eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from Houes - hands (hands)
eric_foreman ([personal profile] eric_foreman) wrote in [community profile] alwaysright2010-02-15 01:02 pm

November 7 - Early

The lights were off in the doctor's lounge. Foreman sat on the couch, a frown etched on his face, his hands clenched together. Light was starting to come in the window. He had no idea how long he'd been sitting here. It hadn't been worth the bother of flicking a light switch, or even moving. If he moved, he'd want to lash out. Punch a wall. As if he could solve anything with a melodramatic gesture.

His stomach churned with hunger cramps. His eyelids gritted every time he blinked. The headache he'd gotten yesterday hadn't disappeared, even though he'd swallowed four aspirin. Pain radiated in sharp pangs up both sides of his neck and throbbed around his eye orbits.

Casey had polio.

He still couldn't believe it. His thoughts kept circling back, and every single time he'd run up against a brick wall. Polio. It was fucking impossible, but the test results were there. Brennan had run them, and that alone should be enough of a tip-off that something was wrong...Foreman snorted. Like him. He'd been wrong. No matter how much he didn't want it to be true, it was there in black and white. Brennan might lie but the test didn't. And treating the girl with vitamin C, for fuck's sake. When she'd looked up, astonished, to tell them that her legs hurt--

He'd never felt smaller in his life. Useless. Moron. The insults followed on the heels of every thought. Thought he was so fucking amazing, only to have his face rubbed in the truth. Cuddy should fire him. The new fellows had figured out what he couldn't. Despite him.

He'd apologized. The words had stuck, heavy and hurtful, in his throat, but he'd done it. He'd said to Amber yesterday--yelled, maybe--that he was willing to admit it when he was wrong. And he had; he had that much pride, to acknowledge when he'd screwed up. But they didn't care about that, and why should they? Why should any of them listen to him, when he'd been holding back the diagnosis by cutting Brennan off the case?

Everything he'd prided himself on had been punctured. He'd swallowed down his denials and let them get on with whatever the hell they needed to do. If House came back, he'd reward them. He might not be able to get rid of Foreman, but he'd managed what he wanted to do last week--humiliate him into leaving. Foreman hadn't been miserable because he'd had Amber, but now, he knew, he wouldn't have her either. She'd doubted him, and she'd been right to doubt him. Why the hell should she apologize for going behind his back, when clearly they'd needed to do that just to solve the fucking case?

The thought of telling her that--of admitting it--he couldn't manage that. Not yet. He'd crawl home and lick his wounds in private. All of last week's happiness, and the frustration too, it was over. If he'd lost Amber's respect, if he'd lost her, it was his own damn fault. There was nothing he could do.

He didn't look up when the lounge door opened. What was the fucking point? He wasn't needed. Whoever it was could ignore him and leave him the fuck alone.


Chase. Foreman glanced over his shoulder at him and didn't say anything.

"Whoa. Problems?" Chase grinned. If he said one word about Amber, Foreman was going to show him just how much harder than House he could punch. "I heard about your patient. Polio!" He whistled for emphasis.

Foreman shrugged, locking out any reaction. "I got everything wrong," he said. And, even though five seconds ago he would have loved to smash Chase's face in for mentioning Amber, he said it anyway. "Amber went behind my back to treat her."

Chase shrugged, like he didn't see the problem either. Christ, why did Foreman tell him anything? "While you were screwing up? She did what she thought was right," Chase said. "Would you really rather she follow everything you say? You don't want a robot for a girlfriend."

No fucking help at all. Foreman retreated back into stony silence, turning away from Chase.

"Anyway, you can't have gotten everything wrong," Chase said, shrugging. "You're not that bad." He clapped Foreman on the shoulder and disappeared into the locker room.

Foreman snorted to himself. It had looked like heat stroke. Even House had thought it was a boring case--he wouldn't have left if he'd had the least interest in it. Anger tightened Foreman's shoulders, until his fists were clenched again. Everything in him said polio was impossible. There was no logical reason why vitamin C should cure it. And if Casey's blood samples from when she was admitted were still available--shit. Shit. Foreman pushed to his feet, ignoring the stiffness in his body from sitting so long. He might still be wrong. But he had to know. He had to check.

He headed for the lab with Chase's words still echoing in his head. She did what she thought was right. Amber had said the same. But what neither of them understood was that being right wasn't enough. If you were right, you had to prove it. You had to have a chance to prove it, instead of having everything you were trying to do screwed up by one false step. What was best for the patient--what was best for her was the truth, now. And what was best for her then was not for her doctors to be playing games with her treatment. He still couldn't forgive Amber for what she'd done, but if she was wrong now--fuck. Fuck. He didn't know why he was still thinking about her when they'd already had this argument. More than once. It was impossible, it couldn't be solved.

