Chapter 2

Author's Note: Sorry it took so long to get this next chapter posted. I've been super busy, but I promise Chapter Three will be quicker. Enjoy!

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"Did the date go well?" Christina asks the next day as we got ready for shift.

"It went well." I reply, my smile a bit brighter then it usually is. "We went to that nice little restaurant that I had been meaning to try. There weren't large amounts of awkward silence, or alcohol, which is a record for me." I smile wryly as I pull my hair into a ponytail and close my locker.

Christina does the same. "That's good." She says distractedly, as we head out to begin the day.

"What's up?" I ask, noticing her tone. "Something wrong?"

She gives me a tired smile. "No, nothing's wrong. I'm just a bit stressed… you know."

We stop talking as we reach where the other interns and Bailey are gathered.

I have been working with Addison on a case for the past week, so when Bailey sends me off to Addi, I'm not surprised. I head straight to the patient and begin checking her stats.

I make it through the most of the morning without having to face Addison. She must be busy with her other patients, and I'm grateful I don't have to deal with her quite yet. Last night after dinner, I realized how fast we were moving, and it scared me. I had never been skilled at the emotional side of relationships, which is what led to so many one night stands. But now I want a committed relationship. I'm just so scared of getting hurt again. And I'm scared of hurting her. I caused her enough hurt through Derek, and this time I want to give her the love and devotion she deserves.

-------------------------------------- Addison's Point of View -------------------------------------

'I'm so glad I picked Meredith to help me out with this case.' I think to myself as she moves around the room checking on the readouts. I'm leaning on the doorframe, reading over the cystoscopy results again. The 28-year-old woman, Hailey, came in earlier that week to the clinic with abdominal pains and abnormal vaginal bleeding. It turned out that she had a rare form of cervical cancer, stage II adenosquamous carcinomas. It was a combination of the two more common forms of the cancer, and in this case, was advanced.

We did a CT scan to see if the cancer had spread beyond the cervix, and found that it had spread to the parametrial tissue and was in danger of spreading to the pelvic lymph nodes and causing urinary tract abnormalities. We decided on a radical hysterectomy and partial vaginectomy with lymph node dissection, to try and get the cancer and prevent the need for radiation therapy. She had the surgery, but we found some cancerous cells that had spread into the lower third of her vagina. Currently, she is recovering from the surgery and being tested to see what kind of radiation therapy is appropriate.

Meredith turns as I sigh and set down the patient's chart. Hailey is asleep, so I allow myself a sweet smile at my girlfriend before I join her to look at the readout. "She shows no sign of urinary or intestinal damage, and her wound is healing nicely" Meredith turns to tell me, and ends up tripping straight into my arms. We stand there for a moment too long, and Meredith jumps back as someone behind us clears their throat. She relaxes as she realizes that it's just Christina looking for her for lunch, and I am once again struck by the closeness of their friendship. I'm glad that Meredith has that connection with someone, but it makes me miss the time when I had that with Mark and Derek.

I head off to get some lunch of my own, and bump into Callie, who invites me to eat with her.

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I'm walking down the hall towards one of my other patient's rooms when I hear the commotion. Curious, I hurry towards the source of the yelling. As I round the corner, I find my girlfriend and my ex-husband standing in the middle of the hall, screaming at each other. Realizing that I can't betray our agreement to keep the relationship quiet, I stand on the sidelines and wait for an opportunity.

"I am not your girlfriend!" Meredith is angrier then I have ever seen her. "You broke up with me. That means we are over. There is no third chance this time. I asked you, begged you, to give us a chance and you turned your back. And now I'm done. That means leave me alone! I am not your convenience date, Derek! I want love and commitment and no you hanging around in the background!"

Derek looks equally angry at her reaction. I'm not sure exactly what set them off, but obviously Derek said something that hurt. I remember the time he called her a whore, and I feel my own anger at him begin to blossom.

"I never turned my back on us. You overreacted, again, and I said I couldn't take it anymore. You're the one who walked away. Not me. Don't try and pin your mistakes on me." Derek begins to turn away, but Meredith isn't quite done.

"The only mistake I made was taking you back after you chose her the first time." At that, Meredith turns around and walks quickly down the hall. There is quite a collection of watchers by this point, and I realize that racing off after Meredith would look suspicious. So instead, I walk through the circle where Derek still stands, surprised at the whole incident. I flash him a you-deserved-that look of my own, and try not to obviously follow the path my lover retreated down. I turn the corner at the end of the hall and look around. Seeing the on-call room to my left, I make sure no one's watching and duck inside.

