amber_v: Amber lying down on a couch, smiling (smile for the camera)
amber_v ([personal profile] amber_v) wrote in [community profile] alwaysright2010-06-20 12:04 pm

November 10

As it turned out, House didn't comment on their tardiness or the fact that they arrived within minutes of each other. Amber barely even saw him: he didn't show up in the lecture hall nor in the clinic; she did run into him in the main lobby, but that was coincidence, catching him on his way out. He seemed distracted, gaze not focused on the people around him. Preoccupied, almost, though Amber wouldn't have known with what. He did sneer at her when he noticed her, so he couldn't have been too distraught.

It was another couple of slow days at work. Cuddy came in on Friday morning to push a case on them, but none of them were willing to hunt out House and force work on him, and anyway Kutner's guess of a diagnosis turned out to be right. Cuddy seemed miffed when she reported that fact to them and her expression was stiff with held-back anger as she reported them to the clinic, but what did Amber care? If Cuddy didn't like the situation, she could do something about it. Amber was playing by the rules.

And not having a case meant things were simple with the Dr. Foreman side of Eric. They couldn't forever avoid working together, and goodness knew how their future fights would get entangle itself in their relationship, but for now Amber was fine with being happy in love. Everything... just seemed lighter. The clouds seemed higher, the sky bluer, and sometimes, clacking along the corridors in her same heels and skirts, Amber felt like she was floating. It was impossible not to smile, to the point that one of her clinic patients asked her what was so damn funny about their eczema rash. And seeing Eric, smirking like they knew the world's best secret because they did-- that was the best.

Saturday rolled around, with them waking up together again in her bed, this time not thinking at all of time; they took their time kissing, wrestling in bed, fucking... by the time they were done, the late morning sun came in bright and strong and beautiful. Boneless and sated, Amber couldn't resist drifting off, curling in the light streaming over her bed. What harm could napping a bit do? They had the whole weekend ahead of them.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from Houes - hands (hands)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-20 04:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman didn't even try to hide his smile as Amber murmured in her sleep and snuggled deeper into the covers. He felt completely energized, relaxed and alert and bursting with endorphins. Last night, and again this morning...they'd barely made time for food, and even as they'd been preparing meals, side-by-side, they'd still been exchanging flirtatious looks. He'd caught Amber eyeing him speculatively more than once, and been found out himself a few times when just the sight of her, or the sound of her voice, started him remembering how she kissed him, how that bright, challenging look on her face meant exactly the sort of trouble he wanted to get into.

He wasn't going to disturb her if he'd worn her out. Foreman paced into the living room, keeping his footfalls as light as possible, looking around with interest. He ran his finger along the spines of the books on her shelves, and sorted through a few DVDs sitting near the TV, but he was too restless to either start a proper search, or settle down to read until Amber rejoined the land of the living.

The sight of his sneakers sitting by the front door decided him. He still had his gym bag here; he wouldn't leave for a few hours to get his usual workout in, but he could go for a jog around the neighbourhood, get to know it a little better. He'd work out the kinks in his muscles, and not bother Amber by digging through her belongings.

A few minutes later, he was dressed, and he'd pencilled a quick note to leave on the kitchen table, before borrowing Amber's keys and heading out the door. The day was clear and cold, so that his breath puffed out ahead of him, and burned a bit in his throat as he got going. Everything felt amazing. Perfect. The feeling of blood pumping through his muscles, the sharp air in his chest, and knowing that he'd be going back to Amber's place afterwards. God, he felt good. Every day this week he'd only had to look at House's scowl and feel himself start to grin. He hid it as best he could--he didn't need House tearing him down because he was happy again--but the difference between now and when he'd come back to Princeton felt as wide as the Grand Canyon. He had a job that was good enough, not as good as he wanted, but that would change. And he was happy. Try stuffing that down House's throat: turned out, you could have both. And Foreman intended to keep both.

In case Amber wasn't that deeply asleep, Foreman didn't stay out long, not more than forty minutes and maybe five miles. He found his way back to the apartment building, puffed out, all the more exhilarated after the effort of the run. He jogged up the steps and wandered inside, still quietly--good thing, since a glance into the bedroom showed Amber breathing softly on the bed, although she was beginning to stir; she might be waking up soon.

