Disclaimer: I don't own anyone. (Duh.)
Spoilers: Definitely season finale spoilers, small ones for earlier episodes.
Please read and review! This exists in the same, not really AU, universe as my other story, "Complications." Lyssa
"Married?" I questioned. My voice sounded croaky and my throat felt dry. I moved my tongue around in my mouth and tried to bring back some moisture, but it didn't work. "Like, till death do us part married? White dress, fancy church married?"
"Meredith," Derek sounded incredibly sincere, "Meredith, I can explain—It's really not what it—"
"No," I turned to the woman. I was doing a great job of keeping it together. "Married?"
"Yeah," the woman—Addison—said. I would have called her a witch, but she sounded honestly sympathetic. At least towards me. She sounded like she wanted to smack Derek.
"I'm going to go." I said. "You two—should talk. I'm going to go home." I turned to Derek, who was about to speak again, and evenly said, "Don't follow me." I turned and walked out. My breathing was heavy, my face felt numb, and my steps were short and quick.
It was only after I got to the parking lot and took three slow circles that I realized that I didn't have a car. George, Izzy, and I had ridden together; Derek had followed. I was going to go home with Derek, so they had left without me. "Great," I said, and tried to figure if I had enough for a cab or if I should just walk to the bus station, because the bus doesn't stop at the hospital at night. On my fourth circle, something caught my eye. Cristina was sitting on a bench; her little old junker was only five feet away from her. Her bag was next to her and her hands were loosely locked and dangling in between her legs. "Cristina?" I asked, and my voice caught.
She was startled; she looked up at me like she was going to punch. "Meredith? What are you still doing here?"
"It….It's a long story. Can you drive me home? Please?"
"Yeah, of course," she had picked up on my tremulous voice; she knew something was wrong. After we had slung our bags in the messy backseat and slid into traffic she asked tentatively, "Everything alright, Meredith?"
The simple question brought liquid to my eyes. "No…No, it's not."
"What is it?" she asked.
"Derek…Dr. Shepherd…Is. Married." I coughed a little. "We were leaving—he was helping me put on my coat, tuck my hair in—and she just walked up to us and introduced herself. I just had no idea."
Without a word, Cristina pulled into a Qwik Trip, and said, "Stay here. I'll be right back. Do you have a change of clothes with you?" I nodded. I had been planning on staying at Derek's that night. "Kay. Good." She slid out of her car and ran inside. I saw her head bobbing over the shelves through the window.
I wiped my eyes. This was ridiculous. I saw worse things every day, people whose lives were ripped and shattered and destroyed. This—yes, this was major, but I could get through it. Eventually. Maybe. I hoped.
Cristina was back in the car a few minutes later, slinging the bag into the back. "Okay. I bought ice cream. You're coming over to my place. We're going to have ice cream and you're going to tell me everything that happened."
"What kind of ice cream did you buy?" I asked, reaching for the bag.
"Only the best. Haagen-Daz. Mocha-Almond Fudge and Vanilla Fudge Brownie."
"Sounds good." I had become addicted to Haagen-Daz during college; it's the only ice cream I absolutely love.
"So, what exactly happened?" Cristina started.
"No." I interrupted. "Not until we get to your place and I can eat ice cream."
"Deal," she replied.
Twenty minutes later, decked in our pajamas, we sat in the middle of Cristina's tiny living room in her tiny apartment, a bowl in front of each of us. We each held a spoon, and Cristina had even dug up a can of whipped cream to put on top of the ice cream. "Dig in," she said, rolling out a huge mound of Mocha-Almond Fudge. She then repeated her earlier question.
"Well," I said, tucking my ankles underneath my legs. I stopped then, leaning back against her ratty couch and putting my bowl on a coffee table covered with newspapers. Her apartment looked so comfortable. So medical-intern. I was slightly jealous. "God. I'm so dumb." I said. "I mean, first of all: sleeping with the attending? Who I just hooked up with one day? And then he's all mysterious about his past, like he's Dr. Impulsive-and-Spontaneous, and then we're still sneaking around?"
