Irene's A/N: I can't believe this is the final chapter of Part 1 of Storm. It's been a long journey since November, uh? I decided to keep this as my canon from now on, my answer to all the questions that will never be answered on the show.
Thank you for reading up to this point, and for staying with us through the rollercoaster. We know that it's far from over -Nicole will give you more details about that in the closing AN- but there's one thing we know for sure: we put these characters through crap sometimes, but they are going to end up together and happy, that is a promise.
Now, enjoy this last installment, and I hope we'll be able to see you soon for Part 2 of this journey!
They haven't been asleep for long when Derek's phone buzzes on the end table next to the bed. At the same time, a roll of thunder shakes the house. Derek's eyes spring open, meeting the glow of the alarm clock that reads four o'clock. Beth, is the first name that pops in his head, since he's unable to think of another reason his phone would go off before the crack of dawn.
He disentangles from Meredith. "Mmm?" she stirs, rubbing her eyes with her fists.
"Shhh." He kisses her temple, hoping she'll go back to sleep. He knows she hasn't slept much as of late. She only slept a couple hours last night, since they'd been practicing for Beth's surgery all night. He feels partially responsible for her lack of sleep. Therefore, he hopes she'll stay asleep now.
Meredith hugs his pillow after he sits to reach for the phone. She looks divine. Even though he also feels drained, he could easily stay awake and watch her sleep for the rest of his life.
As he anticipated, it's Amelia's smile lighting up his phone screen. The house shakes again, a loud crash piercing his eardrums as he clicks, "Answer."
"Amelia, what's up? Is it Beth?" he whispers, his eyes glued to Meredith. Meredith's eyes jerk open the moment he says Beth's name.
"Guess what?" her voice is filled with elation. His heart starts to race, hoping his sister is calling with good news. "Someone would like to say hi to you."
"Oh?" His heart pounds vigorously in his chest, scenarios running through his head as a familiar voice fills his ear:
"You did it," it's Beth's gentle, soothing voice that makes his heart practically beat out of his chest with joy. "Congratulations. I didn't want to wake you up so early in the morning, but your sister was so insistent we call you right away. She said you'd kill her if we waited a few hours."
"Beth! It's so good to hear from you," Derek's lips form into a wide, gracious smile at Meredith. She perks up and slides toward him. She lays her hand on his thigh - his naked thigh - and nuzzles her nose against his smooth cheek. He puts the phone on speaker. "Beth, someone else would like to hear your voice."
"Dr. Grey, shouldn't you be sleeping?" Beth's voice comes through the speaker, eliciting a smile on Meredith's face. Derek can't remember the last time he's seen his wife smile so vibrantly. It's been a while.
"I heard your name, and I woke up," Meredith laughs. "How are you feeling?"
"Total Mom radar, uh?" Beth sighs. "A little sore and tired, but I'm alive. Couldn't ask for more, could I?"
Meredith smiles brightly in delight as she grabs hold of Derek's hand. Her eyes are filled with so much love and elation. She looks proud. A proud mama. He wants to kiss her right now, but Amelia's voice re-enters the phone before he can:
"Her stats are good. I have my eye on her, and it's storming like crazy outside, so you two shouldn't worry about coming in right now. She'll still be here in a few hours - "
A roaring shatter, much more powerful than the previous one, convulses through the house, and Amelia's voice is replaced with static.
"Amelia?" Derek says before realizing the call has been dropped. He looks at his wife, who looks entirely ethereal. He just wants to hold her and never let go.
"We did it," she whispers, leaning forward to kiss his lips. It's a short, quick kiss. Kind of like the habit they'd lost for so many months. He's happy to have it back, and he hopes they will never lose it again. "You and I...we did it."
Derek swallows a joy-filled lump. "We did." He wraps his arm around Meredith, who folds perfectly into him. He kisses her hairline, and they hold onto each other, listening to the booms and clashes from outdoors, both waiting for the storm to pass so they can go to the hospital to see Beth.
Abruptly, Meredith pulls away.
Derek raises his eyebrows, confused. "What is it, Meredith?"
"It's February 15th, damn it!" she exclaims.
"And? What's February 15th?"
