"Hey, Laura." She whispered under her breath. The inability of the infant to hear prevented her from pushing the words much farther than a few inches past her lips.
If you'd had the baby…
"Let's see how you're doing." She ignored the inner dialogue with a pinch of her lip between her teeth and an examination of the baby's charts.
We'd be in New York, and we'd be happy.
"Still looking good, little girl." She carefully slid the chart back into the slot beside the incubator and pulled out her stethoscope, much more delicate a model than any others in the hospital. She treated it as such when she placed it on Laura's chest, and waited for the healthy blub blub of her valves pumping.
No, we wouldn't. We weren't good together.
She pressed her eyes together in a silent wince. Not because she regretted saying it, or because it was particularly untrue: mostly because she should have said it eight months ago.
Her eyes drifted to the sleeping baby underneath her hand, rustling a bit at the disturbance of the stethoscope.
You're rewriting history. We were not good together.
But she hadn't said that, then. She never told him about that emptiness she felt towards the end. She never gave him a word of explanation for the tears at night. She never said a word about how desperate she felt, more than even before, with Derek.
She had wanted it, everything, to mean something, and the more he cheated, the more she stayed silent, the more the world seemed to be showing her it didn't.
It didn't mean a thing.
So, instead of telling him those eight long months ago, she had panicked.
She had panicked and hurt Mark more than he ever had or could hurt her.
Her tearing eyes blinked, and a tear plunged to the clear plastic of the incubator and splattered, spotting the surface.
The baby let out a sigh.
"I know." Addison managed, again so quietly that even if the baby had been able to hear her, she wouldn't have. Addison pulled her hand out of the incubator and replaced the stethoscope in her pocket. She slowly closed the opening, and smiled what should have been a farewell to little Laura Grey. But instead, she found herself pressing her hands against the plastic, unable to take her eyes from the baby.
Laura Grey. Three days old. Four pounds and growing.
She didn't know where the words came from. Later, she would blame the innocent, accepting pull that infants possessed. They weren't jaded, yet; they didn't have opinions. They couldn't speak, they couldn't even reason. They just breathed, watched, and listened. That quality rendered them, more than any friend or spouse or priest, the most understanding beings on Earth.
"You know, Laura, if things," she didn't elaborate on that loaded word, "were different, I'd have a little person almost exactly your age."
She ran a finger along the crease in the plastic that allowed for ventilation.
"I don't know if it," she felt a pang of guilt, using such a cold pronoun, "was a girl. But…I think I would have liked a little girl. He would have, too, I think."
As she stood, alone in the NICU with only Laura, she considered that what had seemed so important then: that the child, hopefully a girl, was with Derek.
Now, as she listened to the silence around her, and thought about the greater silence and aloneness in her life, she couldn't quite grasp why that, having Derek's baby, had seemed so important. The rational part of her knew having it with Mark would have been wrong, irresponsible, and had bad consequences.
But, things with Derek hadn't gone much differently.
She was shaking a bit now, so she braced herself against the table.
"I think…" she managed finally, not shaking outwardly but feeling increasingly unstable inwardly. "I think if she had…been a girl, I would have named her Emily."
Laura Grey seemed to approve, as she reached up a tiny, tiny hand and patted the glass.
Dr. Montgomery knew it was an accident gesture. Addison nearly broke down at the symbolic nature of it.
It would have been Mark's baby. Cheating, self-loathing, self-destructive Mark's baby. But it would have been hers, too. But, instead of defining herself or seeing herself as any type of influence, she had once again defined herself by the man in her life.
"And look where it got me." She murmured to Laura, touching the plastic on the opposite side of the little girl's palm with one finger.
When Derek said her name, it was low, raw, and as a question. And it pulled all of her energy from her body upon its utterance.
She pressed her eyes together, letting two fat tears pop out and run down her cheeks in dark tendrils, along with most of her mascara. She didn't turn her head or body.
"Derek. How long have you been there?" she asked with a strange monotony. She didn't have to turn to see his face—she saw it perfectly in her mind. Eyes wide, eyebrows creased, mouth pulled in a concerned line across his beautiful face.
"I…long enough." Was his horrified, nearly whispered response. "Addison…"
With that, she pressed her teeth into her lip and whirled on him.
"No, Derek. Just…no." Before the last word left her mouth, she was blindly brushing past him.
She didn't acknowledge anyone on her route to the on-call room. She had one in mind, one in the end of the maternity ward that was hardly ever occupied because frankly, if a surgeon was in neo-natal and got a free minute, they usually went looking elsewhere for amusement that was not…how had Mark put it? Squishy and pink.
She smiled ruefully as she slammed her palms into the door and set it flying open. Once she was inside, it swung just as violently back to the closed position and made a harsh slamming noise that she hoped somehow broke it and locked it.
