"She wants to get back together."

It was the next night and somehow he had found himself in the exact same place he had been the night before, tucked in a booth at Joe's, staring down at a glass of scotch that he wasn't even sure he was in the mood for. Nothing had changed.

Except everything had changed.

In the past twenty four hours his whole entire world had managed to change. He wasn't even sure where his footing was anymore.

Except Meredith loved him.

Which was probably something.

"Of course she does."

"She says she loves me."

"Of course she does."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Derek asked, taking a gulp of his scotch, wincing as the hot liquid burned down his throat, for once doing nothing to calm his ever noisy head.

"It means this is what you do, Shep," Mark shrugged, taking a sip of his own scotch. "One of you takes a step forward, the other takes a step back, two steps forward, three steps back. It's some kind of fucked up dance."

"A dance? You're comparing my relationship with the love of my life to a dance?"

"Yeah."

"You're definitely no help."

"Shep, if you want me to be a help…stop dancing."

"You… " Derek breathed, snapping his head quickly around to look at his best friend. This was certainly not the kind of advice he had been hoping for when he came here with him tonight. "You think I should end it with her."

"I didn't say that," Mark denied quickly.

"Maybe I should," Derek sighed, ignoring the squeezing in his heart as he played with the cup in his hands. "This is such a mess and every time we're together it just become this. Maybe we're not meant to be together. Maybe it was a moment of pure lust and we got caught up in it and made it into something it's not. I should just end it."

"Do you actually believe any of that shit?"

"No."

"What did she say?" Mark asked, taking another sip of his scotch.

"She loves me."

"Got that one already, Shep."

"She loves me," Derek repeated anyway. "And then, she probably said more than I've ever heard her say. She loves me but she doesn't trust me. She loves me and she wants everything I want, Mark. She wants the house and everything. She just doesn't trust me. But she wants to. She wants to trust me and work on this because I'm what she wants."

"And you want…"

"I want her."

"Call me an idiot but I'm missing the problem."

"It's just…" Derek sighed, gulping at the amber liquid in his glass. "It's so damn hard. It's not supposed to be this hard. It would be easier with Rose, starting fresh, starting from scratch without the trust issues and the…mess that we are."

"Except issues tend to follow you everywhere."

"Since when have you started talking in riddles?"

"Since my best friend hit his head and apparently forgot how to figure this kind of thing out on his own."

"Could you just explain yourself?"

"Grey's not the only one in this fucked up equation that has issues, Shep," Mark shrugged. "And yours would just follow you to your next relationship."

"I know Mer's not the only one with issues."

"Do you?"

"Of course I do," Derek nodded firmly. "But there's so much shit that her and I have been through, it wouldn't be there anymore. I could just do this again."

"You do realize it's your fault she can't trust you right?"

"I know that, Mark," Derek groaned, chugging back the end of his drink.

"I don't think you do."

"That's part of this," Derek snapped before taking a deep breath. "How am I supposed to put her through that again, Mark? How am I supposed to put her through all that hurt again when she deserves a hell of a lot more? All I do is hurt her. All I do is destroy anything we even start to build. I can't do that to her again, I can't put us through that. She deserves more than me so maybe I should just walk away."

"You're the one that chose your wife," Mark shrugged and Derek fought the urge to punch his best friend.

"I know, Mark," Derek spat.

"And knowing you, there's probably twenty different times that you weren't there when you should have been."

"You have no idea what you're talking about."

"I don't?" Mark demanded. "Because last time I checked, I grew up with your sorry ass. I know what you do, I know how you are. I know there were times you should have been there and you weren't. It's happened with every girlfriend you ever had."

"It has not…"

"Bullshit, Shep. Why do you think your marriage with Addison failed so badly?"

"It failed for a lot of reasons, Mark. One of which was you sleeping with her."

"I only got to sleep with her because you weren't there."

"We're not having a fight about Addison," Derek groaned. "That's ancient history. I forgave you both and now Mer…"

"And now you're making the same mistakes with Meredith."

"I am not."

"Think about it, Shep. For five seconds."

"I…fine, maybe I've made some of the same mistakes. But Meredith isn't blameless in this."

"Never said she was."

"We've both messed this up. Shouldn't I just cut my losses and get out? Relationships aren't supposed to start out this hard, they're not supposed to start this messy. It's just a waste."

"You could do that," Mark nodded.

"Rose is easy."

"For now," Mark shrugged. "Eventually it will get hard because that's how life works, things get hard. Things get hard and you run. You go with Rose now…a few years from now you'll be sitting on your stupid ass with me, bellyaching about Rose and watching Meredith with her new more functioning boyfriend. And you'll be wishing to hell that you would have been smart enough to grab her while you actually had the chance."

"Mark…"

"Derek, you want to get married and have kids and that other bullshit, right?"

"Of course," Derek nodded.

