Over the Shoulder Glances
They're on their way out when it happens. Meredith's leaning against the wall, eyes closed. Alex is gripping the railing as though his life depended on it, legs locked. George is slumped against the doors, and Izzy is actually sitting on the floor. Cristina is subtly—of course, subtly—leaning against Burke, eyes closed, swaying gently as the elevator descends. The older doctors—the Doctors Shepherd, Bailey and Burke are slightly more upright. And then suddenly, the lights cut out and the elevator jerks to a stop. George, never graceful, flails for a moment, then teeters into Meredith and sends them both crashing to the floor with a muffled yell.
"Nobody panic," Burke squeaks, "We're going to be fine."
"Okay," Cristina says, sounding bored, "But what about your claustrophobia?"
"Thanks," he says back, "I'm really glad you said that."
"No problem," she says, shrugging as the lights come back on and George and Meredith struggle to disentangle themselves and stand.
"Is my eye swelling?" Meredith asks the elevator at large.
"Let me see," Alex says, tipping her face up so he can brush her cheekbone gently. Izzy snorts loudly on the floor, and they both jump. "Yeah, looks fine," he mutters, letting go of her quickly.
"Good news," Bailey says, hanging up the phone, "The maintenance people said that we should be moving again within another half hour."
They settle down to wait, interns on one side of the elevator—Izzy and Alex in opposite corners, of course—and everyone else on the other side. With a sigh, Meredith slumps against Cristina's shoulder and smiles when Izzy curls up and rests her head against Meredith's leg. "Let's play truth or dare," Izzy says sleepily.
"No way," Cristina says, "I always get dared to streak."
"Then let's definitely play," Alex says, leering. He shrinks as Burke sends a glare his way and says quickly, "Or not. Whatever."
"Let's play truth," George says.
"Truth?" Addison says, from across the elevator.
"Truth," Meredith answers, "Is like truth or dare—only there aren't any dares."
"I've never played," Derek volunteers.
"We made it up," George explains, "On 'Interns Only Movie Night'."
"Why haven't I heard of this?" Alex complains.
"He meant 'Non-Cheating Interns Only Movie Night," Izzy says.
An awkward silence descends until George says brightly, "I'll start! We'll go around, and everyone has to say something about themselves that nobody else knows."
"Kay," Meredith answers sleepily, stretching her legs.
"Right, something nobody knows about me," George muses, "I had syphilis."
"Doesn't count," Meredith snickers, "That one's common knowledge."
"I didn't know that," Addison says.
"The syphilis outbreak happened before you got here," Derek tells her.
"Outbreak?" She sounds incredulous.
"Greatest staff meeting ever," Izzy giggles, "When the chief stood up and introduced the nurse to give us the safe sex talk."
"It was…special," Burke muses.
"Try again, Georgie," says Meredith.
"I…" he trails off, looking faintly embarrassed.
"Come on, Georgie," Cristina urges, "Just tell us."
"I have a birth mark on my ass that looks like a Christmas tree," George says defiantly. "It's your turn, Dr. Burke."
"Um," he pauses, "It doesn't have to be something like that, does it?"
"No," Meredith grins, "George always does weird ones."
"When I was four, I wanted to be a ballerina," Burke says, proudly. "Dr. Yang, stop laughing."
"Sorry," she says, snickering.
"Dr. Shepherd?" Burke says, turning to Derek.
"When I was six, I had a turtle that I named "Doggy" because I wanted a dog so badly," he says, looking more than a little embarrassed. "Addie?"
"I once tripped over my own feet and broke my jaw," she says, grinning widely, "Miranda?"
"I'm going to name my baby 'Leo'," she says, smiling.
"That's a great name," Izzy says, shifting on Meredith's lap.
"I'm afraid of ketchup," Alex says, staring at his feet.
"You're afraid of what now?" Cristina says, a little incredulously.
"It's just so…red. And evil. Your turn," Alex says back.
"To put myself through med school, I once worked as a preschool teacher." In the wake of that revelation—which is really the most stunning of all they've heard, there is silence.
"Did you kill any small children?" George asks.
"No!" She exclaims, "What is wrong with you? Meredith, go."
"Um," Meredith stretches her back, vertebrae crunching, "I almost got married my third year of med school."
"Really?" Izzy asks, "How have we not heard of this yet?"
"Why didn't you, you know, actually get married?" George asks.
"He fell in love with my best friend," Meredith says, as the Doctors Shepherd both stare determinedly at the floor.
"That sucks," Alex puts in.
"Yeah," she shrugs, "It did. Turns out, we wouldn't have lasted that long even if he hadn't, you know, fallen in love with someone else."
"Yeah?" George says.
"Yeah," she says, smirking as everyone on the elevator stares at her, "My best friend's name was John."
"Oh, my," Bailey murmurs.
"You almost married a gay guy?" George asks.
"Yup," she says cheerfully.
"Have you ever had a normal relationship?" Izzy asks her.
"No. Your turn."
"I…was a model?"
The interns burst out laughing as Izzy looks around defiantly. "What?"
"Yeah, right," Cristina says, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes, "Like we didn't already know that."
"You stripped in the middle of the locker room, yelling about being 'Dr. Model'," Meredith adds, hiccupping.
"How do I miss everything fun?" Addison muses.
"Happened before you got here," Derek says, inspecting his fingernails.
"Fine," Izzy says, scowling, "When I was five, I had this parakeet, right?"
"Oh, man," Meredith murmurs, "It's gonna be one of the pet stories…"
"You shut up," Izzy says, "So anyways, my parents had warned me not to take Jimmy out of his cage. Because, you know, he was a bird and he would fly away. So one morning my parents go out to the store, and Jimmy started, like, singing? Chirping? Something like that…"
"In case you're all wondering," George says to the other side of the elevator, "We make Izzy go last for a reason."
