'In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.'
-- Shing Xiong
- The next Tuesday -
It had been ten days since she had said 'I do.' Ten days since she had vowed to spend the rest of her life with him; vowed to love him forever, no matter what. Ten days since she had gotten everything she had been too afraid to hope for her whole life.
It had been ten days since the second half of her life began.
And Meredith had never been happier.
The added weight on her finger still caught her attention from time to time. Her new name still caught her by surprise on occasion. And their new terms for each other – husband! wife! - still gave her goose-bumps. But all in all, life was beginning to settle down once more, and Meredith found she and Derek were falling back into their normal routine. Derek had, annoyingly, been right again; getting married hadn't changed much.
They were still spending most of their nights in their apartment in town. They commuted together when their shifts matched up, and drove in alone when they did not. They caught moments together in the halls when they found time, and ate together in the cafeteria. Things were quiet and calm and routine and...
The only real difference Meredith found in having gotten married was the feeling in her chest and the refuge of knowing just how committed they were to each other. And that coupled with the daily routine they were slowly falling into left Meredith feeling more secure than she had ever felt before. She wasn't evening waiting for the first shoe to drop anymore. She was married to the love of her life. They were building a house together. Their day-to-day life included one another. They had a future together.
Any emergencies or dramas that would certainly come up in that future would be overcome-able. And in the mean time, she was enjoying the quiet and new sense of calm in her life. She had a wonderful husband. In only a few days she would be a third year resident. And in a few short months, she and Derek would have their dream home.
Life was good.
It had been ten days.
Ten wonderful days.
Meredith smiled as she pushed open the door to the resident locker room, having finished for the day. It was relatively early, and she and Derek had already discussed grabbing dinner at their favourite Italian restaurant. He had finished with his patients an hour ago and was in his office catching up on paperwork. She had already paged him to let him know she was done for the day.
She pulled open the door to her cubby and smiled at the picture that greeted her from the back wall. She hadn't been aware that they still had the attention of at least one camera when the sisters had been arguing with the photo team after the wedding ceremony. But they had, and her and Derek's first few minutes of 'privacy' as husband and wife had been recorded.
A registered packaged had shown up at their door two days before, full of photos from their wedding. A note from Carol had confirmed that she had already framed one for the wedding wall in her living room. And Derek hadn't wasted any time to take at least two for his office and one for his wallet. Meredith had hesitated before choosing one for her cubby. It wasn't like she had a desk to put a frame on, or a wall to hang one for that matter. But this particular photo had caught her attention and demanded to be taken to her cubby.
His arms were wrapped around her waist, his hands keeping her steady at the small of her back as she leaned back, trusting him to hold her. Her hands were hooked loosely around his neck, playing with the scruffs of hairs at the base of his head. She was smiling up at him, happy and content and safe in his strong arms. But his expression said it all. The McDreamy look was there, but there was something else added into the mix. His eyes sparkled and his lips were turned up. He looked reverent and loving and completely devoted.
And there wasn't a doubt in her mind that he really felt that way about her. She was the love of his life too.
So, she had brought the small photograph to work to hang in the back of her cubby. And one day she would have an office and it would sit on her desk.
There would be good days and bad days. On the good days, this photograph would make her smile at the memory of that day. And on bad days it would serve a more important purpose; it would serve to remind her that someone felt that way about her, that Derek felt that way about her. And that she could trust him to be there for her, that he would support her and hold her up when she needed.
The door opened behind her and she turned to meet familiar blue eyes.
"Hey," he greeted cheerfully. "How was the rest of your day?" They hadn't seen each other since lunch.
"Hey," she replied, leaning in to kiss him softly as he came close, her hand falling against his chest. "It was good. You?"
He nodded. "Good. Quiet."
"That's good." She offered him a smile. "I just need to get changed, and then we can go."
He smirked. "Do I get to watch?"
She snorted. "If I said no, would you leave?"
He shrugged. "Hard to say..."
Meredith laughed and couldn't resist leaning in for another kiss.
He settled himself on the bench when she turned to her cubby for her street clothes, making it clear he wasn't apt to leave. Not that she had expected him to, or even particularly wanted him to. She made quick work of shedding her light blue scrubs and donning the jeans and tee she had come in wearing that morning.
And when she turned back to him, he was smiling at her just the way he had been doing when the picture had been taken. She felt her heart melt in her chest.
His eye narrowed at her reaction. "What?"
She swallowed hard and shook her head. "Nothing."
His head tilted just so. "You sure, cause it looks like something?"
She smiled warmly. "It is something," she relented. "Something really big," she whispered to herself.
He furrowed his brow.
She shook her head and pulled him upwards before wrapping her arms around his neck. "I'm so happy, Derek, and I love you so much."
His strong arms closed around her small frame. "I love you too," he mumbled into her shoulder.
Meredith breathed deeply, inhaling the scent that was uniquely his. Then she sighed and leaned back in his arms, meeting his loving gaze with a bright smile. "Ten days."
He nodded. "Ten days."
"What if we hadn't gone for it?" She asked. "I mean, how different would things be?"
Derek shrugged, his arms tightening around her. "Well, we'd still be living together, in the same apartment. The house would still be in the same stages. I'd still be convincing you to let me take you out tonight..."
She laughed at his playful tone. "Convincing me, huh?"
He nodded. "You can be very resistant when you want to be."
"Mmm-hmm. Look how long it took me to convince you to go out with me?"
Meredith bit back a laugh and rolled her eyes. "That was two years ago."
She fought the urge to roll her eyes for a second time. "You don't ever give up, do you?"
"I do what works for me."
She clicked her tongue and swatted at his chest.
Derek chuckled and pulled her closer, leaning in to peck her lips. "I don't ever give up," he said, repeating her words, "But do you know what?"
Meredith pursed her lips and shook her head. "What?"
He tilted his head just so and smiled lovingly at her, his deep blue eyes sparkling. "It was never about the chase."
She laughed aloud before she could help it. "But I thought it was fun?"
"It was fun," he admitted, "But this is better."
He nodded and kissed her again. "Yeah." He sighed and met her eyes, his offering a window into the intensity of his happiness and his feelings for her. Meredith felt herself melting under his gaze. "I just... I've never been so happy, Mer. Never. We're back at our apartment and back at work, just like before, but everything still feels different."
"See, I told you that you were wrong about that," she reminded him playfully. "You said it wouldn't change anything, but it changed-"
She smiled. "Exactly."
He smiled back. "I like it."
"I like it more."
He rolled his eyes. "Everything has to be a competition..."
"Get used to it, buster, cause you're stuck with me."
Look for the second sequel 'Here We Are' in late summer/fall.
AN: Huge thanks to everyone who has been reading and leaving such wonderful feedback!
To the person who reviewed the last chapter and offered to let me bounce some ideas off of you, thanks so much, but you didn't sign in, so I don't have any way of contacting you. Lol.
Thanks for reading!