HFWC with little changes here and there. Nothing big or exciting. Title and song lyrics by Matchbox 20.
Waking up at the start of the end of the world...
"Hey Kathleen." Derek smiles as his sister pulls open the door to their childhood home. "How's it going?"
"Good," Kathleen says slowly, confused at her brother's sudden appearance. "Derek, what are you doing here?"
"It's Thanksgiving," Derek says, his smile faltering. "Aren't you happy to see me?"
"Of course," Kathleen tells him hastily. She pauses and adds, "It's just... Well, you've turned down the invitation for five years. Including this one."
"Well I can turn around and head back to Seattle if you don't want me here." And now he's upset. Sure, he hasn't stepped foot in New York, much less his mother's house in five years. But he thinks that after finding his wife in bed with his best friend he has a pretty good reason to stay away for as long as possible.
"No, it's just... Well we weren't expecting you," Kathleen says lamely. "We didn't set enough spots at the table."
Derek isn't impressed with her excuses. "I can sit at the kid's table."
"Oh Derek." Kathleen sighs and steps forward to wrap her arms around her older brother's neck. "I'm very happy to see you. And we'll make room. You don't have to sit with the kids unless you want to."
"I've missed you Crazy Katie," Derek whispers into his sister's hair.
"Don't call me that," Kathleen says as she pulls back and playfully slaps his shoulder. "I'm not five anymore."
"You'll always be five to me," Derek teases.
"And you'll always be my dorky older brother, the band geek," Kathleen returns. She pushes the door open farther with her foot and gestures for Derek to follow her into the house. "I'm just going to head into the kitchen to let Mom know you're here. I think some of the guys are in the living room watching football."
Derek chuckles and begins down the long hallway towards the living room. He stops, though, to take a look at all the small children gracing the walls of the hallway. On one side are pictures of him and his sisters that chronicle their school years. The other side is a myriad of school photos and snapshots of his nieces and nephews. Although he hasn't seen any of the children in over five years, he recognizes most of them from pictures sent over the years. There are, however, a few faces he can't place. He knows that Rachel gave birth to his youngest niece about a year ago but she really never was very good at keeping him updated.
After a few minutes of admiring the pictures of the children, of which he wishes he could have one or two of his own to add to the collection, Derek wanders into the living room. He's instantly taken back to the days when his father and uncles used to sit around the television while his mother and aunts slaved away in the kitchen preparing the Thanksgiving meal. The memory in itself makes him smile. The smile instantly widens as he catches the look of surprise on his brothers-in-law faces.
"Derek," Ben, Nancy's husband, sputters first. "Hey Buddy. I thought you were staying in Seattle for the holiday."
"I thought it would be fun to shake things up," Derek tells him as he's pulled into a brotherly hug. Each of the men take their turns and, before he's able to sit, his mother crashes into the living room, knocks him backwards, and refuses to let go.
"Don't ever leave for so long ever again," she scolds and slaps him lightly on the forehead. "I've missed you."
"Me too Mom," he tells her and sits up, looking around. "Now, where's my Lexie? It is Lexie, right?"
"Yeah," Mike, the proud parent, says and cocks his head to the stairs. "She's upstairs taking a nap with..." Mike trails off and looks at Derek uneasily. "Uh, she's napping."
"Oh," Derek says, noticing the way the others are looking at him hesitantly. His eyes focus on his mother and he asks, "Well do you mind if I go peek in?"
"Of course not," Emily tells him hastily, swatting at the air with her hand. She jerks her head at the stairs. "Come on. I'll go with you."
"I don't know," Ben says quickly. "She's such a light sleeper. Right Mike?"
"It's fine," Emily grinds out, warning. "She'll sleep through it."
Emily glares at Keith, Kathleen's husband, and he sighs.
"Come on Derek." Emily places her hand on his back and gently steers him up the steps.
"Did I do something wrong?" Derek asks softly, worried at everyone's reaction upon seeing him.
"Oh no, honey." Emily shakes her head and starts softly, "But there's something you should know. Just after you left-"
But Derek doesn't hear a word she says because all he can hear is buzzing in his ears and the world has begun to spin madly on its hinges. He wants to see them. Really. He does. Just... He takes an involuntary step backwards. Just not like this.