He was sweaty enough to need a shower, and that was his next destination, when the phone rang. Foreman hesitated, in case the person gave up after a ring or two, but it kept going. He didn't want Amber to have to wake up to deal with some idiot just because they couldn't take a hint. House would've called Amber's cell or paged her. Cuddy, too. If it wasn't work, Foreman could take a message. He followed the sound to the living room and found the cordless phone on the coffee table. He picked it up and turned it on. "Volakis residence," he said, hoping to be done with this quickly.

There was a distinct pause, and then, "Hello," in a very interested tone of voice. "Is my daughter there, or is this just another new method of screening her calls? I hope you're giving her something nice to look at while you answer the phone for her."

Daughter. That sounded like trouble. Foreman gripped the phone a little tighter and sat down heavily on the couch. This wasn't how he'd ever wanted to meet Amber's mother, but since it was inevitable, he'd do his best. "She's asleep right now," he said. "I'll be sure to tell her you called."

Amber's mother made a tsking sound, maybe at the idea of her daughter being in bed at such an hour. "And get me off the phone in the meantime? No thank you. You're--Emmett, isn't it? Amber's boyfriend?"

"Eric Foreman," Foreman said, tamping down the pissy urge to say Doctor. Amber surely wouldn't have forgotten that.

"Eric, that's it! Sorry, sorry. So many details, not that Amber remembers to call and update me on her life. Well, tell her we're seating eleven for Thanksgiving after all--did you ever hear of such a number? My husband's sister is coming, and of course she'll bring that horrid mince pie that she thinks is so wonderful; tell Amber she can bring a salad, not that we expect her to, but it would be nice."

Panic was definitely beginning to set in. He and Amber hadn't dealt with the question of Thanksgiving, not since they'd nearly fought about it. Foreman been planning to ask, but to hear that the assumption was still there--had Amber changed her mind again? Forgotten to tell him? Avoided telling him, on purpose? "Mrs. Volakis--"

"Oh, Eric, you can call me Kate. I always say that to Brian's girlfriends, so I suppose it must be the same with you! Now don't tell me you're allergic to anything. You aren't, are you? I've already planned the meal, but I can make substitutions..." She took a breath, not long enough to be called a real hesitation, and then carried on blithely with, "I'm not one of those people who isn't open-minded about preferences."

Foreman winced. Oh, God. There it was. Amber's mother was making an effort. He'd expected the meal to be painful, although he wanted to go for Amber's sake, but he'd hoped everyone wouldn't be so obviously trying to hide the fact that his was the only black face at the table and no one would see past it. "No, no allergies," he said, forcing himself not to bite the words out.

"Well, that's good. We expect you no later than four. Tell Amber to call me. I wouldn't want to start telling stories! She always hated when I did that with her boyfriends in high school. And I've never had a chance since then! It's so good of you to come, I know it's all going to go well."

The last sentence was spoken with a sort of military fervour, as though Thanksgiving was a military operation behind enemy lines. Foreman's mom had been adamant about making the holiday go off without a hitch in the past, but he couldn't help hearing this as another reassurance that no one in Amber's family was going to "make a big deal." He smiled tightly, the good feelings from the run dissipating in front of a wave of tension. "I'll tell her," he said, not quite able to force out a thank you for inviting me; it was too early for that much hypocrisy.

"All right. Goodbye, Eric, we'll meet you properly then."

"Bye," he said, and turned the phone off, dropping it back on the coffee table and staring at it fixedly.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - thoughtful (thoughtful)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-22 12:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman was glaring so stonily at the phone, sitting quietly on the table like it was completely innocent and hadn't just put him through the ringer, that he didn't notice Amber's soft footsteps behind him. He turned sharply when she spoke. With an effort, he shook off the tension from the phone call. It wouldn't do any good to tell Amber what talking to her mother had really felt like. Amber saw her as overbearing, maybe, from the irritated, resigned groan she made when she figured out who Foreman had been talking to, but he doubted Amber really cared to have him get resentful over the tone of her mother's voice when she'd asked after his allergies. It wasn't like he could prove anything.