But he still cared about her. And he wanted her to get what she wanted. It couldn't be at his expense; he'd already fucked up everything for himself. There was nothing Amber could do to hurt him anymore. But he could still help her. Maybe--or maybe this would just give her one more chance to laugh in his face, to tell him he was playing the martyr.

Foreman turned into the lab and went straight to the fridge, checking first that they had a vial of Casey's blood from her initial blood tests. It was there. It was one test. Once he knew he could say anything he damn well wanted. He pulled on a pair of gloves and started working.

When he sat back, the assay results in front of him on the computer screen, he felt numb. He tapped the print button and stripped off his gloves, still unable to take his eyes away from the screen.

He was an idiot. He knew it. But he took out his phone and texted Amber anyway--Path lab. Something to show you.
amber_v: you can't get away with that!!! (hey!)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-02-15 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Rest, sleep, wake up renewed—or so had been the plan. Succeeding was not quite so easy, however.

It shouldn't have been an issue. How could she not unwind, lying in the tub, vapor lazily rising into the air? The temperature was just right and the warm water did sooth her muscles-- her shins hurt less within minutes. But inside Amber stayed knotted, stomach refusing to unclench, gut tight. The last time she'd drawn a bath, Eric had been right here with her, his voice murmuring softly against her ear, his arms cocooning her-- stupid. Stupid. How many times had she taken a bath here? Why should one memory ruin her experience?

But it did. Amber couldn't enjoy herself. She was bored, restless, and the longer she lied there, the more she remembered about her day, about Eric's hard-set face as he stonily ignored what didn't stroke his ego. Her mind, unbidden, went over his accusations that she wasn't supportive and that she'd deliberately tried to hurt him-- but why would she, hurting him wouldn't fix what a self-centered pig he was--

Fuck. Now she just felt worse. Amber unplugged the stopper and rose, turning on the shower to quickly rinse off. She focused on sound: the draining bath, the shower drops hitting water, the spray against her face. Yet the images were still there, of Casey's horror as she realized that she couldn't move, of Eric's cold anger as he told her off.

She couldn't even take a sleeping pill, in case she got a middle-of-the-night call.

No one called, though and even if it took her an hour of tossing and turning, Amber did eventually fall asleep. By the time she awoke she felt more like a sack of potatoes than a professional doctor, but coffee and determination would get her through the day.

She was pulling into the parking lot when she received a message. One hand on the wheel, she flicked through her cell phone's buttons with the other, eyes glancing back and forth between the road and the screen. Amber frowned. Show her what? He'd only deliberately call her if he felt good about a find, and if it was because of a test result, it could mean... the weight on her shoulders pressed down harder. Him being right did not bode well for her.

Amber had to know. Without bothering to stop by the locker room, she went straight to the lab, walking as fast as she could without breaking into a run. (Why couldn't he just text her what he'd discovered?) She swept in, breathing faster than normal. "What is it?" she asked, wiping her forehead. Resentment colored her voice. "Ready to prove me wrong?"
amber_v: How daaaaaaaaare you (suspicious)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-02-15 07:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Of course he’d be happy to show off as someone other than himself was wrong. Amber snatched the readout, carefully eyeing the numbers. “Not polio,” she breathed. Realizations burst through her mind and, excited, Amber spoke without thinking, forgetting their fight. “I knew it was weird! You’d think that of all the people that ever had polio, at least one of them would’ve drunk a glass of juice before Casey.”

This did mean they had to go back to drawing board and figure out what walked and quacked like polio, but—Amber looked up from the paper, catching Eric’s eye. ‘Quack’ might be a more accurate term than she’d intended. “Wait, was the test Brennan ran a false positive? Or did he mess it up? He couldn’t have forged the results—“ As soon as the mention of intentional foul play slipped off her tongue, Amber remembered what Eric counted as cheating and, thus, how he felt about her going behind his back. She pulled into herself, arms and mouth stiffening.

Eric kept a sophisticated air, more cool and distant than if they’d been absolute strangers. Amber had seen how he treated unknown people: he was at least friendly to them. She crossed her arms, leaning her weight on one foot as she watched him store the vial of blood, annoyed and unsure what to do with herself. Were they still fighting? Or was this really it, over and done with? Amber was still pissed at him and she’d tell him all over again, in a heartbeat, just how he’d disappointed her, but as far as she knew the world hadn’t ended. They could at least try talking about what would happen to relationship.

