There are just some people who aren't good with mornings. There's nothing to be done about it, no Darwinian adaptation to manage. Once a cup of coffee is finished, the car is parked, and the scrubs are on, yeah, you can be a surgery machine once you're psyched up, but until you walk in those hospital doors, you're dead to the world. Mornings are your worst enemy.
This is Addison Forbes Montgomery-Shepherd.
Addison sits at the kitchen table at the brownstone and drinks her coffee, because it's the morning and it's already One of Those Days. The sky is white outside the window and all she really wants is to curl up in bed with the flannel sheets and Derek, but work calls.
Not that she doesn't like work. She loves work. Right now, though, she thinks she loves flannel sheets and Derek just a little more.
"Hey," Derek greets her quickly, and coffee-breath or not he gives her a quick kiss that leaves a smile on her lips.
"You're ... perky," Addison says. In fact, he's almost ready and she's still in her robe. "Surgery today?"
"Nothing scheduled." He grabs a bagel and slices it with the same urgency. "I'm perky?" he repeats.
"You're perky," she confirms. "I might even push it to happy-go-lucky."
He puts cream cheese on the bagel in great big chunks, a pet peeve that Addison has now learned to live with since he laughs at her if she gives him a motherly nudge aside and fixes it for him. "Anything but that. What about you?"
She finishes a long sip of coffee. "Me? I'm fine," she says dismissively, with a glance at the sky again. "No surgeries scheduled here, either."
"There's never a shortage of pregnant women," he says, "you'll find something to do. You are going to work, right?" He eyes her robe.
"Eventually," she says wryly.
It's only when he moves closer, puts his arm around her and kisses her on the temple that the day begins to improve. "Come on. We'll grab a cup of coffee on the way there."
And just like that, Addison's smiling at him as he chews a bite of bagel, and she steps off her stool. "Great. Your turn to buy," she adds, brushing a kiss against his stubbled jaw. It hurts a little, but so what.
He gives the sash of her robe a small tug and it falls open; a smirk starts on her lips and she reminds him with a serious tone, "We were going to go to work. Save lives. That sort of thing."
"Oh, that. That can wait," Derek says with one of those boyish leers that Addison hates and loves at the same time because the second they show up, she wants to (has to) kiss him. So she does, this time, because Derek and sex in flannel sheets are all she really wants right now and possibly forever.
There are just some people who can see through you. There's nothing to be done about it. No expression or faked emotion is enough, because they'll look right through you, see it all, and then you just look like a fool for trying to pretend that things are different.
This is Mark Sloan.
It's funny to Addison because DerekandMark come as a package deal -- you don't get one without the other, no matter how much Derek might love you, she thinks -- but the two could not really be more different. Derek watches, absorbs, but Mark just observes.
Derek actually scheduled himself for surgery during lunch. Addison isn't sure what to make of this, because yes, there was an argument last night, but he gave her a tight sort of smile and told her it was all right, that they'd be fine. She thinks that it will be, of course, but five years is a long time to be married to someone and to still not be able to read the lines of his face to figure out what he's really thinking.
But she's sitting at the table with Mark and eating, and halfway through one article in the Times she has to say, "Stop looking at me like that, Mark."
"Like what?" he says, all deadpan innocence.
She lowers the paper to look at him with a skeptical expression. "You know exactly how you're looking at me."
"Hey, you're pissed off at Derek, not me," Mark claims, raising his hands in surrender.
"I'm not pissed off at Derek," Addison says with an eyeroll. "Where would you get that idea?"
"He's not here and you're not talking."
"He's got a surgery and I have nothing to say, ever think of that?"
"You never have nothing to say, Addison," he says, amusement lifting the corner of his mouth.
Five years with Mark, too, and she can't read him, either. Maybe she's the only transparent one of the three of them. Funny how that happens. She lets herself smile and gives a dismissive gesture. "I really have absolutely nothing to say. How about those Knicks?"
"We could make millions off of them if we worked in ortho," Mark says. "You should've asked about the Yankees."
"What's there to say about the Yankees?" she counters.
He grins proudly. "They killed the Red Sox."
"I would not be shocked if you named a child George Steinbrenner," she tells him.
"Who doesn't like a winner?" Mark asks.
Addison pats him on the hand with a sympathetic smile. "Well... you're in plastics and we like you anyway."
Mark laughs out loud at that. "Told you that you always have something to say," he says.
Just like that, in the midst of laughter and jokes, the confession leaves her mouth. "Derek wants kids."
"And you don't?"
"And I don't. Now. I don't want kids now."
Mark is silent for a moment, uncharacteristically so, but finally speaks so she doesn't have to. "Can't blame you. There's fellowships to think about. Maybe later. You have a lot of time."
"Yeah," she says, and feels her face form that tight smile she saw on Derek's face. We're fine, he said. Hopefully Derek is transparent, because she hopes he isn't feeling what she thinks he is, what she feels behind that smile.
He puts his hand on her shoulder and she shakes her head immediately, because Mark is Mark and he understands Addison and he understands Derek, but he can't even begin to understand AddisonandDerek. "Addison," he begins to chide.
"It's fine," she says, and feels Mark's eyes on her, measuring her body language (tilt of her shoulder away from him, the slight slouch in her back, the tension in her arms). "Mark, we'll work it out. I'm fine with it. How about those Yankees?" she jokes, but it falls flat.