"I-I didn't get you a gift for Valentine's Day. I mean, sex, yes. Lots of sex, but that's kind of a selfish gift because I wanted sex just as much, if not more. So basically I used you for my own gratification on Valentine's Day. God, I'm such a crappy wife…"
"Meredith, you are not a crappy wife. Sex is the best Valentine's Day gift you can give me. I like sex, and I don't care if you use me for your own gratification," he chuckles.
"But you got me the mug, and the mint hot chocolate, and I didn't get you anything," she says, still sounding unconvinced.
"Meredith, you don't need to get me anything," he assures her. Then she slides off the bed. "Meredith, where are you going?"
"Just wait here. I'll be right back," she tells him, exiting the room.
She returns with her laptop in her arms.
"You don't need to buy me a gift online, right now. It's okay, sex is a wonderful Valentine's Day gift," he jokes, a glint in his eyes. He surely doesn't mind going for another round at this point. They are perfectly re-energized to go again.
"Shut up, I'm trying to show you something," she huffs, furrowing her brow as she loads her Internet browser, taking a deep breath. "And no, it's not an online purchase."
Derek feels intrigued, studying how she clicks and types quickly, almost as if she knew the directions by heart. It's his turn to frown.
She takes a deep breath as she finally presses enter, and his frown deepens when he notices the page that slowly loads on the screen.
Grey's Anatomy, it says, a neat, black font over a white background in the header.
"What is this?" he asks softly, studying his wife, going back and forth between her eyes and the screen. She looks almost terrified to show this page to him.
"It's my present to you," she gulps. "In the spirit of trust."
Derek still looks puzzled at the page, trying to gather clues, his eyes falling on the bio at the side of the screen.
Med school survivor. Married to McDreamy. Mother of a sweet, chatty Lovebug, and a messy, cuddly Monkey. Cutting into people and enjoying it since 2005.
He turns his gaze towards her, his eyes wide, her cheeks fire truck red.
"I have a blog," she blurts. "I started it on my first day as an intern because I figured, my mom's brain is turning into crap mush, I can have the same gene, I'd better record all the surgeries I get into, in case I forget forever. And then you came, and I started vomiting my feelings all over it and…" she rambles, catching her breath, her own eyes widening. "Now hundreds of thousands of people read my crap."
Derek gulps, not knowing what to say, blinking as he keeps staring at the web page, transfixed over the black and white header, the neat lettering, afraid to actually read the entries.
"I never mentioned your names, or the kids'. You're just McDreamy. Or McSomething when you're not being McDreamy. And I don't post photos of you or places that can be easily recognizable. I mean, you know it's the hospital and people might recognize something in a picture, but if you're from Hong Kong, you'll never figure it out."
"You have people reading from Hong Kong?!" he yelps, unable to help himself. She bites her lip.
Okay, his wife is an Internet superstar and he had no clue about it. Sure, he's not the brightest crayon in the box when it comes to social media or web stuff, he's surprised she convinced him to sign up to Twitter in the first place, but how could he not notice his wife blogging during all the years they've been together?
"I know it's a stupid gift," she mumbles.
"No, it's not, I'm just...surprised, confused."
"There are parts of this blog that are dark, Derek, really dark, but I want you to see everything. You know I suck at conversations, I ramble and I say stupid things and I have a million issues, but it's easier to bare your soul in an empty space like a blog than it is baring it to your face. A blog doesn't fight back or get angry when I call it a jackass."
His eyes soften. He understands it, he does, even though he never imagined she would be the type to do something like this.
"Do you call me a jackass often?"
She actually smiles back at him, giggling softly. "We can research how many times I've tagged a post with McJackass, maybe we can figure it out," she grins, and he chuckles back. "There's a lot of good stuff too, though. And some milestones. You know how tags work, right?" she smirks, mischievous as ever.
"I do," he grins back.
She clicks a few things, and he watches as the page fills with a medium-sized photo of their daughter, - well, her head, really - coloring a picture, her hair perfectly styled, her hands holding a crayon steadily. "Lovebug" it says, at the top of the page, and then there's a long list of entries tagged with that same keyword, the titles and just a few sentences appearing, and he can spot some of their daughter milestones, day by day.
