Disclaimer: I don't own anything you might recognize!! Thanks for letting me borrow though…

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It was a quiet evening. The darkness outside was amplified by the clouds that hung in the sky, letting no moonlight shine past its thick cover. Not many cars were passing by. Monday night football might have had something to do with it, but then again, maybe it was just pure coincidence. Even the inside of the house was still. No clattering of dishes in the kitchen, no sounds from the bathroom – no shower being taken, no blow-dryer cutting through the thin walls of the house. Just the silent flickering of a TV whose volume had been turned down. In front of it sat Alex Karev, an empty beer bottle in hand, staring absently at the fast-changing frames on the screen.

The whole day had been so surreal, Alex wondered if he'd dreamt its events into existence or if they had been an actual part of his reality. Work, once more, had been crazy, but that wasn't the real shocker. Work was always crazy, and a domino surgery led by Dr. Bailey certainly was no exception. He did wonder about those patients of his though. Lately, he had the distinct feeling that all of his cases connected to his personal life in some weird way. On a conscious level, he knew that you only saw those things as relevant to yourself if you wanted to, if they somehow applied to your life at that particular point in time. In the beginning of his career, he had never paid attention to things like that, but lately he found that he could relate to his patients more and more. Maybe he was spending too much time with Izzie after all. And therein lay the real issue tonight.

I care about you. I care about you. I care about you.

The words kept repeating over and over in his head, like a CD on constant replay. After their impromptu make-out session earlier this evening, little had been said and Izzie, completely exhausted, had fallen asleep in his arms.

Alex had mapped out this exact setting so many times in his mind that he wasn't sure now what had been fact and what was still fiction. Sure, the takes on it had always varied, but the end-result had been the same. Izzie would tell him she still wanted him, he'd be ecstatic and BAM! Happily ever after. Yeah right. But what he indeed hadn't expected was that the reality would scare the living crap out of him. Presented with a concrete scenario, he hadn't known what to say - how to respond to an actual real-life Izzie who was indeed open and straight forward about her feelings. And to top off his often-denied insecurities, after how he had treated her recently, he wasn't too sure anymore if he was even worth caring about.

He had a tendency towards hurting the people that got too close to him. Prime examples were Ava, his Mom, and in the past even Izzie herself. His unwillingness to open up, to show her that he could indeed be a decent guy if he wanted to be, had put a strain on their first attempt at a relationship from the start, ending it before it ever really began. Self-defense mechanisms were a bitch, a tough cycle to break, and he wasn't sure he was completely there yet. He would have to somehow communicate all that to Izzie, otherwise he'd risk losing her…again. That was just not an option this time around, at least he was certain about that. So why had he snuck out first chance he got, leaving his bedroom, and as a direct consequence Izzie, behind? Why was he sitting here? He didn't know yet, but he wouldn't go back upstairs until he figured it out.

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Alex was still sitting quietly, pondering recent occurrences, when Meredith and Derek entered the house much later, exuding happiness. He really needed to get out of this place – and fast. Living with two woman had been bearable. Living with one of them as part of a couple 'oh so in love' was intolerable and something that had to be changed – preferably yesterday. If only money wasn't such an issue right now, he'd be out of there in a second.

When Meredith spotted him, she motioned to Derek to go on up ahead, gesturing with her head that she'd soon follow. She shrugged off her jacket, handed her kidney to her boyfriend, and made a detour via her kitchen, retrieving and opening two bottles of beer. Handing one to her contemplative roommate, she took a seat beside him on her couch and focused her attention on the TV. The news was on, obviously something about local politics, as Seattle's mayor was speaking in front of a crowd of rather pissed-off looking individuals. Since she'd never mastered the art of lip-reading, she had no clue what the issue could be. After several minutes - the news had moved on to what seemed to be a missing-person case - Meredith finally dared to break the heavy silence that filled the living room.

"Why are we watching the news without sound?"

"Huh?" Alex shook his head, clearing his mind. Meredith's presence next to him had barely registered before now, so she clarified her earlier statement. "The TV. It's on, yet it's muted. Why?"

