This story takes place in and around Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer (Episode 2.21).
Izzie and Alex went on one date, but it didn't work out. Derek chose Addison, and Meredith is trying not to look back. Anything that deviates from the show is explained in the text. MerAlex
Chapter 1: "A Change is Gonna Come"
He liked her, he couldn't help it. And Alex Karev did not like girls. Like that. As she lay on the gurney with her pseudo Boston accent, pointing to various parts of her body and awaiting a diagnosis, he wondered how it was that she was actually his friend. And, more importantly, how it was that he actually wanted her to be his friend.
"Well?" she asked, sitting up abruptly.
Her eyes sparkled at him, probably not on purpose. He wasn't even sure why she was doing this. Izzie was pissed at him and girls usually stuck together. Solidarity, or something. But here she was, helping him study.
It was an easy diagnosis. "Gall stones."
She gave him a thumbs up. "Okay." Then, "I felt a lump on my breast, when I was doing my monthly exam in the shower."
Alex stumbled back a bit at the mental image of Meredith Grey in the shower. He may not think of her as more than a friend, but he was still a guy. "When was it that you noticed this lump?" Alex stepped forward, recovering from the shock.
She looked upward, "Three days ago."
"Have you had any irregularity in your menstrual cycle?" he asked. Meredith shook her head. "Well let's have a look. Can I have you lie down and put your right hand over your head?" Meredith did as she was told. Alex searched his mind for a crude joke that he would normally spit out, but was at a loss for words.
"No, no, like this," she said, gently grabbing his hand and repositioning it. "Pat, pat."
"What the hell?" they heard behind them. Alex groaned inwardly. O'Malley was always sticking his nose in other people's business. "Does Izzie know!?"
Meredith giggled. "Relax, George." She sat up.
"Why is he touching you?" O'Malley looked positively upset by the entire situation. "And why are you letting him?" he squeaked.
"I thought I felt a lump," Meredith shrugged. "So I asked Alex to check it out." Leave it to Meredith to keep a secret. He could count on her, which was weird.
"Why didn't you ask Cristina?" he asked.
"He was here." She stood and stretched. "But everything is copasetic. Right, doc?" She winked at Alex, sparkly eyes and all.
"It's probably just because of your rag ..." He stopped short, knowing Meredith knew where he was going already. Then, he looked to George. "Got her panties in a bunch over nothing."
"Well, thanks, Alex." She turned to George. "Did you need me for something?"
It had been a long day and he was in no mood to entertain. And yet, there was still someone knocking on his door. And by the sounds of it, they weren't going away until he opened it.
"Finally!" she sighed, pushing past him, bags of food in hand.
"Meredith?" he questioned, still unsure.
"Do you know that it's raining outside, Alex? Raining!" She unceremoniously fell onto his couch and began laying out the food.
"What are you doing here?"
"I brought study materials and food," Meredith told him. "I left you alone all day at the hospital because I figured you didn't want people to know. But," she added, "You need to study. Your boards are tomorrow, Alex."
"I don't need your help," he said, surprising himself. He was more than thankful for this and the motivation.
"I know," she agreed. "But it really sucks studying by yourself." She opened up one of the containers and looked up at him. "Now you can either go pout in your room or sit down and learn something. Either way, I'm eating my dinner here."
"Good. So we covered the breast exam." She opened her book. "Name the causes of a post-op fever."
Alex smiled, reflecting on the first day he'd met Meredith, but tried to disguise it with a groan. "Like I'd forget those after you embarrassed me. In front of the chief."
"You embarrassed yourself." This is what he liked, that she bit back.
"So how come you got stuck with me?" He settled into the seat next to her on the couch.
Meredith fidgeted with her hair for a moment. "The chief asked me to help you." Her answer grew uncomfortable as her eyes refused to meet his.
"Did you get caught going at it with Shepherd again?" He poked her in the ribs.
She sighed. "Definitely not."
"Then?" It wasn't so much her answer that surprised him, it was the way she said it, with a certain finality in her voice.
Meredith shrugged, obviously uncomfortable with the subject. "So, post-op fever?"
"Wait, you and Shepherd are done?" He certainly felt for her. Her relationship had been on display for the entire hospital from day one. Every gruesome detail. Alex had never liked Shepherd anyway.
"I thought you didn't like gossip," she accused.
"How about you ask me a question and if I get it right, I get to ask you one." Alex had never been one to study well. Either he knew it or he didn't.
"I'm here to help you!" She laughed.
"C'mon, Grey, you got something to hide?" He smiled in an attempt to charm her, but her eyes still refused to meet his. "It'll keep things interesting," he said. "I know you're here just to be next to me and all, but I gotta get something out of it, too," he teased.
Meredith cracked the smile that he'd been looking for. "Fine. Post-op fever."
"The five Ws."
"Wind, water, wound, walking, wonder drugs."
"How come the chief always gives you special projects, like me?" It was his turn to ask the question.
"Dr. Webber knows that I can handle special projects without running around yelling that you failed your boards," she answered simply.
"You got your one question. Now, I get mine."
"Fine," he groaned, but he liked that she didn't let him get away with stuff like that.
"I'm nineteen and my throat, like, won't stop hurting," she said in her best valley girl accent.
"Fatigue?" Alex smiled in spite of himself. Meredith was fun.
"I don't, like, know what that means, but I'm freaking tired all the time. Like, yesterday, I slept in waaaay past noon."
Alex giggled in spite of himself. "Open up and say ahhh." She followed directions and let him peer into her throat. "I'll need to do a throat swab, but based on the preliminaries, I'd say you have mono. Have you been making out with dirty guys?"
Meredith smiled. "See, this is kind of fun, yeah?"
"Only if you keep doing those voices. Now, how does Dr. Webber know that you're good at this?"
"He's my step-father. Kind of. I mean, he used to be. But my mother divorced him." She barely paused before changing the subject abruptly. "Now, my ear really hurts. I'm twenty-three and, dude, I ain't never had no ear ache before, but like, fuck, this is the worst pain I've ever had in my life ... in my ear," she distracted him quickly, before he could react or ask his next question.
"Can you hear out of it?"
"Barely. Like, when I was on the airplane, it was just fucking silence, yo."
"Airplane? Had you had a cold before that?"
"It's just pressure. Take some ibuprofen when you get home and sleep it off."
"What was that, ghetto Meredith?"
"I like to call him ghetto Joe."
"So Ellis Gey and Richard Webber? What's that like?"
"Richard always tried really hard. He still does, try really hard. But I was in my angry pink hair phase when he was married to my mother. I didn't appreciate him until after … she kicked him out." Meredith bit her lip, then brightened, figuring out more symptoms. "I have this thing on my lip and it's really dry, but no matter how much lip balm I put on it, it stays dry."
"Did you have asthma when you were younger?"
"Where do Izzie and George think you are?"
Meredith smiled. "Probably at Joe's, getting drunk and going home with some inappropriate man."
"Do I count as inappropriate?"
Meredith collapsed into a fit of giggles. He liked her laugh, but he loved her giggle. "You would be the epitome of inappropriate. Come on, let's keep going."