"He's good at breaking people, isn't he?" She looks up from her spot on the floor with unshed tears in her eyes. "He's so easy to trust, to love. Why does he have to break us?" I sit next to her, my arm snaking around her back to rest on her shoulder. She leans her head on me and snuggles a bit closer. She's so vulnerable, and I want to get up and strangle my ex-husband for what he did to her. I feel her tears begin to soak through my shirt and I bring my hand up to run through her hair.

I continue to run my hand through her hair as she talks. I was afraid of this conversation, afraid that she'd come to her senses and realize that I was the one who stole Derek from her and put her through months of pain and self-loathing, but she doesn't recoil or pull away. She just sniffles and keeps talking.

"After he chose you, I was hurt. Badly. Did he ever tell you about the way I confessed my love for him in an exam room and begged him to choose me? Did he tell you about the time he called me a whore for using other men to get over him? Or the time when I told him that I broke up with Finn, that I chose him, and he just ignored me? And yet, I still loved him. I though…" She trails off, unable to find the strength to continue.

"Thought it was just him getting over me that made him hurt you, and that once he healed, everything would be fine." I finish off the sentence, tears beginning to form in my eyes. "I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you so much. I just, I never…" This time I can't find the words.

She pulls out of my arms. "Oh, Addi." She sighed turning to look me in the eye. "It's not your fault. He made his choices, not you, so don't take the blame." The look in her eyes is just too much, and I feel my tears begin to fall.

"He hurt me too. When he chose me, it wasn't because he still loved me. He chose me because he felt like he had to, and he straight out told me that a few times. He would say 'I may have chosen you, but I still love her' and it still hurts to look at him sometimes. But I never blamed you for it, especially because you didn't even know he was married when you fell for him." Now I am curled against Meredith, who is resting her cheek on my head. "He hurt us both, badly, and now all we can do is try to heal."

We sit curled up in each other for a few more minutes before speaking again.

"I don't think I know how to heal without a lot of Tequila and inappropriate sex." Meredith's smile lightens the mood.

"But you've got me, so the inappropriate sex part should be easy to take care of." I respond, and we both laugh. Honestly, I have to admit I'm glad that conversation is over. I can't help but feel partially responsible for her pain and talking about it begins to open up some old wounds of my own. Right now my biggest fear is that Derek and the past will manage to ruin this relationship for us.

I am pulled out of my thoughts when the weight on my lap stands up. She offers her hand, and pulls me to my feet. I pull her into my arms and lean down for one more kiss, knowing that we should get back to work. But all my thoughts of work fly out of my head when her mouth moves to my neck.

Meredith has my shirt half off when the sound of a pager ruins the moment. I reach down to my pocket as she steps back, cursing quietly. "I need to go." I needlessly say, buttoning my shirt back up and checking my hair in the mirror. I turn back to my girlfriend. "You gonna be ok?" I smile reassuringly as I wipe the remaining tear tracks off her face.

"I will be if you promise a Tequila and inappropriate sex date in my near future." Her smile hides her pain well.

"Not tonight, I'm on call, but it's definitely on the top of my list." I pull open the door, and head off to my patient.

The day goes by quickly. No big crises, no more crazy ex-husbands screaming in the hall… And I actually got some sleep, which is saying something for an on call night. With a "Tequila and sex" date to look forward to, maybe this isn't going to be so bad after all.

------------------------------------- Meredith's Point of View -------------------------------------

For a first breakdown, it was pretty intense. We had been dating for almost three weeks when it happened. I had been so afraid something like this would happen, but this was worse then I expected.

We were going to meet at Joe's for drinks before heading out to eat. I was sitting at the bar, nursing a beer, when she came in. Her tired eyes and slumped shoulders betrayed her mood, even with the fake smile she tried to hide behind.

"Hey, babe." She kissed me lightly. We had decided to keep our relationship quiet while at the hospital, but Joe's, and everywhere else, was ok. So far, we had been lucky enough to not get noticed, so we didn't have to face the questions and the rumors. The only people who knew were Christina and Callie, and Joe.

"Hello." I smiled softly in return. "Rough day?" I rubed her back as she ordered her drink.

