A/N: OK, so this is my first fic in like... ever. I just wanted to thank Red Bess Rackham for her beta-age on this story. Seriously, if you read any good line(s) then its a result of her addition/input. Check out her Gizzie stories too, they're pretty great... Anyways! The idea for this story came from severe withdrawl of Gizzie and their friendship/romance. At the start I'll focus mainly on the friendship, because that needs to be restored, like... yesterday. It takes place around six weeks after they break up, no Alex/Izzie, Izzie never goes crazy, etc. Updates will most likely be sparse considering I have zero time to write chapters, but for now, enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Grey's Anatomy, but if I did... well, let's not go into that right now...
Chapter 1: Buildups and Breakdowns
"Did you know a cockroach can live for several weeks with its head cut off?"
Izzie wasn't sure if she'd heard him correctly at first. She looked at George with a mixture of irritation and amusement. The pair had decided to meet at Joe's after work, seeing as how they both luckily got off work at the same time. "George, this is the first time in weeks we've had some alone time together to, you know, get back on the 'best friend' bandwagon," said Izzie. "And all you can do is ask if I know how long a freaking cricket can live without its head?"
George couldn't deny he was a bit nervous. It was true that he and Izzie had not had the chance to spend much quality time together after they had decided to break up a few weeks prior. Sure, they felt comfortable enough in each other's presence, but there was something there, something uninvited and unwanted, an uneasiness of some sort, which served to constantly remind him of their attempt at a proper relationship. He hoped to God she wouldn't bring the failed romance up.
"Um, it's actually a cockr..."
"I was actually hoping we could talk, you know, about what happened with... us." Izzie said a little hesitantly.
George winced a bit. "Oh...? Oh! Uh... ok, sure. What do you want to talk about, exactly...?" George talked slowly and quietly in order to hopefully avoid saying the wrong thing.
"Listen, I know we haven't been the way we were lately, but George, I really want to get back to before. Our friendship has meant so much to me - you have no idea. I just really want us back, you know?" Izzie looked pleadingly into his blue eyes. "I mean, I know we can't forget what happened, but that doesn't mean it has to stop us from being friends again. We are George and Izzie after all." She finished with a glowing smile.
George couldn't help but grin back at her; her smile was so contagious. He remembered how strong their bond was before and he didn't want anything to change it or break it. Besides, he had to admit he'd missed her friendship and her presence immensely since their break up and though he'd rather avoided bringing up the subject of "them", he was glad Izzie had. Now he could have her back.
"We could start off with a hug?" He suggested. "Um, that is, if you want to ...of course." He added, turning his head to his left and biting his lip.
With a soft giggle, she threw her arms around him, holding him tight as though she'd never let go again. It was so good to be in his arms again, the place she felt safest and happiest. Though she didn't say it aloud, she knew that one day her and George would be together once and for all, without all the drama and conflict. Until that day came, however, she would be happy to simply be his best friend again. It would be enough.
"So tell me, 'Chief's intern', when do you get to re-take the intern test?" Izzie asked after they broke apart and ordered drinks. She realized she hadn't known before, or hadn't asked.
"Next week, actually." George answered. "Lexie's helping me study for it. She's been a big help".
That should be me, Izzie thought, slighty jealous. I should be the big help. I'm his best friend. She silently reasoned that she and George had not been acting like best friends for a few weeks and had only just made-up. She tried to ignore the jealousy and push it aside, hoping George didn't notice her pause. Thankfully, Joe came at that moment with their drinks.
"Hey, you two. Haven't seen you guys around here in awhile," Joe remarked.
"Well, we've been..." She tried not to glance at George. "...busy."
"Hannah, sweetie, wake up... Hannah? Hannah, don't make me come in there and throw water on top of you, 'cause you know I will... Hannah!"
"Ok! Ok, I'm up. God, mom, don't have a seizure". Hannah replied sleepily (although it didn't come out quite like that). She reluctantly slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom.
