AN: Here is the third instalment in my What I'm Here For series, following WIHF and SH, but would probably be fine to read if you haven't read the first two. This fic will be lighter than the first two, covering a longer time period as Meredith and Derek work through their first few weeks and months of marriage. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing and have no affiliations with Grey's Anatomy. I am simply borrowing these wonderful characters for my own entertainment.
Cristina scoffed. "Nice try, Barbie. We all know it's hideous."
"It's not hideous," Izzy retorted, but her tone told the truth; it was hideous and she knew it.
"How about you give up the whole glass-half-full lifestyle choice for once and tell it like it is. It's the reject of all rejects; the ugly duckling's freaking cast-off. Something Sydney Herron may actually have a negative to say about."
Meredith giggled. "Actually, Sydney may like this..."
Izzy made a face. "I don't see how anyone could like this. Seriously."
An uncharacteristic smile lit up Cristina's features. "See; I knew you could be like a real person. It just took two freaking years to get you there."
"Shut up," Izzy shot back, glaring at her roommate.
A second giggle escaped Meredith's lips as she shook her head at her friends. Izzy and Cristina had been 'roomies' for a whole year now. And hadn't stopped arguing the entire time. It almost made her wonder if arguing was a necessity for them both, and having each other allowed them to be relatively psychologically healthy apart from it. "You two are horrible," she said, raising her beer bottle for a long sip.
Cristina shrugged, uncaring, and followed suit by lifting her bottle in a mock toast before downing the remainder of her beer.
"We're not horrible," Izzy retorted. "Well, fine, she is," she said, motioning towards Cristina. "But I'm not."
"Oh, right, you're just a poster child for perfection."
"I'm more perfect for you."
"Whatever; my definition of perfect doesn't include driving your roommates crazy with your excessive cleaning, baking, decorating, bright-and-cheerfulness..."
Izzy snorted. "Yeah, well, my definition of perfect doesn't include...you."
Meredith erupted into a torrent of giggles. "I gotta agree with you, Iz."
Her best friend glared at her. "Perfect is boring. It means there's no room for improvement. And I'm always improving."
"She's got a point," Meredith agreed, sending a sympathetic glance towards Izzy.
Cristina nodded emphatically. "If you agree with me, does that mean you'll get me another beer?" She held out her empty bottle from her half-splayed position on the couch.
Meredith rolled her eyes. "Get your own beer. I'm comfy." And she was comfortable, curled up on the reclining chair she and Derek had purchased a year before. Izzy was sitting up against the arm of the short couch, her long legs just fitting within the width of the piece of furniture. All three were drinking. All three were supposed to be working.
"You're a crappy host, you know," Cristina muttered, swinging her legs over the edge of the couch and staggering into a sitting position.
"It's not a freaking dinner party."
Cristina cracked a second smile. "You've never striked me as the dinner party type."
"Me neither," Izzy jumped in.
"Wow, you two actually agreed on something," Meredith retorted, rolling her eyes. "And I know I should be offended that you're attacking my lack of domestic skills and all, but I can't bring myself to care all that much."
"It's the alcohol!" Cristina called from the kitchen.
"And speaking of your domestic skills," Izzy began, "Weren't we supposed to be doing something tonight? Like packing?"
Izzy snorted. "Like three boxes."
"Two and a half," Cristina corrected, dropping back down onto the couch, a fresh beer in hand. She motioned widely with her arm at the three boxes by the edge of the living room. One was packed and sealed – a product of Izzy's enthusiasm. One was packed, but not sealed – a product of Meredith's loss of interest when Izzy got the tape first. And one was half full of a few random objects tossed into it unceremoniously – a product of Cristina's...Cristina-ness.
"Whatever. But seriously, Mer, we were supposed to pack. You promised Derek we would pack."
Meredith couldn't help the smile that sprung to her lips at the mere mention of her husband's name. Derek; her husband of one whole month. "He won't care. In fact, he didn't expect us to get anything done anyway." Even though Cristina and Izzy were only over that night under the guise of packing, Derek laughed at her before she had left the hospital that afternoon. He had been on his way into surgery when she had told him her plans, but had paused for long enough to tell her he didn't believe her for a second that anything would get done.
Cristina nodded with approval. "That's my idea of a husband; no unrealistic expectations."
Meredith mock-glared at her best friend and pointed an unsteady finger. "Back off. He's my McDreamy."
Cristina rolled her eyes. "See, now I know you're drunk."
Meredith laughed. "Just a little."
"Me three," Izzy piped up.
"Cheers to that," Cristina called, and the three off-duty surgeons held up their drinks in unison.
