Meredith furrowed her brow as she flipped through the many pages of notes in her hands. She glanced down at the shopping cart she was pushing along with her abdomen and steering with her elbows, as her hands were occupied with the pages, and sighed heavily. "Derek, there's no way in hell that we're going to be able to fit all of these things into one cart."
Derek offered her a wry smile as he set a handful of cans into the cart. "We'll make it all fit."
"There's like a thousand items on these lists. Seriously, how are we supposed to eat this much?"
He smirked. "You could probably manage by yourself."
She dropped one hand to the handle of the cart and used it to swing the front of the cart towards her husband, catching him in the leg as he yelped and jumped out of the way. "Mean, mean woman," he muttered.
"I'm the mean one? You were making fun of me."
He rolled his eyes in good humour, before stepping carefully around the cart and snaking his arms around her waist. "I'm sorry I made fun of you," he mumbled, pressing his lips to the side of her head. "You're eating habits are perfectly normal, and I have never witnessed you eat an ounce more than a normal person."
It was her turn to roll her eyes, at the sheer sarcasm in his tone. "You're still being mean to me."
He chuckled and kissed the side of her head again. "I love you."
This time she smiled. "I love you too. But I still don't know how we're going to get through this list, let alone how we're supposed to eat this much food tomorrow." Meredith and Derek had been volunteered to complete the last of the Thanksgiving shopping.
"The food does have to feed twenty-six people," he reminded. Carol, her five kids, five kids-in-law, fourteen grandkids and Mark.
With one last kiss, this time against the side of her neck, Derek released his wife. "We should get started on the list," he stated, "If we want to get back to mom's before it gets dark."
Meredith giggled. It was only four in the afternoon. "Okay, I'll keep pushing. You get the food." She passed the many pages of lists into his hands.
"How very helpful of you."
"You and I both know if you gave me half the list, it would take longer than if you just do it all yourself."
He smirked. "True."
She made a face, but couldn't hide her smile for long. "Just...get shopping."
"Yes, dear," he said quickly, turning back towards the many items on the shelves beside the cart, and leaving his wife rolling her eyes.
Meredith sent him a look as he turned back to her, placing a second handful of cans into the cart. He simply offered her a smile and turned away once again.
She followed him down the aisle, and back up the next one, and then back down the one after, as he slowly checked off the many items on their seemingly never ending list. Cans. Bottles. Boxes. Cartons and jugs, of juice and milk. Bread. Breakfast foods. Lunch foods. Candy. Chips. Other snack foods. Butter. Bagels. Cream cheese. Fruits and vegetables – some of which she didn't know the names of. Spices – most of which she didn't know the names of. Pies. Ice cream. And more. The cart slowly filled.
"I know how much you hate to be wrong," she spoke up, "But I have to point out that the cart is almost overflowing. Are you still sure it's all going to fit?"
"I'm sure," he returned. "Just one more thing. Why don't you go get in line? I'll be right there."
"Sounds good to me. I hate shopping," she muttered.
"I don't normally like it either."
He leaned close to kiss her cheek. "I like doing anything with you."
Meredith smiled as she felt her heart flutter as the quiet, honest comment. "I guess shopping is pretty okay with you."
"Good to know." He smiled. "I'll meet you at the cash."
"Okay." Meredith turned and slowly pushed the heavy cart towards the front of the store. There were three check outs open, and she chose the one to the far right, hoping it would be the quickest. Carefully steering the very full cart, she stopped it behind the mother and daughter standing on either side of the cart in front of her. The mother, who looked a little over sixty, gave her a long, questioning glance, before turning her attention back to her adult daughter. The two seemed to be contemplating whether they had everything they needed. Both looked frustrated, but Meredith guessed that was a part of shopping on a holiday weekend.
Meredith yawned and leaned forward, resting her arms on the push bar of the cart, settling for a long wait. The store was busy, the employees frazzled and the lines long, but it was nice to be doing something so...perfectly normal. She was across the country, spending the holidays with her in laws, and was out getting groceries with her husband.
Definitely not something she had ever foreseen herself doing, and definitely not something she had ever foreseen herself enjoying, but something she wouldn't change for the world.
The line gradually moved forward. She was now three carts away from the cash. The mother and daughter in line in front of her seemed to realize they had forgotten something. The mother headed back into the aisles, leaving the daughter protecting their place in line.
A warm hand landed on her back and she smiled as Derek's arm looped around her back. With his free hand, he dropped the last item into the front of the cart.