Same goes for Bailey, who has his own page, his photo showing only his chubby little hands, holding tightly onto what he recognizes as Meredith's Dartmouth sweater, his blonde bedhead peeking from the bottom. "Monkey" is written in a similar font as the one in Zola's page, only it's blue and green, and not purple and red like it was for his daughter.
He actually laughs when she shows him his own page, of course labeled "McDreamy". He grins, because the picture she used for him shows him in the OR, headset and all, working behind the table, his ferryboat scrub cap taming his wild curls.
"Your whole life is here, Mere," he says, almost stunned when he notices that there are pages labeled for her friends as well, and he's curious to explore more. He always wanted to take a peek inside her head, and now she's handing him the chance to do so on a silver platter. Brains fascinate him, but her brain more than anything.
"Our whole life together is here too," she says softly, resting her cheek on his shoulder, sighing loudly. "Maybe we should read some of them together, or discuss the things that happened there together when you read them."
"So we'll use the blog to drag up every issue we have between us?"
She smiles sadly, nodding. "We can relive the good stuff too."
"True," he admits, shifting the laptop from her lap to his, nestling her under his arm as they sit up a little higher against their headboard, his turn to click back to the home page.
Meredith inhales sharply when their eyes fall on the very last entry.
Friday, February 13, 2015
On My Own
I got used to being alone.
It sucked for a few nights not to have someone to snuggle with, and then, all of a sudden, it was nice for my achy back to lay sprawled in the middle of a huge mattress, starfish style.
I don't know when exactly I got used to the fact that my McDreamy was on the other side of the country, but having a routine helped. The kids helped. Surgery helped even more. You don't need companionship when you are cutting people open, you need yourself and your confidence.
As well as getting used to being with him, I quickly got used to him NOT being here, and it scared me. It scared the crap out of me for the first few days when I realized that I could do it. I could live alone-but-not again.
Was I pissed the first night I kept tossing and turning in between the sheets, trying to find his warmth or his body to snuggle with? Heck, I called him names in the dark and even shed a few hormonal tears because my McAss of a husband wasn't there, but I got over it.
I always get over it. I have to.
Is it hard? Of course. I'm not the same person I was before I met him, or when we were still dating, we didn't have kids back then, and even if it came back slowly to me, I learned that I could live alone. I've lived alone for most of my life, I've raised myself and slept without the comfort of a stuffed animal from the tender age of five, I'm pretty good at living alone.
The problem is that I don't want to live alone.
When my McDreamy showed up tonight, I thought things would be different.
Monkey was finally peeing in a toilet, Lovebug was bouncing with joy, and McDreamy had the most perfect smile on his face surrounded by our little monsters. I could barely think when he showed up, and I certainly couldn't believe he was actually there.
Kissing me just like he was supposed to do, holding my body close to his. And something was still missing.
And I'm glad I practically got used to sleeping sprawled in the middle, because tonight the bed is empty again, the remnants of pancakes still in the sink, and my heart is still heavy. It feels like we shared that kiss years ago, not mere hours before I started typing this up.
It's like we both got used to not being around one another, and our schedules got out of sync. We used to have weeks like that when I was a resident stuck on the night shift, and he was the attending working days. I was waking up when he came home, I was going to bed when he was having breakfast.
At least then sometimes we were able to share a meal and kiss the other good morning/good night. I ate lots of pancakes for dinner and even more salads for breakfast, but at least we were together.
What set off alarm bells in my overtired, hormonal brain is that the kiss we shared as soon as our eyes locked felt like we were colliding, not like we were reuniting. And no, we can't blame the fact that we kissed in the boys' bathroom at Monkey's daycare. We kissed in the middle of a forest surrounded by debris, barely conscious, and it didn't feel like this.
I'm still trying to figure out how it felt like, to be honest. I just know that it's probably one of the reasons why he's not going to be sleeping soundly next to me after I've written this, his arm draped over my stomach, his curls wild on the pillow.
Can I trust him to fill that space again, at some point? I'm not sure. Maybe I'll end up dying old, senile and smelly without him in my bed. At this point, I don't know how we can repair what seems to have shattered permanently.
In the meantime, while I try to figure it all out, I'll just have to get used again to the idea of sleeping alone in my oversized bed, sprawled like a starfish, even when we're sharing the same side of the country.
