Everything hurt.

You had no idea why. You understood the headache, the pure amount of beer you had drank the night before was explanation enough for the pounding head. Even the sore torso made some iota of sense after the fight you had had with Mark a few days before. It was the rest of it, the way your shoulders and back sang out with pain every time you dared to move and the constant toothache like pain that ran up and down your legs that had no explanation. The ache raged through your body, leaving you even more exhausted than you already were and you just wanted to know why. Memories of the night before were vague, fuzzy, but you were quite certain you had done nothing to warrant this level of pain.

The only thing you remembered clearly was the way you had treated your girlfriend but that only went as far to explain the heavy pain pressing against your chest anytime you thought of it.

Besides, you were quite certain it was ex-girlfriend now.

People had been coming and going all day, people from work, some of which you had considered friends and some of which you had barely known. There had been a parade of surgeons in and out of your trailer all day, telling you how amazing you were, telling you that you had to come back because quitting wasn't the answer. Some of them had even brought you journals where your successes were documented. It had been a constant web and flow of familiar faces haunting the tiny space.

You had told them all the same thing, you had even said the same thing to Bailey when she hit you. You weren't going back. You were done. You were done being a surgeon.

You were done being a murderer.

And not one of those people had mentioned the tiny love of your life, not even her friends had bothered to say anything about where she was or what she was doing. All day, you had only seen people that knew the both of you and you hadn't heard a breath of your girlfriend…ex-girlfriend's…name.

Your chest tightened again with the thought of her, suddenly realizing that you weren't actually sure if you would ever see her again.

It was for the best.

It was for the best.

Even if everything that hurt stabbed with a sharper pain when you thought about the words you had said the night before. She hadn't deserved it, despite how horrible you were feeling right now, you were sure that Meredith hadn't deserved to be treated like that. She had grown, she had learned to not run away and hide and you couldn't actually deny how proud of her you were. The words had come from somewhere, somewhere dark and twisted and more than a little drunk and you hated yourself even more for saying them. Because Meredith Grey wasn't any of the things you had accused her of being and now that you were sober, now that it was a new day, your stomach turned at the memory.

You were the lemon in the equation, not her.

Meredith was the love of your life. Despite everything that was falling apart, you were still sure that the tiny girl with the infectious giggle and everything else that made her her was the love of your fucking life.

Which is why she couldn't be here.

Some tiny voice in your brain, one that sounded more like hers than anyone else's, was telling you were probably being at least a little overdramatic but right now you didn't care. Right now all that you knew was the simple fact you were a murderer, you killed people. You killed innocent people that were just trying to live, just trying to have a life and take care of their own families. You stole people away from friends, from families. You ended lives constantly and you acted like that was okay because it was your job, it was your job to kill people. And you hated yourself. The pure idea of who you were, who you had somehow become, caused a knot in your stomach to tighten to tightly that you nearly cried out in pain. You despised everything about you and there was no way that you deserved someone as amazing as Meredith loving you.

It was why you had pushed, it was why you had yelled every single thing you could think of to make her go away, to make her run as she should, and as she had to have wanted to.

She had run.

Your stomach turned again as you thought of the ring, the ring you had desperately wanted to give her the week before, the ring that had meant to so much to your father and mother and was now sitting forgotten somewhere on your land. You were certain that your mother would kill you if she ever found out what you had done. Your father had probably rolled over in his grave.

But you had to.

You had to do anything you could to make the pain go away, to make everything just stop so you could be left alone to think about everything that had gone on in your life that had made you into a horrible person that you despised.

You had needed Meredith to go away. Meredith who had suddenly been so strong and so sure and so full of questions and saying things that did make sense in the vague, quiet place in the back of your mind that was insisting that you were making a mountain out of a mole hill. Meredith had said things about hiding that had made you want to stop and…if you stopped to think, if you stopped and actually talked to her she would have seen some side of you that she did not need to know existed.

You had spent your life being strong, you had spent your life holding everything together. Your family, your friends, and most recently Meredith, who had had such a hard time of it; you held people together. Meredith needed that. Meredith did not need to see you falling apart.