As if to confirm her concerns, Eric gave her an order—now she wasn’t just a stranger, but an underling to be commanded about. Amber let out an exasperated sigh. This was exactly what had started pissing her off in the first place. How eager he was to jump back into his position of authority, as if that were his true nature and he wouldn’t ever again bother pretending to be the sweet, playful guy she’d gone weak-kneed for. “Fine, boss” she grit out, though if she were going to grind her teeth against something, she’d really have preferred it to be Eric’s arm. “I’ll take it up to him, if you’re too lazy to.”
amber_v: Hiya, lips. Why so sad? (lips)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-02-15 09:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Show him up? Him who? House? Now Eric wasn't even making sense. There was nothing for Amber to shove in House's face and so what if she showed off that Brennan screwed up? Sure it was nice that one of the others scored such a royal mess up, but Thirteen killed a patient and all that got her was House's continued adoration. For all she knew, House would want to institute a national holiday for Brennan's underdogness. He was like a dog, that was for sure. Whatever his mistake had been, either in running the test or sabotage, Amber would declaim his incompetence loud and clear.

Foreman's quiet dignity drooped somehow, into... resignation? Yeah, he could resign himself to the fact that she wouldn't ever be pleased by his cheap-authority thrills. That beat-up tone of his probably meant he was crying inside again that she wasn't being 'supportive' enough. What a victim.

"You're my boss, you can ask whatever you want." She just wouldn't smile as she jumped through his flaming hoops. At least what he wanted from her this time aligned with her own intentions. She opened the door into the hallway, which was relatively clear of people so early in the morning. She might as well head back to the conference room and give House whatever conclusions she reached on the way there. And even if Eric was decided to shut her out of his personal life, she could still take advantage of him as a coworker, bouncing ideas off him. "Porphyria, maybe, if she's remitting."
amber_v: Amber can has a naughy idea (smirk)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-02-16 02:36 pm (UTC)(link)
"I said you could-- I didn't say I'd wag my tail and obey, though." That was Eric's problem. The moment he got into boss mode, he forgot that those working for him-- herself-- still had their own opinions and they were just as valid. And something about his approach grated. It just felt wrong, like Oprah becoming a blood-sucking CEO. Amber knew him in a kinder form and she hated how easily he changed, just with a change of clothes or environment. Maybe if she'd known all along he'd be her superior... but then she wouldn't have slept with him, not without ulterior motives.

For all the sting in his words, his tone betrayed nothing more than exhaustion. Amber mirrored this when she returned, "Yeah. After what I've seen so far, I can't." Monday, she'd been willing and curious to see his working style; she might've been able to cut him some slack. Not now. Not now that she knew he'd assumed the worst about her and was so self-narrowed.

Was it harsh? Yeah. And true.

She called the elevator, pressing the chipped button. "Okay, not porphyria," Amber agreed, diving right back into the differential. If that was all they had left, then she should throw all of herself into the effort and not think about what not trusting Eric meant. About how it'd be to be without him again. "Thallium-- you think it was Brennan, faking his precious polio?" The elevator arrived with a ding; inside were a couple of nurses, with clean scrubs and the air of starting a new day, but Amber continued, eagerly following the new scent on the trail. "If he did it after she came in, it'd explain all the symptoms from after she was admitted-- meaning all she had was heatstroke!" Amber concluded triumphantly.
amber_v: you can't get away with that!!! (hey!)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-03-13 08:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Amber inhaled sharply, overtaken by the urge to simply kick Eric. So fucking condescending. It wasn't about giving in to her for the sake of giving in to her, how many times did she have to tell him? But Eric only saw what he wanted-- nothing new there. What had she ever seen in him?

By the time she was opening her mouth to return his quip with a barb, he was striding into the department. Great. Now he got the last word too. Amber bowed her head as she walked in, furiously stewing in anger; god, she hated having to swallow her words.

"Ah, it's my number one fan," House said, smirking at Amber. He was leaning against his desk, strumming a white electric guitar. "Unfortunately, my heart is already taken."

Blowing out a breath, Amber tried to get past his teasing with calmness and rationality. As long as she stayed undisturbed, he’d stop poking at her. "I just wanted your opinion on a difficult case. Where were you?"

"With the CIA. Did you know how hot their chicks are?" Pinching some strings, a squawk cried out loudly from the speakers. Amber tried to hide her wince, especially after House's face twisted into a leer. "It makes me reconsider my standards."