"You can bring a salad to Thanksgiving," he said, keeping to the facts. He gave her a significant glance, trying to assess if this was all Kate Volakis's idea, or if Amber had been conspiring to feed him to the wolves. "We're supposed to be there by four." He groped for a moment for some other part of the conversation to report; his memory already felt blurred, except for the sharp spikes of his annoyance. "And your aunt is bringing mince pie."

He supposed he should add, your mom wants you to call, but that was probably implied. He slumped back into the back of the couch, feeling tired. He wasn't angry; not even upset, really. The phone call hadn't been egregious. He'd had girlfriends before who hadn't warned their families before he showed up--when he was in college, mostly, when he got invited out to dinner with their parents so that he could be assessed. Girls who'd never for a moment thought that there'd been anything to warn for, or who had insisted to themselves that it really didn't make a difference...only to find out it did. Amber's mom making an effort was...nice. Exactly the kind of lèse majesté he hated, but it wasn't anything that was going to stop any time soon. There was no point in making a big deal of it.

Underneath that, Foreman realized that he'd never have to do the same in reverse. Introduce Amber to his mom. She'd absolutely loved Claire. And to think that he never had to worry about Amber picking up his phone to answer a concerned, motherly call; that they'd never visit his parents so Mom would have her chance at evaluating Amber. She'd never get that "are you good enough for my little boy?" look on her face, and she'd never call Foreman aside into the kitchen "to help get refreshments," only to give him either a winking, conspiratorial smile, or else a swat on his arm and shake of her head that meant Eric, what are you thinking? He let out a small, amused breath. He couldn't imagine which reaction Amber would have earned. God, he wished he did.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - thoughtful (amused)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-23 12:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman's gaze dropped to his lap, watching Amber lace their fingers together, and he smiled slightly as he squeezed back. Her thigh and arm pressed against his side. That touch had always helped to calm him down, keep him from getting tangled up in things he couldn't change. "She wants to meet your boyfriend," he said, gently enough, although not without a touch of irony. It was strange, still, saying the word boyfriend to mean himself. The intonation Kate gave it was worse: like Amber was still in high school, and bringing over her 'little friends' who probably jizzed in their pants if they got to second base. Not like her daughter had an adult, loving relationship. "Thanksgiving's only one meal. Think about how much worse it would be if you put her off until Christmas."

He nodded when Amber said she hadn't brought it up with her mom. That was reassuring. He didn't expect Amber to turn around and change her mind, but he was a little more familiar with her arranging her life to suit her behind his back. As much as he wanted to trust her, he was still wary over that. "I told you I'd go," he said, meeting her eyes. He felt...strange. How long had it been since he'd had a proper Thanksgiving meal? Not since he'd started working for House. He couldn't remember one in California. Had it really been that long? He'd gotten used to spending his holidays, when he wasn't working, still at work. Playing Santa Claus on the peds ward at Christmas, or volunteering in the clinic to dispense pepto bismol to the overeaters at Thanksgiving. If not that, then watching football. No matter how amazing his high def TV was, the sound of the crowds cheering didn't exactly make up for not having someone to toss a football around with, dodging behind the furniture to evade tackles.

Shrugging off the strange sense of loneliness, he smiled at her, his amusement coming back. "Just remembering," he said. "I'm pretty good with parents." He'd never had trouble with his nearly-in-laws. And charm, he could do, even when he was seething inside. All those evaluations he'd been through, he'd more or less come out unscathed. He could get through another one.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - disgusted (disgusted)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-24 02:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman shook his head, getting more amused by the moment, at the light, petulant tone in Amber's voice. He didn't want to spend Christmas with the Volakises either, but the soft poutiness Amber was showing was incredibly alluring. He wanted to kiss her, change the subject for the moment, or at least reassure her that one major holiday a year spent with the family could stave off a lot of guilt. "You never gave me a chance," he protested in good humour. "You dropped the subject on me without any warning. I've had a week to think about it since then."