"That means you're eventually going to have to stop with this running away thing."

"I don't run away," Derek snapped.

"Of course not, do you need me to make a list Shep?" Mark asked. "Because you run, shit gets hard, you get gone. It's pathetic and lame but we all love you too much to care."

"You love me?"

"I meant in the general family loves you way," Mark groaned. "The point is, if you ever want this thing to work out for you, the whole happily ever after shit, you can't just turn away and run when things get hard. Hard is part of the relationship bullshit."

"I know it is, I don't run."

"Really? Because I remember it starting at a pretty damn young age. Your first girlfriend and you ended after her parents went through a divorce and she was going through hell. You dumped that girl in college because it was too hard to balance with the school work. And Addison…okay, we probably don't want to relive that but you know what the hell you did. Now Meredith, things are going to be a little messy and you're thinking of walking away from the love of your life because of it. It's completely messed up, Shep."

"Mark…"

"It's not even just in relationships. You disappeared for days after Dad died. You crashed your bike and you never got back on."

"I nearly killed myself."

"You had a minor concussion."

"I could have killed myself," Derek groaned. "Why would I get back on the bike if I could kill myself?"

"Because if you want to be happy, you have to take that risk."

Derek groaned before taking another swig of his scotch. They weren't actually talking about the bike. Somehow Mark had managed to make that clear without saying anything, which was impressive for him. They were talking about Meredith and taking the risk at being happy with her. Which he wanted, he wanted to take the risk. It just seemed a little on the side of insane. He usually tried to avoid insane.

"I do love her."

"I know you do, Shep," Mark nodded. "That's my point. You can run again if you want but I'm pretty sure you'd be making the biggest mistake of your life."

"There's a lot of baggage."

"Everyone has baggage."

"I know," Derek sighed. "I know that, Mark."

"So you're going to have to put up with someone's. I don't see why it can't be Grey's. You love her, right?"

"You know I do."

"And she's suddenly standing there, all big and strong and together, she finally grew up or at least has decided she wants to grow up and you're sitting here bitching to me because?"

"I'm an idiot."

"Glad you're finally seeing it."

"It's just…this is big, Mark. Deciding to try this again with Meredith, it's big. It's bigger than anything I've ever done."

"And you love her."

"And I love her."

"So take the risk with her. There's a chance you'll crash and kill yourself but there's always that risk. It's just something you have to deal with. If you want to be happy, you have to take the risk. And Grey…I swear Shep, if you walk away from her you're going to turn into one of those old crazy guys, living in the house you built for her, telling anyone who will listen about the one that got away."

"When did you get so smart?"

"I'm a regular Yoda, Shep. I'm wise."

"That's…" Derek laughed. "Seriously, Mark, how the hell do you know how to give relationship advice? Did you call Kath?"

"No," Mark shrugged. "I just get that they're hard. It's why I avoid them."

"Of course."

"So what are you going to do?"

"You really think I should try this?"

"Derek, the way I see it…there's two options…you run now and you spend the rest of your life wondering what could have happened. Or you give it a try and if it all goes to hell, at least you know."

"I love her."

"That should be all that matters."

"I…" Derek breathed, draining his glass, closing his eyes he let the familiar burning sensation take him back to the first night he had sat in this bar, the night that he had noticed the gorgeous blonde that had somehow managed to capture him in the madness that was her in just one night. Nothing had actually been the same in his life since that moment. He wasn't even sure if it would ever be again and he couldn't decide if that was a good thing or not.

"I have to go talk to her."

"No kidding," Mark laughed. "Get Joe to call you a cab, you're in no shape to make that drive."

"I'll walk it," Derek shrugged.

"You'll walk it? Shep, it was raining when we came in here a couple of hours ago," Mark pointed out.

"It's only a couple of blocks. And I want to be sober when I get there."

"Okay, be an idiot, it's what you do best."

"Yeah, yeah," Derek sighed. "Thanks."

"You would have figured it out eventually."

"But it may have been too late."

"I know," Mark nodded. "Go get her, Shep. Grab hold of your happily ever after or shit like that."

"Going."

It wasn't raining anymore. Derek was grateful for that, happy that it had turned into the light mist that he had grown accustomed to in the last year of living in Seattle. It was a short walk but he didn't need to do it in pouring rain without a jacket on.

A cab would have been a better choice but he couldn't wait for that, he couldn't wait for a cab to come pick him up and take him to Meredith.

He was an idiot. He hadn't even known it but he was an idiot. He ran. It was something that had never crossed his mind before. He knew he wasn't perfect, he knew he was too blame for some of the things that had happened with him and Meredith but he had never considered the fact he ran. When things got hard, he got out of there. He didn't know why, he didn't actually care why, but Mark's words had rung of truth and that seemed to be all that mattered. His entire life, anytime something got too hard, too scary and big he got out of there. He ran. He ran till he had almost destroyed everything in his life.

