Broken Promises for Broken Hearts

The title for this story is taken from the song "Broken Promises for Broken Hearts" by GW Childs.
The title for this chapter is taken from the song "Truth is a Whisper" by The Goo Goo Dolls.

Disclaimer: If they were mine, I'd do all sorts of inappropriate things to them. Particularly to one Patrick Dempsey. Sadly, they are not.

A/N: Once again, thank you for your comments; I enjoy reading them. Happy reading.


Chapter 13: Truth is a Whisper

Derek leaned against the doorframe and stared at his wife holding the evidence of his latest betrayal. He was amazed at how thoroughly and severely he was managing to concurrently hurt two different women.

"Addie—"

"At least tell me it was Meredith."

Derek frowned, confusion obvious on his face. She shrugged. "I'd rather it was because you love someone else and not just because you felt the need to hurt me."

He sighed. "It's over, Addie. Me and Meredith. It's done. It's not going to happen again."

She shook her head, sadness and defeat visibly weighing her down. "We're done, Derek."

"Addie—"

"No, this… it's not just because of this. I slept with Mark, you slept with Meredith… none of that really matters anymore. It stopped being about adulterous sex a long time ago." She sighed and let the evidence fall from her hands. "I thought we could go back to being Addison-and-Derek. But we can't." She lifted her eyes to meet his, and he was pained by the hurt he saw in them. He was beginning to hate himself for causing so much pain in the women he cared about. She glanced at the ceiling of the trailer and blinked, trying to keep the tears pooling in her eyes from spilling down her face. She swallowed before facing him and speaking again. "If one of us doesn't tell the truth, we're going to end up ten years down the road with a marriage neither of us wants. You've always felt the need to be the good guy, Derek. To your mother, your sisters, your patients, me… If I let you be the good guy while I spend every moment wishing you had it in you to actually love me and not just feel obligated to me, we'll waste even more time than we already have." She noted without comment that he had stopped trying to argue with her. She brushed away the tears that had fallen from her eyes, despite her best efforts to hold them back. "Derek, I deserve someone who loves me. Just me. Someone who loves me completely, wholly, without any hesitation or reluctance. I know I've made mistakes, and I've screwed up, but I still think I deserve that." She wiped her cheek again. "And you deserve that, too. You deserve to be with someone you love, not someone you feel obligated to."

He gazed at her, his eyes pained. "I'm sorry, Addison," he said, watching her wipe her cheeks.

She offered him a watery smile. "I'm sorry, too, Derek."

His smile was apologetic as he lowered himself on the bed beside her and enveloped her in a hug.

---

"Dr. Grey, can I see you for a moment?"

Meredith opened her mouth to tell him that she had labs to run but was cut off as he grabbed her arm and directed her to the stairwell. "Derek—"

He held up a hand. "OK. We've wasted a lot of time, you and I. Playing games, hitting snags…" His voice faltered as he stared into her face. "We've wasted a lot of time. And I don't want to waste any more."

She frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"I want you," he said. Her eyes widened as he continued. "I've wanted you since the first night I saw you at Joe's. I wanted you then, I want you now, and I've wanted you every second in between. Because I love you. And I'm sorry that I hurt you, and I'll always be sorry about that. But if you give me the chance, I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you."

She stared at him for a full minute before shaking her head. "What the hell are you talking about?" She raised an eyebrow. "This, Derek Shepherd, is not friendly behavior."

"I don't want to be friends."

She shook her head again. "You can't go back on that choice. You made the decision—"

"My marriage is over."

She stared at him, her argument dead on her tongue. "What?"

A small smile played on his lips as he said it again. "My marriage. Is over."

A twin smile played on her own face. "Seriously?"

His smile grew. "Seriously."

She frowned slightly. "But why?"

"Does it matter?"

She paused. "Kind of."

He shrugged. "Addison found the condom wrapper in my pocket. She was doing her laundry from her trip and threw mine in with it…" He trailed off and shrugged again. "She found it."

Meredith frowned slightly. "So… you told her what happened?"

"Well, the wrapper didn't leave much to the imagination."

She leaned against the stair railing. "So… what did she say?"

He shrugged. "She said that our marriage was over. That we were staying together for the wrong reasons…" He trailed off.

Meredith folded her arms across her chest. "So she was the one who ended it."

He frowned. "Technically, I guess."

She nodded. "So if she hadn't found the wrapper, you'd still be married right now. We wouldn't be having this discussion."
Derek saw where the conversation was headed. "Meredith—"

"So your wife dumps you and suddenly you want to go back on the friendship thing and start up again." She shook her head. "It's too late, Derek."

"Meredith." He fell silent, not knowing how to argue with her.

She sighed. "Have you ever noticed how, after you've seen a movie, or read a book… once you know the ending, you can't escape it? Once you've seen how something ends, every part of the story leads to that same ending?" She gazed at him. "I've seen how this ends, Derek. I know what happens. You and I… all we've been this whole time are stop signs and u-turns."

He shook his head. "Meredith, this is it. That's what I'm saying. No more games. No more… u-turns."