Well, it was good to hear that Amber's parents would be as pleased as anybody else by his MD. And...

Foreman laughed abruptly, jerking away from Amber slightly so that he could stare at her. That he hadn't counted on. He had absolutely no idea what to say to her. He pressed his lips together and looked away pointedly. "That's my problem, isn't it?" he said. There was nothing Amber could do about it. Kate Volakis wasn't about to rescind the invitation, not if it might make her look intolerant. More scandalous than a punk-rocker--oh, he hadn't forgotten Amber saying that. Foreman hadn't hesitated to point out that he'd be out of place, but that had been the end of the conversation. Amber hadn't wanted him to meet her family then, not when it might become clear exactly how unwelcome he was. He didn't give a shit about how kindly they pretended he was just another guest at their Thanksgiving dinner table. It was the idea that he was making off with their lily-pure daughter that made his stomach knot. Amber might be willing to take the bull by the horns when it was just the two of them sitting in her living room, but he doubted she'd be as blunt to her family, not if she preferred avoiding them. Christ, he didn't need her defending him, anyway. Foreman was more than happy with who he was. He'd sit through a family reunion for Amber's sake. She could show him off: that's what her mother so clearly wanted. As for the rest of the hypocritical bullshit, he'd keep it to himself, and he didn't need or expect Amber to share his burden. She'd said her share of ignorant things, but he could forgive those because they were ignorant. When she brought it up like this, it was that much more difficult to live like he didn't have to care.

"Yeah," he said shortly, all the warmth gone out of the recollection. "I've even been found worthy, once or twice."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from Houes - hands (hands)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-25 02:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman pressed his palm hard against his thigh. Amber's hand was warm, covering his, but that didn't stop him from tensing his shoulders, until it felt like his spine had become a bar of hot iron. "It's about me," he said. He couldn't believe that she didn't see that. He wasn't being given a chance. It'd either be Amber's relatives falling over backwards to prove that they could be fair, patting themselves on the back when they asked him about politics or news that they'd assume he was an expert on; or else it'd be a matter of them setting their jaws and mechanically going through the motions, without ever once seeing him. The medical degree would help with that. So would a suit. But the last thing they'd be seeing was Eric Foreman. He, himself, that's what they'd be missing. "That's exactly what it's about."

His voice was cool, because yeah, the angry black man didn't play, he knew that. With a conscious effort, as if he was pushing past one of House's taunts, Foreman set it aside, the whole situation. Of course foreshadowing helped. When this kind of shit didn't come out of fucking nowhere, he was able to have his defenses up, to act calm and collected and disaffected. He'd gotten used to leaving those barriers down around Amber. Well, her mother had fired the first shot, gotten past his shields. Now he just needed time to repair the damage. "Don't worry, I won't be controversial," he said. They could have Dr. Foreman, who'd never lost his temper in a professional setting, who could chuckle at whatever jokes a room full of people thought were funny, who nodded amiably whenever some wit said, ah, no offense, of course. Of course. None taken.

Foreman inhaled, held his breath for a second, and then let it out again, concentrating on the flow of air. Amber was quiet--upset, he noticed, when he let his gaze flick towards her. That he'd been sarcastic about her family, probably. They might be oblivious jackasses, but she loved them, obviously. He hadn't even met them and was already making judgements. "I'm sorry," he said, only slightly stiffly. "I know it's the first time you've brought a guy home." He wouldn't apologize for being 'difficult'. That was certainly not his problem. But that didn't mean he wasn't sorry the situation would be hard on her.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - thoughtful (thoughtful)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-27 11:37 am (UTC)(link)
Foreman didn't want to get into whether his identity or Amber's parents' stereotypes were the issue. The first time he'd met Claire's parents, he'd been nervous about getting their blessing, but at least there were some things that he and Claire already understood between themselves. They didn't need to hold a symposium just to make sure they shared a vision of exactly what the world was like. An awkward Thanksgiving dinner might be about how prejudiced Amber's parents were. He'd give them the benefit of the doubt, as much as he could considering how cynical the last twenty years of fighting to be considered the best in every college and hospital he'd joined. Soon enough he'd have more evidence than one phone call could give him, one way or the other. He wanted to ask Amber, are you going to tell your parents it's their problem when we're all passing the cranberry sauce? but he already knew the answer to that. Amber--Amber, of all people--would be meek. Don't rock the boat, as long as her parents didn't rock it first. And Foreman doubted she'd consider herself any less than a hundred percent supportive of him, because she agreed in private that her family had a problem. My family are idiots, sure, but that was about as specific as she'd get. Let's not call a spade a spade, he thought, with bitter irony.