After a long swallow Meredith sighed heavily and returned her attention to the offensive object sitting on her coffee table. "So, what do I do with...that?"
Cristina shrugged. "Smash it."
"You can't smash it," Izzy countered. "It was a gift. A wedding gift. It's not appropriate to smash it."
"It's also not appropriate to give someone something even remotely similar to that as a wedding gift. Or any gift for that matter."
Izzy hesitated, torn between her agreement with her roommate and her principles. "Still..."
"It can't come with me," Meredith said. "I am not having something like that in my new house. We could leave it here for the new people as a welcome gift."
"First of all, that thing is hardly a gift. It would send the new people running in horror. And what if they have children? They'll be scarred for life."
"And second," Cristina added, "You're new house is hardly a house..."
Meredith rolled her eyes. "Okay, so it's not a house. But it's a home."
Her best friend groaned. "God, now he's gone and made you into an after school special. I need a new person."
"You just don't get it."
"That was pretty corny, Mer," Izzy cut in, supporting her roommate.
"Okay, seriously, you two are freaking me out. You've agreed on like three things in the last ten minutes."
"Oh, and you're not freaking us out?" Cristina countered. "You got married out of nowhere-"
"Hey. We were engaged for months. We just planned the wedding in a week."
"Less than a week."
Cristina shook her head. "Not going for it. You got married out of nowhere. You're all giddy about be part of Shepherd's McFamily-"
"I am so not giddy. I'm Meredith. I don't do giddy."
"You're all about talking to your new sisters all the time," Cristina continued, ignoring her best friend's protests. "You smile too much for a sane person. And now you're letting McDreamy move you out into the middle of nowhere to live in a tin can."
"It's a trailer. And it's only for a few months until our house is finished. There's no point in getting a new place for just a few months when we have the trailer."
"Oh! And you've mentioned on more than one occasion that you will be carrying the spawn of McDreamy one day."
Meredith raised an eyebrow. "Seriously? The spawn of McDreamy? That sounds like a really bad horror movie."
"Whatever. The point is that you're freaking me out."
"I'm happy. I am happy; though I can see how happiness is such an alien emotion to you."
"God, next you're going to go on about how you're living the dream..."
Meredith smirked. "I am living the dream," she said with a laugh.
Cristina rolled her eyes, but Izzy spoke up before she got a chance. "Yeah, Cristina, the dream. You know; the one where girl meets and marries dreamy, rich doctor boy and goes to live with him in a trailer in the middle of nowhere?"
"Where dreamy, rich doctor boy turns out to be an axe murderer and kills her with a shovel?"
Meredith scoffed as her two best friends laughed at her. "You just don't get it," she mumbled.
"Get what?" A very familiar and welcome male voice called out from behind her.
Meredith sat upright and twisted her body to peer over the back of the chair. She hadn't even heard him come in. "The dream."
Derek smiled warmly at her as he stepped around the chair to stop at her side, nodding a greeting to Cristina and Izzy. "What dream?"
"Exactly our point," Cristina said, causing herself and Izzy to laugh.
Derek raised an eyebrow and turned an expectant glance towards his wife. Meredith glared at him. "You're not helping."
The corners of his lips twitched as he moved closer and set himself down onto the arm rest beside her. "I don't even know what's going on. How could I possibly be 'not helping' already?"
"You just are...or aren't, or...whatever."
Cristina smirked at Derek. "At least she wears the pants in this relationship."
Derek slid off the arm rest to sit beside Meredith on the seat of the chair, wrapping his arm tightly around her and smirking right back at Cristina. "She does wear the pants, but I'm good at getting her out of them. I have plenty of practice..."
"Derek!" Meredith hissed, swiping a hand at him.
He laughed and caught her hand, using it as leverage to pull her closer. "I love you," he whispered as he pressed his lips against her temple.
She relaxed in his arms and smiled to herself. "I love you too."
Cristina made a pained noised in her throat. "Seriously. If I wasn't too drunk to drive right now, I'd have to go home. I can't stand this anymore; the lovey-dovey newlywed crap. When does it end? When do you realize marriage is stupid and definitely not worth torturing me over?"
Meredith felt her husband tense slightly beside her, but she laughed, signalling him to calm down. She was well used to her best friend's antics. Cristina had a documented history of speaking before thinking and ranting about anything and everything, and it may have taken a while, but Meredith had come to the realization that she couldn't take these spontaneous rants with more than a grain of salt. "Oh, I don't know," she said coyly, pulling Derek's arm around her middle as she burrowed deeper into his chest. "Ask me in fifty years."