She glanced down at the new box and rolled her eyes. "Glow in the dark? Seriously?"
He chuckled. "They were the only ones left."
"I so don't believe you."
"You know me so well."
"Did you have to get such a big box?" She asked. "I know we have more sex than most people, but how are we supposed to go through that many at your mother's house?"
"That was the only size box they had left. And this time I'm telling the truth."
"We have to hide them," she hissed. "If your family sees us coming home with a massive box of glow in the dark condoms I don't think I'll ever be able to look them in the eye again."
He chuckled and wrapped his arms around her. "Me neither."
She opened her mouth to respond, but was cut off.
"Derek? Derek Shepherd?" Asked the mother who had returned to the cart in front of theirs.
Derek released his wife and turned to face the older woman.
"You don't recognize me, do you?"
He paused before slowly nodding. "Mrs. Napier?"
She smiled. "You do remember me. And my daughter, Melody?"
Derek nodded. "Of course. It's nice to see you both again." He extended his hand to them both.
"And this is my wife, Meredith," he introduced. "The Napiers live a few blocks away from Mom."
"It's nice to meet you," Meredith offered, also shaking their hands.
"I'm glad to see you back on the east coast, Derek," Mrs. Napier continued. "I know your mother was just beside herself when you moved to Seattle." The way she said the word 'Seattle' with such distaste told Meredith and Derek exactly how she felt about their home city.
"Not back for good," he said carefully. "We're just visiting for Thanksgiving."
"I hear from your mother that you're very successful, Derek. I'm sure you could get a job here."
Derek hooked his arm around Meredith's waste. "We're happy in Seattle. It has ferry boats."
Thrown off by Derek's comment, Mrs. Napier pasted a smile on her face and moved on. "I heard what happened between Addison and Mark Sloan. I'm sorry you had to go through that, but I guess I can't say you couldn't see it coming, what with what that man did to my Melody." She wrapped an arm tightly around her daughter, who looked upset by the mention.
"Hmm, it all worked out for the best," Derek responded, surprised to realize it was a topic he hadn't thought about in quite some time. "Everyone is happy now."
"That's very big of you, Derek."
The line was slowly moving forward, and Melody began placing items on the sales counter.
"So, Meredith, what do you do?"
"I'm a surgeon," she responded.
"Ah, you two must have met at work."
She nodded. "Yes, we did."
"Well, good for you," she stated, in a tone that was full of judgement.
Derek took a breath, before turning to the as of yet mute woman. "And Melody, what are you up to now?"
"Oh, my Melody is married to a very wonderful man," Mrs. Napier said before her daughter could speak up. "He's a very successful businessman. And they have two beautiful children."
"That's nice," Derek said, addressing Melody again. "What are their names?"
"Nicolas and Lillian-"
"After me; isn't that nice?" Mrs. Napier cut in again.
"Very nice," Derek responded. "How old are they?"
"Nicolas is ten and Lillian is eight."
"Isn't it nice? Melody met Nathanial in college. He is so successful; there was just no reason for Melody to work. He takes such good care of them, that all Melody has to focus on is raising those two perfect children."
"That's...nice," Derek managed to say with a straight face.
Beside him, Meredith was fighting not to make a face.
"Isn't it just?"
"Okay," was about all Derek could come up with to say.
"Mom," Melody said with a huff. "We have to pay. We only have the nanny for another hour."
"Of course, sweetie," she responded, reaching into her overpriced purse for her equally overpriced wallet, from which she pulled out a credit card.
"It's been very nice catching up, Derek," she offered after she had handed her credit card over to the cashier with a huff and a 'took long enough.'
"Oh, you too," Derek responded. "And you too, Melody. Nice to see you."
With a smile and a nod, Melody began pushing the cart towards the exit, her mother hurrying after her.
"I guess I don't get a goodbye..." Meredith stammered.
Derek laughed. "I don't think you fit into her mould of a proper woman."
"Because I have a job?"
"That and because you have aspirations..."
She laughed as they loaded the many, many contents of their cart onto the conveyor belt. "What exactly did Mark do to Melody?"
Derek scoffed. "They dated for about a month in high school. She was...probably a sophomore when we were seniors. Mark dumped her for a junior. They were both on the cheerleading squad. It was this whole big thing..."
She kept laughing. "And they're still holding a grudge? After all this time?"
He shrugged. "Mark comes from wealthy parents. It was devastating to Lillian when he and Melody didn't stay together through high school and get married."
"I don't get it."
