Distance-2 (Epilogue 3)
Amelia wasn’t breathing, it felt like a dream to her. Scratch that, it felt like a nightmare, a never ending one. She was floating, with no memory of how she actually got there, she finally arrived to the hospital after what felt like an eternity. She rushed through the ER checking every trauma room and exam room, feeling like a maniac. Until April noticed her and held her steady. What she also hadn’t realized other than having held her breath for so long is that she was sobbing, and shaking, and in an obvious panic attack.
"Amelia? Amelia, calm down!” The trauma surgeon shook her friend gently, as if to wake her up.
April’s words were muffled to Amelia’s ears. She shut her eyes for a moment and followed the orders she was given to take deep breathes until she was more focused. “Kepner,” she stated, her panting was obvious after finally allowing herself to take air in, “Owen. I… there was… we… had a fight… and he was gone. I don’t know where he is, where’s Owen? Kepner do you know where’s Owen?” The neurosurgeon’s voice cracked, and the stifled cry couldn’t be masked as it was stuck in her throat like a stone.
The red head looked at her with sympathy and understanding compassion. She nodded with a forced sad smile, “come with me,” she led her through the rooms while stroking her shoulder soothingly, trying to prepare her. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing that could have prepared her for what she was to see.
The halls and rooms and beds of the hospital she has memorized through the years suddenly seemed peculiar and harsh like she was a stranger to this world. A man she knew too well was lying on a bed she previously thought would be too small for him.
When Amelia stepped down the pedestal and walked through the crowd to where her husband was, he was nowhere to be found, she scanned over the hall, maybe he just wanted some water. Her confession was a little too public, but she didn’t want him to leave her on the spot. But he had just disappeared, like salt dispersed in water.
The car was still parked in the same place, and the sight brought on a new emotion for her. She was now worried and scared and there was another thing stirring in her gut, she identified it from when she had convinced herself Owen could have died in the army as well after Derek died. It was an instinct, the worse came to Amelia’s mind first. She forced herself into logic and told herself everything was fine. She called his phone countless time on the way home and it went straight to voice mail. Maybe he simply needs some time alone, he took a cab home and turned off his cell. At first she hung up and called again, then she started leaving desperate messages, and they went on a downwards spiral.
“Owen, please call me back ASAP”
“We need to talk! I get that you’re mad or… I don’t know… just call me…”
“Where the hell are you? I just came home and you’re not there, Owen you can’t do this! Text me or something!”
“Damn it O, don’t go MIA on me, this isn’t funny anymore.”
“Look, whatever you want, we can discuss it, I’m sorry, I was just emotional, just please, please let me know you’re okay.”
“You bastard! You freaking bastard! First Jordan then Germany and now this, you’re a stupid coward you know that? You idiot you can’t let me love you this hard and then go die or something, I’m going to kill you!”
“I can’t do this O, I swear if anything happened to you… I can’t- I- I won’t get through it, I’m not strong enough. I can’t live without you do you hear me? If it isn’t for me do it for our kids. So you better fucking answer and be alive.”
After checking the house and making sure all the kids are still asleep and a note was left for Dania, the natural course of action was to rush to the hospital. Despite all the fear and concern and anger, she kept going through the safer possibilities- maybe he’s just ranting to Callie about his bitch wife - maybe he’s catching up with kepner- maybe he wanted to burry himself with a bloody trauma, given his friends in GSMH, he’d surely get privileges. She ran out of scenarios pretty soon- Callie and April wouldn’t let him ignore me to this extent, they’d text me - if he was in surgery a nurse would have delivered my messages, he wouldn’t ignore them right? Not unless… no, no, that couldn’t be.
“Heyy! Look it’s my girlfriend!” He was sheepishly giddy, Amelia first thought he could be being mean and mocking her, but she had no space to get hurt because she knew it was too uncharacteristic of him.
She gave the woman next to her an expectant leer, obviously asking for all the details at once, especially scared of memory loss. “He’s high on morphine,” April initiated, receiving a sigh of relief from Amelia, “He was drunk when he came in, we couldn’t get much out of him, he was clipped by a motorcycle, we’re going to get a full body CT in a few,” she paused watching the strong mother of 3 take in the medical information about her husband, “I’ll give you a few minutes alone.”
How ironic. They go to a meeting together and he ends up in a hospital, drunk and now high. She approaches his bedside cautiously, trying the best she could to swallow the tears. The first thing that catches her eye is his broken phone on the small table beside him, and for a moment, she wants to steal it and delete the messages, but this isn’t high school.
“You’re sooo beautiful, has anyone told you that before?” He was looking at her dreamily
She couldn’t help but chuckle at his comment and a tear escaped from her sea deep blue eyes. She moved her head comically and forced a big smile, but he was the one without a filter now.
“Oh don’t cry! I won’t go to Germany like this so you got it Mia!” He let out a bitter giggle, and then suddenly stopped, “I love you,” he said seriously after a beat, and if she weren’t a doctor she’d doubt that he was aware of what he was saying. He reached out for her hand and kissed it gently but with tremendous emotion.
Amelia was speechless, she was merely grateful that he was alive. She jerked her hand and noticed his dismay turn to content when she tentatively moved it to stroke his curls.
“Something went wrong and you won’t tell me,” she restlessly paced beside his room
“It was perfect, textbook surgery, he’s okay,” Meredith assured her sister
“He’s taking too long to wake up; I want to sue that anesthesiologist.”
“No one is suing anybody, calm down, he’s awake, kepner is just doing a routine post op check up,” it was almost funny to see Amelia unsure and not her usual stubborn confidence, except there was nothing remotely funny about any of this at all.
“The pain meds are almost completely wearing off, so he might be more uncomfortable, but he’s been asking for you” April updated with a reassuring grin, and Amelia was walking in the room before the end of that sentence.
