Derek/Addison; Pre-Grey's. Witness the first and fatal wound to the Shepherd marriage.


Addison Shepherd is not known as the type to waver, so she pretends that it's completely natural for her to just be sitting in her own hospital on her own floor, drinking a cup of watery herbal tea that Dr. Adams (head of OB-GYN) actually brought her in an uncharacteristic show of kindness. The date on her medical bracelet says 2003-01-09, and it's hard for her to believe that it's been three months since she started to experience her symptoms, because it feels like she's been bleeding on and off for years.

She takes a sip from the styrofoam cup, and the tea is not only at least 98 percent water, but it has the unfortunate aftertaste of pity. More than worry about her own state, irritation at being away from the neonatal ward, and disgust with herself for not taking this test sooner, she feels the absence of Derek the most. Feeling more like a woman (weak-willed, in need of a man to hold her hand) than ever, she takes a deep breath and takes a long sip of the tea.

Derek isn't there. Derek is ... busy with a brain biopsy, she thinks, and he doesn't know the details, anyway. All he knows is that she's been avoiding sex, but he hasn't said a word about it and Addison has started to wonder if he's missing sex at all, or if he's getting it somewhere else, or --

"Addison." Mark seems out of place in an actual ward, one where his slight rugged smirks won't save him from scrutiny. She manages a smile in return.

"Mark. What are you doing here?" Only an instant after she speaks, blind faith leads her to hope that he won't answer in the way she knows he will. She subtly pulls her sleeve over her bracelet. "None of the women here will be willing to sleep with you."

He laughs briefly as though he's obliged, then takes her hand and peers at the medical bracelet. "Adams?"

Addison looks up at him and knows that he knows. He's just doing the dramatic lead-up. "Who told you I was here?" she asks directly, voice flat, disapproving.

Mark shrugs. He's smirking in that way that makes the interns whisper in excitement once they think he's out of earshot. "I know people. If you're looking for someone for your vaginal needs, careful. Adams is married, you know."

She just rolls her eyes, not even dignifying it with a laugh. "Come on," he protests quietly, pulling up a nearby wheelchair to sit by her. "Can't I relieve your monotony?"

She doesn't want Mark, she wants Derek, and having Mark sitting at her side instead of Derek brings up uncomfortable feelings that she is not nearly in the mood to address. Once this is all solved, she and Derek will reclaim their almost incredible sex life and everything will return to normal. "Go on, relieve," she says wryly, with a gesture to continue.

Mark leans back, fixes the wrinkles in his labcoat. "He'll be up here in a half hour," he says. Addison sits up, turns an appalled gaze to him, and he goes on as though he hadn't paused at all. "I didn't tell him. But you know Derek, he's popular, he hears all the gossip I do."

"You're not much of a relief," she mutters, rubbing idly at her temple. It doesn't help in the least.

"I'm sorry." He's muttered it so softly that she's not sure he said it at all.

Before she can think of anything to say, Dr. Adams is giving her a sad smile and a hand up. "Let's talk," he says.

Addison Shepherd is not often terrified, but that's a lie, really; Addison is always terrified but never acknowledges her fear. Now her fear is undeniable and every minute drags into an hour, maybe two, because she's avoiding Derek. She busies herself with work, even things that she normally would skirt as unimportant, until eventually she knows she has to go home.

Derek is outside of her office. His face is drawn, and his look is nearly unreadable, but she thinks she sees anger. She damns herself as a woman as she shrinks, but only for a moment. "Derek," she addresses him, closing her door.

"Addison," he says in a half-inquiring tone. "How was your day?"

The question is so innocuous that it could almost have nothing to do with what's happened, but she knows better. "Let's go home," she suggests, with a smile and a kiss for him.

He kisses her, and for the first time all day, she feels secure.

Dinner passes with smalltalk, which they are both actually astoundingly bad at, Derek being the twisty complicated kind of man and Addison being too straightforward to bother. It's only when their plates of takeout Chinese are empty that Addison addresses the issue, eyes on her plate.

"I have a submucous uterine fibroid."

For a second, she thinks she can feel him looking at her.

She starts to speak quickly. "It's too large for hormone treatments, I'll probably need a hysterectomy, or there's the laser surgery, but either way, Derek -- "

" -- You're infertile," he says in conclusion. Surprised, she looks up at him only to find that he's not looking at her. "Is that it?"

Is that it? Addison is struck with the annoying realization that she never intended to have children after all, that her uterus was really nothing more than a prop that happened to bleed monthly (or really just a lot, in the case of recent months). At least now they'll be insured that they'll never have to figure out who would stay home if she did accidentally get pregnant. They're now guaranteed an uninterrupted life of work for the rest of their lives. "Yeah," she says, and her smile is weak. "That's it."

Yeah, she knows after repeated months of mechanical sex and marriage with Derek. That's it.