"It's not like you had a choice." Cristina artistically sprayed some whip on top of her ice cream. Seeing my look, she said, "The sneaking around. You couldn't just make out in the scrub room."
"True," I said, swallowing a large cold lump. "But, still—God."
"Hey, hey." Cristina said, a hint of compassion seeping into her tone, "Don't beat yourself up. You were crazy for him."
I swallowed again and tried to remember my resolve not to cry. I hated crying over boyfriends, it made me feel useless and Ophelia-like. "Yeah," I said softly, and grabbed the whipped cream can.
"So," Cristina said.
"Yeah. Well. Anyways. First, Dr. Webber saw us—well, Derek kissed my forehead and gave me a hug. Dr. Webber told me that I was making a mistake, and my mother would say I was making a mistake. I told him the same thing I'd tell Mother: It's not a mistake." I swallowed. "And I wasn't. At least, I didn't think I was then. Do you think I was making a mistake?"
"Not if your feelings were honest—if you weren't sleeping with him to get ahead," Cristina sounded as if she was talking to herself more than me.
"Okay," I said. They weren't; it was that simple. Our relationship should have had nothing to do with the hospital. "And after that we were going to go home together—we met in the atrium downstairs. He was helping me put my coat on—" I licked the spoon and swallowed the cold lump, "and this woman walks in. He sees her and tells me he's sorry and then she comes over and basically introduces herself as Addison Shepherd, his wife." Cristina, utterly enraptured, quietly slides the Fudge Brownie towards me, and I eschew my bowl in favor of the carton. "And I double-checked, I asked again, and she said yes, and he said that he could explain, and I said no, and I left and I found you in the parking lot."
"Do you know if they're separated or anything?" At my seething look, she quickly continued, "I mean, yes, he should have told you—but they're probably separated, or going through a divorce, and that partially excuses him. It's not like it's an actual marriage." I closed my eyes tightly. "You know what?" she continued, "Forget it. I'm just trying to explain away his behavior. I mean, yes, he should have told you, but I don't want to believe he's just that cruel and unfeeling—to be unfaithful without a reason. I'm not condoning him, I'm not saying you should have done anything differently, or excused him or something, but for your sake—and his manhood's—I want a reason to be there."
"Yes." I say, "I know. I hope there's a reason like that," and something in me released, and uncoiled, just a little bit. "I hope that I'm not that stupid to get something like that pulled over me."
"Meredith, you're not stupid and you know it. Things like this happen to everyone. Shit happens. Like Forrest Gump."
"Yeah. But most people aren't stupid enough to have the shit happen to them." I pointed out.
"Well, I don't know about that," she was rueful and a little disgusted.
"What do you mean?" I ran my spoon along the rim of the ice cream lid. "What have you done lately?"
At first, I thought she looked pissed off—then I realized she was about to cry. "I got pregnant," she said angrily, and a tear ran down her cheek. She leaned back against the couch and tilted her head skyward, eyes shut and fists clenched.
"What?" was the first thing that came out of my mouth. I was astonished. "Cristina, with who? Who's the father?"
She sort of raised her eyebrow and half-smiled. "Preston," she said grimly.
"Preston?" I asked. Then it came to me—"Preston Burke? Dr. Burke?"
"Yeah. Don't think you've got the attending-screwing market cornered."
"What did he say?"
She shrugged. "I haven't told him."
"What?" she cut in defensively. "It's not like I'm keeping it. Or that I really wanted to tell anyone. I—just—I just couldn't keep it in anymore. I scheduled an abortion. I can't carry it." She looked at me hard. "I don't want preaching. I don't need counseling, either, Meredith. I'm not happy, but it's what I have to do. It's an unenviable situation. Let this be your warning—at least this won't happen to you." And with that, Cristina, strong, stoic, unemotional, dispassionate Cristina crumpled into tears.
