Friends in High Places

Chapter 2: The Muffin Man's Sinister Truth

Derek Shepard's next appointment fell on the same day the next week, which gave Pippin time to prepare. The uncharacteristic warm winter weather had ended and now temperatures in Seattle were in the thirties, making Garden Sit Outs inadvisable. Thus, she set about the task of making her trashpit of a kitchen as homely as possible, lighting a fire in the adjacent living room and preparing coffee (a shot of bourbon in hers, as unorthodox as it may have been).

When he arrived early in the morning, (her first appointment of the day, eight-thirty sharp) Derek had a plate of muffins to go with the coffee. He claimed his friend-with-benefits lived with a girl who must've had a previous affair with the muffin man she was so great at baking. Pip thanked him and set everything out on the previously cluttered cardtable she used as a kitchen surface. Her legal pad and pen were already set out and ready to be used.

"So, Derek." She began, clicking the top of her pen "Let's start this session by talking a little about your family. Do you have any brothers or sisters?"

"Younger sister named Bo, and older fraternal twins Jenna and Joel."

"And how did you get along with your parents?"

"Er..." He wrinkled his nose and took a thoughtful bite of muffin, chewing slowly as he mulled the question. "...It was okay, I guess. Well, my dad and mom divorced when I was in college, but during my childhood they were perfectly civil."

"Was there any reason for the split?"

"He cheated on her with who he thought was a woman."

"'Thought?'"

"It was really a very drunk man wearing a bra stuffed with potatoes." Derek shrugged as if it were the most normal thing in the world. "Mom and dad are still good friends, but she remarried and now they, ironically enough, live on a potato farm in Iowa."

Pippin raised an eyebrow. And she thought herchildhood was tough, living with the constant torment of children calling her Hobbit and Furry Foot. At least her father had never cheated on her mother with a dragqueen sporting a fetish for lumpy vegetables. Was a potato a vegetable? Or was it sort of like a banana, the hermaphrodite of the food world? She made a note on her legal pad to look that up later.

"And what about your upbringing? Just in general, who of your siblings were you closest too, did you have trouble in school...that sort of thing."

"I grew up here in Seattle." Derek began, wiping some crumbs from her shirt and leaning back on the chair "Since Joel and Jenna always had that whole twin thing, I was closest with Bo, who was three years younger than me. Mom and dad were never really 'close' so we didn't have to see them make googley eyes at each other." He paused "I didn't really have much trouble in school. In fact, I think my entire childhood was pretty in the norm as far as things to talk about in therapy go. Nothing really started to go weird until I met Addison."

"How did you meet her?"

"Oh, you know. A friend of mine introduced us in college. We got married, had some good times and then divorced because I was still desperately in love with a one night stand I had a year ago. And then my dog died."

"Riiiiight." Pip said, not looking up from where she was doodling a picture of a potato in a skirt "So back on the topic of Meredith. How's that going? Any changes since we last met up?"

"I think I might like another girl."

"Wow."

"Yeah. Her name is Rose and I was going to ask her out...but then..."

"...then...?"

"Well, I guess this is the part where I could use a therapist's opinion. We kissed and then Meredith came up and told me that she didn't want me seeing anybody else. As you can imagine, it's just a little bit confusing." He babbled, looking up at Pippin with large, baffled eyes.

"Well, obviously the healthiest choice mentally would be for you to date Rose in an effort to move on from your emotionally stunting relationship with Meredith." She paused, taking a sip of her Irish coffee. That had to be the most psychoanalytical she had ever been with a patient. Looking up, she noted Derek's hardened expression "...but judging by the way you're looking at me right now I'm going to say wait a little longer. Keep building a friendship with Rose in case she doesn't come around. But I'm going to say, Derek, that this is extremely unhealthy in the worst possible way." Smooth, Pip, just point out the obvious in a complicated and therapist-ish way. That'll catch the brain surgeon off guard!

"Smooth, doctor. Just point out the obvious in a complicated and therapist-ish way. That'll catch me off guard."

So now he's a sexy neurosurgeon who can also read my mind. That's just DANDY... "I apologize, Derek. Just saying what needs to be said."

"Yeah, I guess I can understand that." His eyes flitted up to the clock "Look's like it's been an hour." Pippin glanced over her shoulder.

"Looks like. It was good seeing you, Derek. Just like last week, call up Christie and I'll see you on your next appointment." He shook her hand and walked to the door. "Wait a minute-I have to know. What's in these muffins?"

"One part talent, one part relationship angst and one part used needles from the hospital biohazard bin."

"You're joking about the syringes, right?"

Derek shrugged, backing out the door "I guess it's going to remain a mystery." As the threshold swung shut behind him, Pip regarded the blueberry muffin in her hand for a moment before shrugging and taking a bite.

"So worth it."