In the hall outside Hannah's door, Caroline Klein couldn't help but smile. Her daughter had been feeling better than she had in weeks and was full of joy - except for the mornings. The bone marrow from Hannah's birth mother seemed to have done wonders, and it made Caroline so incredibly grateful to have her daughter in her life when once she thought she would surely lose her. Caroline was afraid to think what her life would have been like without Hannah and refused to imagine it. She shook the thoughts away - Hannah was doing well, there was no need to be afraid for her right now - and made her way downstairs to make her "World Class Breakfast Extravaganza" (as Hannah referred to it).
A short time later, Caroline called up the stairs, "Hannah! Breakfast is ready!"
Normally, Hannah didn't reply, especially if she wasn't ready. Her excuse was that her brain hadn't fully woken up yet, so it was an effort just to put words into sentences. Caroline would laugh when she said that and tell her daughter that people all over the world had to get up much earlier than her and functioned just fine. After calling once for Hannah to come eat,Caroline would wait for Hannah to come down. On average it took up to 10 minutes, at worst, from the time her mother called her to breakfast to when she actually came down the stairs.
Caroline waited another five minutes until 15 minutes had past since her first call for breakfast. A new record, she thought with amusement, but couldn't help feeling a little worried. The fears of something happening to Hannah when she wasn't watching, all those fears from before the marrow donation, were still very real. Caroline called for Hannah again, except louder and more urgently this time. She waited.
Caroline put the plates on the table and hurried upstairs to check on Hannah, praying she was just being paranoid and overprotective.
George O'Malley wasn't the type of guy to ask questions when good things happened or when Bailey gave him a direct order. Or at least he questioned very little. So when he was unceremoniously sent home for the afternoon without an explanation, "You bein' given time off, O'Malley, be grateful!" was all Dr Bailey had to say when he inquired as to why. He knew better than to push it.
He changed into his track pants and t-shirt he wore going in that morning and set off to Meredith's house. He was supposed to have met up with Izzie for lunch, but she hadn't shown. In fact, he hadn't seen her in over three hours or in the canteen, and he was starting to really worry. What worried him more was the fact that he was sent home for the afternoon - an afternoon where Izzie was missing.
When he arrived at the house, he hastened in without taking his shoes off and immediately shouted, "Hello! Izzie?"
For a moment, only silence greeted George. Then he heard shuffling upstairs and hurried to the source of the noise, both eager and dreading to know why he had been sent home, what was going on with Izzie and what exactly the hell was going on.
He came up to Izzie's door and knocked. After waiting a good handful of seconds with no answer though he could hear movement inside, he slowly turned the door knob and entered. He found Izzie going back and forth from her wardrobe to her bed throwing clothes into the suitcase sitting atop the rumpled comforter. She seemed frantic yet subdued and her eyes looked worn-out and bloodshot. Immediately he knew she'd had been crying heavily and he ached to know why, and why he hadn't been there for her when whatever-it-was happened.
George slowly made his way towards her. She didn't acknowledge him, and he wasn't sure if she even knew he was there. She was caught up in something, mumbling to herself incessantly and not really paying attention to which clothes were being tossed into the open suitcase. He could only make out things like "Should have worked" and "Seemed fine".
"Izzie", he said, making himself known, louder than he normally would have spoken to her. She seemed to have heard him for she stopped mid-packing and looked straight at him.
Only once before had he seen that type of pain in her eyes: when Denny died.
"Izzie," A knot of cold dread filled his stomach. "What happened?" He managed, in a soft whisper.
In a voice that didn't sound like Izzie Stevens at all - so uncheerful, so flat, emotionless - she said, "Caroline Klein called me earlier today."
It took George the length of Izzie's pained pause to remember who Caroline Klein was and he immediately assumed the worst. No, no... not Hannah...
"Hannah collapsed this morning, she didn't say from what. She slipped into a semi-comatose state before Caroline rang..." Izzie's eyes filled with fresh tears and her voice broke as she spilled out, "And they don't think she'll make it past this week-end." She had barely finished her senetence before she broke down completely.
George was at her side in an instant and helped onto the bed. He cradled his sobbing friend in his arms for what seemed like hours, comforting her, cooing to her and whispering to her, saying that everything was going to be alright. When she could, Izzie would say things like, "Oh my God, this can't be happening" in between sobs. For nearly an hour, she cried and shook and George held her until the tears subsided. He held her for a while after that, too, just to be a comfort to her.
