You Might Die Trying
AN: This is it. It's so hard to believe. I know this took me so much longer to finish than any of us wanted, but here it is. For those of you who are still with me... thank you... and thank you for the support and the reviews and messages that kept me going. This story started out as me wondering what would happen if Taylor came back and then... it became so much more.
Thank you to all of you who have read the story and who recommended it to anyone... Honestly... I can't tell you how much the support means. I hope this epilogue is worth it. It was for me. It gave me the closure I wanted, so I hope it does for you too.
"I dare you to move,
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor.
I dare you to move, I dare you to move.
Like today never happened,
Today never happened before."
Sixty-four days had passed since the nightmare with Taylor had begun. Sixty-four days. Meredith stood outside her bedroom door, listening to Derek's voice fill the upstairs of her mother's house. He was talking to the Chief about their impending return to work. Today was their last full day at home. Tomorrow they were finally returning to Seattle Grace. She had mixed emotions about their impending return. She hadn't been back to the hospital since she had been discharged, and she wasn't ready to be on display again. She wasn't ready to hear the whispers as she and Derek walked the halls. She wasn't ready to be the one that everyone was talking about again. But then there was the part of her that couldn't wait to step back inside those doors because all she wanted to do was to put the past sixty-four days behind her. She wanted to start her life again. To cut. To be a surgeon. To move forward.
"Mer?" Derek called from inside her bedroom.
Meredith pushed open her bedroom door and walked inside, noting that Derek was now off the phone.
Derek moved towards her. "You okay?"
Meredith nodded, her teeth chewing on her lower lip. "I think so."
"What were you talking to the Chief about?" Meredith asked, ignoring Derek's concerned gaze.
"Our mandatory psych evals."
Meredith sighed. When they had first approached the Chief about coming back two weeks ago, he had immediately refused to let them return until they had undergone mandatory psych evaluations. They had both protested, claiming that they were fine, but the Chief did not waiver. He did, however, agree to let them come back to work while undergoing the evaluations.
Derek reached forward, placing his hand gently on her cheek. "We both have to go to one in the morning before rounds."
Meredith's chin fell as she exhaled loudly. "I don't want to talk to psych about this."
"I know," Derek said, pulling her into his arms, "I don't want to either."
"We're fine. We've dealt with this. Why is the Chief mandating this?"
Derek's arms tightened around her. "He has to, Mer. It's his job to make sure we're stable enough to be doing our jobs."
Meredith closed her eyes and listened to the beat of Derek's heart. She was fine. Derek was fine. They had both proven that to each other three weeks ago.
3 weeks earlier
Meredith stood beside Derek at the foot of the stairs. Her entire body was rigid. They hadn't tried to go upstairs since their first night home in her mother's house. But today was the day. They had both been working all week to move past it, to let go of the demons of the past and allow the future to be bright once more.
Meredith had sensed that Derek had been ready long before her. He had confessed his fears and allowed for his emotions to breathe freely into their relationship. He held nothing back. And as they talked and as they confessed their fears and scars from their painful past, he had been able to put it all to rest. To lay down his secrets and let them go. But she had held on. Torturing herself for her faults and not allowing herself to move on. And now, as she stood in front of these stairs, she remained frozen. The issues that she had been pigeonholing away bubbled to the surface.
"Ready?" Derek asked, his hand squeezing hers tightly.
Meredith's throat closed. She tried to breathe, but couldn't. Up those stairs was everything that she hadn't let go of. It was Derek married. It was Derek not wanting her back. And it was all embedded in Taylor. Her eyes pooled with tears.
"I don't think I can do this."
Derek turned towards Meredith, his eyes searching hers. "I don't understand. You were ready yesterday. What's happened? Where has that head of yours gone?"
"I just can't do it, Derek. I just can't."
"Yes you can."
"No, I can't."
"What are you scared of?"
The tears that had pooled in her eyes dripped onto her cheeks, wetting her porcelain skin in streams. "There's too much, Derek. This is too much. I don't think I can do it."
"You can, Meredith. I don't know what's holding you back anymore. We've talked through this. Your nightmares are gone, and I think we're stronger than we've ever been. We're talking. We're dealing with our issues. You are ready for this. You just have to trust yourself."
"I've never trusted myself, Derek," Meredith said sadly. "Not with things that matter. Surgery is one thing. I'm good at that. I can do it. But, life? Relationships? I always mess it up. I always fail."
"You're not failing this time."
"I almost did."
"Almost," Derek emphasized. "Almost. And it wasn't just you. It was me too. I was the one that ruined us from the start. I was the one that wasn't honest." He reached for her hand, holding it tightly in his own. "I'm past that, Mer. I'm ready to move on. To start fresh. You just have to be willing to let it go. To be willing to let it be and to let Taylor be with it."