And for some messed up reason, he had been ready to run again.

Meredith Grey was far from perfect. She was a mess. She was a bundled up group of issues and fears and everything else that made someone less than perfect. Years ago, before he had met Addison, he never would have picked someone like Meredith for himself. He had never wanted someone like her, he had never dreamed that his princess was going to be anything but a princess. That she would probably roll her eyes if he actually called her princess, roll her eyes and gag. He would have never imagined himself falling in love with the beautiful complicated mess that was Meredith Grey.

Except he had.

Somehow she had worked her way under his skin, somehow in a year she had become his everything and right now, in this moment of clarity he had no idea why he had ever considered walking away. He couldn't fathom why he had thought he could fall in love with someone else. Being with Meredith would never be easy. She had a lot of hurt parts and he knew them all.

He loved her anyway.

And she was about to break down his very last wall. He was actually terrified. His heart was racing as he walked up her front steps and he was probably actually shaking and not just from the cold he was just beginning to feel. This was the biggest and most important thing he had ever done.

He rang the doorbell.

"Derek…" she breathed, seconds later.

"Meredith…"

"What? What are you doing here?" she murmured, stepping forward slightly, confusion wrinkling her forehead.

"I…I don't want to run."

"What?"

"I run," Derek sighed, having no idea what he had even planned on saying when he got here. He had just known he wanted the chance with her. "When things get hard, I run, Mer. Anytime something gets hard, I go the opposite direction."

"And this just got really hard," Meredith whispered, some fear creeping in her eyes.

"It has," he nodded slowly. "But I don't want to run this time. I want to stop running. I want to stand still. With you. I want to stand still with you."

"Oh…"

"Oh," Derek nodded.

"I thought…and it was…you…you're soaking wet," Meredith murmured, chewing on her bottom lip as she studied him carefully. "Did you walk here?"

"Yeah."

"It's raining, Der."

"Misting," he corrected.
"And now you're…you're shivering," she frowned, reaching for his arm. "You're freezing, Derek. Get in here. I have some of your clothes upstairs. Dry clothes. Why the hell did you walk here?"

"I was drinking at Joe's, Mark didn't think I should drive."

"You're drunk?"

"No," he said quickly. "I just had a few and I'm sober, Mer. I swear I'm sober and I don't want to run. I don't."

"Okay…okay…" she whispered, the hand holding onto his arm slipping to find his fingers as she turned to lead him up the stairs and to her bedroom. He smiled at the warmth of her hand and tried to keep his breathing to a norm. This wasn't the time to break down. He couldn't cry as she was leading up to the bedroom that just forty eight hours before he had thought he would never see again.

"Mer…"

"They're in this drawer," Meredith murmured, her voice sounding shaky as she released his hand and walked toward her dresser. "I wasn't…I saw them yesterday and I nearly threw them out but your Columbia shirt is here and I know you love that shirt so I figured it was probably…I put them all in ….sit down. You should sit down and under the covers because you're cold and covers are good at warming people and…

"You're rambling."

"No, I'm just…" she sighed, grabbing some clothes into her arms as he slowly made his way to the bed, sitting at the edge, hoping his wet jeans wouldn't leave her bed wet for the rest of the night. "I'm not rambling you just need dry clothes and blankets because sick…you could get sick and it would be my fault so…"

"Mer…"

"This isn't going to be easy."

"What?"

"I know you said you don't want to run but that was probably…that's probably stupid," she murmured, walking to stand in front of him. "I get it. I get that you run and…I run. I run from everything so I get the running thing. But if you...this might not be the best time to stop running because this…we're a mess, Derek. This is going to be hard. Probably… a lot harder than it should be and I'm not…I still don't. I'm terrified and I have no idea what I'm doing so stopping running now…"

"Probably a little insane," Derek breathed.

"Probably a little insane," Meredith echoed, her fingers gently working their way through his damp curls.

"It's just…things you're saying, I like them. I like the idea of not running and really being in this and I want that, Derek. You know I do it's just…you can't run. If you're going to say you're in this and you want it to be hard, you have to stay. You can't run."

"I wasn't planning to."

"If we're doing this…it's forever, Derek. There's no finish line or whatever. If you don't want to run…this is it. Me and you. Forever."

"Forever…" he breathed.

"Der…"

"Meredith, can I talk?"

"Oh umm…okay."

"I'm not running," he whispered, wrapping his arms around her waist. "I'm terrified and I've never actually done this hard thing before but I have to grow up eventually. I'm not running. I'm in this. I love you and I'm in this. Forever, Mer."

"What if it's too hard?"

"There is no hard when it's us," he breathed, grateful that the words were finally coming to him. "I don't even know why I thought about running. I must have been crazy. I've been in love with you since the first moment and I'll be in love with you forever. And being with you…being with you is the hardest thing I have ever done. You are a complete mess but so am I, so I think it's okay. I love you. It might be crazy, I might be going insane, but I love you and I am not running. Not this time."