Because if she had her way, she'd never leave, and no one would ever come in.
As she stood rigidly in the center of the room crying unabashedly, in the back of her mind she contemplated the irony of it. She was lonely, so profoundly lonely she had lost her sense of self, so lonely that it came to the point where she didn't even want to change it. All she wanted, in this her most solitary, was to be alone.
Unfortunately, the universe couldn't even grant her this one last masochistic request.
The door opened, and she flicked her eyes for a split second over her shoulder to see Derek. He didn't speak, thankfully, just opened the door, stepped in, leaned back against the wall, closed the door, and locked it.
Why hadn't she thought of that? Oh yes. Blinding misery.
They stood there, a long moment passing as they just held each other's eyes. She imagined a scene from a melodramatic, angsty French film noir movie. Except, instead of navy blue scrubs and her running shoes, she would be in a fabulous black gown that billowed behind her as she ran, and he would be in a stunning but disheveled tuxedo instead of his scrubs and that ridiculous cap with the ferries on it.
Suddenly exhausted, Addison wordlessly slipped underneath the bunk and heaved a shaky sigh.
Derek only watched her, and she didn't meet his gaze.
She wondered how long he would stand there, and then she realized why.
"It wasn't yours."
She tried to gage his reaction. She expected relief. She expected something.
Instead, he slowly moved from against the wall, crossed the little space between them, and sat next to her on the cot, his face completely blank.
"I'm sorry." He said finally, the words a soft, featherlike caress on the outside of her ear.
Her bewilderment must have been evident, because when she turned to look at him, he spoke again.
"I just…know that you had wanted one. Before." He didn't say the word as if there was more to follow, because he didn't have to. They both knew what he meant.
Addison nodded numbly. She had. But then, that hadn't been out of the sudden emergence of maternal feelings. It had mostly been about keeping Derek. She would have had a baby for him, because she knew how much he wanted one.
It never occurred to her that she herself might have liked to have one until after. After the before.
"Thank you, Derek." She murmured, watching his face slowly distort as fresh tears flooded her vision. When she eventually surrendered and let them come, she lowered her head into her hands.
It wasn't until he put a hand on her shoulder and kneaded her gently that she swallowed her sobs.
"Addison, I'm so sorry." He whispered again when her eyes met his.
As grateful as she was, strangely, for his presence, she couldn't help the quizzical hook in her eyebrow.
"Why, Derek? Why do you even…care?" she thought it probably sounded cruel, but they had been cruel to each other before.
He seemed offended, but mostly just sad. He removed his hand from her shoulder and dropped them both in his lap, averting his eyes to the floor.
"Because…I care about you. That never stopped."
Leave it to Derek to say something like that.
If she hadn't wrung the last droplets of moisture from her tear ducts with the last crying jag, she would have cried again.
Instead, she stared at him with dry, scratchy eyes, examining the obvious distress on his face.
"Don't, Derek." She said finally. He turned to her, frowning.
"Don't try to appropriate the pain to make me feel better." She swallowed. "I'm not your problem, your pain, to take responsibility for. Not anymore."
His head seemed to shake No of its own accord. "You were never my problem, Addison. You were my friend, my best friend, and my wife. No matter…what changes, that will always be true. I'll never be completely rid of you."
Addison smiled again, humorlessly. "Well you might wish you were. I'm quite a load."
Expecting a soft consolation, Addison's smile fell when his face got hard.
"Don't do that." He instructed her firmly. "We're all heavy loads, Addison, all of us. Individually we've got enough baggage to fill the New York Harbor, and it's all the same. We're equally liable. So don't appropriate my—or his—baggage as your own."
Addison nodded slowly. Another beat passed, both of their eyes on the drab green tile beneath their feet.
Derek was the first to speak.
"Can I ask you something?"
"In the NICU, you said the baby would have been about three days old. If that was the due date, that would put conception—"
Addison closed her eyes.
"—not too long before you came to Seattle, which means…"
"I had it done in New York. About three weeks before I came to Seattle."
He closed his mouth and she saw his jaw flex.
"You had just…done that, and then you came here? And never said a word?"
"What was I supposed to say, Derek?" she asked. "Hi, Derek, how's your sweet new romance going? Oh, by the way, I just aborted your best friend's baby, which was conceived while I was still married to you but living with him."
Derek pressed his hand to his forehead.
"No, no…I just can't believe…you never said a word." He removed his hand and studied her face. "You must have been hurting, so badly. More than you already were."
She let her head fall back on the wall, and let a harsh laugh escape. Derek watched her still, puzzled. She regarded him with a sigh.