She mimicked his head shake. "Do you have any idea… All the nights I spent without you, you spent them with your wife. And now that she decides she's done, I'm supposed to be… what? Thankful? That now you want to be with me?"

"Meredith…"

"No. It's not enough. I'm not a consolation prize. And I'm not saying this doesn't hurt me, because it does. But I've gotten used to hurting. Because the whole time… all those times I was awake in the middle of the night, or sitting alone on my couch, I was hurting because of you. Thinking about you. Remembering you. What your voice sounded like when you woke up in the morning. The rhythm of your breath when you slept. The warmth of your hand on my thigh when you were driving, and the smell of your neck. I could still hear, feel, see, remember all of it. But I moved past it. I pushed it out of my mind. Because that was what you asked me to do."

He shook his head. "Don't do this."

She gazed at him, her eyes level and expressionless. "It's already done." She uncrossed her arms and straightened, stepping away from the railing. "You picked your bed. It's not my fault it's empty now. You still have to sleep in it."

---

"Oh, God. She's back to tequila."

George, Izzie, and Cristina stood in the doorway to Joe's, watching Meredith tip a shot of the liquor down her throat. George glanced at the two women flanking him. "She tell either of you what's going on?" They both shook their heads and watched their friend stare at four empty shot glasses in front of her. George frowned and spoke again. "Are we late?"

Izzie glanced at the clock above the bar. "No. Why?"

He shrugged. "Well, either she got here early, or she's done four shots in a matter of minutes."

They shared a look once again and George and Izzie began walking toward where Meredith was sitting at the bar.

"Hold it." They stopped and looked at Cristina, who faced both of them. "We're dealing with self-destructive Meredith here. Self-destructive Meredith doesn't do tag-teaming well. You two go play darts or something while I feel it out."

"We're her friends, too," Izzie argued.

"Of course you are."

Izzie narrowed her eyes as she tried to determine whether the other woman was mocking her.

"She's right," George said after a moment. He glared at Cristina. "As annoying as that is."

"Thank you," Cristina replied. "Now, go… do something. Once I've gauged her suicidal tendencies, I'll let you know."

"Fine."

---

Derek stood in the middle of the small kitchen in his trailer, gazing around him. With all of Addison's things gone, it seemed much emptier. He hadn't thought that was possible. It had seemed bare when he first moved into it, but his anguish over his wife's adultery and his best friend's betrayal had filled every corner of the trailer like it was another person and kept him company. And then came Meredith. Once she came into the picture, nothing about his life felt empty anymore. She filled the void in his trailer and the holes in himself and the emptiness all but disappeared. Then Addison showed up, and with the two people living in the trailer plus the ghost of the third, it was all but overcrowded.

But now… now, there was nothing.

No wife.

No girlfriend.

Nothing.

He wasn't even convinced that he was entirely there himself.

His trailer felt empty. Hollow.

Just like he felt.

---

"Hey." Cristina draped her jacket and purse over a stool and lowered herself onto the one next to Meredith, who nodded in response. "You OK?"

She shrugged and stared down into the full shot in front of her. Cristina shook her head at Joe, who was waiting to make her a drink.

"He decided he wanted to be friends."

Cristina snorted. "Yeah, I heard. I'm guessing that's going well."

She shook her head. "It's not going at all." She sighed. "Addison left him."

Cristina raised her eyebrows. "She left him? Why?"

Meredith snuck a glance at her friend. "She found the condom wrapper from when we slept together."

Her friend frowned. "On New Year's?"

Meredith glanced at her and Cristina could see the guilt in her eyes. "Oh, Meredith. Not again."

"Yeah, again."

"So…"

"So, nothing. She left him. He told me his marriage was over and he wanted to try us out again. I basically told him to go to hell and that I wasn't a consolation prize." Cristina sighed and grabbed a handful of peanuts from the bar. "I just wanted it to be easy," Meredith said after a few minutes. "I really thought I could move on. Eventually."

"I didn't."

Meredith turned to face her, a frown on her face. "What?"

"Look, we both know he's not one of my favorite people. But I know how much you liked him. Loved him. Whatever. And he didn't exactly seem like it was his main priority to help you move on. You know, since he refused to keep it in his pants." She paused. "Or in his wife." She shrugged. "Obviously, he didn't want you to move on any more than you wanted to move on." She popped a peanut in her mouth.

"But I did—"

"No you didn't. Listen, Meredith… the good thing about being me is that I can see in other people the qualities that I have that suck. And you're a prime example. You pretend like you feel nothing to hide the fact that you feel everything. You act like nothing gets to you, when the truth is that it gets to you so much that you wind up here, pounding shots of Jose and completely unable to remember your own name by the end of the night." She pinned her friend with a stare. "And I don't give advice often, so pay attention." Meredith looked at her expectantly. "Don't choose loneliness, thinking it's going to keep you from getting hurt." Her friend stared at her and she softened. "You still love him? Despite all the baggage and the bullshit and the McDrama? You still love him?"

