm still in the running, so I can't be doing too badly."

"I do wish you hadn't given up your old job, you were doing so well there..."

"I like this one better."

"Well, I just hope you do get hired, it'll look terrible on your resume if you don't." Amber held back an I know what I'm doing. She wasn't in the mood for another round of that fight. Her mom continued, "Your brother is going to be promoted soon, did you know that?"

That wasn't really news. "He's been saying that for months."

"It's not his fault the economy is in a slump. Apparently they're going to give him the promotion as soon as the company starts making a profit again. Speaking of which, are you coming for Thanksgiving or not? I don't want to hear that you're too busy working, if your brothers can come out of state--"

Amber wriggled her toes and did not point out that she, too, would be coming from out of state. "I don't know. It really depends, if we get a case--" (if she was still hired, that was). "Then I can't. If we don't--" she stopped. She hadn't thought lately about Thanksgiving or what she'd be doing. If she was free from work, Eric would probably be, too. If-- and that was a huge "if"-- they were still dating, was Thanksgiving something they'd do together? Just the two of them? Would he want to meet her family, or her to meet his? Given that his brother was in jail, he might be weird about her meeting anyone else he was related to. She'd like to, though. She wanted to meet his family, know what they were like, get an idea of where Eric came from. And his brother, too, Amber was surprised to realize; she wanted to see Marcus for herself. Maybe she'd understand Eric better if she did. But he probably wouldn't be at any non-prison house dinner table.

"Amber?" Her mom's voice was loud in her ear. "Are you still there?"

"Sorry," she replied quickly, sitting up straighter. She brought her knees down, crossing her legs. "I was just thinking. There's--" She'd be okay with Eric meeting her family, if he was up for that. If they lasted that long. He was someone she could be proud of. "I'm seeing someone, actually." It shouldn't have been that difficult to sound casual.

"You?" Surprise, mostly, and-- was her mom glad? "You're not just saying that to get me off your back, are you?" Yes, the skepticism was the stronger tone, but there was definitely some tentative delight.

"No, because then you'd be on my back about him," Amber remarked.

"Hah hah. So what's he like? What does he do?" Her mom spoke faster, and some of her excitement started to rub off on Amber. She'd always known news of a significant other would please her mom. Amber tried to imagine how she looked right now: she was probably in the living room, since there were no audible TV sounds, by the window seat. That was, if that part wasn't being or already renovated. She wouldn't have changed into a nightdress yet, but she might've showered.

"He's a neurologist." And he was working in the same department as her, but she could explain that later. "He's serious," (possibly too serious), "and very dedicated to his work. His name is Eric, Eric Foreman." And sometimes he was so gentle that Amber didn't know what to do with herself.

"Eric," her mom repeated, sounding out the name. "And how long have you been hiding him from us?"

"Not hiding," Amber spoke without thinking. "I met him a week ago." And even now there really wasn't anything to tell, besides that she was seeing him.

"A week?" Amber mentally kicked herself when her mom sighed again. She should've phrased that better. "I thought you meant you were in a real relationship."

"I am. I mean, it's getting there." Figures that the first time she ever told her mom she was seeing someone, she still wouldn't be satisfied. What did that even mean, a real relationship? What, were she and Eric just faking? Had House just pummeled her over nothing?

"I know!" Her mom was suddenly excited again, like she'd had a brilliant idea. "Bring him here for Thanksgiving so that we can all meet him!" For a second, Amber did wish she and Eric would have a case that day. "I want to see who finally managed finally got to be my daughter's boyfriend." Boyfriend. Amber cringed. She'd never called Eric that. "What does he like to eat?"

"...I don't know," Amber said. The only time they'd properly ordered something, at the fusion restaurant, he'd ordered the one thing he knew was on the menu, distracted by her foot in his crotch. He didn't hate bagels and coffee, either. Or wine and beer. "Corn dogs?"

"I'm not serving corn dogs at Thanksgiving." The what-will-I-do-with-you subtext was loud and clear. "Find out what else he likes, so that I can make him feel at home. Do you know anything else about him, or are his name and job the only things you remember?"

His brother was in jail, Amber knew that much. But that didn't seem like the best way to present him, and Eric would be pissed off if she told anyone. He'd barely even told her. "He's really smart," Amber started, and smiled, thinking of him. The last time she'd seen him, in the car, he'd been just as goofy as she. More tender. And hot, too. "He has this weird obsession with opening doors for me, I'm not sure what's up with that. And he's funny, sometimes--"

"Amber." There was that surprise again, but this time tinged with wonder. "You really are serious."

"Yeah," Amber said, happy. The threat of House firing her and of Eric's past relationships, seemed inexistent, now. She was serious. She'd make this work. She had to, now. "I told you."

"Then I really do have to meet him. How old is he? What does he look like?"

Another good question. "I think he's a bit older than me. He's-- black." That shouldn't have been so hard to say. But it was. Thank goodness she hadn't mentioned the incarcerated brother, because that would give them the wrong idea.

"Oh." That vocalization said far more than a single syllable ever should, but her mom recovered fast enough. "That's-- if you're still serious about this Eric in a month, bring him here."

"I'll talk to him about it," Amber promised. But not this Friday. Or anytime soon. She needed to get a better feel for what shape they'd be in, by then. She wouldn’t want to dump family on him if he couldn’t handle the thought. "Anyway, I just wanted to say hi. I should get back to my work."

"Alright," her mom said distantly. "Let me know your plans. And how it goes with him."

"I will. Hide your valuables."

"Yeah-- and don't forget, you can always find a new job."

"I don't need to. Good night, mom."

"Bye, Amber."

Amber hung up and pressed the phone against her cheek for a bit, thinking. That had gone both better and worse than she'd expected. Eric being black wasn't something they could object to-- hell, it hadn't even really occurred to her. That first night, all she cared was that he was hot and willing to get into bed with her. After that, all that mattered was that she liked him, more and more. But now that her family was entering the picture-- not that it should matter.

She got up and stretched, extending one arm high over her head and then the other. Going back into her study, seeing her laptop with its inbuilt webcam made her remember of her plan to record a treat for Eric. But, oddly enough, between talking to her mom and freaking about overreacting, Amber didn't feel like fingering herself, not even with an audience. If he were here, that'd be one thing; something about him drew her in despite herself. Alone, though, it was easy to push the laptop aside, grab a couple of journal volumes, and settle down at her desk for a few hours of reading.

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