She rushed in and didn’t even think about what her body was doing before finding her lips hungrily interlocked with his. She kept her forehead glued to his for a few seconds before clumsily standing up and stepping back a little too quickly, stopping her hand midway as it reflexively was moving up to her lips.
“That helped with the pain,” Owen retorted. He’s got his sense of humor still, that’s good, she thought.
“Are you hurting?” She asked genuinely
“I am,” he bore his eyes into hers; answering seemingly a different question than the one she asked.
Amelia looked around the room to avoid his eyes. She hesitantly decided to sit on the chair, choosing the one that’s slightly further than the closest one to him. She nodded and pursed her lips together as a method of communication with herself in order to go on. “You don’t even want to fight with me anymore.” She gathered her courage to complete, “I saw what resentment did to Meredith’s and Derek’s marriage, I don’t want that to happen with us.”
Owen furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, “Derek came back.”
“Yeah then he died,” she half smirked
“I’m not going to die,” he chortled humorlessly, “that was a freak accident, plus we’re nothing like Meredith and Derek.” It was true, she knew it best; Amelia and Owen were anything but.
“Owen, I’m not giving you an ultimatum here, I’m letting you go.”
“But you love me,” it was meant to be an argument, though it came out like a confused plea
“I do,” her eyes turned glassy, “I really do. But I’m afraid this is going to destroy me.” She stood up and gave him a gentle peck on the forehead and caressed his cheek. She couldn’t resist it, before looking at him wistfully, as if it were the last time. Owen felt like he was watching himself die and his own hands were tied.
“I’m not chief anymore Richard,” Owen chuckled like a reminder was needed
“Oh, once the chief always the chief,” he joked. “You should have seen your wife fretting over everyone, you gave her a real scare. Where is she now by the way?”
“She left, she really left,” a breath was caught in his throat as he said the words out loud, more to himself than to Richard. He looked up at him and the words were a little clearer, his eyes welling up as he talked further, like he was confessing his biggest sin, “we’ve had huge fights before, ones about life or death decisions, ones where I thought this could really be it, and I felt so ashamed after everytime for not trusting us, so I started to believe we’re strong enough to survive anything. I should have been better to her. I shouldn’t have taken our marriage for granted.”
There was a heavy moment of silence in the air. Richard, after brief but careful contemplation decided to share his own experience and give the younger colleague some advice, “I know too much about the struggle between careers and relationships. You know, they make it hard on purpose.” He paused then continued after a beat, “do you love her?”
Owen chuckled at the question like it was the most ridiculous thing that has been said to him, but Richard didn’t buy it, “Well?”
“I never stopped being in love with her, I love her with every fiber of my being,” the crease between his eyebrows and his softening gaze made the sincerity of his words impossible to deny.
“Then you have a choice. You think of the place that gives you peace, the place which is heaven on earth for you, is it when you’re doing your job in Germany? Or is it with your wife? Whatever it is, you fight for it.”
The head of general surgery looked away and patted his lap awkwardly before getting up, “Well, anyway, I just came here to give you your phone, the screen is broken but I think it still calls.”
Owen unlocked his phone as soon as Richard walked out to see the several messages from teddy checking in, and a few notifications from his fellow doctors back in Germany.
His heart sank to see that nothing new was from Amelia. He called his voice mail and his demanor changed within a second of hearing Amelia’s voice.
Amelia rushed in and took off her coat, she tried to prepare something for dinner but didn’t find the energy in herself, mentally nor physcially. She concluded that ordering in for one day week wouldn’t hurt, the kids will definitely not mind it. She sat on the couch and took in a shaky breath, grateful for the little time left for her alone before school ended and the house was filled again. The hospital has been very flexible with her requests of changing shifts the past year, everyone thought it was only temporary.
She started thinking of how she was going to have to get used to it now, and the mountain of emotions silenced inside of her came falling out like a waterfall. “It’s okay,” she thought to herself, “I’m going to have to take the kids to see Owen later today, so I’ll see him again.” It felt like torture to have to see him probably quite a few times knowing that she couldn’t reach out and hug him, knowing that their children won’t understand what has happened.
She heard the doorbell ring and jerked at the sound to stand up. Amelia wiped her tears away and tried to regain her composure to prepare herself to greet her children with smiles and love. However, it wasn’t the kids coming back from school.
“WHAT IN THE WORLD-” a pair of arms fell between hers for support.
“I love you. I won’t ever stop loving you. I helped a lot of people in MedCom but I was miserable. I imagined you next to me every night,” Owen said out of breath, still holding on to Amelia, too weak to stand straight.
“How the hell did they let you leave in a hospital gown?!” She was yelling at him with worry, “you’re incision hasn’t healed! Oh god, it’s about to rain, you’ll get an infection, come in what are you doing!?”
“Wait,” he panted, and stopped her from carrying him in, “I kind of ran way.”
“Are you crazy?!” Her eyes were never wider and more moved
“I am, I’m crazy about you Amelia Shepherd. You were right, we should fight more, I want to fight, I wanna fight with you for us, because I can’t live without you either.” Amelia couldn’t unlock her eyes off his. She squeezed his arms harder and pulled his heavy weight forward so their bodies were against each other when she kissed him.
“Okay,” she managed to whisper. A cold drop of salt water fell between their heavy breaths, urging her to drag her husband inside and snuggle with him after all the angst. She knew better than anyone that the next part will probably be their hardest chapter, but she also knew how the only way to fail is not to fight. She knew how to never let go, never give up, never run, never surrender. To fight even when it seems inevitable that you’re about to go down swinging. Amelia knew how to keep looking for light in the darkest of places without stopping. So she braced herself, because though there is no glory in easy, she also knew that Owen and she are legendary.
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