He handed her the remote. "Turn it up, I don't mind…"

"I don't wanna turn it up. I don't wanna watch it either. What's going on?" She glanced at him curiously.

"Not sure. Like you said…there's no sound."

He didn't have to look at Meredith to picture the exasperated expression that crossed her face. They didn't often have serious heart-to-hearts, him and her, yet he wasn't so dense as to not pick up on her obvious desire to talk to him tonight, to get him out of his catatonic state that he had placed himself in earlier this evening.

No words were spoken for several seconds. Minutes? Hours? Neither one could be sure as they were both heavily focused on deciphering each other's body language.

As abruptly as silence had fallen upon them, Alex picked up the conversation again, never quite making eye-contact.

"Izzie cares about me."

Meredith looked shocked that the serenity of the moment had been interrupted so suddenly. She directed her thoughts back on topic. "Well, that's no real surprise…of course she cares. And why wouldn't she? You two are friends. I care about you too, you know?"

"Yeah…but I think she cares in a different way…and she shouldn't." He recapped his evening in very few words, giving the basics to Meredith so she would have something to work off of. He anticipated some appropriate phrases followed by a hurried goodnight. His roommate Meredith would have better things to do right now than to listen to his crap at 2 a.m. What he didn't expect, but what he got instead, was an honest-to-God word of advice from his friend Meredith at 2 a.m.

"Alex, what I should tell you is that you're worth loving, caring about. That you're a decent guy, that you're better than you give yourself credit for, that you have a lot of stuff going for you that's worth getting up for in the mornings. And I could tell you all of those things too, because they're true. But that'd be like a mockery coming from me. Because if I could tell you those things, what's keeping me from believing them myself? Sometimes I do…more often than not now actually. But I realize just as well that knowing and believing are two completely different things, and even though deep down you might know, you have to work hard to believe."

Meredith took a sip of her drink and glanced over at Alex for a second. He had not moved during her little speech, seemed like he had not acknowledged her words at all. She had a feeling he was listening though…she knew she would have, and sometimes the two of them were eerily alike in so many ways.

"I know you don't give a crap about my relationship with Derek, but let me tell you this; I couldn't let him love me either. I was scared. Then afraid. Then scared again. And all the while terrified. I'm not gonna go into details, because it'd most definitely take all night, but just…I'm still working on it. I talk to a psychologist sometimes, and…well, not that it came as a humongous surprise, but…I have Mommy issues."

Alex raised an eyebrow but kept quiet, waiting for her to continue.

"I know what you're thinking…Every psychologist always looks to the parents for answers if there's no major trauma to speak of. But most of the time, there's actually something to that. So maybe…just maybe, you should try talking to someone too? Doesn't have to be someone professional. Just someone who can find out how exactly your parents screwed you up. You know, just so I'm not the only one."

While she wholeheartedly believed there was some truth to her last statement, the teasing tone of her voice let him know that the serious bit of this conversation was over. He would not participate in this part of the dialogue – they'd both known before Meredith had even spoken her first sentence. When all she got from Alex was a slight smile, accepting her words of wisdom, she decided to wrap this party up. She was beat from the long day at work and couldn't wait to join Derek in bed – cherishing her kidney…and him. Preferably not together.

"Tell me something Alex…why are you sitting here moping when there's a gorgeous blonde chick in your bedroom?"

Again, Alex didn't respond – the theme of the night. Instead he finished the last of his beer before putting the empty bottle back on the table in front of him. He seemed to be in a slightly better mood - at least he was responsive again, which was more than could have been said at the start of this one-sided debate. As he moved to get up, he held a hand out to her, helping her up from her comfy position on the couch. The roommates walked side by side until they reached the bottom of the stairs, when Alex finally turned to her and spoke.

"So Mer, honestly…you're seeing a shrink?" A smirk was back on his face and Meredith knew that at least for now, she had her sarcastic, annoying, lovingly frustrating roommate back. It was all the thanks she needed.

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A/N If you thought Meredith was totally OOC and poorly written, let me know, because it was the 1st time I tried…If you feel like reviewing in general, please don't hesitate :P Big thanks in advance!