Whew, it's been a while, hasn't it? I'm trying trying trying to stay on top, but it's hard! Anyways—enough of my whining. Review, PLEASE!

Disclaimers in Part One


Preston Burke was a methodical man. He was cool and suave, the sort with ice in his veins and steel in his gaze. These traits combined to make him an excellent surgeon. However, when he became Chief and spent half the time he used to in the OR, it made him an obsessive-compulsive administrator. He had several rituals as Chief; one of them included organizing his office at the end of the day. He put the blue pens in the coffee cup by last year's framed Christmas/Holiday card (Cristina hated the picture; she had been eight and a half months pregnant in it; Cooper was born December 18th), the highlighters in a finger-painted mug Avery had made in preschool for his birthday, and then he lined the black pens up, ends to tips, along the brim of the large calendar that acted as a placemat in the middle of the mahogany desk. He straightened the myriad pictures—a wedding portrait, a snapshot of the two of them from a Christmas party, Cristina and Avery the day Avery came home, Nelle and Avery the day Nelle came home, a four-picture frame with various snapshots of the girls, a family picture from a ferry ride last October. He took a black marker and blotted out the day's activities. He took all his correspondence from the day and placed copies of administrative papers in yellow folders and papers dealing with surgical matters in blue ones. He was very obsessive and took notes over phone calls and personal meetings, and he always put those notes in red folders. He stacked them neatly on the right corner of his desk. His secretary, Charlotte, would pick them up in the morning and file them appropriately. Charlotte also put a copy of his next day's schedule on his desk by five o'clock. He would make any necessary changes and give her a revised copy to type up by six.

He spun backwards in his chair now, reviewing the last of his emails of that day and looking at his busy schedule tomorrow—meeting at eight, rounds at nine, surgery at ten, another meeting at three, post-op rounds at five. He sifted through the emails, jotting notes down beside them. "Charlotte!" he yelled, spinning towards the door. No wonder Avery loved that chair so much. Spinning was fun.

She popped her head in. "Yeah?" she said unceremoniously. Charlotte was brisk to the point of being blunt and graceless. Cristina liked her a lot.

"Can you schedule time for a meeting with Arthur tomorrow? I'd like to have a reception or something for Dr. Webber when he comes in a few weeks—the staff, some board, some press." Arthur was the President of the Seattle Grace Foundation and in charge of all fundraising efforts.

"I'll try, but look at your schedule. You'll have a tough time finding time to eat lunch." Charlotte said. "Also, five forty-five isn't the best time to call his office. His secretary's a real slacker. Plus, the administrators? The ones who aren't obsessed with surgery? They leave by five most nights."

"Thanks, Charlotte. I'll keep that in mind."

"It's a good thing to remember. Also, Dr. O'Malley is here to see you."

"George? Great. Send him in." Burke straightened the papers on his desk and stood, buttoning his lab coat.

"Hey, Dr. Burke," George said, coming in and smiling. Though he was a close friend, they still used the respectful titles while at work.

"George—what can I do for you tonight?" Preston sat back in his chair. He'd heard rumors of getting an offer—Stevens had mentioned something, as had Miranda, and Cass. Even Cristina—who usually didn't discuss work gossip at home, a sort of loyalty protecting her colleagues from the boss—had sniffed about people getting offers.

"Well, sir, actually I'm here for some advice. And, not advice coming from the chief, or from a friend necessarily, but from someone who—who I've considered a kind of mentor." George's smiling, boyish face was painted over with anxiety.

"Is this about the Kansas City thing?"

"What—how—yes. It is."

"Which hospital?"

"Children's Mercy. It's—it's not Seattle Grace, of course, the surgery department isn't…but it's a good size. There's an entire center, the Ward Center, for cardiac surgery on kids. Kansas City's a nice town. Not too big; not too small."

"Mercy's well-known for cardiac surgery on kids."

"Yeah, it is. It's a great opportunity."

"What, exactly, are you asking then?"

"I—" George hesitated. "I need to know leaving is the right decision."