Derek's heart breaks when he finishes reading, and he knows he needs to do something about it.
Meredith feels Derek's arm squeezing her tightly, and hears him sniffle when he kisses her temple, burying his nose in her hair.
She squeezes his hand tightly, closing her eyes to savor the fact that she's not sleeping alone tonight, but that she has his arms to cradle her.
His arms don't stay wrapped around her for long, though. Before she can swallow her own tears, he's already wriggling out of their embrace, standing up and circling the bed. He stands at the foot of their bed for a long time, his eyes fixed on the post-it hanging above her head, lost in thought.
And then he disappears into the hallway.
Her heart clenches in fear. Could she have ruined it all again?
He returns a few seconds later with blue post-its and a pen in his hand.
"Derek," she says, confused, but Derek merely grins as he climbs onto the bed, standing up, before reaching to take the post-it down.
His smile vanishes, and she suddenly knows why. The broken glass frame is nestled in Derek's hand. Tears bubble in her eyes.
"Meredith, what happened? Did the frame fall?"
She only cries harder. If only it were just that. She's humiliated, remembering what had happened. It's the reason she broke their kiss so abruptly when they'd gotten home, so she could restore the frame to its rightful spot above their bed. Then exhaustion hit her out of nowhere, and her bed looked inviting, so she collapsed.
Then Derek found her napping.
She never should have doubted Derek. It was wrong to doubt him. To think they were over after something so small. They've been through worse. They've survived worse.
His eyes are glistening, and she can't stop bawling. Derek extends his arm around her back. "Shhh," he soothes. "It's okay."
"No, Derek. It's not," she cries, her face now totally covered in tears. "I did this. I broke it. Last night. I was angry and convinced we were over…" She looks with hesitance into his eyes, and all she sees is pain. "I'm sorry. I broke our vows." She waits for him to get mad.
He doesn't. Instead, his eyes twinkle. "You didn't break our vows," he says with determination. "You know, it's symbolic...the broken glass. Despite everything we've been through, our vows are still intact. You broke the frame, Meredith. Not our vows. We can always get a new frame. Now, stop crying. We can't make our footnote if you're going to soak up the rest of the post-its. These are all I could find." He shows her the blue post-its in his hand; they're a perfect replica of the one already in the frame.
And she smiles, eying the footnotes. "The post-it footnote." She wipes the dampness from her face with her hand.
Derek grins, nodding. "Our post-it footnote. What do you we want to promise each other?" His devoted, loving tone reminds her of their original post-it wedding nearly five years ago in the residents' lounge.
Meredith glows, much like she glowed some near five years ago - the last time he'd asked that question. Only now she has an additional prominent pregnant glow, one that he can't ignore.
His heart swells with so much love for his wife. He loves her so much. Meredith Grey is the love of his life, and he can't imagine spending the rest of his years with anyone else.
Her eyes light up. "Full disclosure: No lying," she speaks firmly.
His eye twitches. There was a time in which he didn't think they needed lying on the post-it. Not long after their post-it wedding, Richard had started drinking again, she knew, and she lied to him.
"It's...nothing." She'd been spending a lot of time with the chief, and was refusing to tell him why. He wanted to get to the bottom this, to find out why his wife was purposely keeping something about Richard Webber from him.
"If it's nothing, then find a way to look me in the eye," he said forcefully, noting his wife's refusal of eye contact, which only confirmed that she was, in fact, lying to him. She looked at him, still silent. "The post-it didn't include lying because I didn't think it needed to!"
"I'm not lying...you don't need to know every thought in my head," she had said.
He understands why she didn't tell him about Richard. She was trying to protect him, even if it wasn't in his best interest, even though she admitted knowing it was wrong to hide Richard's drinking.
"Full disclosure," he echoes.
"I mean, unless it's to protect someone for a good reason, as long as the other person isn't in danger, for confidentiality reasons and all. Obviously there are some things we can't tell each other," she adds quickly.
He smiles slowly, understanding where she's coming from. "To trust each other," he says softly, grabbing her hand and stroking her knuckles.
"To trust each other," she repeats.
He scribbles the words onto the post-it note: To trust each other. When he finishes writing, he gazes into her twinkling eyes. A light has surfaced within her eyes, as if she's fighting back tears. At the same time, so much delight and joy preserves her face, so he senses these are happy tears in her eyes.