He smiled, still slightly preoccupied, when she said he was the first guy she'd wanted to show off. It didn't make the situation any easier on him; he not only had to measure up to her parents' standards, but also up to whatever mythical white boy they'd imagined she'd show up with some day. Not to mention living up to Amber's trust in him, her love. Remembering that softened him like no half-baked apologies about her family could. He exhaled, and turned his hand under hers so that he could interlock their fingers and squeeze back. "Hey," he said, trying to draw her out of the sad, distant mood she'd fallen into. "I'm glad. That you want to." He raised his eyebrows encouragingly, trying to coax a return smile from her. "It means a lot to me."

Amber seemed more intent than him, even, on getting back to normality. The daily routine. Foreman slumped a bit further on the couch. He'd sat down straight after his run, and now his calves were cramping, the loose heat in his muscles tightening up and starting to ache. "Okay. I'm going to grab a shower," he said. Amber had sat next to him without a murmur of protest at the smell, but Foreman didn't want to sit around with dried, salty sweat itching along his temples and down his chest. If he tried hard enough, had the break to gather his thoughts, then he could pretend just as well as Amber that colour didn't matter.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - showering (showering)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-27 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Amber got up slowly and her voice was flat, but the words were right. Let it lie. Foreman bent down to untie his runners and pulled them off, dropping them back by the door before heading for the bathroom. He pulled his shirt over his head and hooked his sweats over his hips, then started the water running. While he waited for it to run hot, he sat on the toilet seat, elbows propped on his knees, shoulders hunched, staring at the floor tiles without really seeing them. The conversation hung over him, clouding his thoughts. Amber knew the problem, she saw the problem, but she wasn't going to do anything about it. Accept and deal. That casual blitheness left him with a bad taste in his mouth, but what the hell had he ever done that was better?

He reached out a palm to check the water and found it hot enough. Stepping in should have been a relief after the cold outside and the tightness in his muscles. Breathing in the steam only seemed to clog his throat up further. He started scrubbing himself down mechanically, getting clean without taking any pleasure in the heat. The world was fucked for him, but it was fucked worse for his parents forty years ago, and it would be fucked worse for Marcus when he came up for parole in two years. Nothing was fair. Big goddamn revelation. It hadn't stopped Foreman from getting ahead, from showing up every asshole who'd ever tried to keep him down. He'd left good enough behind in the dust. He was better than that. Better than every single person who'd ever laughed behind their hands at him or assumed without a thought that he just wouldn't measure up. A resident he'd had during his internship had been the first one to tell him to his face that's what it would take. Foreman had thought that 4.0 would do it all for him, he'd been resentful when his resident rode him harder than anyone else. That's what it takes. If you want to be good enough, you have to be better. Either get that into your head or give up now.

Foreman hadn't given up. And he knew better now, too. He twisted off the water and wrapped a towel around his waist before heading for the bedroom and the clothes he'd left there last night, a pair of khaki pants and a casual shirt. He'd deal with Amber's family on his own, stop expecting more. He knew he could depend on himself. That decided, Foreman shook off the lingering resentment and headed to the kitchen, his stomach clamouring for whatever Amber had pulled together for their meal.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - thoughtful (thoughtful)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-28 01:56 pm (UTC)(link)
The breakfast Amber was making smelled both delicious and complicated. Foreman inhaled, his hunger sharpened by the scent of pancakes, sausages, and fresh coffee. He walked into the kitchen warily. Maybe Amber was still upset; Foreman could easily respect giving her some space if she was. He pulled down two mugs from one of Amber's cupboards and poured coffee for them; the pot had just finished dripping. He fixed Amber's the way she liked, and left hers on the counter beside her.