Meredith did not need to find out what kind of lemon she had fallen in love with.

You shifted again, suddenly feeling restless despite the pain that was ripping through your body. You had to do something, you had to move and try not to think about how bad you felt about what you had said the night before and definitely not consider how much the idea of never seeing Meredith again sent another pain ripping through your body and brought tears stinging your eyes. You were not going to cry, you were not going to let that happen when you had no idea how you would ever stop. She was gone. You were…you were something you didn't even want to think about and the love of your life could go find someone better, someone more deserving of everything she had. But right now you had to move.

You move outside slowly, every step a struggle and you're not exactly sure what you are planning on doing when you get outside, but you were sure you would figure it out. You would fish or do something, something that might make you stop thinking.

And there was a familiar blonde head sitting in one of your chairs.

"Meredith…" you breathed as you moved slowly toward the chair, your whole body still protesting against every step.

"Oh," she jumped slightly, turning around to look at you and despite everything smiling slightly, even if the smile wasn't enough to cover the exhaustion that marred her face or the blood shot, slightly swollen eyes. "You…you came out."

"You're here."

"I am," she nodded slowly. "I…not bailing, Derek. I said I wasn't bailing and I'm here."

"I thought you had left," you breathed, because you really couldn't think of anything else to say. She shouldn't be here, she shouldn't see you like this and after everything you had said to her the night before, her was the last place she should even want to be but somehow she was still here.

"I told you I wasn't," she shrugged. "I…I'm staying and we're together, Derek. Even if you moved out and I don't even know how you did it so fast but we're together in this and I'm not…I am not bailing, I am not running. When the dust falls or whatever, I'll still be here."

"Settle," you murmured, moving to sit in the chair next to hers.


"Until the dust settles, not falls."

"Oh," she frowned. "I knew that, I knew that."

"Hmmm…" you nod, fighting the urge to grab for her hand, the only thing stopping you is your damn fear of falling apart and her finding out exactly who you are.

And then it doesn't matter as your breath catches in your throat as you notice the tiny, shiny object sitting on the table in front of you. Your ring, slightly worse for wear, a little mud around the edges but basically looking the same, sitting on the table as if you had never discarded it. And the thought that had occurred to you last night when she had told you she knew about the ring came back to you, the thought you had pushed down last night. Meredith knew about the ring. Meredith knew that you had been intending to ask her to marry you, to make the biggest commitment humanly possible and yet she had still come to you. Your commitment-phobe ex-girlfriend…or girlfriend because you were officially unsure what she was…had found out about the ring and had still come to push you out of hiding.

Not to mention that she was still here, after you had said horribly mean things to her that you had never even meant, after you had done everything you could do to push her away, she was still here.

"I had some time to kill so I found it," she whispered, clearly noticing where your eyes had fallen.

"Oh," you nodded slowly. "What…have you been…"

"I went to work," she breathed. "I left and I went to work but I felt…it was wrong, it was wrong leaving you here so I told Webber and he…we got everyone to come. We got everyone to come and talk to you."


"Me and Webber."


"And I came here," she murmured. "I couldn't, I couldn't work when you're…so I came here and I've been…waiting."


"Waiting," she nodded. "With the parade of people going in and out, I told them…I told them to not tell you where I was and I've just been waiting. So I looked for the ring and…waited."

"That's why no one mentioned you."


"Why…why did you wait?"

"Because you're hiding. I know because I used to, I used to hide, Derek. I used to and I don't anymore and that's not the point, the point is you were hiding and because I used to hide, I know. I know what it's like. And I know when I was done hiding, I wanted you there."


"I don't…I have no idea what to say, Der," she whispered. "I'm pretty sure I suck at the being strong part so you're just…you're just going to have to deal with your lemon."

"I…I'm sorry I said that."

"I know," she nodded. "I know and it's…it's not okay, Derek."

"I know," you breathe, letting your hand finds hers because it desperately wanted to and she was here. After everything she was here. "I know it's not."