In the very back bedroom, Addison is sitting on the corner of the bed holding Lexie while Mark is stooped over the bed changing another baby girl's diaper. Derek has to clutch the doorhandle as he watches Mark snap the baby's pants into place, blow her a raspberry, and scoop her into his arms. Both Addison and the baby giggle as Mark crosses his eyes and sticks out his tongue. And then he mutters the words that Derek never believed would ever come from Mark Sloan's lips, "Daddy loves his little Princess. Yes, he does."
Derek physically feels as if he's been sucker-punched and looks at his mother, clearly in shock.
"...Allie." She nods to the little girl in Mark's arms.
"They..." He swallows; hard. "They have a daughter?"
"And a son," Emily says quietly. "He's downstairs in the basement playing video games with the other boys."
"They have a son and a daughter?" Derek lets his head fall back against the opposing door with a thud. "Together?"
"Allie's thirteen months." Emily takes a deep breath, knowing that this might just kill her only son. "And Kyle is almost five."
"Almost five?" Derek chokes out. "So she was pregnant..."
"It was that first time," Emily deals the blow.
Derek's eyes widen dramatically. Coming from such a big family, he's always wanted a large, noisy family of his own. It was a dream come true when Addison had shared his sentiments. Only, the dream quickly turned into a nightmare as the months of trying came and went without anything to show. And then finally he'd finally gotten tested and found that it was because of him that they couldn't have children without medical interference. "Low sperm count," the doctor had said, unknowingly nailing the coffin shut on their marriage.
"The first time?" Derek whispers. "He got her pregnant the first time?"
Emily nods. "She was a wreck though."
"No, really," Emily says, softly yet forcefully. "She almost got an abortion but, well... Mark was great. They really love each other Derek."
"Oh," is all that he can formulate before Addison looks up and their eyes lock. Derek freezes, doesn't even take a breath as Addison, never breaking eye contact, whispers, "Mark."
Addison nods at Derek, whose eyes slide to a shocked Mark.
Emily, thankfully, takes charge of the situation by grabbing Derek by the wrist and forcefully pulls him into the room. She stops in front of the three and forces a big, fat grin. "Derek here wanted to see his niece and I thought it would be a good time to introduce Allie as well."
"Oh," Mark says, his lips freezing in position.
"Uh," Addison says, looking up at her husband for support before holding Lexie out for Derek to take, "here she is."
"Oh," Derek echoes Mark as he takes the baby into his arms. He, however, doesn't have eyes for the girl in his arms, but opts to study the baby Mark has pulled tightly to his chest. A crown of strawberry blonde rests atop her head and the most brilliant blue eyes he's ever seen peak out at him curiously from behind her father's arm. Derek smiles at her and she giggles, her little lips bowed like a cherub's. She is quite literally breathtaking and he tells them so.
"Thanks," Mark says, his grip loosening slightly on the baby.
"We think so," Addison tells him and smiles proudly down at her daughter.
"She'll be just as pretty as her mother when she's older," Derek says, bouncing his niece slightly.
"Oh no she won't," Mark says. "If I have anything to do with it she'll have glasses and big metal braces and won't attract any boys until she's at least thirty."
Derek lets out a genuine chuckle. "Sorry, but I don't think you'll be that lucky."
"You should see Kyle," Emily tells him, beaming. "That boy is his father through and through. He's definitely going to be a lady-killer."
Derek visibly pales at the mention of their son and instantly hands his niece back to Addison. He's down the stairs and out the front door only seconds later. After he's finally stopped gasping for air he realizes that someone has parked behind him and, unless he wants to go back inside, he's stuck for the time being. So he takes a seat on the front step and lets his face fall into his hands.
He hears the door open and shut softly a moment later and groans audibly.
Derek licks his lips and looks up into Addison's hesitant eyes. "Hi."
"Hi," she says and nudges him with her foot. "You mind if I join you?"
"So." Addison chews on her bottom lip nervously. "How is Seattle?"
Derek shrugs again.
"I thought you'd bring your intern with you," she says. "Last I heard you were about to pop the question."
"We broke up last month," Derek mumbles. "Apparently, I stopped noticing her."
"Did he really get you pregnant the first time?" Derek blurts out before he can stop himself.