Fuck it. First Foreman kept up his grade-A asshole act and now this. Amber simply couldn't handle implicit threats of firing. "We had a patient while you were out," she snapped. "Brennan ran a test that said she had polio, but the second test came out negative."
amber_v: i will stare at you until you realize i am right (blinds)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-03-18 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
For one brief, sweet moment, Amber thought they'd stay on the medicine and off innuendos and attacks on her personal life. (Not that she couldn't handle them-- she just preferred not to, especially while the ache was still physical, palpable). That didn't last long. Damn it, this was one of the reasons why she hadn't wanted to get involved with a coworker, it just got so ugly once the relationship soured.

House looked from her and Eric to Brennan, and then back to her. His pointed finger at Amber was sharp, bordering on accusatory. "Don't think you're off the hook." No, never. Amber suspected House could store data for years and years only to explode it at the right moment; everything was future ammunition.

But for now, House focused on Brennan, plucking insistently and oh so fucking annoyingly at the same chord, over and over. "You missed polio so much you tried to bring it back to life?"

Brennan sputtered. "How-- how could I! That's not just unethical, it's ilgal--"

"Yeah, tell me about it, Cuddy never lets me treat the patients like lab rats. So unfair, isn't it?"

"You don't have any proof!" Brennan protested.

House's raised eyebrow defined disbelief. "Either you faked the results or Foreman did; Foreman's too boring to bother. And you're the one obsessed with third-world diseases."

Even without the assumption that Eric was more likely to be in the right-- and Amber would make that bet too, with or without all the ways he'd disappointed her during this case-- Brennan himself pretty much gave it away, breathing faster, voice growing higher pitched with desperation. He glanced at her and the others, seeking support, but there was none to be had. Thirteen's jaw had dropped and stayed down; Kutner looked torn between dismay and excitement; and Taub and Cole simply stared.

“Thalium explains everything,” Amber said. That'd make her stance clear. Eric had wanted her absolute support; well, he could have it, now that it was too late.
amber_v: you can't get away with that!!! (hey!)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-03-21 10:43 pm (UTC)(link)
House knew perfectly well whom he'd left in charge, so why the hell was he asking? And why her specifically? Amber's mouth straightened out into a dissatisfied, thin line. This was about her and Eric, wasn't it. Either House was getting in more digs at her or he wanted to judge the state of their relationship by what she said.

"You left Eric in charge, you know that," she snapped, regretting her reaction at once. Damn. Fuck. In a split-second reaction, no time to think and everyone watching her, she’d let her feelings fly. How could she know exactly, with utmost calm and certainty, how to orchestrate the reversal of a cardiac arrest, and yet fail so badly at answering a simple question? It wasn't even personal! Just a factual statement! Amber's face warmed over, adding to her humiliation. Oh, everyone was going to get a kick out of this, the great CTB making a fool of herself.

"Hiss, hissss." The guitar's strum accentuated House's voice, the sounds like fighting cats. "Was that your tail I just stepped on?" He was getting a kick out of this, the asshole. "Didn't realize you'd be so sensitive over Eric."

She hadn't said one word right. Time to fix this. With a waxen smile, Amber ground out, "You're right, my response was inappropriate. What I meant to say was, you left Foreman in charge."

Amber wanted out. Case was solved, House was delighting in being mean, and she wasn't in a state to deal with it. She couldn't just flee, though, not on the heels of her latest fuck-up. "I'll go make sure Brennan leaves the hospital; can’t trust a word he says." With that, she turned around and walked out as quickly as she could without seeming like she'd turned tail.
amber_v: i will stare at you until you realize i am right (blinds)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-03-23 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
The moment the door swung shut behind her, Amber accelerated her pace as if the faster she went, the further she'd get from her humiliation. But it tagged doggedly after her, growing hotter with every firm clack of her heel against the ground. She'd lost it, the other losers would be thinking; House’d just be crowing, smug to squash someone into a greater misery than his. And Eric-- he'd be all professional, face calm as if he weren't fucking pissed at her for making a scene.

They'd solved the case, hadn't they? Got Brennan kicked off the team, making that one rival less for her to maim. Why couldn't she be happier over her victory?

Amber patted her coat pocket, looking for her cell phone. The least she could do was call security and get them to keep track of Brennan. Then she could report as much to House, confirming her cover story for her shameful escape. She'd look him straight in the eye and say, Brennan won't ever get back into hospital, and she'd say it with full conviction, because it'd be true. And if he tried to poke fun of her about Eric again, she'd sidestep it with a regal That's personal, and that would be that. Easy. Simple. And it wouldn't work for even a second because House wouldn't let anyone, not even her, get away with easy or simple.