Mark removes his hand from her shoulder and leans back in his chair. "They're winners," he says with a sigh in his voice, and the moment he sets his skeptical gaze on her, Addison has to say she has never felt like more of a liar in her life.
There are just some people who can't do anything halfway. They can't love someone mildly, they can't give up on anything, they don't question their feelings, and they just plunge into everything with the absolute certainty that this is it. This is what they're meant to be doing, how they're meant to feel, this is true love and true life and exactly where you're meant to be.
This is Derek Shepherd.
It's charming, admirable even, until you live with one of them for every day of your life. Then it's just exhausting. Addison and Derek have been AddisonandDerek for ten years and the wear is starting in on each of them.
It's supposed to be this way, she assures herself. Ten years with anyone will wear you on them. It's a good thing that they're both turning away from each other and towards their work, because it was actually sort of unhealthy how much time they spent together in the first place. She never overly liked Derek's completely focused attention on her, anyway. There are better things to do than love, right?
One morning it hits her, when it's raining and awful and she's clinging to a cup of coffee for her sanity. It's stupid but she realizes that she can't remember the last time Derek held her, or the last time they had spontaneous sex, or the last time they even kissed without passing by one another an instant later.
And Derek isn't even there putting globs of cream cheese on a bagel. He's out there getting a reputation as the best neurosurgeon in the country, making patients smile and interns swoon, while she's sitting on a stool in the kitchen of their brownstone, trying to get past this morning to reach the day.
When she reaches work, she tries to catch him by the coat and drag him into an empty closet, to talk, to fuck, to do something. But he brushes past her advances and gives her a quick kiss, a flick of a smile as fast as a camera flash, and his hand warm on her face before he leaves her standing there, alone.
Addison catches her breath, gathers her thoughts and sets her sights forward and her glasses on her nose. Eleven years she's been Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd, a professional in both marriage and medicine, and there's no reason for her to mourn. It's called maturity. It's called growing up.
When she walks into the silent brownstone, she exhales, and every ounce of maturity leaves her with it. She wants to be seen through and known, not accepted and looked past, not brushed off. She wants to be held, not only touched for a moment. She wants.
She picks up the phone with steady hands and dials Mark's cell. "Answer, damn it," she mutters urgently, and he picks up just like that as though in response.
"Addison?" He sounds confused. It's almost welcome to have one of them sound fallible.
"Mark." She closes her eyes, draws in a breath, and says the only thing she can. "I need you here."
He pauses but says with fixed determination, "I'll be there," and then the click of him hanging up echoes in her ear.
There are just some people who need other people. They can't help but reach out to everyone, anyone, in hopes that someone will answer or hold out a hand. No matter how strong they seem or even how strong they are, there comes a time where they can't live without each other.
This is Addison, Derek, and Mark.
Even as Mark holds her in his arms like something precious and she rests her head against his shoulder, Addison can feel what Derek's look would be like if he saw this. But he's not here to see this, and that's the point.
It's just Mark, she reminds herself. His hands are on her lower back, fingers curling into the fabric of her shirt, but it's just Mark. She can't remember the last time Derek touched her like this and she draws in a slow, even breath, jarred as he speaks.
"What happened, Addison?" he asks. Her shirt bares a line of skin and he touches it, goes beyond that barrier, and she should stop him, but she doesn't.
"I don't know." Stop. But there isn't a difference, is there? DerekandMark, DerekorMark. They're practically brothers. And this won't go further. Comfort, that's all it is. "I... don't know, Mark, he's just pulled away. We've pulled away from each other." She pulls away from him then, just enough to look into his face. "It's both our faults, I think. No, I know. I know I haven't -- "
"Addison, shut up," he says.
That wasn't what she expected in a moment like this. "What?" she asks.
She thinks she can see hints of anger in his blank expression and it's confirmed when he speaks. "He left you behind. Stop defending him."
Addison doesn't like the idea of blaming Derek, because that would mean, well, blaming Derek. She can't blame Derek, he's Derek. "He didn't leave me behind, Mark, it's not like th -- "
And then Mark kisses her.
It's not substantial enough for her to even react but something in her lights up and she runs a hand against his face after he pulls away, her breaths coming short. It can't be more than three seconds but it feels like eternity before he leans closer, rests his forehead against hers, and gives her a look that makes the hair on her arms raise.
Maybe she's not the only transparent one, after all.
She puts her hands on his face and pulls him into a kiss, and everything else follows naturally, her shirt over her head, her hands weaving his belt open, just like she would have with Derek -- but no, she can't think of him, not now while Mark is fucking her, because he's definitely not Derek even if it's their Egyptian cotton sheets and the rain is pounding against the window of their brownstone. It's not right but her leg is wrapped around him and she is a very willing participant, oh yes, because right now, even if it's not what she needs, it's what she's getting.
And then Derek walks in the door. And after one stare, one horrible, cold stare just like Addison could feel from her too-similar-to-Derek conscience after that first kiss, Derek turns away.
"Fuck," Addison breathes, and turns her head away when she sees Mark moving to kiss her again, twisting away from this in hopes to end this as soon as she can to get back to Derek.
Mark says nothing to her, gets dressed, pulls on his jacket and leaves; Addison grabs the first shirt she can find and runs downstairs, but all of her begging does nothing and Derek leaves her, too, and rain is pounding against the street outside while she sits on the staircase, alone.
This is Addison Forbes Montgomery-Shepherd, this is Addison without Derek, without Mark. And there's no neat definition for that, no. There's no definition at all.