Addison sighs and sits back so that she's resting on her palms. "Yeah. Yeah he did."
"My mom said that you thought of aborting him," Derek says. "Why?"
"I... He wasn't yours, you know?" Addison's eyebrows knit in concentration. "I had just always thought that I'd be having your baby, not Mark's. And you were gone and I had no idea where you'd gone. It was difficult."
"I even made the appointment but then Mark brought home this calender with the due date circled and the most adorable Yankee's onsie and... I just couldn't do it." She smiles. "It's the best decision I've ever made."
"Is that why you wouldn't see me while you were in Seattle?" Derek asks carefully.
Addison shakes her head. "I had already moved on by that time. I was four months pregnant and, no offense, I was finally with the man of my dreams." She pauses and chuckles softly. "I had been in love with Mark for years and just never realized it."
Derek's jaw clenches.
"I'm not telling you this to hurt you," Addison says. "But I want you to understand that what we had... We went through the motions Derek, but that was all. For months I had been coming home to the man who loved me and he just wasn't you."
"So there's no way that we could ever..." Derek looks at the ground. "Never mind."
"Oh Derek." Addison places a comforting hand on Derek's shoulder. "Please tell me that's not a reason you came out here."
And honestly, Derek can't say whether that's the reason he came home or not. For months he's been thinking about her and their relationship. In fact, he even created more problems in his relationship with Meredith (she called it subliminal sabotage) because of his sudden infatuation with his college days. He'd talked about Addison constantly and even started pointing out differences between her and Meredith. The problem is that he even went as far as to point out these differences to Meredith herself.
So maybe, just maybe, a part of him was hoping that he would run into her on the streets of New York while he was in town. And, if for some crazy reason, she invited him for dinner he would say yes in an instant. And maybe she'd ask him in for coffee and they'd talk for hours like they did in the early years of their marriage. And this one night could possibly lead to the rest of his life.
"The thought crossed my mind once or twice," Derek tells her nonchalantly.
"Seriously?" Addison asks, somewhat amused. "You thought I'd wait around for five years, twiddling my thumbs? Just waiting for you to come back to me?"
"I..." Derek scowls. "No. I knew you had to have moved on. I just had that little flicker of hope in the back of my mind. And you just... You moved on so fast."
"Oh come on," Addison teases. "Nancy told me you were head over heels in love with that intern a week after you left."
Derek shrugs and lets out a deep breath, his shoulders hunching over in defeat. "God, I really never thought I'd end up alone."
"Oh Derek." Addison leans into him comfortingly. "You're not alone. I know that we have our issues, but you will always be welcome in our home. We're still family, you know."
"Thanks Ad," Derek whispers. "Really. That means a lot to me."
Addison nods and pushes off the step. "Come on. I have someone I want you to meet."
And he can't. He just can't. Although it doesn't seem to make sense, even to himself, Kyle represents the destruction of his marriage and the validation of what happened between Mark and Addison. The mere existence of the child is like a slap in the face to the man who, for a good ten years of his life, dreamed of his own children only to be shot down. Where Derek failed, Mark overcame and Derek just can't deal with that right now.
"Maybe later then," Addison says softly as she runs her fingers through Derek's hair. She sighs and steps past him inside.
He's only alone for a moment, however, before the door creaks open once again. This time, Derek turns and chuckles as Mark's head peeks out at him from behind the door. He pats the ground which Addison has just vacated and watches as Mark slowly eases himself down next to him.
"So it's your turn, huh?" Derek asks.
"I guess," Mark tells him.
Derek nods and they sit in silence for a few moments before Mark says softly, "I know that you hate me and I'm sorry for how things happened, but I am not, not, sorry that they did. I drove myself crazy for years telling myself that loving Addison was wrong, but I can't do that to myself anymore."
"I understand Mark," Derek says softly.
"Furthermore, I think that-" Mark stops and looks at him, confused. "Wait, what?"
"I understand," Derek repeats. "I'll never forget what happened. If fact, your bare ass is ingrained in my mind indefinitely."
"But after watching you with Allie today," Derek takes a deep breath, "and seeing how happy you make Addison, I'm able to finally let it go."
"Mark, can we just leave it at that?" Derek asks, his eyes pleading with Mark to drop it.