He took his mug to the table, intending to leave it there and then set the rest of the table, but setting his coffee down in the same place he'd left his note earlier about going for his run made him realize it wasn't there any more. His ears warmed in embarrassment. It'd been a stupid, sappy gesture. Amber would want to know where he was if she'd woken up while he was out, and the simple short phrases explaining that didn't need emphasis. But he'd gotten that far, squeezing the pen between his fingers, a helpless, silly smile on his face as he hesitated. Finally he'd added, love you, as if the words on paper meant as much as saying them to Amber directly. Like the time he'd called her baby and she'd asked him to say it again--he'd promised he'd tell her, when the feeling came over him. In the end he'd written the words, hastily and messily, before jogging down the block, high on a surge of happiness.

Foreman checked under the table, but he couldn't see the piece of paper--it hadn't fallen. Amber was the only one who'd been in here since then. Had she found it? Did she care? Or was it exactly the sort of thing she expected on a note, so that she'd swept it into the trash now that it'd served its function?

He laughed silently at himself for his own ridiculous assumptions. He went back into the kitchen and got out plates and cutlery. Before taking them to the table, he set them briefly on the counter, just out of the way of where Amber was cooking. Foreman leaning close to her, lightly brushing her tangled hair off her neck with one hand, and bent to leave a lingering, warm series of kisses along the side of her throat. Looking down at the frying pan over his shoulder, he sighed and wrapped his arms around her from behind. There should be something to say, but the words didn't want to come, so Foreman pressed his closed lips to her skin again, resting there, where he could breathe in the sleep-warm scent of her skin.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - thoughtful (amused)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-28 05:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman closed his eyes for a moment, as Amber turned her cheek towards his, and covered his arms with hers. She wanted him close. Whatever the hell her family did or said, he knew better than to care. Amber had been pretty clear that their opinions weren't hers, even if she wasn't going to condemn them. And she hadn't hesitated from stripping away any sort of illusions either of them might have. If Foreman ever needed to bluntly point out an issue, then he'd at least have the comfort of knowing Amber would rather confront it directly than have him keep everything to himself. When she spoke, he grinned without so much as a pause, knowing she'd feel the movement of his mouth. She'd definitely seen the note. He kissed her temple gently before slowly letting go. "Yeah," he said, and then, more strongly, "Starving."

He helped her bring breakfast to the table, sliding into his seat as soon as they were both served, and not hesitating to dig in. The flavours were rich, the food filling and satisfying. "Delicious," he said, smiling at her after clearing his mouth with a sip of coffee. He found her foot under the table with his socked one, and covered it companionably, grinning to himself at the contact. "It's cold out. Might snow soon. Do you go to that park much, the one near the river?" He'd found it near the end of his run, but if he'd known it was there earlier, he'd probably have explored more. It was close enough to Amber's apartment that she probably knew about it, and could give him a better tour, if he was going to run around here more often.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - thoughtful (amused)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2010-06-29 11:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman nodded over another swallow of coffee. "Yeah, I saw it. Didn't go far." He took a deep breath and sat back, his first hunger satisfied, now content to eat a bit slower and savour. He left most of his pancakes, although the first rush of sugar from the syrup had been exactly what he'd wanted. Too many carbohydrates would load him down, though, so he concentrated on the eggs and sausages. With a chuckle, he said, "We have all day." With that, he grinned at her, affection welling up and coming out as a tender look. They did, and that pleased him inordinately. Amber didn't seem to be rushing to get anything done, not if she'd slept most of the morning away. Of course they could spent the afternoon working, and Amber would do everything in her power to get a leg up on the other candidates. But there had to be more to life than that. "Come on, show me the trees," he said. Foreman could push off the morning's frustrations. He'd get to see Amber's cheeks and nose pink-tipped in the cold, and bring her back to help her warm up. Yeah, he thought. A break would do them good.