"I can't give you validation here, George. You can't ask for that, either."

"I—I know that, really I do. I—just need." He stood abruptly. "It's a big thing; to move across the country. I grew up in Oregon. I went to schools out here. I'm not trying to be whiney or whatever—I guess, I guess I just need a little faith right now."

"You've been spending too much time with Meredith and Cristina and Izzie again, haven't you?" Preston smiled, "I love all three of those women, but they cut you down a lot, George."

"No—they're not cutting me down. Well, except for Cristina, but if she didn't life would be weird. No, it's more 'you can't leave, we won't make it.'" George paused. "I like that, here. I like that I'm important to people—not just the patients but the people. I like knowing everyone and being respected as a person too. I'm not the prestige whore or the attention queen, and it bothers me that I'm flattered that someone is paying this much attention to me and that I like it."

"Recognition for your gifts and genuine esteem isn't being an attention whore." Burke pointed out. "It's a natural part of becoming a top surgeon—being recognized and courted. It's not disingenuous, and, George, you have to be the only modest surgeon out there."

George smiled. "Thanks, Dr. Burke."

"I'm dead serious here, George. They'll respect you for you wherever you go, because you're George O'Malley and you're a kind, decent man, and that's the type that will have people's respect anywhere. And there will be plenty of people who will consider you a kind, dependable friend in Kansas City. And this is a good career move—not everyone is a lifer; in fact, few are. What's Kayla think?"

"She's—warming to it. Her mother lives in Dallas now. Not much closer, but some. And they'll give her nurse-manager in Peds, which she likes. Good schools. Nice neighborhoods. The usual."

"I'm not going to pressure you into staying, because I consider you a friend first—but if you want, I'm sure your salary can be upped."

"You know the money has nothing to do with it." George smiled. "But thank you."

"Good night, George. I know you'll make the right decision." Preston walked him out of his office. Charlotte was still standing there, organizing his papers. "Did you manage to get a hold of Arthur?"

Charlotte rolled her eyes. "No. I sent an email to Kathleen, and I'll call again in the morning. I think Thursday will work better for you, though. You've got some free time around four."

"That'll work—just need to get this planned, and soon. Is everything set for the night? I want to get home." He had seen Avery and Cristina watching his afternoon surgery for a while but leaving before he had finished perfectly. He couldn't wait to get home and rehash the maneuvers with his daughter.

"Yeah—everyone's settled in for the night that's on-call. Oh, yeah, and Dr. Shepherd's going into surgery in about a half hour. A man fell off a ladder; Dr. Shepherd thinks he can repair the spine with minimal damage if he operates immediately."

Preston shook his head. Derek always had a maverick, knight-in-armor streak. It really didn't matter if they wait until morning or even until Friday; but Derek would insist until his face turned blue that he was that important and that his surgery would really save the patient. It would be truly egotistical and annoying if only he wasn't so damn earnest about it. "Alright. I'm out, then. Good night, Charlotte."

xXx

Derek checked his watch. Twenty-five minutes until the surgery would begin; it was six-oh-five. That made it a little past nine on the East Coast—still early. Looking around furtively—he knew it was ridiculous, but he felt guilty—he quickly searched his address list for the number of a certain redhead. He hit TALK and positioned himself so that he could see anyone who approached him.

The phone rang three times before a male voice answered. Derek quickly realized it was Mark. "Hi, Mark." His voice faltered. "It's Derek. I was wondering—can I speak to Addison?"

There was a pause on the other end, which Derek figured was understandable. Addison had been crushed when she found out—after three weeks of uncertainty and confusion—that her husband had slept with Meredith at that ridiculous prom. It had quickly been a mutual parting. Mark had come to Seattle—Richard's recruiting habits really sucked for Derek—and eventually, three years later, he and Addison returned to New York City. Addison and Meredith had been able to work together, as had Derek and Addison, but it had been completely fraught with tension, and Addison's departure had been a relief to him. Derek knew that most of the women there blamed him—just as the people in New York blamed Addison. Still, everyone at Grace had felt tension lifted once the two moved on, for better or for worse. He finally heard Mark sigh, and then say, "Yeah. Let me get her."