"You…you can't say those things unless you mean them, Der," she whispered. "You say things and then you…don't say those things unless you mean them because I can't do this again."

"I mean them," he nodded firmly. "I'm terrified, Mer. The idea of giving this another try, a real one…I've never been more terrified of anything. I've never not run before, Mer. But you're the first thing that's ever made me want to stay."

"Oh…" Meredith breathed.

"I know we have trust issues to work through but please trust me on this," he murmured. "I want this. I spent time to think about what I want. I want to be with you. Even if it's pure hell at first, even if we have to go to therapy and whatever else…all I want is you."

"Derek…"

"I love you," he breathed, wrapping his arms around her waist.

"I love you too," she murmured.

Their lips met gently as Derek felt his breathing return to normal for the first time in hours. This was them, this was going to be okay. She moaned softly as he deepened the kiss.

"Der…you…wet, you're all wet…" Meredith breathed, her fingers traveling to the bottom of his shirt and pulling it over his head.

"Meredith…" he gasped.

"Derek…" she groaned, running her fingers along his chest, trailing them through his chest hair.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," she murmured, pulling back slightly to pull her tshirt over her head, revealing a black bra underneath. She was on him again in second, her lips soft and searching against his, the kiss remaining gentle as she moved to straddle his legs, their chests pressing tightly together as he slipped his tongue into her mouth.

The thoughts in his head became mumbled and fuzzy after that, as he worked at releasing her bra, tonguing her nipples as she pulled his damp jeans over his hips, his boxers soon following. She kissed him hard as he pulled her sweats down to her ankles, letting his hands smooth over her bare ass, groaning at the feels as he pulled her toward him, deepening the kiss as their bare chests rubbed together, shocks of lust running through them as their nipples brushes up against each other, their hands grasping hungrily, scratching at each other's backs.

She slipped onto him then, straddling him as he stayed sitting on the edge of her bed.

Their hips rocked hard to meet each other, their lips keeping contact as they moved slowly, hands exploring each other's bodies. Meredith pulled away for a second, and their eyes locked before Derek crashed his lips to her again, his hips rocking harder as she tightened around him, the orgasm washing over her quickly. His brain grew blank as he drove into her trembling body harder, bringing her to another quick orgasm as he emptied himself into her.

"Der…" she breathed, clinging to him as they both returned to their bodies.

"Mer…"

"I…I…"

"Shhh…" he murmured, slipping out of her but keeping her in his arms as he tugged her gently toward the head of her bed, helping her as they both slipped under the covers.

"I just…"

"Head spinning?"

She nodded.

"Not from the sex?" he asked, pulling her a little tighter to him.

She nodded again.

"It's okay, Mer," he whispered, rocking her gently. "A lot…the last two days have been kind of big."

"It's just…I just…I didn't want to die."

"Hey…hey…" Derek protested softly. "None of that, not tonight. We're not talking about that stuff tonight. It can wait, Mer. We've done a lot of talking and all of that, it can wait till the morning."

"Oh…okay," she nodded slightly. "But we will talk?"

"We will."

"It's just…I'm happy that you…trying and not running, I'm happy, I am but we're still, I still can't trust you. We can't…last time we kind of acted like everything just went away because we got back together but this time…we can't…we can't pretend the issues didn't exist just because you chose me."

"We're not going to. We will talk."

"Okay."

"Just not tonight."

"I'm sorry, Der, for everything. At least…I need to say that. I'm sorry for everything I put you through."

"I know you are," he nodded slowly, his hand working it's way across her bare back. "I am too, Mer. I made mistakes, I messed up. And I'm sorry too, I'm sorry I put you through that."

"I know you are."

"And the rest…the rest can wait till the morning."

"Okay," she breathed. "Are you…you were wet, are you dry? Warm?"

"I'm dry and warm," he nodded, holding her a little closer.

"Your hair is going to be a mess in the morning," she giggled.

"You'll have to deal with it."

"I will," she nodded, sagging slightly into his body as she began to relax further, sleep starting to wash over her. "Don't leave my bed, Der."

"I won't."

"I love you."

"I love you too."

"I think we finally got that right," she giggled, the sound coming out muffled and drowsy and Derek looked down to find her eyes closed, her face snuggled up tightly to his chest.

"Sleep, Mer."

"Hmmm…" she breathed.

He shifted slightly, holding her tighter as he let his own eyes fall shut, temporarily letting himself forget to be scared and just concentrate on good he felt right now.

It wasn't till she let out her first small snore that he remembered he needed ear plugs.

I need you to know I will
Believe me girl I'm so tired of running
I just wanna hold your hand
Stare at you like you've got everything I need