Introduction: Part One
One week since he had dropped that bombshell on her.
The bombshell that he had found someone else.
He had kissed Rose…
He had found someone that makes him happy.
He was no longer going to be miserable.
Simply because he was not going to be with her.
Meredith was not coping.
She glanced around Joe's bar and saw in dismay that still none of her friends were there. In fact tonight it wasn't so busy in the bar even though she had been here for a few hours.
There was no one there she knew, except Joe, and once again she was spilling her heart out to him in-between sculling many shots of her old friend, tequila.
Joe had simply looked at her in sympathy, listening to her story of woe for the second time that night. It had been the same story that he had heard every night for the past week.
He was beginning to grow very concerned with just how much alcohol Meredith was consuming, but he knew it would not be a good idea to tell her to stop because she would not listen to him.
And he himself knew that she seemed to only find peace for a short while when she was so drunk that she could no longer talk straight.
Every night this had happened, he had simply called a cab and paid the fare for her to go home. It had been no trouble for him because at least he had known that she had gotten home safely every night.
"Joe…am I ugly or something?" Meredith suddenly asked after draining shot.
Joe cleaned out a glass with a cloth and looked at her with slight amusement.
"Honey, I'm the wrong person to ask. But if I was straight I would be very attracted to you. But you are not ugly." He said with a warm smile.
Meredith hiccuped, "Hmmm…well try telling that to Derek and his skanky nurse. I was never good enough for him then and I drove him away for someone who is a nurse…"
Joe stopped cleaning the glass and set it down on the bar along with the cloth.
He sighed sadly at the miserable woman in front of him. He remembered what she was like when she first came into the bar on that fateful night when she had met Derek.
She had been happy, flirty and smiling. Now the slumped figure at the bar in front of him was a mere shadow of that person he had first seen a long time ago.
"Oh Meredith…" he sighed quietly, "I don't know how you do it."
Meredith suddenly raised her head off the bar and looked at him confused, "Wha? Do what Joe? Come here every night and get drunk? That's not too hard to explain…"
Joe watched her for a few seconds before answering, "Make it through from one day to the next."
Meredith looked at him with a miserable smile.
"I'm dark and twisted Joe. Broken again by the man who said once that I was the love of his life only to also say at the same time that I make him miserable and that I should put him out of his misery. Seriously. The man who I can't let go of and I was actually getting ready to say to him that I liked the idea of us growing old together…him dying in my arms at 110 years old and…kids…a house…maybe eventually even marriage or whatever but…"
She looked at him, sadness and bitterness in her voice, "But I get through the day because I have to. I'm damaged; dark and twisted Meredith and I know that when I go back to the hospital tomorrow that I will no longer be the centre of attention or in the gossip. I will just be 'fine' once more to everyone although the whole time I am there I have to force myself to breathe."
Joe reached out with a hand and gently placed it on Meredith's arm.
"You have an inner strength that few people have Meredith, something I have rarely seen the entire time I have had this bar." He said quietly, his voice filled with admiration, causing Meredith to look up at him with tears in her eyes.
Her voice and eyes had a spark of hope in them, clinging onto his every word, drinking in all of the comfort and support from someone who was not caught up in the mess that she called her life.
Joe smiled and nodded a few times, rubbing her arm a few times before letting go and going back to cleaning a glass.
"More than you know Meredith. A lot of people have come through here so and I knew everyone of them. I have listened to their stories, pains and secrets. It's kinda my second job I guess you could say." He said, finishing off with a knowing smile and a wink.
Meredith smiled weakly up at him, "What would I do without you Joe?"
Passing her another shot of tequila, Joe laughed, "Find someone else to be your rock and serve you copious amounts of tequila."
Meredith drained the shot in a single gulp and looked at him with a drunken smile, "I think now Joe that I should take my leave before my hangover for tomorrow begins."
Joe smiled sadly at her, "Does that mean Grey now is the time to call for the cab."
Meredith slung her handbag over her shoulder at looked thoughtful for a second before turning to him with a half smile.
"No Joe…I don't think I will be needing a cab tonight."
Joe instantly looked at her, worry clouding his features, "You're not leaving here and driving home." He said in a very stern voice.
Meredith now smiled broadly at him and shook her head, "No I am not going to drive home. In fact I am going to go back to the hospital and have a sleep in the on-call room."
Joe looked extremely serious at her, "You promise Meredith?"
Nodding, Meredith placed her hand over her heart, "Cross my heart…or whatever."
Joe nodded back, looking satisfied, "Ok, go then. But if you break this I will never serve you another shot of tequila again."
Meredith nodded, not really caring, and she stumbled towards the door of the bar without replying.
The instant she made it outside, she heard two voices coming down the street behind her.
A male and female.
His voice was so familiar to her that the repressed tears instantly began to rise.
She did not turn around as she began to stumble away down the street away from them.
Derek and Rose.