Renegotiating the Deal

This is part two of 'Close Collaboration'. Sorry to say this but you'll have to read it before reading this story. It picks up directly from where 'Close Collaboration' ended. The summary and objectives of this story are outlined in the author's notes at the end of the first fic.

'Mer," he whispered against her hair.

"Mmmmmmmm," she murmured in response, turning to snuggle more closely to him without rousing from sleep.

He tightened his arms around her, allowing himself to savor the tingling sensations that danced up and down his spine at her action.

He'd been watching her sleep for the past ten minutes, reveling in the aftermath of their passionate tryst the night before. There were so many questions left unresolved during their talk, and even more questions surfaced after their lovemaking, but he didn't let them bother him. It was his name that she whispered before drifting off to sleep.

He didn't really want to get up from bed yet, to leave the cocoon of warmth. Truth be told, he was worried, not about the uncertainty of her feelings for him or her ambiguous attachment to Derek, but about what happens next. The emotional connection they've formed during sex last night left little room for doubt regarding their mutual desire and affection. In the safety of the bedroom, where passion is high and intimacy lowers inhibitions, they are able to express how they feel about the other.

The sex between them was fantastic, mind-blowing even; he had no doubts or fears about it. But what about the rest of it? His reservations centered on the relationship part of this whole arrangement, or deal, or whatever it was they had. What if he couldn't meet her expectations, give her what she needed? How do they proceed? What would everyone think about them? Like her, he wasn't prepared to deal with how the others would react to them as a couple, which is why he needed to leave her room before Izzie discovers that he had spent the night with Meredith. The stand-in-Georgie-comfort-snuggle was definitely not going to be a convincing excuse if she walked in on them cuddling in bed naked.

"Mer," he tried again, this time running his hand through her hair, mostly for pleasure but also to increase the success of waking her up.

A soft smile tugging at her lips, she stirred then opened one sleepy eye, satisfaction at seeing him mingling with drowsiness.

"Hi," she said sleepily, shutting her eye again but letting her smile widen to express her pleasure at waking next to him.

The delight he saw in her eyes pulled at his heart, as cheesy as it may sound, but it really assured him that they could sort things out, that there was a strong possibility that they could make it work, whatever they decided.

"I have to go to the hospital, but I'll see you at lunch, okay," he murmured close to her ear, nibbling on it to tentatively test his ability to show affection while she was conscious.

"Hmm, Alex, are you asking me out on a date," she teased, obviously receptive to his display of affection.

"Maybe I am," he laughed, enjoying the light banter.

She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed tight for a few seconds, and then she loosened her arms and disentangled her legs from his as he moved to get up.

"Okay, then. I'll see you later," she flirted, grabbing the pillow he used as if to preserve his presence in bed as she inhaled his lingering scent. She opened both her eyes this time, shooting him a tender glance, before going back to sleep.

Yes, this could definitely work. All we have to do is figure out how, he decided, reluctantly leaving the room.

Okay, bearing in mind that I'm having an emotional affair with McDreamy, is it weird that I'm finding it easier and much more exciting to write this MerAlex fic than the MerDer fic?

Sorry for not making this longer. I'll have the next chapter up when I get back from work. Just wanted you to know that I'm continuing the story.

Please, please, please review. You'll really have to tell me, so I know I'm going in the right direction. Thanks!