Meredith closed her eyes. Taylor hadn't haunted her mind in days. He had vanished beneath the surface of her wounds. She was grateful for his disappearance, grateful for a full night's rest. But there was a part of her that still feared the darkened corners of a room. There was a part of her that still looked back as she walked. There was a part of her that was still terrified of sitting in the backseat of a car. He had scarred her. Broken her. And she wasn't sure if she would ever truly be rid of him.
Derek squeezed her hand again. "What do you need from me? What can I do to help you through this?"
"I do trust you, Derek. I do."
"Then, let me help you. Let me show you that we can do this." Derek urged. "And we can start with this. We can let our first step be walking up these stairs together."
Meredith turned her head and stared up the staircase. No mirage of images pelted her brain. No sudden fears jolted her body. It was just the insecurity. It was the knowledge that Taylor had almost taken everything from her. It was the idea that there could always be another Taylor out there; that there could be someone out there that would hurt them or tear them apart.
Meredith exhaled. Her eyes closing. "I don't see his face anymore when I close my eyes."
"I don't see him when I sleep."
"It's the shadows in the dark and the times when I'm walking alone. It's being in the backseat of the car." She paused for a moment, giving herself time before she turned her gaze back towards Derek. "I know I should have told you that I'm still afraid of those things. It's just what kind of person can live their life like that? How am I supposed to be what you need when I can't even be myself?"
Derek tugged on her hand, pulling her into him. "I never thought those things would magically disappear, Mer. You don't think I still see him, sometimes? You don't think when I'm out without you that I don't have this fear that something will happen?" His arms tightened around her. "I do. Look, this isn't about one of us being stronger than the other. It's about both of us being willing to help the other out. It's about being the rock when someone needs you to be a rock and allowing yourself to fall apart when you need to fall apart. It's give and take, Mer, and I think we've gotten through the worst of it. We just have to willing and open to lean on the other when we need help."
Meredith's hands pressed into his back, feeling his muscle. She didn't know what to say. She knew he was right. The worst part of the aftermath of Taylor was over. It was the little things now. Like the stairs and the tiny insecurities that lingered from Taylor violating their sense of security.
She pushed back from Derek, but held onto one of his hands, and allowed herself to take the first step up the stairs. Derek followed her quietly, each letting their own actions; their own footsteps speak louder than their words.
"Meredith." Derek spoke her name softly, awakening her from her daydream.
"Yeah?" Meredith breathed, her cheek still pressed firmly against his chest.
"Are you ready?"
"Ready for what?" Meredith asked, confused.
Derek leaned back, looking down at her, concerned. "For work Meredith. Are you ready to go back to work? Are you sure you're okay?"
Meredith pushed herself upwards, placing a gentle kiss on Derek's mouth. "I'm fine, Derek. Just…thinking about that day a few weeks ago when we first got up those stairs."
"It was three weeks ago," Meredith explained. "And I feel better than I did three weeks ago. So I'm not really worried about this psych eval. Because even though I still have some bad days, I still feel better most days."
Derek pulled her back against his body, placing a tender kiss on top of her head. "I still feel better most days too."
"Are you ready to go back?" Meredith asked as her arms looped around his waist.
"What does that mean?"
"There are things that I don't miss about the hospital and then there are things that I do. But I'm ready. I'm ready to get back to cutting. I'm ready to do my job. With you. I'm ready for us to be a team again. I'm ready to be in that OR and just… save lives." Derek tightened his hold on her. "You never answered me. Are you ready?"
"Mostly." Meredith smiled.
Derek laughed, and Meredith couldn't stop the bubble of laughter that erupted from her own mouth. They looked at each other and smiled. Derek leaned forward and kissed her firmly, enjoying the feel of their bodies pressed against each other and his mouth on hers.
"How would you like to spend your last day before going back to the hospital?" Derek mumbled against Meredith's lips.
"Yeah," Meredith said, placing another kiss on his lips.
"What do you want to do?"
Meredith pushed her body up against his. "Crawl into bed and stay there."
"I like the way you think." Derek smiled.
Their laughter filled the room once more as they fell into bed. The bed that they had been sleeping in, together, ever since they had made it up those stairs three weeks ago.
The darkness that had existed in Meredith's life sixty-four days ago was gone. Derek was here beside her. Holding her. Kissing her. Loving her. And Taylor, well Taylor was just a scar now. A scar that still hurt sometimes, but for the most part was all healed. And she knew now that as long as she had Derek, she'd be okay. They both would be.
Because he had her heart and she had his.
And that was all that mattered.