They sat like that for quite sometime until George realized she was sleeping. He couldn't help but smile a little in spite of the situation because he loved how she looked when she was asleep. She always looked so peaceful. He thought about what she was going to face with Hannah's relapse and vowed that he would be there for her every step of the way, as long as she needed him to be. He laid her back so her head was on the pillow and put the sheets gently over her, caressing her face softly. Looking down at her in that moment, he wondered why they weren't together when he loved her so much. She was the most beautiful person he had ever met, inside and out. It wasn't fair that things like Denny and Hannah's sickness had happened to her. It wasn't fair that she had to deal with such things. It wasn't fair that they had to be "just friends".
Snapping him out of his thoughts was the loud rumbling of his stomach, deprived and whining impatiently at him for food. He hadn't realized that he was hungry until now, but knew he ought to be seeing as how he'd ended up having to skip lunch. He'd waited for Izzie to come eat with him and by the time he was sure she wasn't just running late or had forgotten, it was too late to eat his lunch on his own. Lunch had been a long time ago. So he went back downstairs to make himself a sandwich and some coffee. He hoped that the girls hadn't changed everything around since he left.
As it turned out, everything had been exactly as it was and within twenty minutes or so he was enjoying a sandwich with everything good he could find on it and a nice scorching hot cup of coffee. He settled into the couch in the living room and started reading an old magazine that he must've read a thousand times before when he was living in Meredith's. As he did so, a pang of homesickness hit him hard. He missed it here. This was the first place he'd lived after moving out of his mother and father's house, the place that held so many good memories. This place would always be one of his homes, regardless if he lived there anymore or not. He watched the TV for less than an hour before drifting off to sleep.
The sound of a door opening upstairs almost two hours later awoke him. George was a light sleeper most of the time, so just about anything could wake him, but he'd been lightly dozing so he'd be up as soon as Izzie was. He shot up, shook he head and rubbed his eyes. Hearing Izzie coming down the stairs he stood up straight away to go meet her at the bottom. Her hair was a mess, her eyes still puffy from her earlier crying and she was in baggy oversized clothes. George thought that she looked completely beautiful and uncharacteristically sad.
"Hey", he said softly. He offered a small smile. "You okay?"
"I'm better now, thanks for... you know, being there and all." She replied, at this he smiled a little wider and nodded. Her voice was more Izzie-like now, but still filled with pain. "How long have I been out?" She asked.
"Uh..." he looked at his watch and answered, "Around three and a half hours". He was surprised himself, he didn't know he had dozed that long.
"Really? And you stayed?"
"Well I... uh... I was kind of asleep for about two of that three and half", he smiled shyly, which earned a small smile from her too. "What are friends for, right?" he added. After a brief silence, he offered, "D'you want something to eat? I can make you a sandwich if you like."
"Yeah, I'm actually pretty hungry - I skipped lunch. A sandwich would be great." A ghost of a smile appeared on her face now and he knew that she was trying to force it.
It took George close to seven minutes to create a sandwich less extravagent than his but more perfect for Izzie, and it seemed to take her all of thirty seconds to get in down her throat. George looked on in amazement as she ate it. He knew Izzie loved to eat, but he had never seen her eat something as if it were the last piece of food on earth and she hadn't eaten in days.
"Sorry," she said bashfully, her mouth full. "I guess that I was more hungry than I thought." Giving him a small smile she took a sip of her drink. "That was a great sandwich, I have to say, you've outdone yourself, O'Malley."
"Only the best for you." He gave her his famous megawatt smile.
"Well, I'm truly honored." She laughed, and for the quickest moment, she'd forgotten about Hannah and was just her and George, like old times, in Meredith's kitchen having sandwiches. But then reality came back and her content mood was replaced by a look of sadness. "Caroline said Hannah asked to see me... before she went into the semi-coma, I mean."
It belatedly clicked for George as to why Izzie was packing her suitcase earlier.
A pause. "Oh." George said, unsure of what else to say. "Are... are you going to go see her?"
"I... think so... yes." She said, saying 'yes' confidently. She looked up at George and added firmly, "And you're coming with me."
Welllll? What do ya think? Good? Bad? Cringe-worthy? Reviews are love. :)