"You were drunk and hurting but that doesn't make it okay."

"I know," you whisper as she squeezes your hand.

"I forgive you because…you were drunk and you're still hurting but you can't. I forgive you and I love you but that's still not okay."


"You were trying to push me away," she breathed.

"I...yeah," you whispered, squeezing her hand and suddenly feeling like maybe you should say something else, maybe you should talk to her because apparently the pushing her away thing didn't seem to have worked in the slightest. "I hate myself."


"I hate who I am. And you...you don't deserve to be around this. I'm a murderer, I kill people all the time. I steal people away from their families with my empty promises and lies. I tell people things, things like they're going to be okay and then I kill them. Over and over and over again. I'm a horrible person and you...you needed to be pushed away."

"You didn't have to push me away," she murmured.

"I did," you breathed. "I had...I had to make it stop hurting. I had to...I had to make sure that I didn't...I had to push you away."

"Because I was going to make you talk about it."


"At least part of it?"

"Stop finishing my sentences," you laugh harshly, looking up at the sky. "How am I supposed to push you away when you keep finishing my sentences?"

"You're not supposed to, that's the whole point."

"Hmm..." you nod slowly. "I don't want to think about it, I don't want to look at it, don't want to pick at it or, I just don't want to. I killed her. It was my mistake, my call and I...she was amazing and I killed her. I'm not ready to talk about that."

"It's not just Jen, Der. This was coming before her."

"I'm just...I am so tired of losing people. I am so tired. And if I...if I stop and let myself fall apart, I don't know...I don't know how I'm supposed to do that and ever be able to get back up or something," you breathe. "And I...I..."

"You what, Derek?"

"I'm strong, I'm the strong one," you whisper. "And you can't...you need me to be strong. My family, Mark, everyone at work, you...you all want me to be perfect, you need me to be the strong, perfect guy that holds everything together and I can't. I can't. It's falling apart, my entire fucking life is falling apart and I just don't know. I don't know..."

You squeeze your eyes shut as you allow a sob to shake your shoulders but you refuse to open your mouth again, terrified of what kind of sound would come out. But you keep your eyes closed, terrified to look at her, to see the pity or even worse to see her getting up and walking away, because her hand was suddenly disappearing from yours. You knew it, you knew that pushing her away had been the right thing to do because she didn't want this man, she didn't want a man who killed people and couldn't even pretend to be okay. And even though the day before you had certainly tried to make her walk away, you were beginning to get the feeling that you actually did need her to help you get through this so you were pretty sure you couldn't imagine watching her walk away.

And then lavender was suddenly surrounding you as a small weight shifted onto your lap and two small but strong arms wrapped around you.

"Derek Christopher Shepherd," she murmured and then suddenly her lips were gently presses against yours and tears started to roll down your cheeks. "I love you..."


And then her lips were on yours again as you felt your body start to tremble. "I love you." And she kissed you again, letting her lips linger against your damp cheeks. "I love you." She kissed you again, her kips tickling your jaw line. "I love you."


"I love you," she breathed, kissing you on the lips again. "And I don't...I don't love perfect Derek who holds everything together. Or I do. I do love that strong Derek but I...I love this Derek too. I love the guy who camped out on my porch, I love that you are this torn up about patients and I just love you. I love every part of you which sounds...okay, pretend I didn't say that. It's too cheesy. But I still...I love you. For who you are."

"You...you shouldn't..."

"And why not? Because you're dark and twisty?"

"Hmmm..." you nod, sucking in a deep and shaky breath.

"Derek, of anyone in the world, I can't judge you," Meredith whispered, her arms tightening around your neck. "I get dark and twisty. This is...I get this. When you're happy and all healthy, I don't get that but this, I totally get this."

"Oh," you breathe, letting your body sag into hers, sighing slightly as you realize that your back doesn't hurt quite as much anymore.

"It's okay, Der. It's okay. I'm here. I'm staying here. No matter how hard it gets, I'm staying right here."