"Neither do I. But it worked out well for us. Lillian refused to come to any parties when she knew Mark was going to be there. Needless to say Mark was forced to attend every single party."
"At least he's good for something."
This time Derek laughed. "I'll have to tell him that."
"I don't think I've ever thought this before, but I would take my mother over that woman..."
"And that's saying something."
She nodded. "It is. I'm sorry you had to grow up near that woman."
"My mom can't stand her. She raised us all to be independent; to have dreams. Lillian raised her kids to be co-dependent." The cart was almost empty. Derek moved to the contents they had placed in the top basket of the cart by the handle. "Shit."
He turned to her, a small box in his hands. "We just had that conversation with a giant box of glow in the dark condoms right on the top of the cart..."
She fought back a laugh. "That's a little embarrassing." She reached out and smacked him. "Why did you have to get the freaking glow in the dark ones?"
"I happen to like the glow in the dark ones."
She shook her head. "I know you do..."
He made a face. "I love you."
Meredith giggled. "You're pathetic. But I love you too."
An hour later they were home and the seemingly infinite number of grocery bags were unpacked. Meredith had gone back out to the car to sneak their 'private' bag up to hers and Derek's room. On her way back down the stairs, she paused by the door of the bathroom. The door was open a few inches, and it sounded like someone was sick.
Worried it was one of the kids, she cautiously pushed open the door. On the other side, Natalie was just moving to the sink, a look of displeasure on her face.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Meredith apologized. "I heard...I just wanted to make sure everything was okay."
"It's okay," Natalie said after she had rinsed her mouth.
"Are you sick? Do want something?"
"No, thanks. It'll fade. They should call it 'afternoon sickness,' not morning sickness."
With a wave of understanding, Meredith stood shocked. She had no idea what to say.
Natalie offered her a smile. "Don't tell anyone. Phil and I want to announce it at dinner tomorrow."
"Congratulations," Meredith offered.
"Thank-you, Meredith. We keep thinking we're done, but as soon as our youngest starts to look less like a baby we end up saying 'one more.'"
Meredith smiled. "Carol will be ecstatic."
Natalie laughed. "She will. She and Aunt Joyce have been tied for nearly a year." Carol and her sister had a friendly competition about the number of grandkids they each had. "Though I think this baby will actually be our last. It took over a year for me to get pregnant." She smiled sadly before turning to Meredith. "It'll be up to you and Derek next."
"Oh, I...uh, yeah."
"That didn't sound very convincing. You two are planning on having kids, right?"
"Yeah, we are," she responded. "Just not right away. We agreed to wait until we had been married for a year before talking about it seriously. And even then I'll still be a resident."
Natalie waved a hand. "You can't think about that. I was barely a resident when I started having kids. It makes your life more complicated compared to the single, childless residents beside you, but it makes your life so much better. It doesn't matter what you do for a living, Mer, kids are always going to be a complication, and it will always seem like a bad time. But they're a good complication. And the time will never feel better until you have them."
Meredith smiled at her sister-in-law. "I really think I'm starting to believe that."
"Good. And you know we're all going to be there for you when you do start having babies."
She nodded. "Yeah, I...know."
"That didn't sound very convincing."
"I'm convinced," Meredith assured her sister-in-law. "I just... It's strange sometimes to say it out loud. This whole getting married and having babies and being part of a family thing is still new."
"You've been married for a while now," Natalie pointed out.
Natalie made a face. "Hmm. It seems like longer. Just goes to show you, though..."
"Goes to show you what?"
Natalie smiled at her sister-in-law. "How well you fit in."
"Oh..." Was all she could come up with to say. Having never been part of a family before, Meredith didn't know what to say in these kinds of situations.
"Why are we hiding in the bathroom?" Derek's voice broke the moment as he stepped into the bathroom with his wife and sister.
"We were trying to get some privacy," Natalie stated. "You are being nosey."
Derek rolled his eyes. "Good to see you too, Nat." He had gone to bed the night before without greeting anyone other than Kathleen, who had met them at the door. And by the time he and Meredith had gotten up that morning, Natalie had been out shopping.
She matched his eye roll, but stepped forward to hug him. "I missed you, baby brother."
With a sigh at the term that he had long since resigned himself to knowing would never go away, Derek kissed his sister on the cheek and released her. "I missed you too, Nat."
"You wouldn't miss me so much if you moved back to New York."
Derek huffed. "Nat..."
