Dinner was relatively quiet… sort of. They all sat at two long tables. Ideally the kids sat at one table and the adults sat at the other. But Sam and Natalie insisted on sitting with Meredith and Mark, and neither Meredith or Mark really wanted to sit alone with Donna, Carol, Derek, Marissa, and the Shepherd sisters. So it ended up being the adults and Natalie and Sam. After the earlier discussion, nobody protested it. Sam sat on Mark's lap picking through Mark's food with a fork. Natalie sat between them and Meredith. Though the kids' table was loud, the adults sat stiffly as uncomfortable silence hung in the air. Mark, who was still pretty mad at the whole day's turn of events, stayed quiet eating his food in slow small bites while Sam messily shoveled green beans into his mouth. Natalie ate her food ignoring the awkwardness of the situation. Meredith shifted awkwardly as she tried to keep her bites small, but she had hardly eaten all day and she was pregnant… the situation was against her.
"So Mark…" Derek said much like Nancy had earlier that day. Mark looked up and glared at him even though Derek hadn't been present for his blow-up earlier that day. "Okay…" He looked down at his plate.
"Carol this coleslaw is to die for." Marissa said.
"Thank you, dear." Silence fell over the group again.
"Are we missing something?" He sighed, setting down his fork ready for everybody to begin talking about whoever had started drama at this family reunion. Donna, Carol, and the Shepherd sisters mumbled something inaudible as Mark rolled his eyes. "Who was it this year? Nancy? Kathleen? Stephanie? Come on, someone's got to tell me."
"Shut up, Derek." Mark snapped sending him a deadly glare.
"Oh, it was Mark." He mumbled.
"Derek!" Meredith hissed in a low tone. He glanced at her.
"Shut up!" Mark yelled making everyone jump and all the kids stop their conversation. His face went cold as his clutched his jaw. "Just shut up."
"Is everything okay?" Marissa asked looking at everyone jumping into psychiatrist mode. Mark couldn't help to roll his eyes as he looked at her.
"No, everything is not okay." He said as he sat back in his chair shifting his son in his lap.
Marissa too sat back interested since Mark had always refused to talk to her. "Okay…"
"What would you say if you had a patient... let's say his name is… Matt."
"Mark." Meredith said quietly.
"Matt has had two families for as long as he can remember. His real family and the… I don't know the… Herders. When he was younger he was best friends with Darren, and Darren's mother, Crystal, and Matt's mother, Deborah, had been Matt's parents ever since he met Darren. The one night when Darren and Matt had grown up, Matt makes a big mistake and sleeps with Darren's wife, Madison." Mark continued sarcastically.
"Mark." Meredith tried again, but knew if he wanted to say something, he'd say it.
"So Darren runs away and goes to… I don't know lets just say Washington DC. He meets this amazing, caring, beautiful woman named Mary. Mary really like Darren, but Darren had a secret… Madison. When Madison showed up, he broke Mary's heart and chose to try to work things out with Madison. By now Matt is in… Washington DC too. But when Darren finally realized how amazing Mary was, he divorced Madison and pleaded to be back in her life. Being the kindhearted person she is, Mary accepted to try things out." Mark moved around in the chair and moved Sam over to Natalie's chair so he could sit forward. "Then Darren decided that when things got heard it was best to cheat on Mary with a coworker… Lily. Then Matt and Mary started a friendship that grew into something so much more than that. Matt proposed to Mary. Then they found out they were pregnant. They couldn't have been happier. Then six months into the pregnancy, Matt got in an accident. So his two families came rushing to DC. Mary was all alone, and she didn't know that Matt didn't tell his families about the pregnancy and engagement because they were Darren's family too and he didn't want them harassing Mary. They made Mary's life hell. Then after Matt woke up, and his two families were about to leave. Mary does the amazing. She forgive them and tries to allow them into hers and Matt's life together. Then Matt and Mary have and amazing daughter, Natasha, and they get married. They are completely happy. But Matt's two families don't care. So after four years, his two families invite him to a dinner. By now Natasha is four, their son, Matt Jr., is two. And Mary is pregnant. And when they get to the dinner party, all of Matt's family is mean and nasty and think his life has gone all wrong. As if he wasn't worthy of a happy ending because he had changed so much from when he left home. Then Matt finds out that his family doesn't think of him as family anymore. How does he know? His wedding picture and kids' pictures are missing from the wall. So, Marissa, what would you say to this patient?" With that he got up and stormed out.
Meredith sat in awe for a second before Natalie brought her back to reality. "Is Daddy mad?"
She glanced over and shook her head. "Daddy's fine." She promised before getting up and following leaving back an awestruck group of adults.
He was in the front room pacing and angrily mumbling to himself. She let him work off a little more steam before grabbing his arm to stop him. He looked at him and let out a sigh. "Mer I…" She didn't say anything as she hugged him close. His muscles instantly relaxed as he wrapped his arms around her body. "I'm sorry about all this."
"You have nothing to be sorry for." She assured him. They stood in silence for a second. "That was a pretty sad story." She giggled. He chuckled. "I especially like the 'Herders.'"
Laughter shook his shoulders lightly. "Shepherd, herder… same different."
She laughed and looked up at him. "I love you, Matt." She teased.
"I love you too, Mary." He joked back as he dipped her down and planted a passionate kiss on her lips.
"We have to go." Mark announced. It had been two hour since his story at dinner. And somehow they managed any real conversations for the rest of the night. Sam was asleep on his shoulder and Natalie stood beside him sleepily rubbing her eyes.
"Are you sure?" Donna asked.
He nodded. "It's been a rough day and our flight is early."
She gave him a sad smile and kissed his cheek. "Take care, Markie."
He nodded. Carol and the Shepherd sisters all hugged/kissed him goodbye. Donna kissed Sam's sleeping head and got a hug from Natalie. Finally, she looked to Meredith who was standing quietly beside her husband.
"Meredith…" She said softly searching for words. "I know it's been crazy and we're at complete fault for it. We didn't see you and Mark as you are now. We saw you as we thought of you back when Derek and Addison were together, and we saw Mark as he was before he left New York. We weren't fair to either of you. I guess what I'm trying to say is… I've never seem my son's eyes light up the way when he says your name. He loves you, Meredith. He's proven that even more today. And it's easy to see you love him the same way. I know there's only one first impression, and that didn't go well… neither did the second. But… if there are any chance that you can give us one more chance at a… third impression, we won't waste it this time." Donna said.
Meredith stared at her and gave her a small smile. "I'll think about it." She promised.
Donna smiled and gave her a short hug. "Please do."
Mark took her hand and led her towards the door. "Bye." He called back before opening the door. Meredith walked out first and waited on the porch for her husband to shut the door.
He gave her a small smirk as he intertwined their fingers. Taking a deep breath of the night air, Meredith smiled and followed her husband to the car.
"I think we survived hell." She said. "If we can handle that… we can handle the kid's through puberty and their rebellion years…"
He chuckled and helped the kids into the car seat. "That was one hell of a party."
"God yes." She giggled slipping into the passenger's seat.
Now, this is the end!! I love writing this story. Hope you like reading it.