There was scuffling, some muffled noises, then Addison. "Hello?" she said. Obviously Mark hadn't said who was calling.

"Hey, Addison." He exhaled. "It's Derek."

She waited a little before saying, "hey," again. Then, "How are you?"

"I'm doing pretty well. Work's going very well. I have surgery in about twenty minutes actually." He answered honestly. "And yourself?" they hadn't kept in touch, really, since she left Seattle. Too painful.

"I'm fine; my practice is going really well," she said guardedly. "How's—Meredith?"

He sighed and shifted the phone. "Actually, that's why I'm calling."

"Oh," Addison sounded confused.

"Meredith and I are—Meredith's pregnant." Derek said.

"Congratulations." Addison said dryly—she'd heard this in an email from Richard but she wasn't going to say anything.

"Not—not quite yet." He said. "She's twenty weeks along, and we had an appointment today. Yesterday, Dr. Renard—her regular OB—found a mass. Today, Izzie Stevens identified it as a CCAM."

"Oh," Addison exhaled a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. "You're calling—professionally."

"Yeah. Why? Did you think I would gloat?" A trace of a smirk flitted across Derek's face.

"I don't know what I thought." She answered honestly. Clearing her throat, she continued, "So, do you want research? I have studies and information about different outcomes and new procedures to try."

"Yeah, yeah, that'd be great. Can you fax them to my office?"

"Yeah, I have the number somewhere. They'll be there before you get in tomorrow morning." Addison promised.

"Thanks. And Ads?"

"Yeah?" she said, her voice fluttering uncomfortably.

"If worse comes to worse—what's your success rate on this surgery?"

"What are you asking me, Derek?" her tone was hushed.

"Addison—you're the best, quite frankly. Izzie Stevens—she's good, she's capable. Hell, of course she is, you trained her. But she hasn't done this before. She's still young, and it's Meredith, who's a friend of hers and you know this girl's track record with emotional issues. So, I'd like to know your success rate."

"I'm not going to fly across the country for you."

"If I plead?" Derek cajoled.

"Derek. There's great medical care exactly where you are. I'm not going to fly across the country to deliver my ex-husband's baby with the woman he fell in love with while still married to me. I don't care if scars have formed where there used to be wide, gaping holes; doing that would be an unhealthy way to deal with things. Izzie Stevens is capable and competent, and if you think she'll be too emotionally involved, there's three other doctors out there who can perform this."

"Addison. You're the best maternal-fetal surgeon in the country."

"And this would just be too sick and twisted. I know you love your wife and everything—I get that. But it would just be too….too soap-operatic, basically a bad idea all around. You don't deliver your ex-husband's new wife's baby. You just don't."

"Even for an old friend?" Derek gave it one more try.

Addison laughed hollowly. "If you were just an old friend, sure. If the water under the bridge wasn't laced with emotional arsenic, of course. But this—no, Derek. If you really don't like Stevens that much, it can't be too difficult for you to find a surgeon to help you out."

Derek was quiet for a minute. "Alright. Thank you for your help, Addison." He turned to see Miranda and Cass walking toward him.

"Good night, Derek." Addison gently hung up the phone.

"You were talking to Addison? How is she?" Cass asked obliviously. "Wait—ooooh."

"You were talking to Addison?" Bailey's voice was tight, skeptical. "How'd that go for you?"

"It just so happens that she's one of the top maternal-fetal OB-GYN surgeons in the country. With Meredith's—condition—I decided to call her. If Meredith scraped her face all over the pavement I'd still call Mark. If Mark had a brain tumor Addison would call me. There's still trust there."

"Damn. Stupid." Bailey said. "Come on. Let's go do this; I want to get home. A warm dinner might be nice. Home-cooked too."

"You know this could take five or six hours."

"And if we start now the meal will be done twenty or thirty minutes faster." Bailey shot back. She headed into the OR, making no room for further discussion.