So pray for me child, just for a while
That I might break out yeah
Pray for me child
Even a smile would do for now
Grey Room, Damien Rice
When you wake up, Lexie's still there, sleeping next to you, and you prop yourself up on one elbow and watch her breathe.
She's peaceful when she's asleep. When she's awake she's either manically excited, or excusing herself for taking up space in the world, or lost in the wounded fragility that the other two states are meant to distract her and everybody else from. But asleep, she's peaceful and watching her makes you feel peaceful too.
You don't quite know how this happened. She came to your hotel room last night and took her shirt off with a kind of desperate matter-of-factness that reminded you of the locker room more than seduction and demanded (as much as a person can demand when they're shaking with fear and anger at life) that you fuck her and then took off her bra and tossed it in the corner of the room.
Perhaps, under other circumstances, it might have been a turn-on. She wouldn't be the first prom queen you'd fucked, but most of them didn't make it sound like the first time they had used the word.
So you said "No." You didn't say it harshly, because you can't bring yourself to be harsh to this stray of a girl who, for God only knows what reason, seems to trust you. But she reacted like she'd been stung and crumpled on the end of your bed, crying, exposed and sad, to the core, in a way that got to you in a place you try to ignore most of the time. On its own, her pain would have been bad enough; but it made it worse that you knew pretty much how she felt, because when you let yourself, you feel that way too.
Scrambling for some way to make it better (and not just for her), you were too confused to retrieve her clothes and, instead, picked up the first thing of yours that came to hand: an old Columbia sweatshirt.
You knelt down in front of her and made soft noises to indicate she should lift up her arms (which she did, very obediently, on autopilot; and you assumed that her childhood included more of these routine kindnesses than yours did, because you thought you might just have been perplexed) and pulled the sweatshirt over her head. It swamped her. Dressed in the enormous, sagging garment, she looked so absolutely vulnerable, you had no choice except to hug her. She let you, even melted into you – and if you're honest, you melted into her too.
Which is how you ended up here, watching her breathe. But those are the facts and you still don't know quite how this happened.
For the record, you remind yourself, you didn't fuck her and that makes you feel a little less awkward about the whole thing.
She starts to wake up. Her eyelids flutter and she looks around, disoriented. But when her brown eyes settle on you, she smiles and says, "Oh," in a way that sounds not altogether surprised and ridiculously pleased.
That's new. Addison's expression when she woke up could be easily read as "Oh, God! Not again!" and Callie was always on the way to screw someone else. With the others, you never really waited around to see the expression on their faces; that wasn't exactly the point.
But this is nice and you find yourself smiling back at her, and the more you smile, the more she smiles and then you both start laughing, just because it feels good.
Then she catches sight of your alarm clock. "Oh," she says again and half sits up. "I should get to work." Her eyes cloud briefly. "I'm . . . we're . . . the interns are on probation." She swallows. "Because of the sutures and the appendectomy and, well . . . I suppose you know all about that."
You nod. You've been a surgeon a long time and, even in bed with her, you can't condone what she did. But you don't say anything, because you don't want to break the mood. You don't want her to remember too vividly that you're an attending and sixteen years older than her and jaded by more problems and screw-ups and, for that matter, screwing than she can probably even imagine; because right now she seems to think you're her friend and you want to keep on being that guy as long as she keeps on believing.
"'S okay," you say. You try to make your voice as soft as possible. "I'm kind of on probation as a human being. I guess that makes us even." You grin at her; well, half-grin. There are more feelings behind your joke at your own expense than you can deal with before you've even had your first cup of coffee (there usually are – it's just that nobody usually notices) and your expression can't quite hide that. Not from her.
She studies you, mouth slightly open, eyes slightly narrowed, somewhere between amused and worried. Then she sits up in bed, leans over and grazes your cheek with her lips. "If it makes any difference," she says, "I think you make a very good human being."
You hadn't been lying when you told Derek you'd never thought about her that way until he put it in your head with all his crap about Little Sloan. Then it was just curiosity. But events kind of caught up with you and, a couple of times, you almost reached out. Your thing with Callie is kind of a leaky boat that's already sailed and, although you would never say it and you pretty much love her despite it, the friendship there sort of goes one way. And Derek? Well, that's getting there and that's a good thing, but the glue on the bonds isn't all that strong yet and he's not quite ready to hear about any kind of pain on your part that he can't make fun of. But this weird, sweet girl – she seems to need you; and, more than that, she seems open to you needing her back.
"Call in sick," you say, instantly adding a "what the fuck?" inside your head. But you don't voice it out loud. It's wrong and irresponsible, but you don't want to move outside of this world you and she have accidentally created. It's too new and too warm and so much nicer than out there.
She raises her eyebrows and grins. "Meredith said you'd corrupt me. Although I don't think she meant it quite that way." A smirk plays on her lips. "If I call in sick, will you fuck me?" She blushes as soon as she's said it, but nevertheless it's a little, playfully dirty; a big improvement on last night's desperate yelp for the dregs of your attention. But you still don't want to, not yet.
"Later," you say. "Promise." You pull her down beside you and wrap her in your arms. "After you take a nap with me."
There aren't monsters under the bed in a five-star hotel, just in the recesses of your mind. But somehow, she, for all her fearfulness, frightens them away. It seems that you do the same for her. It doesn't make sense, but you want to see where it goes. She gets you; you get her; without words, or explanations or excuses. Maybe it won't last. But for now, it warms you; it warms her. She twists around in your arms and smiles at you, one last time, before you drift off to sleep and you don't really care that it doesn't make sense, because you can't remember when anything felt so right.