Nurses streamed in either direction; this was the way to the ER, so it was a particularly busy corridor. Voices competed for each other over the clamor other voices, squeaking wheels, shuffling feet. Amber moved up against the wall to make her call, needing to at least try. No sooner than she looked up than her expression darkened further: Eric. Eric, battling the human tide, gaze aimed at her.

She turned around, cupping a hand to her free ear, and waited for the hospital security to pick up on the other end. Maybe Eric would get the fucking hint.
amber_v: How daaaaaaaaare you (suspicious)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-03-23 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Jesus, so he couldn't read basic body language like Get The Fuck Away. Eric squared himself in front of her like some football player ready to tackle-- though what he'd be tackling her for, she hadn't a clue. Why was he even here?

Amber glanced up long enough to shoot him a meaningful glare before looking away again, refusing to put up with him. Just then security answered. "Hello?" she said, but not even with a hand over her ear could she make out the reply. Great.

In her peripheral vision she saw Eric leaning out of the hall; he'd opened a door and was checking it out. What was he thinking? He'd better not be so pleased with his medical conquest that he wanted to do some winning with her! He couldn’t ditch her one night and expect a quickie a couple of mornings later—and where they worked.

On the other hand, it’d be a quiet spot.

She'd step in just long enough to finish the call and give him a piece of her mind. No harm in that; it was just efficient use of currently unoccupied hospital resources. Amber ducked in, striding to the wall opposite the bed, away from Eric. "This is Dr. Volakis," she said, lowering her hand to her hip, "and I'm reporting a former employee--"

She rattled off Brennan’s name and features, channeling her frustration into action. It felt good, spitting out commands. She even smirked as they confirmed that Brennan had been sighted storming off the premises and that they'd keep an eye out for him. Competency: always good to know there was more of it.

With satisfaction Amber cut off the connection, throwing her phone into her lab coat. It was with less pleasure that she addressed Eric, lurking in the relative darkness of the room. "What do you want?" she threw out in a clipped voice. The sooner they got out of here the better. “This has got to stop.” She wouldn’t tolerate him treating her like some rag doll to drag about as he wanted, throwing her over his shoulder when she was inconvenient and picking her up again when the mood struck, particularly when it affected her professional life. “You think they’re not laughing enough at me as it is?”
amber_v: How daaaaaaaaare you (suspicious)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-03-24 05:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Eric didn't even answer as she fired off her questions; god she hated that about him, when he pulled into himself, all proud and cool and above her anger. If he wanted to be so fucking stoic, he could've done it without her; could've done it anywhere he damn well pleased, back in the department as he lorded over the others or with every arrogant step he took during the day. Impatience quickened her nerves, urging her to move; be ready to lash out. Why couldn't he just fight back.

He finally did, but, as he often was, he was so vague she'd need to read his mind to get his meaning. "More than what?" she snapped. "It matters more than them not laughing at me, that's for sure. You should know! You must love that they're laughing at you, running after your girlfriend."

Bitterness betrayed her words. They still hadn't settled the question of girlfriend and boyfriend; they never would now, she supposed. But now she could say it all she liked, it being in sarcasm-- but she didn't get much kick out of it.

Restless, Amber crossed her arms, fingers clenched tight over her forearms. She paced briskly, whirling in the opposite direction every couple of steps. "Answer my question: what d'you want?" That's all she wanted to know. It couldn't be for her. Maybe he wanted to tell her off. Hah, if it was that, she could strike back just as hard. Her chest rose with anticipation, ready.
amber_v: Hiya, lips. Why so sad? (lips)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-03-26 03:01 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not here being your boss. That one word, "boss," hit Amber like an arrow striking a target. Either he was purposefully aggravating her, reminding her of his control over her job, or he was painfully oblivious. And, really, with Eric, it could be either.

Amber's chin was already as high as she could hold it with dignity, but now her jaw locked down, tight like wires closing her mouth shut. Her one comfort was that Eric's stoicism was coming undone, a house burning from the inside and collapsing on itself.

"I told you what went wrong," Amber gritted out. Oblivious it was, then-- if obliviousness included willful blindness. He refused to see things any way but his own, didn't he. "Want me to tell you again? The answer’s the same: you wouldn't listen! You only care about your own opinions!"

Frustration gnawing at her, Amber glanced away, too pissed to look at him. The bed was empty, unmade. She didn't even know who was supposed to be in it, much less how long they'd be away. Fighting in the hospital was reckless; having a showdown in a returning patient's room was professional suicide. They had to wrap this up, and fast.