"You see, Derek, you would think that, wouldn't you? Because you've never been empty. You've never felt so alone, so hollow that you're sure nothing will ever make you feel again. You've never been so empty that life becomes just days, days on top of days of watching your world crumble. Of not being able to reach out to someone, anyone, because you don't even know how."
She took a breath, and realized that as much as it hurt, she couldn't stop.
"I felt nothing, Derek, about that baby. I went in to have it done, and I felt just as empty when I left. Nothing changed. It wasn't even a blip. I did it on my lunch, for Christ's sake! I went back to work two hours after!"
She was shaking violently, and he tried to steady her with his hands on her shoulders, but she moved away.
"But that..that's how I knew I had to do something. That it wasn't right, for me to feel nothing. I had...and I didn't...So I came to Seattle."
This time, when he reached for her, she let him.
"I came to Seattle, because…I thought you were the answer. And in some small way, you were, Derek. Because now I feel. I feel everything, everything, but I'm still alone. I feel all that pain, but I'm still alone."
With that, she couldn't speak, and clenched her fists to ball them in her eyes. She was shaking so badly she didn't feel him collect her into an embrace and hold her steady.
"Addison…" he whispered as she sobbed into his chest. "…you're wrong."
It was a few minutes more of crying before she realized what he had said. Recovered, but not ready to be out of his arms, she looked upward at him.
"What?" she asked weakly. Now, his eyes were glassy with tears.
"I know that feeling. That empty, alone, hollow feeling. I lived it, in that last year in New York. It came on gradually, when we started drifting, so that before I knew it was happening it had already taken over. I couldn't change, because I didn't know how. And I couldn't tell you, because…I just couldn't. I didn't know how. I should have, but I didn't. So I worked, because it filled the emptiness. Temporarily. Until I came home and saw you'd been crying, and couldn't do anything about it." He took a shaky breath before going on. "Then, when it happened...that was my wake up. I guess I came to Seattle for the same reason."
Addison watched him wordlessly, and nodded.
"So…" she murmured, pressing her chin into his chest and watching the bottom of his jaw line, which was prickly with stubble, but she hadn't even noticed until she was that close.
He leaned his back against the wall, taking her with him, and heaved a sigh.
"I don't know." He replied thoughtfully. "If I did, I would have done it back then. I could have saved myself, you, even Mark…"
"Oh please, Derek. Do not think you're getting all the credit for the beautiful fuck up that is our lives. PLEASE!" She chided playfully, though with a distinct sadness.
He still laughed, and it rumbled against her arms, which were folded against his chest.
"Okay, I won't take from your glory." He said teasingly, wriggling his eyebrows. With that, Addison dropped her head so her ear was pressed to his chest and she heard his heart beating. He didn't seem uncomfortable holding her, so she wasn't going to end it any sooner than it had to.
"We could be more than just civil to each other." He reasoned slowly, a few minutes later. Addison arched an eyebrow.
"Are you proposing friendship with your adulterous sociopath ex-wife?"
"Only if she'll accept it from her nauseatingly McDreamy ex-husband." He peered down his nose at her, and she upturned her face to look at him.
"Addison." He said gently, entirely serious. "We both could use…someone."
"And if we'll never be rid of each other, anyway, as you said…"
"Might as well use each other as much as we can in the meanwhile?"
"You understand me perfectly."
Addison sat up, and regarded him skeptically.
"You think we—you and I—could do that?"
He tossed his shoulders and smiled his crooked, self-deprecating smile.
"We could try. The worst thing that could happen is that we'd fall back in love." He said jokingly, and she laughed along, but was inwardly taken aback by the idea. She didn't know if she could truly fall back in love with Derek again. So much, so much had gone on…they really were such different people. They could never go back. She thought then of Mark, and wondered if they had gotten to that point yet, and how she felt if they had or hadn't.
"All right. So we're friends?" She experimented with the terminology, but both of their faces twisted in disapproval.
"Too casual." He decided. "We could never be friends. Much too light for our dysfunction."
She nodded in agreement. "This is true. What then?"
Derek thought a moment, and then smiled slowly.
"What?" she asked suspiciously.
"How do you feel about just being Derek Shepherd and Addison Montgomery, the new and improved, delightfully imperfect sequel to Derek and Addison Shepherd."
They both studied each other for a moment, before Addison nodded slightly.
This is what happens when I'm musing about Grey's Anatomy and "Goodbye, My Lover" by James Blunt comes on. Addek just appears on the page.
What can I say? I love them.
I don't know quite where to set this. Obviously after the whole "Addison had an Abortion" thing happened, but since I pretty much ignored the Alex and Addison question, for argument's sake we'll pretend that didn't happen yet. So…yes. Hope you enjoyed. Xo Bleu