Derek loves seeing Meredith happy.
So many of their problems these past months have originated from their inability to listen to each other. They're both guilty of failing to hear what the other was really saying, and they've twisted each other's words galore. He thinks back to Brené Brown's TED Speech, and realizes its importance.
"We need to listen to each other from now on. Really listen," he tells her.
"No twisting words," she nods in agreement, and he writes:
Really listen. No word twisting.
"Anything else?" he asks, meeting her eyes.
She pauses, looking deep in thought. "You know," she says calmly, "I think we've hit the root of our problems. Trust and listening."
He agrees with her.
"So, we're good?"
"We're good," she confirms.
"This is forever," he says softly, looking at the original post-it note. He retraces the words with his pen, darkening the faded handwritten words.
"Married...again," Meredith whispers.
"Married times three," Derek says, and giggles explode from Meredith's lips. He leans in to kiss her, kissing her as deeply as he can, his hands lowering over her stomach.
Meredith breaks the kiss and says, "Three weddings and three kids, all in less than five years." She giggles louder, placing her hand over his hand, both nestled on her stomach.
"Wow, we've been busy." He raises his eyebrows.
"We have," she acknowledges. He sets the post-it on the endtable, deciding it's a bad idea to put broken glass up on the wall above their bed. He can find a new frame for them tomorrow.
Well, later today. He glances at the clock, realizing it's already almost six in the morning.
Where has the time gone?
It doesn't matter, because it's time he's spent with Meredith.
Meredith sinks deep into Derek's warm embrace, leaning her head against his shoulder. She thinks of all the weeks she'd slept alone in bed, searching for warmth. Well, the kids did sleep with her on several nights, so she wasn't all alone. Zola's feet are always cold, though, and Bailey drools in his sleep.
There's just something about having Derek home. It's a magical sensation. She feels like a princess whose prince had finally come back to her, and now she's safe and secure. Warmth radiates within her body. He is her human furnace, after all.
"It was so cold," she says quietly.
"The bed without you in it," she replies.
"If it's any consolation, my bed in DC was as cold as an iceberg," Derek tells her, and they chortle together.
"I wanted to print a you just for sleeping," she tells him, still laughing.
"Well, you don't have to do that now." Derek smiles, hugging her close.
"Mmm, I don't," she says, squeezing him back. Their bodies tangle into a cocoon, and she would happily stay in this warm embrace forever, if she could. It's like nothing else matters. Derek is here, they're together and safe, and she's happy. Truly happy.
"Sooo...," he says, elongating the word, his tone firm and serious as if he's about to change the topic to something important. Her breaths hitch.
"Hm?" she murmurs.
"You've been blogging about our entire life together?" he asks, wrinkling his forehead.
Meredith rolls off him, though his skin is still close enough to feel his warmth. Meredith takes a deep breath, partially wishing she had not shown him the blog. She'd kept it a secret for all these years, because she didn't want to talk about it with people in the real world. It was her escape, her personal outlet to express herself.
She knows people all over the world read her blog, but she doesn't know any of them personally. People don't walk up to her on the street. She's never had to talk face-to-face with someone about the words she writes. They're just words. Words that she needs to release somewhere, and better they be to strangers than to real people. It's easier that way.
No tears. No yelling. No one gets hurt. You can't see the person's facial expression when they're behind a computer screen on the other side of the world, so it doesn't feel as real.
"Uh...yeah," she stumbles for words, not prepared for what Derek says next:
"I would love to read more...right now," he says. "Of our life together. It is our life, right?"
She swallows thickly. When she'd shown him the blog, she'd fully intended to read through it with him. Now she's not so sure. It's scary, and she feels vulnerable. "Derek, I don't know...it's not all about our life. It's my life. There are things that aren't about you in it…"
"Okay, then. I want to read about your life," he clarifies, wrapping his fingers around hers, gently stroking her knuckles.
"I…" she tries to find the right words to say, and then she surprises even herself when she reaches for her laptop. "I guess we could read my very first entry. It's been years since I've read it myself. To be honest, I'm not even sure if I remember what it says."
Derek smiles. "Okay."
"I wrote it on my very first day of intern year...it's probably really embarrassing. I'm just warning you..."