Meredith weighed the question in her mind before nodding slowly.

Cristina scoffed. "Big surprise." She shrugged. "Well, then I think that's really all you need to know."

"But—"

Cristina held up her hand. "Look, I love you and you're my friend, but I'm already getting bored with talking about McDreamy. The bottom line is, you're miserable because you're not with him, and now you have the chance to be with him. If you don't at least give it a try, you're going to be miserable for the rest of your life, wondering what might have happened. And I want us to be friends, and if you're going to be depressed and wretched like this forever, I don't see that happening."

Meredith fell silent and turned her gaze to the rows of liquor bottles behind the bar. She stared at the rainbow of colored glass and wondered. How much had she lost, trying to live her life so that she had nothing to lose?

---

He tipped the last of his beer down his throat as he sat on the deck outside the trailer, leaning back in his chair until it was balancing on two legs. He gazed out over the land before him, wondering what he would do with it now. He had bought it on a whim, when he was running from something and trying to find something else to run toward. He had started imagining it with a house. A yard. A swing. Real-life things. But now, all he saw was land. Open, empty land.

He turned as two headlight beams cut through the darkness and he heard the gravel of his driveway crunch beneath a set of tires. Blinded by the light, he squinted as the car drew to a stop at the top of the driveway and he heard a door open and close. The car reversed back down the driveway and he shielded his eyes, making out a silhouette against the bright beams of light.

Meredith.

He stood up, walking to the edge of the porch and feeling his breath hitch as her face came into focus.

She stopped at the bottom of the porch stairs and gazed at him. "Hey."

"Hey," he replied. They faced each other like that for a few moments before he gestured toward the empty driveway. "What's with the drop-off?"

She shrugged. "I spent a few hours with Jose earlier."

He nodded. "No more bourbon?"

She gazed up at him, tilting her head slightly to one side. "No more bourbon." He waited for her to continue and she sighed. "I'm not as interested in trying new things as I thought." He nodded slowly, unwilling to jump at her words until he was sure of what she was saying. She began climbing the stairs toward him and pointed toward his empty beer bottle. "Got any more of those?"

He nodded and returned to the chair he had been sitting in, bending down and retrieving two more bottles from the cooler beside it. He opened one and extended it toward her. "Thanks," she said, taking a sip and sinking into the other chair. He returned to his own chair and gazed at her, opening his own bottle and taking a drink. "You were right," she said after a moment. "We have wasted a lot of time."

He nodded. "Mmhm."

Her stomach flipped at the noise. She loved that noise. She shrugged. "If I lie to you and tell you I don't want to be with you, that would be more time wasted. If I'm honest with you, and tell you that it scares me that Addison ended it instead of you, that would be even more time wasted. And as much as I don't want to waste any more time, I also don't want to start this thing all over again just to have it end the same way."

He leaned toward her and, finally, spoke. "Meredith." She raised an eyebrow. "What you said earlier? About knowing how things end?" She nodded. "You can't know how they end. Because they're not over. We hit a snag. A stop sign. It wasn't the end."

"So then tell me. How does this end?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. But I've never been a big fan of endings. So how about we just focus on the beginning." She gazed at him for a moment before nodding slowly. He nodded in return and smiled. "OK. Well, I recently heard you were off the market, but I was wondering if you would let me take you to dinner sometime."

A smile twitched at the corner of her mouth. "Dinner?"

He nodded. "Do you have plans?"

She shrugged. "For when?"

His head tilted to the side and he grinned. "For the rest of my life."

---

She sighed as she buried her face in his pillow, feeling his warm body curl around her from behind. She smiled into the darkness as she listened to the wind blowing through the trees that lined his property and the rustle of the wilderness that surrounded them. She had missed those sounds. The lullaby of Derek's trailer. She giggled, wondering how many people ever used the words "lullaby" and "trailer" in the same sentence.

"What's so funny?" he murmured into her hair.

She shook her head slightly. "Nothing."

"If you're laughing, that must mean you have some energy left… we could fix that, you know."

She raised an eyebrow, even though her back was to him. "You still have energy left?"

She felt him scatter soft kisses on her bare shoulder. "I can have energy if you want me to have energy."

She giggled again and scooted backward slightly so that her back was flush against his warm chest. "I already have everything I want."

"Mmm." She savored the feel of his chest vibrating against her shoulder blades as he made the sound.

"I love that."

"What?"

"That sound you make. That 'Mmm' sound."

"Mmm."

She giggled again.

"I love that sound," he said.

"What?"

"You laughing. I missed that sound," he admitted.

She sighed. "I missed this."

"Yeah." He breathed in deeply, tightening his arm around her and entwining his legs with hers. He heard her sigh again and rested his forehead against the back of her head, listening to the sound of her breathing as it slowed and became deep and even.

"Meredith?"

"Mmm?"

"Those plans you were making? The slow-dances-in-the-kitchen, happily-ever-after-plans?"

"Mmhmm?"

He lifted his head from the pillow and leaned in toward her ear, his voice a whisper. "Don't change them."

---