Soooooo... I have no idea what prompted this little ficlet. I was bored this afternoon, and I didn't really know what to do. So I started writing. My muse seemed to settle on writing yet another ep tag for 1x18. I don't mind too much, it's not deadly, but here we are. This time it's from James' POV, and it includes that last scene in the episode. Enjoy. ((Icka, surprise...))
Why was it that every time James Lathom visited Meredith he hoped that it would end differently. Was it because he was a hopeless romantic? Probably not, he wasn't the romantic type and he knew that. Was it because he just couldn't get over her? That was far more likely. The truth was that he had loved her since almost the day they met. Bonding over how much they had both hated the music at a mutual friend's party. They'd talked the whole night, and the next day he'd called her for a date. He moved fast, he never knew how long he'd be in one place.
Then, Meredith had moved almost as often as he had. Never staying anywhere longer than a couple of years. He could appreciate that sort of wanderlust, since he had it as well. It never seemed like she wanted to settle down in a physical place, but for a year, despite his assignments, they got to the point where he knew beyond all doubt that this was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
The proposal had been typically them, low-key. Though it was still probably the most romantic gesture he'd ever made. He'd told her all the reasons he loved her. All the reasons he wanted to be her husband and all the reasons that they should stay together. Sure, that first time, they hadn't ended up lasting. Now, if she ever gave him another chance, he would do anything that he could to prove to her she was the most important thing.
When she called him, saying that he should come over, he almost couldn't believe it. Given how they'd ended the day before, her walking out of his hotel after telling him that they didn't work, he hadn't expected to see her again. Whatever it was that was going on in her case must have made her see something, or maybe she knew he was leaving, and wanted to end them for good. He really hoped it was the former.
Something about Meredith Brody had always fascinated him. Somehow she could compartmentalise everything in her life, and that had always been a skill he struggled at. She had kept her personal and professional lives almost entirely separate as long as he'd known her, and when Emily had passed away she'd got even better at that. Knocking on the door, all he could think about was this, and them.
At least she looked happy when she saw him, and she was in the softer clothes he always associated with 'off duty' Meredith. Lower cut, softer lines. When they were together, that change of clothes normally brought about a change in mood too, she was always happier when she wasn't ready for work. "Hey." She smiled as she opened the door, and he had to squeeze himself through, it was a narrow door, and he was a little bigger than her.
"Hello." He said as he started looking around, it was minimalist, very little clutter, and it was completely Meredith. Down to the blankets thrown over the sofa. He recognised a couple of them, the green one in particular bringing back some happy memories. He spotted pictures on the side, some of her parents, a couple of Emily, and even one of him. That hadn't been expected. It was nice to see. "It's a nice place."
"Thank you, it's, erm..." She faltered for a moment then looked up at him with another, slightly bigger, smile. "It's home now." She finished, and he nodded softly, looking around again. He could tell that she was happy here, and that was the most important thing. He'd visited her a little over a year earlier in Cedar Rapids, and she'd been miserable. It made him even happier she called.
"I'm glad you called, I wanted to say goodbye in person." He said, watching her as he spoke. She was walking away from him, further into the room, and he didn't really know if that was an invitation or not, so he stayed where he was. He really didn't want to impose if she was just saying goodbye. He hated that whatever happened here, he was going to have to leave tomorrow regardless.
"So, where's the next stop?" Meredith moved the conversation along, going along all the usual small-talk topics that they went through every single time they had to say goodbye. It always went along the same lines. Normally he knew how it would end, but today he didn't have a clue. He didn't know what Meredith was feeling or thinking, and in reality he didn't know if this would be the last time he saw her.
"I have an assignment in Dubai." He stayed hovering around the door, watching her as she slightly leant on the arm of a chair. She looked good, really good, and it was distracting while he was trying to focus on keeping this conversation genial and polite. All he wanted to do was walk across the room and kiss her hard, try to prove to her that this time it would be different. That would be better than talking about his next assignment or her next case.
"Very cool." Was all she ended up saying, but she did look sincere at least. It was a small smile, but he was taking that as her at least tentatively approving of the places his career took him. He was going to be there for a few months, then he might swing back through New Orleans before wherever he was assigned next, especially if he had a reason to visit.
"Yeah, should be nice." This was hard, he really wanted to say more than what they usually did. This trip, seeing her the happiest he'd seen her in years, it was enough to remind him that they had always had a great relationship. He had loved the fact that she'd let him back in, even if it was only temporarily. "Well... it was great seeing you."