"Impossible," Derek raises his eyebrows.
Meredith blushes, thinking back to that day. It's the day she learned she'd screwed her boss the night before, and she was sure she was going to regret that for the rest of her life.
She pulls up her blog again and clicks back to Friday, July 1, 2005:
A Hard Day's Night
The game. They say a person either has what it takes or they don't. My mother was one of greats. Me, on the other hand, I'm kinda screwed.
That's right. I'm the moron who brought home a guy from the bar last night. A guy who, what do you know, turned out to be my boss! Who does that? More importantly, what are the odds of your one night stand turning out to be your boss? I mean, it's not like I live in a small Midwestern hicktown. This city has over four million people! How the hell does this happen?
Only to me, I tell you. Only to me.
God, and he's dreamy. Like really dreamy. McDreamy. That's what Cristina calls him, anyway. Cristina is one of the other interns. She's smart, and I think we might be friends one day (if she ever gets past the fact McDreamy chose me over her to scrub in. Trust me, I did not want to scrub in, but it's not like I actually had a choice. Obviously McDreamy chose me because we had sex. How unprofessional.)
Apart from Cristina, there's Dr. Model and 007 in my group of interns. Okay, those aren't their real names, but I'm not sure how they'd feel about me using their real names. Then there's this other intern who was pestering me today. Okay, he's kind of cute. Not McDreamy cute or anything. But cute. Oh, and a total ass. He had the nerve to call me a nurse! Who does he think he is?
My first shift wasn't bad. Like I said, I got to scrub in with McDreamy. It definitely could have been worse. The surgery was such a rush...a high. I can't explain the feeling exactly. I don't know why anyone does drugs, though. The high from surgery is definitely better. (I tried pot in college, trust me, surgery beats pot any day).
At the end of the day, I visited my mom at the nursing home. She has Alzheimer's, and it was after seeing her I decided I should start this blog to start recording my daily thoughts and ponderings, so if I get Alzheimer's I'll be able to read it and remind myself of who I am.
So, here I am. Totally screwed, right?
Dr. Grey (still not sure about the "doctor" part…)
She chokes up when she finishes reading aloud, feeling completely and totally humiliated. Tears bubble in her eyes as she glances at Derek but her eyes quickly dart away, fearing what he might be thinking.
"God, that was more embarrassing than I expected," she mumbles, unable to make eye contact with her husband. She feels completely and utterly humiliated. She'd actually written that Derek had chosen her for surgery because they'd had sex? And she thought that Alex was cute? What the hell was wrong with her? "Please, Derek, don't...don't say anything."
"I thought it was sweet," he replies sentimentally. "I didn't know that Cristina was jealous when I picked you for our first surgery."
"Oh, she was pissed," Meredith laughs at the memory she'd actually forgotten. "But she got over it. I guess we're even, since I was jealous last year when she got all that recognition. I'd rather have you than a Harper Avery nomination anyway."
"You'll win a Harper Avery one day," Derek responds, his voice veering with confidence.
"Well, I can't as long as I work at Grey Sloan Memorial and the Harper Avery Foundation owns the hospital, and that's okay. Really, I don't need awards to make me happy. I need you. I need you and the kids, and that's it."
Love is all we have to keep.
She morphs her body into Derek's again, snuggling him close, and she breathes in the moment. They have so much love to share with each other and their children, present and future. She's never been prouder of the life they've created together. This is how it's supposed to be. Tranquility at last.
Loud wind gusts swirl around the house as drops of rain splatter against the scenic windows. Greyness surfaces over the horizon.
A storm is still brewing. They're not anywhere near the finish line.
Black crows circling up above. Crying out, "Do you hear that sound?"
A loud rumble shakes the house.
The thunder has begun. A storm is gonna come.
Nicole's A/N: That's it for part 1! The bolded lyrics are from A Storm is Going to Come by Piers Faccini.
Look out for part 2, titled Eye of the Storm, which will be coming to your inboxes in the near future. We hope you'll stick with us for the entire Storm MerDer journey (which is essentially what seasons 11 and 12 could have been if Shonda hadn't ruined everything!) We have a roller coaster planned for you, but we can promise you that McDreamy isn't going anywhere. ;)