Spoilers for up to the end of 2.27 (season finale).

Absolution

"I slept with Derek."

You tell her, because you figure somebody has to, because you owe her that much. It's the end of the day for both of you, and you've got your moment alone with her, and you know if you don't say it now you never will, so you tell her.

"At the prom," you add, even though it feels unnecessary. Addison knows what you mean. She knows you're not talking about all the times before you knew he was married. Before you knew he had her. This is a new confession, a new sin, and you wonder if telling her absolves you at all.

Addison just nods, like she knew it was coming, like she's been waiting for this. "Thank you for telling me," she says quietly, and you're about to turn away and leave her to this calm quiet acceptance of things when you see the tiniest quiver of her lower lip, and that's when it hits you like a train.

What you've done. What you've really done. Because ever since Addison was introduced to you, you've known that it was wrong, that you and Derek were wrong, that you were the Other Woman in this sordid little scenario, but it's never really hit you, what it must have been like for her. What it's like for her now.

Because you've seen her professional, and you've seen her friendly, and you've seen her angry, but you've never seen her face crumple up like this, never realised that Addison is just as much of a person as you are.

Oh. Crap.

You have known, ever since it happened, that it was a huge mistake, but it was on some abstract intellectual level that had no effect whatsoever on how attracted you are to Derek. Now you think that if you had even had a brief glimpse of what Addison looks like on the verge of breaking down, if you had known that sight then, it would never have happened. You would have been repelled by the kind of man who would do anything that could make a woman like Addison look like that.

You've tried rationalising it, reminded yourself that Addison cheated on him, too. You thought that meant that she didn't love him, that she couldn't love him in the same way you do. So it was okay to sleep with him, because you loved him more than she did.

You were wrong. You were so horribly wrong. You realise that now.

"I'm so sorry," you whisper, and you mean it more than anything you have ever said before. You hate that this phrase is so clich├ęd and meaningless when these words are the only ones you have to express yourself. Anything more would be too much, and there are no more words to encapsulate this feeling of regret and sorrow and most of all empathy, because you know how it feels to hear an unpleasant truth about this man. You know just how it hurts.

You want to do something. Hold her, stroke her hair, except it's been so long since you've been that close to someone who hasn't been a lover that you forget how it goes, how the sisterly intimacy thing works. It would be simpler if you could just pull her towards you and kiss her. At least that is something you feel you can handle.

You approach cautiously, ready to turn back at any minute, ready to give Addison her space, but when you tentatively stretch a hand towards her shoulder, she doesn't flinch.

She gulps and you know she's about to break, that the tears are about to fall, and if you see the spilling you know you'll break too, so you do what you do best and what you know. You lean in and press your mouth against hers, and you feel her gulp back the tears as she kisses you back. Your fingers curve around the back of her neck, every tiny caress an apology.

You've never liked being the vulnerable one during sex. What happened with George was humiliating. You know that tears can make someone feel more naked than actually being naked. But when you look at Addison, when you move away for a moment and look her in the eyes, there are no tears, not even the threat of them.

So you start to undress her, or maybe she starts to undress you, and later you will forget the precise order of things, and it will be lost in a sea of breathless moans and gasps, a jumble of fingers and tongues and sensations.

You wonder if this lets you off the hook, if this encounter absolves you of the other, if this makes Addison and Derek even or if you're now twice as guilty, twice the Other Woman that you were.

You wonder if you would be better off like this, if you both would. You wonder if she'll speak of it again, or hate you for it.

When she squeezes your hand, after you are both finished dressing, you have your answers.

- end -