Cristina made a strained noise.
Izzy smiled. "I think it's sweet."
"See, I have Izzy's support."
"Everything with a pulse has Izzy's support."
Izzy scoffed and threw a box of tissue at her roommate. Cristina retorted with a series of comments.
Meredith shook her head and turned her attention to Derek. "They worry me," she mumbled.
He chuckled. "They're your family," he reminded.
She smirked. "And they're your family now, too."
He was quiet for a moment, his chest heaving ever so slightly more with each breath. "So, I see you got tons accomplished," he eventually said, sarcasm heavy in his tone. "We'll totally be ready to move out by the end of the week." Their lease was up and they were going to move the majority of their belongings into storage for the few months they would live in the trailer. Movers were coming on Friday.
She shrugged before leaning her head against his shoulder. "We packed," she said, waving a hand towards the three boxes across the room. "We were just taking a break."
"So, fifteen minutes of work followed by a three hour break?"
She smiled. "Pretty much."
"That's quite the work ethic you've got there. Seriously, Meredith, you're going to make an excellent surgeon."
She elbowed him in the gut, and smiled when he tensed beside her and moved to block her from further attacks. He had long since learned that her fists may well be ineffectual, but her elbows were lethal. "So," she prompted. "What were you doing while I was busy packing?"
"I was in surgery," he reminded her. "My patient came through just fine and-" His voice cut off as his body tensed. "What the hell is that?"
Meredith craned her neck to follow his gaze, which landed on the hideous bowl still sitting on the coffee table. "Oh, that," she said nonchalantly. "Remember the card from the post office that we got yesterday? We picked it up on our way here after work, and finally gave up waiting for you to get home an hour ago and opened it."
He made a face. "But...what is it?"
"It's a wedding gift from your cousin. Were you mean to her growing up or something?"
He chortled. "Depends which cousin we're talking about."
"Sherry. That's your Aunt Alice's daughter, right?" Meredith had met a ton of family members on his side, but his side was still huge and there were a number of cousins she hadn't yet been introduced to. She had actually met less that she hadn't met...and those were only first cousins.
"That's right," he murmured. "The second oldest. And I was never meant to her."
"Then what did you do to piss her off?" Cristina asked, rejoining their conversation.
"Nothing. She obviously thought this was a thoughtful gift."
Try as she might, Meredith could not help the laughter that spilled from her lungs in a quick, short burst. "I'm sorry, Derek, but there is no way anyone could think that would be a good gift. It's horrible." The bowl was large, noticeably not all that round and it's sides were not smooth, but rough, overly textured and badly patterned. Its colours didn't match, weren't compatible and only served to make each one more unsightly than normal.
"Blind people can tell it's hideous."
Izzy nodded her agreement with her roommate. "Comatose people can tell it's ugly."
Derek sighed. "So, what do we do with it?"
Meredith shrugged. "I am not having that thing in my home. And apparently it would be scarring to leave it as a welcome gift for the people who move in here."
"They'd probably think it was some omen of foreboding danger."
Derek laughed at this. "We could try and return it," he suggested.
"Where?" She asked. "There's no receipt or tag. Plus, I can't even imagine how any store took credit for this in the first place. I sincerely doubt we could get them to reaccept it after they managed to get rid of it."
"Maybe they paid your cousin to take it?" Izzy suggested.
"Or maybe it's a practical joke?" Cristina added. "Something that ugly has to at least serve a purpose."
"It looks like someone took a hammer to a bunch of really ugly bowls and then made this to cover for them, like out of embarrassment..." Meredith said.
"But it backfired when this monstrosity was the result," Derek finished.
There was a roar of approving laughter from the girls. "Monstrosity. I love it. It fits perfectly."
Meredith shook her head at her best friend's enthusiasm. "So, what are our options?"
"The thing's on life support. It's time to pull the plug."
"There's no hope."
"All the reconstructive work in the world wouldn't do it any good."
"Oh!" Meredith said suddenly. "Reconstructive. We could give it to Mark; for his new apartment." The plastic surgeon had finally moved out of the Archfield and into a loft in the city. She and Derek had only been there once, and had been taken aback by the emptiness of Mark's new home. Minimal furniture. Minimal decorations. Minimal personal effects.
Derek shook his head. "He'd never forgive us."
"So we do it anonymously." She giggled. "We could leave a note saying it's from a secret admirer." Izzy and Cristina nodded their agreement.
Derek chuckled and pressed his lips against hers for a long moment.
"I like the way you think, Mrs. Shepherd."
"Dr. Shepherd," she corrected.
"God," Cristina groaned. "Here we go again."