She was still eyeing the bed when Eric asked his question. Chance at what? He couldn't be so unaware as to think his job was at stake: House had just affirmed his trust in Eric's judgment. It'd been a dull compliment, but coming from House, it gleamed brighter than gold. The only other thing Eric would confront Amber about, after chasing her down, would be, well-- her.

She must've been red before, from the embarrassment and yelling; hopefully she wouldn't be much redder now. "You're the one who turned me down," Amber muttered. He hadn't wanted to go home with her that night she'd invited him. Still felt too raw to say that part out loud, though. It was his turn to do the mind-reading.
amber_v: Hiya, lips. Why so sad? (lips)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-04-13 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Amber was ready for pigheadedness. It was what Eric did, at work, digging his heels in and staying stuck for eternity. It didn't matter how many times she told him that he'd disregarded her opinion; he'd always be right, in his mind, and that was that. Amber tensed, prepared for Eric to declare once more that the sky was neon pink and that she should simply accept it.

Which was why when he acknowledged that she was right, Amber's head tilted so as to nearly touch her shoulder, jaw dropping almost comically. This was a trick, right? A classic tactic, giving up ground on one front to stake out new territory. It couldn't have been this easy, not after days of fighting and a tacit break-up. Why give in now? Amber straightened her head, flipping her hair back, wary for the inevitably upcoming catch.

Damn if Eric wasn't convincing, though. His near-apology and promise were choked, like it'd been a challenge to get them out. And even if she couldn’t have wished for more (aside from the promotion he couldn't give her), Amber still felt drawn in, closed off. There had to be more to all this. Hesitantly, and ready to take up again a fighting stance at the first sign of trouble, Amber said, "Okay. Good."

Eric sat down on the bed, a sight so incongruent with their argument that it confused Amber. Beds and relaxing was what they did at home, and it’d become all too clear that their professional and personal lives could not overlap. Still feeling the heat of her blush, Amber almost demanded he get back up. That one simple movement was too intimate for her.

How could he say it wasn't about her in one sentence when in the next he reproached her for how much she'd pissed him off? When he grew visibly angry, as if just by revisiting the memory he was losing his power of speech? She'd known it; the apology hadn’t been real after all. He still thought it was her fault. And Amber was too tired of the back-and-forth to bother becoming angry herself; it simply wasn't worth it. There was nothing left to discuss, not when talking only took them on further rounds of this emotionally unsatisfying merry-go-round of accusations and recriminations.

Amber would've walked out. She really would've. Was all ready to, when Eric spoke that name: Marcus. His brother. It froze Amber to her spot. As much as she’d been questioning how well she knew Eric Foreman, one thing was for sure-- he was too proud to bandy about the memory of his brother just to make a point. Mentioning Marcus meant something. Of what, Amber wasn't sure, but whatever it was, it had to be sincere. So she stayed, and listened, not just to the words, but to the feelings behind them.

The connection between their fight and Marcus' fuckup was tenuous, at best, but apparently any kind of mistake brought Eric back to his brother. Amber took in a sharp breath. It was a solid example, to Eric, of what would happen should he ever really mess up. Amber feared failure, but it didn't have a face. Not like this. She wasn't sure what to say, staring at Eric's fingers and how they overlapped. He suddenly seemed so fragile on the hospital bed, like a patient awaiting a doctor's verdict.

"It's already kind of ruined," Amber pointed out, not unkindly. She'd given up on their relationship when he'd refused to go home with her. If he didn't want it to work out between them, then she wouldn't humiliate herself by insisting. Even if she did want to stroke his cheek, stare deep into his eyes. "I mean, neither one of us wanted to stay together. I think that's pretty much the definition of 'over.'" Was this it? Wasn't there more? It felt like there should be. But with the distance of shock, for a second it really did seem that simple, confirming a breakup with just a few words, as if there were no more feelings, no considerations of how to deal with each other at work, and no House to taunt them afterward. Amber's hand curled over her collar bone, lightly touching herself since she couldn't touch him.
amber_v: How daaaaaaaaare you (suspicious)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-04-13 10:44 pm (UTC)(link)
He'd nod, probably, agreeing tersely with her that whatever they'd had, it'd be ruined. If nothing else, it'd be nice to get that settled. Have it said out loud and therefore over with. Amber wouldn't have to stay in this tortuous limbo, wondering with an occasional painful stab if perhaps Eric still hadn't given up.

