DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters.

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CHAPTER ONE

Izzie knocked on Meredith's bedroom door, holding a cup of coffee. She checked her watch. It was 7:45am.

"Mer! We're leaving right now. Last chance for a ride to work!" Meredith didn't reply. Instead she put a pillow over her head and moaned something inaudibly. "Fine," Izzie said with a sigh. "Suit yourself."

"Where is she?" Cristina asked as she emerged from the bathroom, drying her hair with a towel. She had spent the night at Meredith's house after they had drowned their sorrows with a bottle of tequila.

"She's still in bed," Izzie said. "George and I are going. Good luck getting her to work on time." Cristina didn't reply. Instead she went to Meredith's room and opened the door loudly. Meredith was lying motionless in bed. Cristina threw the wet towel over Meredith's head and then pulled the covers away. Meredith was still wearing the clothes that she had been drinking in the night before.

"Noooo," she moaned. George and Izzie stood in the doorway as Cristina physically pulled Meredith out of bed and to her feet. Then she took the coffee from Izzie, placed it in Meredith's hand and began literally pushing her out the door.

"The secret is to show no mercy," Cristina said to George and Izzie who were stood there, stunned. "Let's go."

&&&

"Someone's gonna die today. I know it," Meredith said from the back seat of Izzie's car as they drove to Seattle Grace hospital.

"What?" Cristina asked cynically.

"I have a feeling," Meredith said, looking at Cristina. "You know what happened last time I had a feeling. I ended up holding a bomb in some guy's body."

"Pure coincidence," Cristina said, taking the coffee from Meredith and sipping it. "Anyway, we work in a hospital. Chances are somebody somewhere close to us will die today."

"God, you two are so morbid," Izzie said from the driver's seat. George laughed.

"Gold star for Izzie," Cristina said from the back seat. "Sorry. I'm hungover. I get mean when I'm hungover."

"We start in two minutes," George said, looking at his watch as Izzie parked the car. The four doctors jumped out of the car and ran towards the hospital. George went towards the interns' locker room and the three residents made a bee line for the surgeon's lounge where they were dressed in scrubs and on their way to meet Bailey right on time.

"Grey, you look like crap," Bailey said with raised eyebrows.
"Thanks," Meredith said with a little smile. "Where did you want me?"

"Report to Doctor Hahn. Take your interns as well. If you're up to it that is."

"Of course," Meredith said, leaving the others.

"Stevens, you're with Shepherd. Yang, you're in the pit." Bailey went to consult one of her own patients.

"Go!" Cristina shouted to her timid interns who were gathered close behind her. They took off. "Wait…" she said, noticing something amiss. "There are only three of you." Her head pounded as she tried to figure out who was missing. "Where's Lexie Grey?" the other interns shrugged. Cristina rolled her eyes as they rode the elevator down to the ER. Nothing would have kept her away from the hospital in her intern year.

&&&

"Here's a tip," Cristina said when her and her interns reached the pit. The eager interns took out their notebooks and pens, ready to write Cristina Yang's words of wisdom. "Stay away from tequila," Cristina said as the elevator doors opened.

"Doctor Yang!" an ER nurse shouted as soon as they stepped into the pit. "I need you over here."

"What do you have?" Cristina asked as she went over to the nurse. "It had better be surgical." As she got closer, Cristina saw the man that she recognised as Thatcher Grey sitting on a bed.

"It was nothing. I'm fine!" he was protesting.

"What happened?" Cristina asked. She could smell the stench of alcohol on Thatcher's breath.

"He fell over in the shower," Lexie said.

"Cant imagine why," one of the interns, also smelling the alcohol, joked.

"Shut up," Cristina snapped at him.

"I was just being clumsy," Thatcher slurred. "Tell her that I'm fine."

"He hit his head hard," Lexie said. "That's why I bought him in. I think he should get checked out." Cristina nodded. She turned to her interns.

"I want you examine Mister Grey and make sure that he hasn't sustained any other injuries in the fall. Then take him for a head CT. When it comes back. Page me. He is inebriated so handle him with care." Lexie blushed with embarrassment. She could feel her fellow interns judging her. She wished that she could just disappear.

"Are you working today, Doctor Grey?" Cristina asked. Lexie looked distant. "Doctor Grey!" Cristina said louder.

"Sure," Lexie replied, nodding. "I'll go get ready." She turned to her father and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I'll be back, Dad," she said.