"And you would kill me if I pulled what you did last night, let me just point that out," she giggled softly, burrying herself briefly into your arms. And for a second you let yourself forget how horrible you felt and how badly you wanted to disappear because Meredith was clinging to you and giggling and if anything made sense, it was that.

"I know," you admit quietly.

"I love you, Derek. I know it's taken a while to get me here and I know that it's not always perfect but I love you. Even if you're not always perfect. I don't...I don't expect perfection."


"No, I just...I love you. I keep saying it. I know I do but I...I love you."

"I...I'm used to being perfect."

"I know you are," Meredith whispered, running her fingers over your curls that had stopped being in control days ago. "And I know it's scary to fall apart and I know but you can fall apart and I would be...I'll still be here."


"And you don't have to, " she said quickly. "You don't have to if you don't want to or if you don't want to but I'm just saying, you can. You can and you...you can let me see all the bad and scary parts of you that other people don't get to see and I'll still be here because ...I have to see those parts if we're going to get married and be together forever. Right?"

"Right," you breathed, pulling her closer to you. "It's just..."


"I hate myself right now," you murmur, casting your eyes down. "I can't...I have no idea how I became this person and I love you too much to make you stay with this person, to make you stay with...I love you and you deserve better."

"You...you're pushing me away because you love me?"


"You're an idiot."


"Okay, calling you...stupid, that was stupid but...when I was doing that thing, with the...S&M, when I was sleeping with you and you wanted more and...did you still love me?"

"Of course," you nod.

"I hated myself."


"For doing that, for not being able to give you more, I hated myself and that's...that is not the point because we already, things have changed a lot since then so definitely not the point. The point is, I hated myself and you still loved me. So you have to trust me that I'll...I'll still love you even when you're not that big fan of...you."

"Oh..." you breathe, feeling tears prick your eyes as you let your body relax further into the chair.

"And you don't...I know that's not going to make you feel better over night but I still...I'm here. I'm not here demanding that you cheer up just...let me be here."

"Okay. Okay."

"And you can't quit," she said firmly, suddenly pulling back slightly, tilting your head up slightly so you were looking right at her. "You don't get to quit."

"But it's...I can't do this, I can't keep watching people die and knowing..."

"It's not your fault," Meredith shook her head. "And if you, Derek, if you're really done, that's okay. If you don't want to be a surgeon anymore and you...that's okay. I'll still love you and you can spend your life fishing and I'll make the money for the family. That's okay. We can still...I don't need you to be a surgeon."

"You don't?" you breathe.

"Of course I don't," she shook her head, quicker this time. "If you really are done, that's okay. But if you...you can't make that decision when your like this, Der. You can't...that's a big life changing decision and you need to...be thinking straight."

"But if I do quit..."

"If you do, you do," she nodded. "But I really don't think you should."

"I kill people, Mer," you feel the need to point out.

"No you...you can't look at it like that," she sighed, pressing a hand to your damp cheek. "You need to...you don't kill people. You don't save everyone but you don't kill people."

"I kill people."

"No," Meredith shook her head again. "You need to stop thinking like that. It's not...this isn't that black and white, you need to stop seeing things all black and white."

"Oh," you laugh, depite yourself.


"My mom...when my mom gave me the ring she told me that I see things in black and white and you don't and apparently I need that. According to my mom...I need the way that you things so...it's what my mom said about you."

"Well..." she breathed. "She's a smart woman."

"She is," you murmur.

"You...I know you killed Jen, Der. At least it feels like you did and I get it, I get the hating yourself thing. I get the looking at the pile of charts and thinking about it all, I can't even...it has to be hard and I'm not telling you that it shouldn't be hard," she sighed. "But I think...I'm pretty sure that the fact it's hard on you is what makes you an amazing surgeon."


"You care, and it's good, it's good that you care. Even if it makes you hurt more, caring also...I think it means you fight harder too."

"I fight damn hard," you breathe.

"I know you do," she murmured. "And that's...part of the reason you lose people is because you fight when other surgeons wouldn't. You turn down cases other neurosurgeons wouldn't even touch and that's, your death count is high because you take risks."