"You shut up too," Izzy says, not missing a beat. "So I go to take Jimmy out of his cage, and I'm trying not to let him fly away, right? But I squeezed him so hard he died. And I didn't want my parents to know what I'd done, so I tried to put him back on his perch, only he wouldn't stay on. He kept on flopping off. It was awful."
"Izzy, you poor thing," Meredith says in a strangled-sounding voice.
"Yeah, that sucks Izzy," George adds, patting her shoulder awkwardly.
"You can laugh," Izzy says half-heartedly.
"Oh thank God," Cristina says, "I bit my cheek so hard I drew blood."
As she watches the interns roll on the floor laughing, Addison can't help but feel slightly out of the loop. As we watches Burke smile at Cristina, and Derek try not to smile at Meredith, she has this sudden realization that if she weren't there, everyone would be having more fun.
Silence descends once again, as the interns slide up to sit against the wall again, drawing even closer together in the aftermath of their laughter.
"We need a new game," Meredith complains after a few minutes of silence.
"I know!" George exclaims, "How about the 'Who's Had Sex Most Recently Game'?"
"That's a game?" Burke asks incredulously.
"It's not an actual game," Izzy explains, "It's George's excuse to pry into our lives and then whine about all the sex he's not having."
"It's a game," George says, ignoring her, "I just never win."
"Well, not since the syphilis outbreak anyway," Meredith says slyly.
"You're hilarious, you know that?"
"I'll start," Bailey volunteers, "I had sex a week ago."
"That's…great," Meredith says.
"Who's next?" Bailey says, glancing around the elevator.
"Don't look at me," George says, "I'm in something of a dry spell right now."
"Try drought," Meredith says dryly, "And don't look at me."
"Not me," Izzy says, "Haven't had sex since…God, can I even count back that far?"
"Cristina," George says, "Feel free not to share."
"No, no," she says, smiling at his obvious discomfort, "I'll share."
"That's really okay."
"No, George. You started the game, remember?"
"I had sex last—" Alex started before Izzy cut him off.
"Nobody cares, Alex."
Addison is struck suddenly with the urge to make this even more uncomfortable than it already is. "I had sex—"
"Addie don't." It's all Derek says, but it's enough, and silence reigns again.
Burke shifts restlessly, "This is taking forever."
"You really almost married a gay guy?" Cristina asks Meredith.
"Yeah," she says, rubbing Izzy's back absently. "It was weird, you know? When I realized what he was trying to tell me. And I didn't miss him, at first, because I was so angry. But then gradually, all these little things came back to me."
Addison shifts closer to Derek.
"Like what?" George asks her.
"Like," and Meredith's eyes soften, and Addison finds it suddenly hard to hate her. "I used to sing at this jazz lounge. To pay rent, you know? And he'd come and meet me, right before we closed up for the night. John worked there too—he played the cello. The last set would always be instrumental, and Paul and I would dance." She laughs, a little self-consciously. "You guys don't want to hear about this."
George, Derek and Izzy open their mouths, but Burke beats them to it. "Yes we do," he says softly, "Yes we do."
"I had to wear these long black dresses," Meredith says, "And these really high heels. And my feet would hurt after standing all night. I'd take my shoes off to dance, but the floor was always dirty by then. So I'd dance on Paul's feet. I always wondered," she adds thoughtfully, "How he could hold me so close while he was thinking of someone else. I went to visit them, after graduation, and I found out."
"What'd he tell you?" Bailey asks her, and Addison can't move, can't breathe, because she knows what Meredith's going to say.
"He was always looking over my shoulder," Meredith says, "Staring at the one he wanted to be dancing with."
Addison wants to laugh, wants to cry, but does neither. She sits there, on the floor of an elevator, next to the man she loves and lost, and across from the woman he loves now. The elevator starts moving again, and they pull themselves together to go home. Burke slings an arm around Cristina, and leads her to his car, bending to kiss the top of his head. "Just so you know," they hear him say, "I've never looked over your shoulder at anything."
"I have," she says apologetically, "But it was at the surgical board."
"Well, that's all right then," he says, tugging her closer.
As Alex is walking away, Izzy calls after him—in a manner of speaking. "Hey, assface," she says, "The next movie night's Friday. Bring food."
"Cool," he says, obviously fighting the urge to dance.
George walks out, arms around Meredith and Izzy, bickering about whose turn it is to take the dog out, and she's left alone with her husband. "Addie—"he starts.
"I want a divorce," she tells him, and is vaguely amused to see a stunned look overtake his previously scowling façade.
"Why?" he manages to stammer.
"Because, Derek," she says, turning to go, "I want to be married to someone who's not looking over my shoulder."
She walks out into the night then, feeling at once more alone and more fulfilled than she has in years. She knows that Derek will make some sort of attempt to talk her out of it, when she serves him with the papers tomorrow. She knows too that after he signs, and she signs, he will drive to a house in the suburbs, and walk up the steps to bang on a door that will open to reveal a shocked-looking Meredith Grey. She imagines that they won't make love that day; that instead they will lie together in Meredith's bed, holding each other, as he tells that she's beautiful. She imagines coming to work one day, and hearing that they have moved in together. She knows that it will hurt, but not as much as it would if they stayed together. Not as much as it would if they were dancing, and he were holding her close, and she realized that he was looking over her shoulder.
I have trouble believing that someone as self-confident as Addison would stay with Derek after realizing that he doesn't love her. Especially since she told Meredith, "I don't want someone who doesn't want me."
I'm aware that some of the character (especially Bailey) is out of character. Blame it on her fatigue or…hormones or something.