"Don't bother coming back," Thatcher said aggressively. Lexie was hurt and embarrassed but tried to hide it in front of her colleagues. Christina sighed.

"I'm going to see where I'm needed next," she said. "Doctor Grey, when you're changed, find me. The rest of you stay on this case." Cristina turned to walk away when she heard a thump.

"He's having a seizure," a nurse shouted. Thatcher Grey was convulsing on the hard ground.

"Roll him on his side and protect his head," Cristina ordered.

"Are you going to write up any drugs?" an intern asked.

"Not if we're dealing with a head injury," Cristina said. She waited until the seizure had finished and some orderlies had lifted Thatcher back onto the bed. "Take him for that head CT now."

&&&

Fifteen minutes later Cristina's pager had gone off. She finished her consult with a patient and went back to where Thatcher was, with Lexie trailing behind anxiously. An intern handed Cristina the scans. She held them up towards the light and her jaw dropped. It was not what she had expected.

"Page Doctor Shepherd," she said to an intern. Cristina turned to Lexie who had seen the scans. "You might want to take the day off," Christina said discreetly.

"I'll go change," Lexie said, leaving, needing to get away.

&&&

Meredith and her interns followed Doctor Erica Hahn through the halls of the surgical ward as she explained the procedure for that afternoon's surgery.

"Lexie!" George called out when he saw Lexie coming in the opposite direction looking distressed. Meredith looked over at her, concerned.

"Are you alright?" she asked Lexie as they crossed paths. Lexie looked up at Meredith, her eyes filled with tears. She shook her head and continued on her way.

"Do you need to go after her?" Doctor Hahn asked. Meredith shook her head.

"No," she replied.

"Very well then," Doctor Hahn said, resuming her explanation of the surgical procedure.

&&&

"Glioblastoma multiforme" Derek said, matter of factly, looking at the scans. He hadn't yet seen who the patient was.

"That's what I suspected," Cristina said.

"Yikes," Izzie said, making a face as she observed the giant mass present on the CT scans. Derek sighed.

"Let's do it," he said.

"It's Thatcher Grey," Cristina blurted out.

"What?" Derek asked, bewildered, his heart sinking.

"Just thought you should know," Cristina said. Derek took a deep breath and headed over to where his patient was. He pulled back the curtain around Thatcher's bed in the ER and stepped in, followed by Izzie and Christina. Lexie Grey, dressed in jeans and a Harvard sweater, joined them. Derek smiled sympathetically at her.

"Mister Grey," Derek said. Thatcher had started to sober up.

"I know you," Thatcher replied. "You're Meredith's-"

"Yes," Derek cut him off. He didn't know what he was to Meredith at that point in time. "Mister Grey," Derek started again. "We did a scan of your head and it showed what is known as a glioblastoma multiforme."

"A what?" Thatcher asked, confused. Derek took a breath. "It's a grade four malignant brain tumor. In plain English it's the worst kind of diagnosis we could have hoped for. It certainly wasn't what Doctor Yang was expecting to find considering you came in here after a fall."

"It's probably what caused you to fall this morning," Cristina explained. "You've probably experienced headaches and dizziness as well as balance problems and speech difficulties."

"I thought it was the drink," Lexie said quietly, ashamed.

"So what do we do?" Thatcher asked. "When are you gonna take it out." Derek took a deep breath. He hated this part of the job.

"There is the option of surgery, however with this kind of tumor you're only looking at about a four percent chance of survival with minimal brain damage. Most surgeons would call this an inoperable tumor and give you anywhere from weeks to a few months to live."

"It's gone unnoticed for an unusually long time," Izzie spoke up. Lexie looked on the verge of tears.

"But you've done this kind of surgery before?" Thatcher asked Derek. He nodded.

"I'm one of the best in my field and I've operated on this kind of tumor twenty two times. Two patients went on to live for a couple of years. The problem is that the tumor has tiny microscopic tentacles that aren't visible to the human eye. It's impossible to get the whole thing. The more aggressive I am with the surgery, the more likely it is that you won't survive. If I'm conservative, it'll grow back to the same size very quickly." He paused for a moment and looked into Thatcher's shell shocked eyes. "I'm very sorry. Doctor Yang will explain the non surgical alternatives to you."

"So whatever I do, this thing's gonna kill me?" Thatcher asked.

"That's right," Derek said. "I'm very sorry," he said again. "Page me if you need me," he said to Cristina.