"Come on, baby brother. We miss you." She turned her attention to Meredith. "You like it here, right? Your family is here now. Help me convince him. You too belong in New York with us, not all the way across the country."
Caught off guard, Meredith opened her mouth, but found no words on the tip of her tongue.
"Give it up, Nat. We're happy in Seattle." He hooked an arm around Meredith. "It's our home."
"But it's so far away. I don't like seeing you so rarely."
Derek smirked. "You could always move to Seattle."
Natalie rolled her eyes. "We're New Yorkers, Derek. What is the matter with you?"
"Me? What's the matter with you? I've been in Seattle for two and a half years. Why are you suddenly so upset?"
Natalie sniffed. "I just miss my brother, okay? Why do you have to be so difficult?" She demanded, before rushing out of the bathroom and leaving Meredith and Derek staring after her.
"Oh-kay..." Derek mumbled, before turning to his wife and raising an eyebrow. "Any idea what that was about?"
"Probably h-" Meredith cut herself off before she uttered the word 'hormones.' She had made her sister-in-law a promise. "I don't know. She probably just misses you."
He pursed his lips. "Do you know something?"
"What? I... What could I know? I don't know anything." She winced, knowing she had been far too defensive. Derek could read her like a book when she had her lie prepared.
He shuffled close to her, his hands seeking out her hips as he dipped his head, pressing several kisses up the side of her neck, before whispering in her ear, "What do you know?"
"I don't know anything."
"Liar," he whispered in her ear, his breath hot against her skin.
"I...can't say anything."
He pushed her back against the wall and pressed against her. "Tell me."
"No. I don't know anything..."
His lips found the side of her neck again. "Tell me," he repeated, "And I'll make it worth your while..."
With heat rising in her body, Meredith buried her fingers in his hair. "Derek..."
His hand found the hem of her shirt and moved upwards.
Her skin tingled at the contact as his hand moved higher, higher, higher. His hand found her breast and she moaned.
"Tell me," he repeated, sucking on the skin at the crook of her neck.
"Tell you...what?" She asked, barely able to form coherent thoughts.
He lifted his head to meet her eyes. His were dark with desire. "You have a secret. I want to know what it is..."
"Secret..." She murmured, the ability to think finally coming back to her. "I can't tell you-" She was cut off by his lips crashing down on hers. His other hand reached under her shirt as well, settling along her side.
Meredith lifted one leg and hooked her foot around his leg, wanting him as close to her as possible. He responded with a moan, and pressed her harder against the wall. Both were so caught up in each other that they didn't hear the footsteps in the hallway.
"Whoa!" A male voice called from the doorway.
Derek pulled back immediately, snatching his hands out from under Meredith's shirt.
"I...sorry," Spencer, Derek's brother-in-law, stammered from the doorway. "Long drive...I just needed to use the bathroom, but clearly...clearly you need it more..." And then he was gone.
"Oh, God," Meredith whispered, burying her face into Derek's chest. "We just...oh, God."
He closed his arms around her, breathing hard. "It's okay."
"What if that had been one of the kids?" She asked, raising her head.
He made a face. "Then we'd have a lot of explaining to do. And angry parents."
She groaned. "I can't believe he caught us..."
"Just be glad he didn't come in a few minutes later," he said with a smirk.
"This is not funny, Derek!" She hissed. "We were just...in your mother's bathroom!"
"We're newlyweds. It's expected."
She huffed. "Is he going to tell anyone?"
"He probably already has."
She buried her face in her hands. "This is bad."
He pulled her hands from her face and pressed his forehead against hers. "You think this is bad for you? I can't even go out there yet..."
She giggled as she realized his predicament.
"Oh, so you think this is funny?"
"A little," she admitted. "But you have to hurry up and...you know. Because I am not going out there by myself."
"We could just sneak upstairs..."
She pulled back and swatted him across the chest. "Are you insane? Three of your sisters are now here. And your mother. And the kids."
"So? It's not like they think we don't have sex."
"But it's the middle of the freaking day."
"I repeat; we're newlyweds."
"I repeat; you're insane."
He chuckled. "We could try out the glow in the dark condoms..."
"Shut up about the stupid glow in the dark condoms. You're lucky I even let you buy them. And if you want to ever use them, you're waiting until tonight."
He kissed her cheek. "Yes, dear."
Meredith rolled her eyes. "Why do I put up with you?"
He smirked. "Because I'm dreamy."
She couldn't help but laugh at him. "And entertaining."
It was his turn to laugh. "That's what I'm here for."