"I do," you mumble.

"And I know it hurts and I know that this lawsuit is hell, I do. But...I don't think Bailey cares that Jen died."


"You saved her husband. And..if someone saved you, I could care less how many people they killed because they saved you so I'm pretty sure that all Bailey cares about is that you saved her husband. Not how many people have died."

"I know that."

"And...Beth's family doesn't care that twelve people died before her, because she lived. And the twins, they're seperated, Derek, because of you. I'm pretty sure they don't care if you've had more patients die than live. And Sylvia is living a second chance with her husband because you were willing to go in when no one else was. It's a long list, Der. It's a long list of people, not files, people that are alive because you take risks and you...you care about them. They're alive, Derek."

"But so many..."

"So many cases that were impossible," she cut you off. "Impossible cases that you desperately wanted to save but couldn't because it's impossible to save everyone."


"And that's what you do, you save people or you don't save them. You don't kill people."


"So if you want to be done, be done. Whatever you want to do, I support you. But if you want to quit because you think you're a murderer, well...you can't quit because of that. You just can't."

"I can't?" you laugh softly.


"You won't let me?"

"I won't let you."

"I love you."

"You..." she stopped, a smile spreading across her face, her face lighting up in the way that always made your heart beat a little faster, even now when you still weren't exactly sure how you felt about anything. "I love you too."

"That was...that was a good speech."

"Did it...it didn't work, did it? Because...I...people have been talking to you all day and they probably said all of this and I'm being..."

"It worked," you say quickly, grabbing for her arm. "Or maybe not. I think it worked."

"You think?"

"Yeah," you breathe. "I mean...I don't know what I'm going to do. I really don't but I feel...I think I feel better. I don't hate myself as much."

"That's...that's a good step," she smiled softly.

"I haven't...I really don't know what I'm supposed to do."

"That's okay," she nodded, kissing your lips gently. "You don't need to know tonight, no one, no one is going to blame you if you don't know. It's been a long day and you can...take a shower and shave and we can...just be us or something."

"Us..." he breathed.

"Us after you shave," she giggled.

"After I shave," you breathe, running your palm over your rough cheek, sighing as you realized the tightness in your chest was all but gone. It had helped. You had no idea what she had said, you had no idea how your girlfriend had made it better, but it was better. You weren't sure if it was fixed, you had no idea who you were or what you were going to do next, but you were here and she was on your lap and you figured that was something.

"I love you, Derek."

"I love you too," you murmur, looking up at the familiar face, wondering exactly what you had been thinking not long before when you had thought that maybe you two shouldn't be together and maybe she wouldn't want you anymore. Somehow you were pretty sure you had forgotten exactly how kick ass Meredith Grey was, and you had clearly forgotten how much she understood you and how much she loved you because you were you and not because you were some perfect person who could take care of her. You had forgotten about that stuff but she hadn't and she had said things, she had been tough and strong and she hadn't let you fall apart.

Your job had always been to make sure other people didn't fall apart, and now your tiny girlfriend hadn't let you fall apart.

You grabbed for the ring and slipped it back into your pocket.

"What?" she breathed.

"You, Meredith Grey, are to forget about ever seeing that ring or hearing about that ring," you smile softly. "And when I use it, you are to act surprised and smile and giggle like it's the most amazing surprise ever. And say yes."

"I'm supposed to say yes?"

"You are."

"Okay," she giggled, before curling tightly into your arms.

It didn't hurt anymore, nothing hurt anymore as you let the smell of lavender surround you, soaking up the feeling of your incredibly strong girlfriend in your lap. You had been stupid, you had been seeing things in black and white and youhad needed her. You had tried to push her away when everything that you had needed was right here, was right there just waiting for you to stop being an idiot and saying awful things. You hadn't made up for saying those things, but you would. And you had no idea what you were going to do next, but you would. It was going to be okay.

You weren't sure but you thought that maybe you were finally going to be okay.

Hang on
Help is on the way
And stay strong
I'm doing everything