The nod never came. You didn't have to say it, I could tell, Amber thought. Why did he keep dragging this out? A breakup should be fast and painless, like sticking a needle into a vein. Why even talk about the sex they hadn't had? They might as well talk about rainbow-colored unicorns for all the good it'd do.

At least-- at least he'd wanted it, too. At some point. Amber didn't know whether to feel irritated that he wouldn't reach his point or reassured that at least he'd still desired her. Confused, Amber's fingers curled over her chest, the other hand sneaking beneath her arm. Fuck, if she didn't know better, she'd think Eric wanted her closer. His soft tone, his honest and direct gaze-- the other times he'd been like that, he'd welcomed her touch. Amber swallowed, bitter about her sudden burst of tenderness. Eric muddled her thoughts like no other.

Amber's heart jolted when he got up like he'd read her mind or something and-- what, was confirming that he wanted to touch her? Her heartbeat grew louder in her ears as he approached.

I want you. Amber's blush returned and she glanced away for a second, embarrassed. What? She'd just-- she'd been that wrong, blindly assuming the worst? His words couldn't be any clearer and all the signs supported his words, but how could she've been so stupid as to misread him that deeply? "I never said that," she said hotly.

Instantaneous reassessment: Eric hadn't given up on her after all and she'd just made a total fool of herself by assuming so. It was okay, Amber could recover the moment, she just had to act fast. So this was a happy reunion moment, right? All she had to do was open her arms and he'd embrace her, surely. They could even cue in the Hollywood happy-ending music.

It'd be that easy. A simple movement would do the trick. They'd probably even kiss. Amber bit her lips. "I need a moment," burst out from her mouth before thinking. "I-- so, what, we just pick up where we left off?" Before this case, she'd just have slid into his hold like water pouring over a rock, natural and right. But not now, with this knot of emotions. Amber bowed her head. He'd just mocked the idea of sex curing their problems, but it always simplified their fights. Though if she couldn't bring herself to hug him, fucking was out of the question.
amber_v: Aw, man, don't pout at me (lean)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-04-17 05:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Something... changed in Eric's demeanor. His eyelids lowered; his brow smoothed out, easing away the creases of worry and anger. And was it her imagination, or was he on the verge of a smile? Warily, Amber watched as he approached; she was in no mood for a hug and if he tried, she'd push him away. It'd be too fast, too soon. But all Eric did was reach out, gently lacing his fingers round hers. Even that much was almost too much and, heart in throat, Amber reluctantly let him hold her hand, tense with the anticipation of what might come next.

She nodded, glad that Eric at least knew they couldn't erase the past few days. And if he was holding her hand, insisting they weren't over yet, did he mean to conciliate their fight with their other feelings? Amber wasn't sure she herself could, but... she'd been willing to try, and if Eric was too.... Amber looked down at their fingers, at the pattern their skins created together, entwined. He always was so warm.

Their first date. Amber smiled despite herself. Everything had been so simple that night: she'd been in for a quick, fun fuck and her gorgeous partner did exactly what she wanted, and when she wanted it. Except that her partner became Eric. While he did often acquiesce to her, sometimes he didn't, and... that didn't mean Amber wanted to give up on him entirely.

Amber took a deep breath, understanding. They'd fought-- again-- and it still wasn't the end of the world. That simple conclusion relaxed her. Shoulders dropping and bowing her head, she let herself press her forehead against Eric's shoulder, their hands caught between them. "Okay." She was still figuring out what 'making it work' meant, but if it was what they'd been doing so far, Amber could keep on doing more of the same. "Me too." She looked up again into Eric's dark-brown eyes and once more her heart raced.
amber_v: you can't get away with that!!! (hey!)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-04-21 03:30 am (UTC)(link)
Amber caught the direction of Eric's gaze and smirked. She knew that look. It was tempting, she had to admit. Her lips parted slightly, an unaware response. Part of her wanted, so badly, to throw aside the past couple of days and just kiss Eric like a woman drowning. To forget where they where. But Amber drew back, breathing in sharply; was she ready to dive back in this quickly?

She was spared answering the question. Amber turned neatly, palms gliding over her hips. Nope, nothing suspicious going on here, just two doctors getting waaaay too involved in their personal lives. Eric seemed to have the slip-up under control, lies pouring from his mouth like water out of a faucet. Pretty impressive. Amber appreciated team members who could save their collective asses—but it was also disconcerting. Did he always lie like that, or only when it suited him? Then again, when wouldn't suit him?