"Mmm… it's getting better." She took a sip of her drink, then sighed. "We lost the little girl I was in surgery on all day yesterday. I just can't help feeling like I could have saved her. She wasn't old enough to deserve that much pain."

"Yeah… Hey, why don't we head over to my house and watch a movie. Both Izzie and Alex are still at the hospital, so we'll have the place all to ourselves." She smiled slightly, relief evident on her face.

We talked all the way home about losing patients and feeling guilty. She talked through the entire procedure from earlier, to reassure herself that she did everything that she could. She was feeling better until we got to my house.

We walked up to the door with my arm around her waist. We had been talking about her intern years, and she was actually smiling for the first time that night. But as I fumbled for my keys, the door swung open unexpectedly. The face revealed wiped the smiles off of both of our faces.

There stood Derek, a cardboard box under his arm. He looked angry, and when he saw who I was with, he just looked angrier. "Hmm…" he said, anger obvious in his voice. "I guess I should have expected you two to end up in bed together. You," he gestured towards me "are a drunken whore. And you," he turned his gaze towards his ex-wife, "you are an adulterous bitch who will use anyone as long as it fits what you need. After Mark and Alex… I'm really can't say I'm all that surprised." At that he pushed past us and walked rigidly to his car.

I'm torn between running out and ripping Derek to shreds, and breaking down until I look at my lover. She had begun to shake, and silent tears ran down her cheeks. Her usually bright blue eyes looked grey and dull, as if Derek's words had ripped all life and hope from them. I tried to slide my arm around her shoulders, but at the contact she broke out of her trance. Running blindly into the house, she threw a glance back at me as she raced up the stairs. The tears now flowed freely, breaking my heart.

"Addison. You are a wonderful, beautiful woman. He's just an ass who thinks he can bring us down to his level by hurting you like that." I say calmly, as I follow her up the stairs. I don't really know how I've kept my temper. Somehow knowing that Addison needs me to keep my head has enabled me to do so.

"No I'm not! He's right! Don't you see? Everything he just said about me is true!" "This!" she screamed "is me!" she gestures to her already bruising knee from where she fell on the stairs. "This!" she yells, letting her hair down and shaking it until it falls crazily around her head. "This is all I am!" Her eyes are wild and her makeup runs down her cheeks. "How…" She trails off, sobbing, her voice now quiet and broken. "How could you ever want this?" The hopelessness that laces her usually confident tone almost breaks my heart. "Who would ever want this?" Her sobbing intensifies as I fold her into my arms. "I am nothing but a heartless adulterous bitch and you should get out before I ruin your life too. Oh wait, I already did!" Twisting out of my arms, she collapses onto the bed, her sobs racking her entire body.

"You didn't ruin my life, Addison. You are not heartless, and you are not a bitch!" She struggles as I pull her towards me on the bed. "And I want you. All of you. This." I say, running my hands through her hair, "And this." I say, touching her knee. "And this." I finish, tilting her head up to look me in the eye. "I love you, all of you. And just because you think you're a screw up doesn't mean I don't still love you." I kiss her softly, stifling all her arguments. "And I am here for you, so just let it out."

She curls into me, her head on my lap, and sobs. She sounds so heartbroken it almost makes me cry, too. I let her lay there as her sobs gradually quiet. When she stops crying, I slide out from under her and tilt her head up for a kiss. "A bit better now?"

"Yeah. A bit." She still sounds unconvinced as she reaches down to slide off her stockings.

"Hey." I say, causing her to look up at me. "I love you, baby. I don't know what it is about you, there's just something… something so… and I need you. I don't know why, I love you and need you. The real you. The you that blames yourself for my pain and trips on the stairs after too much to drink, the you who can't bring yourself to hate any of the men in your life who have done you wrong, the you who finds the good in everyone except yourself. That is the you I love, not the picture perfect version you try to hide behind."

I have no idea when I suddenly got good at this comforting stuff, but when I'm with Addison, saying what I feel is easier then ever before. I can communicate, and give her everything that I never could give any of the men I've been with. Even in the short time we've been dating, I have become so comfortable with her it's as if I belonged here all along.

Tears begin to slide down her face again, but this time she is smiling. "Thank you." She whispers, slipping out of her clothes and under the covers. She fits perfectly in my arms, and we hold each other tight as sleep takes us.