The change in her face actually told him more than her words would. Normally with that line she would just nod a little and show him to the door, but this time there was a smile, and it was almost a little shy. "It was good to see you too." He just watched her for a minute, trying to think what might be next on her mind. That's when she smiled, and he wondered what on Earth she was thinking. "I got some beautiful flowers today."
"Urgh, flowers." He smirked a little and shook his head. Flowers had never been the kind of thing he would do. He could think of about five or six times in his life he'd bought flowers, and only once for Meredith, after Emily had died. So he was surprised she brought it up, and really hoped that she hadn't thought it was him. He couldn't help but chuckle at that entire idea, and he had to make sure that wasn't what she thought. "Wait you don't think I...?"
"Sent them? Of course not, I know you don't do cliches." It was nice to hear her say that, and that was a nicer summary of how she felt about his avoidance of flowers and traditionally 'romantic' things than one she'd once used. Actually, judging by the grin on her face, she was quite happy that that was something that she could depend on. "I just wanted to make sure you hadn't gotten soft on me."
"Do you wish I was that guy?" It was the only question he could think of asking. Is that what she wanted. He'd always thought that type of relationship was boring, and for as long as he could remember, Meredith had agreed with him. Maybe now they were both older she didn't agree as much. Maybe. The only way he could be certain of that was to ask, because that guy was never going to be the guy he was. "You know... sends flowers, says he'll be home for dinner every night?"
"You are who you are, and you shouldn't have to apologise for that. Just like..." She paused, and he looked up and watched her again. Her movements were soft and deliberate, not really like her words, which sounded a little like she was only just thinking of them as they tumbled out of her mouth. The pause in her words seemed to make her want to move, and she stepped toward him carefully. "Just like I shouldn't have to apologise for this." She muttered, then stepped up and kissed him. He hadn't expected that at all, but as her arms went around his neck he smiled into the kiss and wrapped his arms around her. After that, it didn't take long for them to be pulling each other's clothes off and heading through to the bedroom.
The night seemed to pass far too quickly, and James tried his hardest to stay awake a while, enjoying the opportunity to just lay with Meredith, and know that this time he would be able to do something to figure things out. That was one of the hardest things about their relationship, was the part where they figured out how to be who they were and still be together. Maybe that was why she'd thought the other night was a mistake. Thinking about the other night reminded him about her boyfriend, and he wondered what had happened to the psychiatrist she'd seemed crazy about.
"So, what happened to Doc Wilkins?" Probably he shouldn't have cared, this situation clearly showed that Meredith had chosen him. For now at least. What would happen when he left again he didn't want to think about. It wouldn't be right to think about that. What she did on her own time was exactly that, her time. He was just curious about what had happened that would have lead to this guy sending flowers, and James kind of hoped it was because of him, in a horrible way. "I'm guessing those flowers you mentioned were from him."
"They were. He was... trying to convince me not to end things." Meredith said quietly, and all of a sudden James wasn't sure what she was thinking, even after everything that they'd talked about and everything they'd done here. He hoped beyond hope that she wasn't going to randomly turn around now and tell him that he wasn't her choice after all. Instead she continued talking, but it still didn't make it clearer. "After the other night I realised that... if I slept with you after two drinks, he and I were never going to be the real deal."
"Am I just always going to be the second choice MB?" He had to ask that, because while it seemed like she would always come back to him, she also never stayed with him. One day she would probably find someone and she wouldn't come back to him, and that idea cut him to the core. He wasn't ready to accept there would ever be a world where he and Meredith didn't stand a chance.
"J, the problem is that... you're my first choice. My only choice." Those were definitely words he'd longed to hear. Having her tell him that she didn't want anyone else had long been a dream of his. A dream he'd never actually thought would come to fruition. She'd never been one for telling her feelings, always preferring to show them, so this was a huge moment for her. "Whenever you come back into my life you throw me for a loop and, even though it annoys me so much, I love it too... and I love you." She said that quietly, and instead of ignoring it like she'd clearly been hoping, he leant forward and lifted her chin before kissing her hard.
"We'll work something out. It might not be normal, but it's who we are." He smiled then just leant over to kiss her again. Now he knew that the boyfriend was an ex boyfriend, and Meredith wanted him, he would do everything in his power to keep it going, and to let her know that she made the right choice. Right now, he still had hours before he needed to go to the airport, and while he had the love of his life in his arms, he wasn't going to rush those hours. James knew that she was special, and he was going to spend the rest of his life showing her that, if she'd let him. This was the first step, and that was all he'd needed.