I couldn't think of anything to say. "When did you start seeing each other?" I finally asked, flummoxed.
She sniffled and stretched. "We started sleeping together about two and a half months ago."
"How far along are you?"
"About eight weeks, I think."
"Wow," I was stunned. "And he doesn't know?"
"No. And he's not going to know." She said firmly. "The procedure's scheduled for the sixteenth."
"Yes. Thank God. I can't help but feel a little relieved."
"Don't start with me, Meredith."
"He at least deserves to know. And you don't deserve to have to make this decision by yourself. It's too scary for one person. That's why it takes two people to get pregnant."
"No, Meredith, it takes two because of human biology. And, right now, it's my body. It's not a baby. And that makes it my decision solely."
"I don't think it's that simple."
"Meredith," she sighed tiredly. "We're different. You believe in true love, bells and whistles, a true relationship and partnership. You're not as bad as Izzy, who probably wants the church with 400 people and the lovey-doveyness and the messages in lunchboxes with the hearts all over them, but you still want the relationship in addition to the sex. I don't. A relationship, with problems like this, is the last thing on my mind right now. I have plenty on my plate. I just wanted sex, he just wanted sex. We both got sex, and there shouldn't have to be consequences like this. It wasn't—isn't, wasn't—important enough for consequences like this."
"Did you check with him on that one?" I asked quietly.
"I don't need to," she sniffled sharply. "If there was anything besides my body involved, maybe. But I don't need to talk to him."
"Could you at least consider telling him?" I pleaded. "I mean—I'm not going to be judgmental. Having this right now would be hard. But he was involved. And Dr. Burke seems like the type who would feel responsible. He might help."
"Meredith, please." She said tightly. "Don't make this any harder. Besides," she scooted away from me, "tonight was supposed to be about you and Derek."
"No, not anymore," I said earnestly. "Now, it's about you. This—this is bigger. I'll be fine," And I knew I would. I wasn't a sixteen-year-old girl, and, it really was just sex. There were some fun times leading up to the sex, but it was just sex. Just…sex. We weren't married or anything.
"I can't tell him," Cristina said resolutely. "Either way, if I tell him before or after, it destroys our relationship."
"I thought you didn't have a relationship," I pointed out.
"Professional relationship. I still have an internship to complete. He's still my boss. I'm just going to terminate on Tuesday, and that will be it. Things will be normal again."
I didn't believe her, and she didn't believe herself, either, so I leaned back and started to gather the myriad dishes, spoons, and ice cream accoutrements to take them into the kitchen. "Right." I said. "I should get this cleaned up. Then we should go to bed. There's a long day tomorrow."
"No, no, no. We're not done. What are you going to do when you see Shepherd tomorrow?"
"Run?" I was only half-kidding.
"Let me rephrase that. What are you actually going to do when you see him tomorrow?"
I was quiet. "I don't know," I said, and I sighed. "I feel like Cinderella. And I hate the 'heroines' in fairy tales."
"Cinderella?" she questioned.
"Yeah." I replied. And, suddenly, I broke. "He made me feel like an absolute princess. And then along came Addison—and it was like the stroke of midnight. I feel like I left my heart in that damn lobby. And he has to come by and fit it back in to me. And I hate myself for feeling like that, about such a dishonest man."
She grabbed me and held me tightly, arms around my forearms and hands linked across my chest. "Just so we're clear, I would totally bring out the vodka if it wasn't bad for me," she said.
"Oh, Cristina," I said, clutching at her. Why the hell had I been reduced to this?
But suddenly, Cristina started to cry too, first sniffles and then they roared into gut-aching belly sobs.
Twenty minutes later, we were done crying and had exhausted three boxes of Kleenex. We lay silently on her carpet, neither speaking, both contemplating the men that had been cataclysms in our lives. There was nothing else we could do.