"Okay," Mark says. He chuckles and softly punches Derek's arm. "Just don't go trying to win her back."
Even though it's meant as a joke, the look of vulnerability in Mark's eyes makes Derek's heart hurt. Even after all these years, after he's finally got the girl, Mark is still afraid he'll lose her to his best friend. Even though he talks a good game, Derek's known since they were small that Mark is just covering for a serious case of low self-esteem.
"No." Derek shakes his head. "I won't."
Mark nods. "Yeah… Yeah, I know."
They sit in a comfortable silence for a few more minutes before they're called in for dinner. Kathleen points out his place card, which has been hastily drawn with brown crayon, and Derek takes his seat between his mother and Rachel. Once Addison and Nancy have finally returned to the table from calming the kids, they all bow their heads as Emily recites the grace. She includes a special thanks for Derek's sudden appearance and stresses the importance of family and forgiveness. It's then time for everyone to go around the table and say what they're thankful for. Lisa mentions her kindergarten class, while Kathleen opts for her nightly glass of wine, and Rachel states the obvious: Lexie.
"Another chance," Addison says when it's her turn. She gives Derek a meaningful look and turns to Mark. "And yours?"
"I'm thankful for that thing you do with..." Mark trails off amidst a round of giggles and snorts. "I forgot, not dinner appropriate."
Addison slaps his shoulder.
"Family," Mark says simply and looks across the table to Derek. "All of my family. Even Nancy Pants."
"Hey!" Nancy scowls. "Addison, hit your husband again."
Derek inhales sharply at Nancy's words.
"And what about you Derek?" Emily prods. "What are you thankful for, Honey?"
"I..." Derek shrugs. "I'll have to get back to you on that."
Emily nods understandingly and claps her hands. "Dig in everyone."
Hours later, as everyone is lounging around the house with their bellies full, Derek wanders out to the backyard. Coming home has always taken a lot out of him, even when he was younger, and what with the day's events he's completely drained. All he wants to do is sit on the deck and enjoy the unseasonable warmth that has swept through the East coast.
Only, when he steps outside he notices that he isn't alone. Swinging in the hammock next to the deck furniture is a small boy around five reading Dr Suess. Derek knows exactly who he is at once. If the dirty blonde hair and smirk don't give it away, then the way the boy pulls his oversized aviators over his icy blue eyes does. It's as if Derek has stepped back thirty-five years and is staring at his best friend all over again.
"Kyle?" Derek asks cautiously.
The boy looks up and cocks his head to the side. "Yeah?"
Derek can't help but smile. "Hi. I'm Derek. Your mom and dad's friend."
"Hi Derek," Kyle says, waving.
The way his name rolls off Kyle's tongue causes Derek's smile to widen. He steps up to the hammock and tilts his head so that he can read the title of the book. "What are you reading?"
"The Cat in the Hat," Kyle tells him and holds out the book. "It's my favorite."
"Really? I loved that book too."
"Yep." Derek points to the hammock. "Do you mind if I sit with you?"
"Sure," Kyle says and happily scoots to make room. "But you have to read to me."
Derek chuckles and nods. "Deal."
"Thank you," Kyle says properly and hands the book to Derek.
After Derek finishes the book he sits with Kyle for a while longer and listens as the boy recounts endless stories about his dad and his sister and his friends. Derek genuinely laughs when Kyle tells him that his dad let him watch Top Gun and now it's his favorite movie. "But Momma says I watch it too much and that under no circumsense will I be a fight pilot," Kyle tells him. "But it would be so cool!"
Finally, Emily pokes her head out the back door and scolds the two for holding up dessert. "But we were talking Gammy," Kyle tells her as if that answers everything. She ruffles his hair as he saunters past her.
Derek watches as Kyle enters the house and realizes that, if out of his ruined marriage came two wonderful little people, then maybe it wasn't all for nothing. Maybe things hadn't gone exactly as he thought they would, but right now he wouldn't change the chain of events for anything.
"You coming?" Emily asks.
Derek nods and pauses just as he's passing her. "You really want to know what I'm thankful for Mom?"
"I'm grateful that no matter what I'll always have someone to come home to," he says. "And I'm grateful that things always seem to have a way of working themselves out."
And, he thinks, they just may have.