It rankled that she knew literally nothing about the patient whose room they’d invaded and therefore couldn’t recite symptoms and likely diagnosis; the situation was entirely in Eric's hands. The best she could do was go along with the act, nodding at the orderly in her bright-white, starched uniform. Then, with all possible dignity, Amber busted out of the room behind Eric. Basic rule to not getting caught: don't hang out in the scene of the crime.

Sliding the door closed behind them, Amber strode down the hallway. There wasn't anywhere they could go: the Diagnostics department was out of the question and anywhere else they'd generate gossip just by talking, much less being googly-eyed at one another. Being out and about in the most public place possible, the hallways, was their best bet.

"I'm taking the rest of the day off," Amber said, letting herself focus on the busy, bustling corridor. It wasn't even an excuse to not look at him; she did need to pay attention to keep from bumping into supply carts and brisk nurses. "After I've taken care of the case's paperwork." Cole and Thirteen probably had made a decent dent in the pile, but she could still sweep in and take from them as much she could. The more she relieved House of his red tape, the better.

Amber wasn't sure, to be honest, if being alone-- in a truly private place-- with Eric was the best idea right now. If her previous reactions were anything to go by, within minutes she'd be making moves and... but what good would time apart do? They'd been separated long enough. "Come with me; we can get a coffee." If she invited him out, it was because she was all but sure he wouldn't turn her down, not the way he'd insisted he wanted to work things out between them.
amber_v: Smug Amber is smug (smug)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-04-21 06:03 pm (UTC)(link)
They'd made a near-full circuit of the floor. While they could avoid the Diagnostics department by turning around and walking back the way they'd just come, circling infinitely, Amber was ready to face the screwballs and work. They'd be going out later anyway; they could do all the talking they'd like then. For now, she'd fill in those papers and let her mind wander, processing their latest conversation and what it all meant. She may not have resisted giving Eric another chance, but what did it mean? Amber felt whammed by a ton-heavy hammer, hit by all her frustrations and distrust and the nascent hope she couldn’t keep back despite all the warning signs.

Amber halted before the corridor turned again, giving them a pause to talk before reaching the department's glass walls. "Mickey's," she started—hardly glamorous, but they didn’t need the shine and glitter of Ma Cabane to discuss their nitty-gritty problems-- then stopped as she took in Eric's expression, pleased like he'd just won an academic award. "What?" she asked, voice peeved and curious but a half-grin tugging at her mouth anyway. What was it about Eric that he could make her make her smile simply by doing the same himself? “You’re ridiculous sometimes, you know that, right?” But it was nice. If he was this glad with the mere prospect of maybe being with her a bit longer—grin now a full-fledged smile, Amber shook her head like she was facing a hopeless, hopeless case. Maybe she should give him the benefit of the doubt more often. For all the times that she’d lost faith in him, he’d come through for her. Could he really like her that much? No one else had bothered putting up with all her demands and conditions.
amber_v: Aw, man, don't pout at me (lean)

[personal profile] amber_v 2010-04-22 07:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Seriously, how silly could you get? It was just coffee that'd probably be fifty kinds of awkward with a ninety percent chance of ending in a fight. Very, very silly. But Eric sure did have a beautiful smile. It shone through even his fake sternness. "Yes, you!" Amber raised her hand to whap his arm and maybe do something a bit more tender, but stopped halfway; she couldn't touch him on hospital grounds. She segued the aborted playful smack with running her fingers through her hair. "I'm always wise and right, you know that."

Though Amber's high spirits sank as she went through the doorway, her steps quickened and her posture became taller, more rigid. Damn if she'd show the others sign of weakness. It'd be like throwing a bloody carcass into a tank of starving sharks. As she swept in, she scanned the rooms for House: gone. She could look forward to his teasing later, then. Her abdomen clenched in anticipation, her pulse beat just a bit faster. "Yeah," Amber said to Eric, not glancing back at him as she went into the conference room.

"And he was like, Screw you! and I think he would’ve hit House--" Kutner stopped, his hands in the air. "Heeeeey, you're back. Make up with Eric?"

Of all the times to follow House's example. "None of your business," Amber replied, sitting down and scooting the chair closer to the table.

"It kind of is," Taub said. "Since his mood affects us all."

Thirteen looked up sharply, glaring. "God, what does it matter? It's not as if they won't make up or fight again in five minutes." Burning heat overtook Amber. If she didn't interrupt Thirteen, it was only because she didn't even know what she was feeling. "Can we just do this? The sooner it's over, the sooner we can get out of here."

"I'm with her," Amber muttered. At least that much she agreed with. She wouldn’t tackle the rest of what Thirteen had said; her private life was already way too public. Together with Taub and Cole, they worked to complete the forms.